A day after Gov. Dayton criticized "extreme right-wing" factions of the Republican caucus for hindering budget negotiations, freshman senators returned to the Capitol Wednesday to prove just how normal they were.

One donned a baseball cap. Another held a baby. Their ranks included an attorney, an accountant, a resort owner, a teacher and a real estate agent -- all noted on a GOP press release.

“We’re not being unreasonable," said Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Lake Elmo. "We’re not being extreme. We’re being mainstream.”

The senators derided the governor's "name-calling" and observed that Dayton was much more amicable in private meetings than in front of the cameras.

“I volunteer at the church. It’s not extreme," said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes. "I have done nothing more – and neither have my colleagues – than keep the commitments we made to the voters during the election campaign.”

Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, said the caucus already "went from $30 billion to $34.2 billion" in devising its budget. That compares last year's state spending, minus federal stimulus dollars and shifted education money, to the current GOP proposal.

But while Dayton made an offer and scaled it back, Republicans set $34 billion targets in March and haven't wavered.

Sen. Benjamin Kruse, R-Brooklyn Park, said they did not attempt to aim lower and work up because "we didn’t want to play politics. We don’t have time to play politics.”

Howe, meanwhile, conceded that "maybe we should have started at $32 billion, and created a budget, and been willing to come off of that number." He declined to specify where they would have made the extra cuts.

"He’s winning on this message right now, I believe," Howe said, referring to Dayton.