Locked out, protesters in Madison set up sleeping bags outside the state Capitol.
Jessica Arp, a local reporter in Wisconsin, breaks the story that some Democratic state senators are looking to return to the state. More than one of them met at the state line with GOP Senate Leader Fitzgerald:
Sen Fitzgerald says he met in person at the state line with some Sen Democrats about possible return....
Sen Fitzgerald says he doesn't think senators will be back today, though. Declines to say how many he met with.
Democratic state senators could quickly debunk this story if it wasn't true. Since they have not done so, we should assume the story is true.
We may be approaching the end of the inter-state standoff. As such, it's time to start talking about the actual endgame in this fight: recall elections. No matter what happens—whether the "budget repair bill" passes as is, or whether the protests succeed in altering it to protect collective bargaining rights—it would be shocking if there are no recall attempts. In fact, given the political energy that has been tapped, it would be shocking if there were only recall attempts against senators of one party.
All the details on Wisconsin recall procedure can be found here (PDF). Also, Swing State Project has a good breakdown of which Senators are eligible, and who is vulnerable.
Recent polling shows recall efforts are viable. In addition to showing the Walker would lose a do-over election to 2010 Democratic nominee Tom Barett, Public Policy Polling shows Wisconsin voters evenly divided on whether to recall Governor Scott Walker, with 48% in favor and 48% opposed. Further, a micro-targeting firm called Strategic Telemetry, run by President Obama's 2008 campaign micro-targeter, suggests that there are twice as many Wisconsin residents willing to sign a recall petition against Walker as would be necessary to make such a petition valid.
Now, Walker isn't eligible for recall until January 2012, so any recall efforts in 2011 would focus on state senators. Still, if there is enough support to make recall viable at the statewide level, then recall elections of state senators are likely viable. On that note, efforts against Democratic senators, by a group in Utah, and Republican state senators, by Democracy for America and the PCCC, are already being explored.
If this bill passes with the provisions stripping collective bargaining rights, then anyone who votes for it should expect to face a broadly based recall effort that we will support here at Daily Kos. Further, the Democratic senators who break first and let collective bargaining rights be stripped by returning to the state should not necessarily consider themselves exempt from such a campaign. This is an existential fight for workers' rights, and as such it must be fought with every legal means available.
Update: This story comes from more than Sen. Fitzgerald and Jessica Arp's tweets. I have another source, which Markos has vetted.
Further, a Democratic Senator has now confirmed to the AP that the meeting took place.
The story sounds alarmist because this development is extremely alarming. What the Wisconsin Senate Democrats have done so far is spectacular, and we have thanked them for it profusely. However, all of them need to stay across state lines. While they are under a tremendous amount of pressure, if even one returns now it would be a painful and heartbreaking blow.