Wisconsin Governor Begins Tough Campaign for Reelection
By Patrick Marley
Gov. Scott Walker officially launched his re-election campaign Tuesday at a manufacturing facility in rural Dane County, kicking off a day of rallies around the state.
The first-term Republican will end his day at a rally at State Fair Park in West Allis.
In a 10-minute speech on the shop floor of Dane Manufacturing to about 100 supporters and workers, Walker touted tax cuts and a recovering economy.
"We want to reduce the dependence on government and increase the dependence on hard work and pride," Walker told the crowd.
He highlighted the addition of 100,000 Wisconsin jobs since he became governor three years ago, but did not mention his 2010 promise to create 250,000 jobs in his first term. That's a pledge his supporters acknowledge he cannot meet -- and one his detractors seized on.
In a memo to reporters, the Democratic Governors Association and the Democratic campaign group EMILY's List noted Walker hadn't gotten to the halfway point on his jobs promise and declared him "one of the most vulnerable incumbent governors in the nation."
Walker's re-election announcement was not a surprise. He has made clear since surviving his June 2012 recall election that he planned to seek a second term, often joking that he is the only governor in American history who has been elected twice to the same term. "Today, I officially ask for your vote so that not just my sons, but every son and daughter and every grandson and granddaughter, can grow up in a Wisconsin that's even greater than the one we grew up in," Walker said.
Walker made his announcement the day taxes were due and used the date as a means of highlighting his desire to put money "back into the hands of the people who earned it" by cutting taxes. Tuesday also marked when candidates could begin circulating petitions to get on the ballot; their paperwork is due June 2.
He debuted a new campaign catchphrase -- "Wisconsin is back on" -- and reinforced it with a minute-long television ad. "Wisconsin is turned around," a narrator says in the spot. "The deficit is gone. Taxes are lower. And more people have gone back to work."
Walker faces Democrat Mary Burke, a former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive and former state commerce secretary. She released a statement noting Wisconsin is 35th in the nation in job creation. "Walker's game plan has failed," Burke said in her statement. "Giving tax breaks to out-of-state corporations and those at the top is not how you create jobs. And it's not how you grow the middle class.
"It's time for Wisconsin to lead, not lag."
Walker was introduced by his wife, Tonette, and joined by his sons, Matt and Alex, who are attending Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, respectively.
"Over the last four years, our family has been through a lot," Tonette Walker said. "I'm so proud of the work Scott does. It kind of chokes me up a little because Scott works so hard for Wisconsin."
Wearing an open-collared red shirt with a Bucky Badger logo on the breast, Walker noted the property taxes on the typical home will be lower in December 2014 than they were in December 2010. He also emphasized his approval of a two-year tuition freeze and plans to extend it for an additional two years.
Walker also was making stops in La Crosse, Chippewa Falls, Schofield, Green Bay and West Allis. Burke this week is visiting Milwaukee, Wausau, Superior, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Appleton and Waukesha.
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