As the labor battle in Wisconsin enters its second week, there are few signs of political peace on the horizon. As Republican senators go back to work Tuesday, their Democratic counterparts remain in self-imposed exile in Illinois.
Instead of walking the halls of the capitol, the so-called "Wisconsin 14" are spending their days marooned in Illinois and trying as hard as they can to get out their message. They say they left the state to prevent a quorum in the state legislature - not just to run and hide.
"I don't think we've gone AWOL," said Democratic Sen. Tim Carpenter. "I think the governor's gone haywire."
"Our purpose is to slow things up an bit and let the people really realize what is happening," said Democrat Fred Risser.
Frustrated by what they say is a take-no-prisoners governor who refuses to negotiate, the Democratic senators are staying out of state so there won't be enough senators to enable a vote.
Some say the absent Democrats are holding the legislative process hostage.
But, "The reason we left is because our presence wasn't being heard," said Sen. Spencer Coggs. "Our absence is speaking volumes."
"We strongly believe [the governor] is headed in the wrong direction and taking us down the drain and destroying the middle class," said Sen. David Hansen.
Both sides are sides so dug in, any conciliatory may be seen as a concession. There's no timetable for the exiled Democrats. They say they're waiting to hear from the governor.