Republican Governor Scott Walker, a week after winning a recall election, held a picnic for lawmakers from both parties on Tuesday in Madison to try to begin healing the wounds from the bitter political battle that enveloped his state.
Walker hosted a two-hour bipartisan "Beer and Brat" summit on the grounds of the governor's mansion for 37 Democrats, 60 Republicans and one independent, who enjoyed bratwurst, burgers and drinks from around the state.
"I am hopeful this get-together will forge relationships that will make it easier to work together to help create jobs," said the governor, who invited the 55 Democratic and 75 Republican lawmakers who make up the state legislature to the summit.
Democratic state Representative Mark Pocan was one of a handful of legislators who boycotted the event after his attempts to meet with the governor during his first year and a half in office were denied.
"I am willing and ready to meet with the governor," Pocan said. "Still, I refuse to be involved in what appears to be a media stunt - true bipartisanship will only occur through concrete action made by Governor Walker."
Last Tuesday, Walker became the first state governor in U.S. history to survive a recall when he defeated Democratic challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Walker's victory raised numerous warning flags for President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats, who badly flunked the first big political test of the 2012 campaign ahead of the Nov. 6 presidential and congressional elections.
After taking office last year, Walker angered Democrats and labor organizations with his moves to restrict the collective bargaining powers of unionized state and local government workers. (Editing by Will Dunham)
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