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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

Interview

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STATE SEN. JOHN ERPENBACH (D), WISCONSIN: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: The best Democrats could do is to go 3-3 tonight, three wins and three losses. Right now we do not know what has happened, what the final result is going to be in the Alberta Darling race. Do you have any further information for us about what we have to expect there in terms of when things will come in and what we should look for?

ERPENBACH: Well, we`ve been told now by Waukesha County that we won`t know for at least an hour what the results are in Waukesha County which Rachel is simply ridiculous. They have the same voting machines everybody else does. And it`s coming down to Waukesha County yet again here in the state
of Wisconsin.

So that`s real frustrating. If you recall, in the Supreme Court race we had here in Wisconsin a short time ago, Joanne Kloppenburg was unofficially declared the winner on election night but in Waukesha County the next day or two they found 14,000 more votes for Justice Prosser. So, that`s what`s going on in Wisconsin. It`s ridiculous it`s come down to this.

MADDOW: In terms of results so far in that race, I think we`ve got one more board we can show you right now.

I`m told we`ve got 79 percent of precincts now reporting, Alberta Darling leading Sandy Pasch 52 48. Again, that is with 79 percent of precincts reporting. And of course all eyes on Waukesha County.

Senator Erpenbach, if the results go either 3-3 tonight or 2-4, if Alberta Darling does hold on, what do you think that`s going to mean for the state Senate? Do you think that tonight changes things regardless of what happens in this race?

ERPENBACH: I think it does simply because we`ve already won two seats. We`ve won two seats in one a fairly Republican area. There`s no doubt about that. And obviously we`re pretty neck and neck in a very Republican area with Senator Darling right now. It`s no doubt it`s going to send a message we need to get along, we need to get together. And what you said at the top of the show regarding Dale Schultz is absolutely true.

Dale`s a good guy. He looks at the issue more so than he looks at the party. He`s always been that way. And he`s also more about good government and what good can we do as opposed to OK, how can one party
stick it to the other. He`s always been that way. So, needless to say in working with Tim Cullen and trying to deal with some bipartisan stuff ini the Senate I think it`s good.

MADDOW: In terms of Dale Schultz, the details of how important he will be, particularly if the Alberta Darling race, if Alberta Darling is able to fend off this recall challenge, again, at this point we are not calling
that race.

Is Dale Schultz somebody who`s going to face pressure to actually switch parties, or is he somebody you who see staying as a Republican but being willing to substantively work with Democrats issue to issue?

ERPENBACH: I don`t think Dale`s switching parties, but again, I think Dale will govern the way he`s always governed, vote at way he`s always voted. He`s already has taken a look at the issues.

Number one, how it has an impact on his district like we all do and then secondly how it has an impact on the rest of the state of Wisconsin which would explain his vote on collective bargaining back in March I believe is when that happened.

But in the end what`s going on in Senator Darling`s district is we`re going to have a very, very close race. There is a file of absentee ballots to be counted yet so, you`re right, nobody`s conceding anything.

But again, in order to get the state of Wisconsin together and move us forward that certainly could start in the state Senate with Dale Schultz working with the Democrats.

MADDOW: What we do know tonight is you`ve got two new democratic colleagues that you`ll be working with shortly, Jennifer Shilling and Jessica King. What can you tell us about what`s important about the
districts in which those two new democratic senators won tonight?

ERPENBACH: Well, let`s start with Jess King`s seat. Now, that`s a Republican seat that`s been held by a Republican for a long time. And when Jess ran against Randy Hopper a year ago, a couple of years ago, she came in within a few hundred votes of actually defeating him. And it`s one of those races that flew underneath the radar. But it also tells you that what`s trending in Wisconsin is trending a little more democrat. So that`s good.

Over in Western Wisconsin, where Jen Shilling won, it doesn`t surprise me Jen won, first of all. She`s an outstanding legislator. She`s done a phenomenal outstanding job in the state assembly. She`ll do an even better job in the state Senate. We`re happy to have her. That seat`s gone back and forth, but Dan Kapanke was a pretty popular guy out there.

So, if anything - what I see coming out of western Wisconsin, what it should tell Governor Walker is that Western Wisconsin that voted for the Republicans does not like the Republican agenda. And it`s one of those
things, again Rachel, you take the whole issue statewide I think for Scott Walker that`s not necessary very good news because we picked up two Republican seats, we`re tight in a third Republican seat. So in the end
the two additions that we have I think it`s great.

MADDOW: In terms of what you were mentioning earlier about Waukesha County, obviously we have seen -- County Clerk Cathy Nicholas in Waukesha County is the only famous county clerk in America right now because of her role in some election consternation in Wisconsin over the past few months.

Because we are waiting on Waukesha County, because that is the same area that we were waiting on after the state Supreme Court race, are there election protection concerns? Are there integrity of the vote concerns as this comes in so late? There are?

ERPENBACH: I can tell you as a citizen of Wisconsin I do have concerns now.

You know, mistakes are going to happen. And I gave Waukesha County the benefit of the doubt as much as it was tough to do back in the Supreme Court race. Waukesha doesn`t get the benefit of the doubt now. Neither does Cathy Nicholas. This is two important elections in a row. And for her to sit on the results is absolutely astonishing.

You know, Tammy Baldwin, who`s a congressperson from Madison, did ask for an investigation. And you don`t want to play with the elections like this.

You simply don`t. Just give us the truth. Win or lose. We just want the truth. And Waukesha County should have been one of the first counties reporting, not the last county to report.

MADDOW: Senator Erpenbach, I`ll just ask you one last question here because you`ve got an amazing backdrop behind you, which is a whole lot of Wisconsinites who are very engaged on what`s going on.

ERPENBACH: A lot of your fans, Rachel.

MADDOW: Again, it`s very flattering. Thank you.

But let me just ask you, it`s been a long night already, and we still don`t know. The balance of power in the state Senate is still hanging. We still don`t know what`s going to happen. And it may be some time before we get results here. How do people feel?

ERPENBACH: People feel really optimistic and upbeat. Just the fact that we are that close in Alberta Darling`s seat says an awful lot not only about Sandy Pasch but the issues, obviously, we feel are very, very
strongly on our side. So optimism is still running very high. We know it`s going to be very close. We know there`s a pile of absentee ballots that are out there. And I really don`t hope there`s an over vote or an
over count in Waukesha County that would certainly taint things. So we`re optimistic and we`ll wait and see what happens. We`ll be up here all night.

MADDOW: Democratic State Senator John Erpenbach of Wisconsin, Thank you once again for your time tonight, sir. Enjoy the night. I really appreciate it.

ERPENBACH: Thanks, Rachel. Good to see you again.

MADDOW: Thank you.

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