Even when Kapanke walks into a favored haunt here, like Marge's Restaurant, he greets some diners with the question, "We still friends?"
Everyone greeted Kapanke warmly, even those who don't like his vote. "He's all right. He's always done good by me," said Norm Deml, an 83-year-old retired mechanic and union member. However, he hopes Walker -- who was elected in November and can't be challenged until this fall -- gets recalled.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday, April 09, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
Wisconsin recalls: In the April 4 LATExtra section, an article about efforts to recall lawmakers in Wisconsin misspelled the name of a town. It is Viroqua, not Veroqua.
Other diners were happy with the steps Kapanke and his fellow Republicans are taking. "I'm 100% behind him," said Olen Nantz, 58. "He did what he knew was right."
"No," interjected Dale Cornforth, 70, who lives across the Mississippi in Minnesota but liked Kapanke so much he donated to his prior campaigns. Kapanke was pressured by GOP leaders to support the union bill, said Cornforth, adding that he would no longer donate to Kapanke.
Kapanke said that if the election were held today he would only have, "at best," a 50-50 chance of surviving. The odds will improve once the legislative session winds down and he can spend more time back home explaining how his vote can generate jobs, he said.
"You'll see people looking at Wisconsin more because we have the intestinal fortitude to put our budget in order," he said.
Though residents are clearly upset, some question recalling legislators over a single vote.
"The voters have already spoken," said John Wisand, 57, a lab technician who voted against Kapanke and Walker in previous elections. "You can disagree with his politics, but the people voted him in."
Others say it may be the only way to correct a political climate that has skewed to the extremes. Dan Slama, a computer consultant from the neighboring town of Onalaska, said that Kapanke and other Republicans should have negotiated with unions after workers agreed to the benefits concession.
"Politics in general is getting worse," said Slama, 31, an independent. "It's not just Wisconsin, it's everywhere. There is just no more middle ground anymore."
He signed the recall petition too.