MADISON, Wis. - Amid the ongoing recall effort seeking to unseat him, Gov. Scott Walker will present his State of the State address on Wednesday to a bitterly divided state Legislature.
Almost as intriguing as what the governor will say is the reaction to his words: Will his audience act with class and dignity? Or will emotions run high?
The potential for drama certainly exists. Politicians who've divided the state, a state Supreme Court so polarized it got physical last year, lawmakers admittedly concerned about recall elections. All in the same room. All in the same room listening to the man who started it all.
It was one year ago, when -- not even one month into the job -- Walker gave his first State of the State address. It was a night when elected leaders come together.
But not long after, they split apart in often dramatic fashion.
Now, a year later, Walker faces a massive recall effort as he gives his second address.
Joe Parisi was a Democratic assemblyman during much of the heated political debate over the past year. Now, the Dane County executive, he said he hopes for respect during Wednesday's speech.
"The situation in the state and across the country is very tense," said Parisi. "Partisanship is very high. But we really do owe it to the people who elect us, the people we're working for, to show a sense of decorum."
Rick Skindrud has watched 16 State of the State speeches -- 10 as a Republican representative, then six as the Assembly's sergeant-at-arms.
Now retired, Skindrud said he agrees things have changed. He said he thinks we could see the result of that change come Wednesday night.
"It's something to behold," said Skindrud. "All the power of the state is in one room."
Skindrud said that the political climate around the state is very polarized.
"You talk to anybody on the street anymore and ask them their opinion on anybody in government service anymore, 'Oh. they're all a bunch of crooks, throw them out,'" said Skindrud.
Skindrud said lawmakers will probably be civil during Walker's speech. Instead of shouting out, he said he expects opponents to remain silent in protest, as he did when Republicans were the minority.
"There was many times when I sat there, bit my tongue, did my voting, and realized our time was going to come," said Skindrud. "Because I hated some of the things they did."
In Wednesday's speech, Walker will highlight his policy changes made over the past year with a look forward to how they will influence events in 2012.
Since much of his rhetoric has been on job creation, it is expected that jobs will be a major part of the speech.
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