Why was State Sen. Lena Taylor getting a big hug from Republican colleague Dan Kapanke? "We're so proud of you," he gushed.
Why was her chief of staff celebrating in the National Rifle Assn. gaggle, where they were high-fiving or shooting guns into the air or whatever NRA types do to celebrate?
Because Taylor, who said she ""understands the challenges of urban Wisconsin," had just voted to put many more guns on the streets of Milwaukee.
She apparently knows something different about urban challenges than the police chief, mayor, and district attorney in Milwaukee who all had serious objections to the bill and said it would make Milwaukee streets less safe.
She must know something that the other State Senators from Milwaukee -- Tim Carpenter, Spencer Coggs, and Chris Larson -- know. They all voted against the concealed carry bill that passed the State Senate 25-8 on Tuesday.
Coggs, who like Taylor represents part of the central city, said: "Under this bill you can bring a gun into a bar, a day care center, a public building and a domestic abuse center. That is not the kind of bill we need in the state of Wisconsin. With this bill we'll have more guns, not fewer guns."
Taylor, it's true, was not the only Dem to vote for the bill. Six Dems joined all 19 Republicans in voting for passage. Some of the other Dems are from more rural areas; some are facing recalls; some had backed concealed carry in the past. Here's the roll call.
But Taylor's vote was the shocker, even though she had telegraphed it in a bizarre news release in which she said that :
I grew up around guns. My mother took me to the shooting range, exercised her use of guns for recreations and protection and had beautiful pieces of art that were guns. Guns should not be feared, in fact, shooting can be a fun sport. Guns are machines with an awesome power which must be respected and exercised appropriately. Guns are pieces of art, crafted just as cars, boats, other items we treasure, that must be cared for. The concealed carry of guns must also be respected, exercised appropriately, and cared for.
So there you have it. Guns are pieces of art. They won't make our streets more dangerous; guns will make them more beautiful.
This was a flip-flop of major proportions for Taylor, who apparently had not come to appreciate the artistic value of firearms when she voted against concealed carry bills in the past.
It makes some people speculate as to whether she has set her sights on statewide office and somehow thinks this will help her.
Despite the undue influence of the NRA over the state legislature, the citizens of Wisconsin strongly oppose concealed carry and say they are less likely to vote for candidates who favor it.
In the most recent poll, done in May by a national pollling firm for the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE), voters statewide opposed concealed carry by a 60%-32% margin. By almost 3 to 1 (60%-21%) they said they would feel less safe if concealed weapons were allowed in public, and by a 2 to 1 margin (48%-23%) they said they were less likely to support a candidate who backs concealed carry.
If Lena Taylor's hoping this will launch some statewide campaign, she is totally off base.
If anything, it may get her a primary challenge next time around, from someone who has a little different view of "the challenges of urban Wisconsin."
I hope so.