With large majorities in the legislature, the GOP no doubt feels pressure to throw a bone to social conservatives in the party base. And why not? They know as well as anybody that the economic promises they made during the campaign can hardly translate into policy.
They can't pass all the tax cuts they've promised in the face of a huge budget deficit, and furthermore, nothing they do can guarantee jobs, no matter how firmly they believe in supply-side economics. What they do will likely have little impact on the state economy. They know this.
The death of the train is a demoralizing disaster. And yet, if Republicans were so united in opposition to a great investment opportunity in the state, you have to seriously start to consider the possibility that they will extend the logic into other promising areas of investment, including stem cell research.
Unlike the train, most people in Wisconsin support embryonic stem cell research. And luckily, hardly any state funds goes into the research, if any at all. Most scientists working on stem cell lines get their funding via grants from the federal government or private sources.
Nevertheless, according to some people I've talked to, Walker truly believes in the anti-abortion mantra against using embryonic stem cells. It's hard to understand why, since the embryos would otherwise be destroyed, but it is nevertheless a position that is deeply important to a certain segment of the GOP base.
Can you imagine if the GOP managed to drive even more research money out of state, perhaps to a state whose research reputation is slightly behind Wisconsin's? Minnesota, for instance.