Schultz may decide key Senate votes
CREATED Aug. 23, 2011
MONROE - Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) is a farmer, hunter and three-decade lawmaker. Now, many consider him the most powerful senator in the state.
"Obviously, you're going to smile a little bit," Schultz said when asked about his potential to sway the outcome of a controversial vote.
When Republicans voted on public employee collective bargaining changes while senate Democrats were out of state in protest, Schultz was the only Republican to vote no.
"I'm the kind of person who will think for himself and isn't afraid to step out of the partisan role for the good of the state," Schultz told TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray.
Then, there were 19 Republicans and 14 Democrats in the senate. Republicans could afford to lose the Schultz vote. Now, after the recall elections, the GOP clings to the majority by just one seat. Democrats won two seats from recalled Republicans.
Schultz said he would cast the same vote today.
"Every senator in the senate is important now. Every vote is important," said Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green).
Democrats are hoping they have an ally in Schultz.
"He voted against the Budget Repair Bill and we know that," said Rep. Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville). "It doesn't mean he'll always vote that way."
Schultz is making no promises to either side.
"We're in this together and that is more important than the partisan stripes we wear on our shirt sleeves," he said.
TODAY'S TMJ4 spoke with Schultz, Marklein and Ringhand at a Monroe Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday. Schultz will represent the area when new Republican-drawn district boundaries take effect. Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) currently represents Monroe.