Do you have any regrets about leaving for Illinois? "Not at all. It was the only way to slow things down. It was the only way to give people a chance to see what was in (the budget repair bill)." The Senator added that it was expected the Republicans would consolidate power, "but not in only one guy's hands."
"They went way too far."
Do you think the time in Illinois had any affect on some changes in Republican stances on current budget issues? Erpenbach nodded. "Take Senior Care. 91,000 people depend on Senior Care and it's a wonderful program, a program that runs a surplus."
And is there any hope for teachers? "Yes, there is. More than not, people want friends and neighbors teaching their kids, not corporations."
Erpenbach expounded on several points during his speech, including his time in Illinois. "They said to come home and we can have the debate--by the way, which is not negotiable. We were offering proposals, they were taking away our paychecks, our parking spaces...they sent the State Patrol to our homes."
Regarding the non-re-passage of the budget repair bill: "We haven't been called back because they either don't want to put Glenn through that vote again, or they don't have the votes."
"This whole issue, it's not a right/left thing or a liberal/conservative thing, it's a right and a wrong thing. "
A crowd of 200-300 filled the pavilion in Regner Park, with a handful of Grothman supporters ringing the perimeter. Supporters cheered "Thank you, thank you" to Sen. Erpenbach as well as another speaker, local television personality Gus Gnorski, whose employer Fox 6 News, said he could either speak at such union rallies or keep doing reports for the station. Gnorski said goodbye to television and chose to speak at union rallies instead. His hit-the-mark points included the hypocrisy of Grothman's mantra "I share your values," and the realization that jobs in the state need to be added jobs, not just those moved from place to place.
Also sharing the dais, were Tanya Lohr, the local high school teacher heading up the Grothman recall campaign in Washington County, Rick Aaron, Democratic candidate for the 60th State Assembly District--now, suddenly with a chance to make a race of it in his Republican-heavy district-- and local columnist Waring Fincke.
Grothman petitions will be collected by 9 PM Sunday night. The committee is still shy of the 20,061 signatures needed to trigger the recall. If you haven't signed, check out the website here.