Gov. Scott Walker says the state is coming back together after Wisconsin's highly charged recall election.
The election, which capped a tumultuous year-and-a-half, is only six weeks in the rear-view mirror. Walker won that election and promised he'd work to unite the state again.
Newsline 9's Daniel Woodruff sat down with the Republican governor at the executive resident in Madison to ask how much has changed since June 5.
"Would you say feelings have calmed down a little bit among the lawmakers and you?" asked Daniel.
"There's no doubt about it," replied the governor. "For almost a year, we had all this pressure cooking, certainly here in Madison, but around the state. Much of that, if not all of that, has eased."
Walker says he's been focused on getting out of Madison, traveling the state, and working on other important issues like the drought.
"It goes beyond just the capitol dome to working on issues that transcend party lines," said Walker.
But what about inside the capitol? Days after the recall election, Walker held a closely-watched cookout with members of both parties. At the time, some called that a good first step.
"I hope that this event—and I think it will—turn us in a little different direction," said State Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover).
But since then, Walker says he really hasn't had much regular contact with lawmakers besides a few briefings.
"Between now and January, the legislature's not in session," said Walker. "So a lot of times lawmakers aren't here. They're out in their districts."
But it's also a different legislature than it was before. One Republican lost his recall race. giving Democrats control of the senate. The new democratic majority leader is now calling for a special session to work on jobs—something Wisconsin could certainly improve on. New numbers from the state Department of Workforce Development show Wisconsin lost almost 12,000 jobs last month, and unemployment went up.
Could working on jobs be an opportunity for both sides to work together? Maybe, Walker says, but on one condition.
"I'd consider calling the legislature into special session if and only if I thought all four caucuses could reach some sort of a consensus on issues," said Walker.
Asked if he thought they could, Walker said, "Well, I haven't seen anything yet."
If Walker doesn't call lawmakers back into session, then the next true test of bipartisanship may not come until January—after the elections. But the governor promises to keep lawmakers in the loop before then.
"Throughout the summers we prepare the budget," said Walker. "We're going to be reaching out as we look at initiatives to bring up in the January cycle."
But before that time, Walker could enjoy some of the fruits of his recall victory. Since the election, his popularity among Republicans has skyrocketed. He's also been rumored as a possible GOP convention speaker.
"If Governor Romney's team thinks that my having a presence there whether it's speaking or otherwise adds value to them, I'd certainly be willing to do that," said Walker.
Certainly, a lot of people will be watching to see what role Walker plays nationally. But just as many will be watching here in Wisconsin to see if the rest of Walker's term will be calmer and more cooperative than the beginning.
A lot can happen. But in the governor's eyes, things have already improved.
"I think there's a sense that people have relaxed a little bit," said Walker. "They're taking a breath. Regardless of who they voted for on June 5th, they're just happy the election's over, and they're happy to get back to business."
To view Newsline 9's interview with Gov. Walker, click on the related video link.