Russ Decker: Whore or extortionist? You decide

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State Sen. Russ Decker's swan song was a surprise.  The former Senate majority leader -- he was dumped by fellow Democrats Wednesday -- turned his back on his colleagues, his party, his caucus, and the working men and women he has always pretended to represent.

His vote killed 17 contracts with state workers, negotiated during the last 18 months. 

Decker wasn't the only Democrat to vote no.  Jeff Plale did, too, but Plale at least had said in advance what he would do.  Decker blindsided everyone.

His treachery did produce some of the best quotes of the 2009 legislative session, however:

Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar:  "It is the most disgusting behavior by any public official I have seen in 28 years. A leader who abandons his principals, the senate, the workers and left a legacy of being a loser. He's been here for almost 20 years and he will be remembered by this one sad moment in life. That's a shame... "I'm dumbfounded. No matter what his motive is, he's sticking it to a lot of middle class workers. I've never seen anything this selfish."

"No one expected it, but Decker's a whore. He's whoring for (Gov.-elect Scott) Walker; he's whoring for someone, for himself. That's my only comment. There's no other excuse." -- Marty Beil, executive director of AFSCME. "Psychologists probably write books about this type of behavior. It's a disorder that's probably now being named.". "He'll never ever hold a seat as a Democrat (again)."

Many assume Decker got something for his action.  That's what would make him a whore.  Assuming it's not something obvious, like a job in the Walker administration, we may never know.

But it's also possible Decker voted the way he did because he didn't get something.  It would be entirely consistent with his modus operandi to try to squeeze something out of AFSCME or others in return for his vote.  It's been an open secret that he has operated that way as majority leader, holding up or killing bills if he doesn't get what he wants in return.  So maybe this is payback to AFSCME for some past failure to come through.  [UPDATE: Another theory from Marty Beil.]

Or maybe he's still so angry at losing his seat in November's election to a Republican that he's going to act out.

What makes his behavior doubly surprising and reprehensible is that before his election to the Senate, Decker was a journeyman bricklayer, business manager (in other words, full time union staffer) for his local, and is still a member of the Brticklayers International Union, according to his official bio.

Whatever his motives, this was not a vote on the merits. 

Decker ends his legislative career in shame.