By Lyndsey Layton, Washington Post
The Democratic state senators who left Wisconsin to protest Republican legislation to weaken union rights for public workers returned Saturday to thousands of supporters who pledged to continue fighting.
“It’s great to be back in Wisconsin,” said state Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay, one of the 14 lawmakers who returned home after three weeks of self-imposed exile in Illinois.
A cheering crowd bundled up against temperatures in the 30s and stood on the grounds of the state Capitol to ring cowbells and chant “Thank you! Thank you!” to the lawmakers they dubbed the “Fab 14.” State police estimated that 68,000 people had gathered by the start of the rally.
Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, Hansen choked up as he talked of the stresses of life on the lam and of missing home and family.
“So people think this is a picnic for us – they’re wrong,” he said. “We did it for the right reasons. We stood up for our working men and women in the state.”
He said it was difficult to keep all 14 senators united as pressure grew to return to Wisconsin.
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