Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald joined Charlie Sykes on Wednesday to talk about his disappointment surrounding the bill’s failure. “There was some real indications that one of these Democrats was going to vote with us and move this bill forward.”
On Monday night five labor unions and Gogebic Taconite’s thought they saw an opening. According to sources, Senator Carpenter was indicating that he might be willing to vote for the mine and its thousands of jobs. But Carpenter apparently voiced concern about how a mine up near Lake Superior would benefit his constituents in Milwaukee. Carpenter, John’s (Mercure ~ my edit) told, expressed an interest in having a fully funded mining and manufacturing program developed in inner city Milwaukee — specifically he wanted the program to train high school students in his district for future mining and manufacturing jobs. And Carpenter was apparently insistent that the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce administer the program. Why the Hispanic chamber? It turns out that Senator Carpenter’s Senate District has the largest population of Hispanics of any of the state’s 33 Senate districts.
So the training initiative was inserted into the bill. And sources say that in exchange for the initiative, Carpenter committed to voting for the bill.
About 5 p.m the vote was called. Nervously, Democrats and Republicans filed into the chamber. Both sides though they had the votes to win. Both sides were also very nervous. State Sen. Tim Carpenter is the first one in the roll call. All eyes were on him as the roll was called. Almost immediately there was confusion. John reports there was a murmur and he looked confused. Senate President Mike Ellis asked Carpenter if that was how he intended to vote and he abruptly changed his vote and cast the vote that would ultimately defeat the measure.
Republicans were stunned. The labor unions that had negotiated the Milwaukee based training deal were angry — and confused. One union guy John spoke with Wednesday said he feels that Carpenter betrayed them. 95% of the thousands of jobs created would have been family supporting union jobs
While Zach was originally publishing the rumor about Senator Carpenter’s inclination to vote in favor of the mining bill, I was talking on the phone with another source who was giving me the same information. Despite subsequent denials from the Democratic Party later that evening…it looks like there was more to the rumor than idle gossip.