Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is reviewing a set of quickly-passed bills, considering whether, as one of his last acts as governor, he will sign off on an effort to strip away some powers from his Democratic successor and restrict early voting.
Walker has not commented publicly on the measures since they were passed by lawmakers early Wednesday morning, but signaled his support for them in comments made to reporters Monday afternoon.
A spokeswoman for the governor said Friday that he is reviewing the bills and did not give a timeline for when he will decide whether to approve them. He has six days to sign the bills, veto them or let them become law without his signature.
Gov.-elect Tony Evers, who will be sworn in on Jan. 7, told reporters Wednesday afternoon he hopes to speak with Walker directly in an effort to dissuade him from signing the proposals.
Although Evers has not ruled out litigation if the bills become law, he said his current focus is on "making sure the people of Wisconsin communicate directly with the governor and talk to him and his staff in a way that would convince him he needs to change his thinking."
Some pleas for Walker to veto the measures have come from past and current allies.
Sheldon Lubar, a prominent Milwaukee businessman and longtime Republican donor who supported Walker until his most recent re-election effort, shared an email he sent Walker with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Tuesday. The effort, spearheaded in the Legislature by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, would "malign (the Republican Party of Wisconsin's) integrity and lead to its downfall," Lubar argued.
Lubar urged Walker not to "destroy" his reputation by signing the legislation.
"You can have a long successful career ahead," Lubar wrote. "Don't stain it by this pointless, poor-loser action. Ask yourself, what would my father say, what would the greatest man who ever lived, Jesus Christ, say."
Walker's father, a retired Baptist preacher, died in October.
In a column for The Atlantic, former conservative talk radio host Charlie Sykes described the bills — passed in a lame-duck extraordinary session — as "petty, vindictive and self-destructive."
"Signing the lame-duck legislation would be an especially classless way for Walker to leave office; it will tarnish his reputation in ways that I’m not sure he grasps. And, frankly, it’s just not worth it," Sykes wrote.
Sykes' argument landed him in a brief Twitter spat with state Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, who accused Sykes of evolving his opinions "to conform to coastal elites."
"Parroting leftwing talking points instead of facts gets you on MSNBC maybe, but it's why many of us don't listen to your suggestions anymore," Stroebel said in a tweet directed at Sykes.
In a statement, Stroebel lauded the measures as a way to protect policies enacted by Republicans over the last eight years.
"Wisconsin has come a long way in the last eight years and now is not the time to abandon proven solutions that are working on behalf of state taxpayers. If Governor-elect Tony Evers wants to make changes, the legislative process is at his disposal," Stroebel said.
Proponents of the legislation have argued it is necessary to maintain a balance of power among each branch of state government. Voters on Nov. 6 elected Democrats to lead the executive and judicial branches, but Republicans retained majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.
Lawmakers worked through the night from Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday morning as they navigated closed-door meetings and negotiations to pass the bills, which were first introduced Friday afternoon. The proposals earned no Democratic support and drew a handful of Republican defectors.
Under the legislation, the state could not withdraw from a lawsuit without legislative approval — a change that would prevent Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul from upholding their campaign promises to remove Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
The legislation also narrows the window for early voting to two weeks before an election and shifts a variety of decision-making powers from the executive and judicial branches to the Legislature.
Democrats in the state Senate used their weekly radio address to urge Walker not to sign the bills, but Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, said he's not holding his breath.
"Wisdom is knowing the right path to take, integrity is taking it. Scott Walker would be wise not to sign these bills," Miller said in the address.