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MADISON, Wis. – Faced with a near-certain Republican victory that would end a half-century of collective bargaining for public workers, Wisconsin Democrats retaliated with the only weapon they had left: They fled.
Fourteen Democratic lawmakers disappeared from the Capitol on Thursday, just as the Senate was about to begin debating the measure aimed at easing the state's budget crunch.
By refusing to show up for a vote, the group brought the debate to a swift halt and hoped to pressure Republicans to the negotiating table.
"The plan is to try and slow this down because it's an extreme piece of legislation that's tearing this state apart," Sen. Jon Erpenbach said.
The move drew cheers from tens of thousands of protesters — teachers, prison guards and others targeted by the proposal — who filled the Statehouse during the past three days.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who took office just last month, has made the bill a top priority. He urged the group to return and called the boycott a "stunt."
Associated Press writers Todd Richmond and Jason Smathers in Madison and Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City contributed to this story.
MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin State Patrol was dispatched Friday to find a Democratic state senator who fled the Capitol to delay the near-certain passage of a bill to end a half-century of collective bargaining rights for public workers, a measure that's attracted thousands of protesters for four days.