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Walker schedules brat summit for Tuesday

By Scott Bauer

Associated Press

Published: Friday, June 8 2012 9:12 a.m. MDT

MADISON, Wis. — Fire up the grill with some nonpartisan charcoal or bipartisan propane.

Gov. Scott Walker's brat summit is on.

Walker scheduled the informal social cookout for Tuesday afternoon, one week after he easily won a recall election that was sparked largely by initiatives he pushed through the Legislature with little or no bipartisan support.

On the night of his seven-point election win, Walker and his defeated opponent, Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, stressed the need for the two political parties to work together and move the state forward with less acrimony.

Walker's first idea, the brat summit, was a familiar way to break the ice in a state where people love their malted beverages and encased meats.

Democratic leaders in the Senate and Assembly, Sen. Mark Miller of Monona and Rep. Peter Barca of Kenosha, both plan to attend the summit at the governor's mansion.

"I welcome the governor's pledge to govern in a new way and will accept his offer of brats and beer," Miller said in a statement. "I want to give him the benefit of hospitality that has been extended."

Democratic Sen. Chris Larson of Milwaukee, one of the most outspoken critics of Walker's agenda, said he would like to go but his wife is working and he has to stay home with his 1-month-old child.

Still, Larson said Walker needs to do more than just down a couple of brats and beers to show he's serious about engaging with Democrats.

"For sure it's a great photo op for him but are we going to sit down and work on jobs?" Larson said. "I'm not interested in getting a brat and a beer, I want to work on creating jobs."

Larson, a former Milwaukee County supervisor, said Walker took the same tactic after winning election as Milwaukee County executive. He met with supervisors, but there were no shared policy initiatives, roundtables or any attempts to include Democrats, Larson said.

Walker invited both lawmakers, their spouses and two staffers each to the two-hour picnic. There was no word on what type of brats or beer would be served.

Brats, believe it or not, have become entangled in the hyper-partisan environment that engulfed the state since Walker took office. Two alternative brat festivals were organized in Madison last year, featuring locally produced brats, in protest over the World's Largest BratFest.

Brats at that fundraiser over Memorial Day weekend were donated by Johnsonville Sausage, whose executives, family members and employees made campaign contributions to Walker. That connection proved to be unappetizing for some liberals in Madison who organized the alternative festivals that were held for a second year, a week before Walker's recall victory.

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