Key Republicans Address GOP Members At Annual Convention | Politics
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans are urging fellow party members to take the threat of losing control of the state Senate seriously this summer.
Walker and others speaking at Saturday's annual state party convention said they must work hard to keep their 19-14 majority control of the Senate. Six Republicans and three Democrats face recalls that could be held as soon as July 12.
The senators were targeted for positions they took earlier this year on Walker's proposal taking away most collective bargaining rights from nearly all state workers.
"It's exciting as the U.S. Senate race, my focus today, my focus tonight, my focus tomorrow and every day until the recalls is to remind people long before we can win, we have to win these recall elections,? said Walker.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald also said the recalls should be taken seriously, but he thinks Republicans can actually pick up a seat.
Fitzgerald joked about the protests that engulfed the Capitol earlier this year, saying the convention was the first time he had been around so many people who weren't chanting and yelling at him. And he said, "You all smell a lot better too."
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said Republicans are working to pass a decade's worth of GOP priorities in the Legislature in just a couple of months.
His mention of passing a bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls drew a standing ovation at Saturday's state Republican Party convention. He also touted Republicans' plan to eliminate about $1 million in funding for Planned Parenthood, saying state money shouldn't go to abortion providers.
Fitzgerald also didn't back down from the Republican-backed proposal taking away most collective bargaining rights from public workers. He said passing the bill was the right thing to do, even though it drew tens of thousands of protesters.
Fitzgerald called last year's election putting Republicans in power was a "crushing defeat of liberalism."
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson addressed the crowd and said there is a reawakening of conservatism following a century of liberal, progressive domination.
Johnson said the country is at a tipping point and he urged the party leaders and activists to maintain the momentum the GOP gained in the 2010 election.
Johnson defeated Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold last year as part of a Republican wave that also resulted in Republicans winning the governor's office, both chambers of the Legislature and two congressional seats.
Republicans have their eye on the state's other Senate seat, which Democrat Herb Kohl is vacating next year.
Rep. Paul Ryan has reiterated that he will not run for the open seat, but stressed the importance of the role Wisconsin will have in shaping the country's future.
The House Budget Committee chairman said at Saturday's state Republican Party convention that the country is watching Wisconsin, which he said is at the center of a battle over ideas and philosophies.
Ryan is the architect of the Republican budget plan that is drawing criticism from Democrats in part for its call to replace Medicare with a voucher system.
Ryan said because he helped start that fight, he wants to stay in Congress and finish it rather than run for Wisconsin's open Senate seat next year.
He accused critics of his plan of engaging in intimidation and class warfare, which he said makes for good politics but not good economics.
U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner said GOP candidates must stress they are for lower spending, limited government and individual responsibility. He said Republicans won big last year because they got back to basics and worked hard at the grass roots level to spread their message.
Sensenbrenner said, "We got our brand back."
He said the challenge now will be to sustain the goals their achieved. He said Wisconsin will be ground zero in 2012 as President Barack Obama seeks re-election and Democrats try to retain the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Herb Kohl.