Posted Friday, Feb. 25, 2011, at 12:38 AM
MADISON, Wisc. -- Around 10:30 p.m., shortly before the doors to the Capitol would close for the night, word went out among protesters that the Assembly would be voting on the budget repair bill.
This wasn't supposed to happen. Democrats were using every stalling tactic they could to move the vote to the early morning or even Friday. Matt Dannenberg, an organizer for the League of Conservation voters, ran around the 2nd floor of the Capitol to drive a chant of "This is not democracy!"
Inside the chamber, Democrats tried a tactic they'd threatened two days ago -- a motion to remove Rep. Bill Kramer as speaker pro tem. Republicans sighed, using floor time to bemoan the lack of decorum. Rep. Robert Turner, a Democrat, stood and asked Kramer to step aside for the remainder of the debate.
"Fair enough," said Kramer. He stepped aside. The motion was defeated. That gave Democrats a chance to make final statements. Rep. Gordon Hintz began a long peroration about labor history, the "David Koch" prank, and everything else he could think of.
"What I don't see out there are out-of-state protesters are hobos or communists," he said. Indeed, the crowd had quieted down. But: "Never underestimate the will of someone when their back is against the wall."
Rep. Therese Berceau was next. "I think tonight we had a Gabrielle Giffords moment," she said. "I don't know if you heard that outside, but it shook me up."