Some Wisconsin Dems, GOP boycotting Tuesday's brat summit

CREATED Jun. 11, 2012

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MILWAUKEE- Governor Walker's effort to mend fences with Tuesday's beer and brat summit is being rejected by some members of both political parties.

Democratic state Senator Jon Erpenbach is taking a pass on the summit, saying it's no disrespect to Governor Walker, but a beer and brat summit doesn't really tackle the state's issues.  "Working together at the Capitol will send a louder message (than a brat and beer summit)," argued Erpenbach to Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Wisconsin's Afternoon News.

Walker has been criticized for several tactics during his administration -- including his inability to extend an olive branch to Democrats. 

Erpenbach was considered the de facto leader of the "Wisconsin 14", who decamped for Illinois when the Budget Repair Bill was in the legislature -- to avoid a vote on the legislation.

Fellow Democrat and U.S. Congress candidate Mark Pocan tweeted he won't be attending the summit, referring to the event as a "media stunt" despite Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said that no media would be allowed at the event in an effort to lower the partisanship around it.   "After people in my district, and statewide, worked tirelessly over the past months to let their voices be heard, I feel that I owe my constituents more results than sharing beer and brats at the Governor’s mansion," said Pocan in a statement.

Republican State Representative Steve Nass was ready to attend the event Governor Walker claims will help bridge the partisan divide, but Nass tells Wisconsin's Afternoon News, nothing will change.  "The Democrats are not willing to sit down and discuss opportunities that we may have going forward.

He's upset with comments made from the state's Democratic Party over the past weekend.  Particularly the statement by Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate, saying at the annual Democratic convention,  "Scott Walker will see the inside of a jail cell before he sees the inside of another term." 

According to Nass, "The Democrats behavior will not change until the Republicans change their policies."  Nass says he wants to hold Democrats accountable for their comments and he believes that not attending the summit will help prevent more attacks against Governor Walker in the future.

Democratic Rep. Kelda Helen Roys said she also will not attend the event, saying she doesn't believe that Governor Walker is sincere in his effort for bipartisanship.

The beer and brat summit idea isn't new.  Democratic President Barack Obama invited a black scholar and the white police sergeant who arrested him to share a beer with him and talk about race relations at the White House in 2009. 

Also, John Mercure of Wisconsin's Afternoon News cited the Tip O'Neill-Ronald Reagan relationship as precedent that legislators of different political opinions can and should work together -- no matter the severity of their political differences. 

Meanwhile, Assembly Minority Leader and Democrat Peter Barca and Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller said they plan on attending the summit.