“Many in the crowd wore buttons or held signs bearing admiring nicknames for the group: the ‘Fighting 14,’ the ‘Fab 14’ or, simply, ‘the Wisconsin 14.’ They chanted, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Welcome home.’…
“On Saturday, the senators spoke, sometimes boastfully, about their pride in the outpouring of support, their dismay at the law that passed in their absence and their eagerness to meet the protesters who have backed their actions.
“‘I’m one of the Fabulous 14, and I’m so proud,’ said Spencer Coggs, who was first elected to the State Legislature nearly three decades ago. ‘We are back to unite and fight with our supporters. We gave them hope. They gave us inspiration.’…
“The Democrats are still officially in contempt of the Senate, though both sides said it was unlikely that they would be detained. In addition, eight Democrats — as well as eight Republicans — face recall efforts stemming from the dispute.”
“‘The [Democrats’] appearance at the capitol today is in direct violation of the contempt order issued by the state senate earlier this month,’ read Sen. Scott Fitzgerald’s statement in part, ‘and it proves their absolute disregard for the institution of the senate.’
“‘Today, the most shameful 14 people in the state of Wisconsin are going to pat themselves on the back and smile for the cameras,’ Fitzgerald’s statement continued. ‘They’re going to pretend they’re heroes for taking a three-week vacation.’
“‘To the Senate Democrats: when you smile for the cameras today and pretend you’re heroes, I hope you look at that beautiful Capitol building you insulted,’ Fitzgerald concluded. ‘And I hope you’re embarrassed to call yourselves senators.'”
“‘They won the battle; we’re going to win the war,’ said Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay)…
“Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville), who spearheaded negotiations to try to come to a deal over the bill, admitted that damage was done to the institution of the Senate. He said both sides were responsible.
“He also lamented the likelihood that recall elections will soon be held.
“‘We’ve gone from a 24/7 news cycle to 24/7 elections,’ Cullen said.”
“The state capitol of Wisconsin had taken on an eerie quiet on Friday. Gone were the throngs of protesters who occupied its marble floors like a campground in summer. The midnight honking of cars circling the white building had ceased. The chalk ‘dead man’ outlines etched with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s name on the sidewalks remained in dismembered parts, incompletely washed away by clean-up hoses…
“The frustration from the defeat will be channeled elsewhere. Wiping tears from beneath her dark rimmed glasses, Anne Moser, 47, who works for University of Wisconsin Madison’s science-based Water Library, said, ‘People know that violence doesn’t get you anywhere. The attack the Republicans have made is violent and a violation of human rights. It is an attack on the middle class. We teach our children to follow rules and to sit and the table and work it out, but that certainly hasn’t happened here.’ And so she and her allies may seek there revenge elsewhere: in a court of law or, most probably, in a polling booth.”