Are transportation officials in D.C. scared? Does Gov. Doyle have a newfound respect for the will of the people? Or was Scott Walker just right all along?
My first guess would be none of the above, followed closely by the first scenario, which has been reported as rumor by media. The following analysis is based on conventional wisdom and my gut.
It seems implausible that the state would sign a deal with the feds days before the election aimed at speeding up the rail-building process if a GOP takeover would mean immediate capitulation. Doyle et al. knew Walker was probably going to win and that the GOP was likely to take back the legislature. Why feed the Republican anti-train hysteria before the election only to back down afterwards?
"Doyle is an arrogant bastard" might be a tempting response, but a naive one at that.
If the decision to halt the train was truly Doyle's, it was likely made to make things harder on Scott Walker, not easier. The sooner the train was halted, the more time the media has to report that Walker's campaign pledge to turn the train money into roads money cannot be fulfilled. The money must either go towards creating jobs and development through high-speed rail in Wisconsin, or towards all that good stuff in other states.
My guess is Doyle is banking on a report to come out, perhaps a legal analysis, which shows the above scenario to be fact. If this happens before the inauguration in January, the Democrats can put the train project back on the tracks and force the GOP to turn away the money during the legislative session.
The second most likely scenario is that Walker, supported by overwhelming GOP legislative majorities, does have some ability to stop the train, and the feds don't want to deal with it. However, that hardly means the feds want to cut and run. They may be giving Doyle time to demonstrate to the Wisconsin public the benefits of high-speed rail, and to lean on Walker to play ball.
I do not buy the idea, however, that the state simply forfeited after the election. The issue is not dead yet. I am guessing the fun just started.