MADISON - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a sweeping package of Republican legislation Friday that restricts early voting and weakens the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general, brushing aside complaints that he is enabling a brazen power grab and ignoring the will of voters.
Signing the bills just 24 days before he leaves office, the Republican governor and one-time presidential candidate downplayed bipartisan criticism that they amount to a power grab that will stain his legacy.
Just two hours later, a group run by former Democratic U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced it planned legal action to block the limitation on early voting.
Speaking for 20 minutes and using charts to make his points, Walker detailed all of the governor's powers, including a strong veto authority, that will not change while defending the measures he signed as improving transparency, stability and accountability.
"There's a lot of hype and hysteria, particularly in the national media, implying this is a power shift. It's not," Walker said before signing the measures during an event at a state office building in Green Bay, about 130 miles (209 kilometers) from his Capitol office that has frequently been a target for protesters.
Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers accused Walker of ignoring and overriding the will of the people by signing the bills into law. He held a five-minute news conference in Madison shortly after the signing to accuse Walker of ignoring the will of the voters.
"People will remember he took a stand that was not reflective of this last election," Evers said. "I will be reviewing our options and do everything we can to make sure the people of this state are not ignored or overlooked."