Eliot Shapleigh, who decided not to seek another term in 2010 and stepped down after 14 years, and 10 other Democrats went into self-imposed exile in Albuquerque, N.M., for six weeks in 2003 to prevent Republicans from passing a redistricting bill. The effort ended when one senator returned to Texas.
"Stay close. When one gets picked off, the game's over," Shapleigh told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Second, deliver a message. People have to have a clear idea of why you're doing what you're doing."
In Wisconsin, 14 Democratic state senators have gone to Illinois to prevent a vote on a bill that would strip public employees of collective bargaining rights. Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, has so far refused offers to compromise.
Shapleigh, remembering his own time in an Albuquerque hotel, said the Wisconsin senators will soon feel the pull of families and jobs. His group adopted a motto, "Never, never, never quit," but in the end, one of them did.