The flight of Wisconsin’s Democratic state senators to Illinois to avoid voting on a measure to strip public unions of power has attracted national attention for weeks. The flight of Indiana’s Democratic legislators, not so much.
In an interview with Talking Points Memo, Indiana Democratic state Rep. Pat Bauer, the leader of approximately 40 Indiana House Democrats who remain in hiding in Illinois, said that Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels was a more sly version of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
“Their governor isn’t as clever as our governor,” Bauer said. He told TPM that Daniels’ approach is to propose measures “with a smile,” as opposed to Walker’s method of pushing legislation “with a scowl.”
“The governor of Wisconsin says that the Governor of Indiana is his mentor,” Bauer said. “So obviously Gov. Daniels is smarter and more schooled in how to be a destroyer of the middle class.” Bauer also said that Daniels “doesn’t have the attraction of the demon that his pupil has over there.”
Daniels provoked disappointment from fellow Republicans when he said in late February that he opposed the timing of legislation to make Indiana a “right to work” state. The legislation has since been discontinued as a priority, but Democratic legislators have not returned to work.
Bauer pointed out that the Indiana legislation would be more far-reaching than Wisconsin’s.
“In Wisconsin they’re after public employees,” said Bauer. “Here they’re after public employees private employees teachers, and all of public education. So it’s a little broader, harder, meaner.”
Indiana Republicans are toughening their position on the absentee Democrats. On Thursday, Indiana House Republicans voted to fine the Democrats $250 a day for missing work. The fines will begin on Monday.
Bauer told the Indianapolis Star, “We’ll pay these fines, and it’s worth it.”
The Indiana Democrats have been hiding in neighboring Illinois since February 22. There are no indications that the impasse will be imminently resolved.