Legislators from both sides were hopeful the brats and beer meeting could help start a new political landscape.
“I think it was the right move on the governor's part to try and bring people together,” said State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.
“I think it's just good to see each other in a less tense setting,” said State Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh.
Media members were not allowed inside the cookout. The governor's office says it wanted the atmosphere relaxing for lawmakers to socialize.
“It was kind of a family reunion type picnic where everybody got along well,” said State Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna.
“Gov. Walker was true to his word, he was cooking,” said State Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay. “He was tipping the brats and hamburgers.”
Not all lawmakers were for the idea of healing over brats and beer. Legislators from both sides declined the cookout invitation. Some said it was unnecessary while others say it was just a media stunt.
“That's their decision,” said Hansen. “There was no question in my mind that I'd be here. We had to at least open up that avenue in discussion. It's dialogue and that's a good thing.”
Lawmakers who attended say politics wasn't the topic of conversation. They say just seeing everyone was a good thing, even if it doesn't seem like they are always friends.
“I think we typically get along,” said Nygren. “The disagreements come down to policy, not personality.”
“The biggest thing is we're going to disagree on issues, but we don't have to make it personal,” said Steineke.
Both sides say whether that can happen is yet to be seen. They just hope the positives from the governor's brat and beer summit will carry over to the Capitol.
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