Governor Scott Walker is out with a new campaign ad that targets his likely Democratic opponent in November.
The ad focuses on Democrat Mary Burke’s time as state commerce secretary under then-Governor Jim Doyle, when the state spent $12.5 million on a grant to help purchase 40 acres of land in Kenosha County. The 2006 deal with drug-maker Abbott Laboratories was aimed at encouraging the company to build in Wisconsin on 500 acres of land near Pleasant Prairie, but the ad argues that has not happened yet and the land remains vacant.
Walker says the ad provides a comparison between the two and shows where the future of the state will be with him or Mary Burke in office. He says voters can “look at things like that and it explains why there were nearly half as many jobs created during the three years she was secretary of commerce for Jim Doyle, as during my first three years as governor.”
Walker argues the contract did not include so-called claw-back provisions, which would have allowed the state to recover the money. Burke’s campaign countered that Abbott does not control the land purchased with state funds; the Kenosha Area Business Alliance does. The group is responsible for paying back the grant money to the state if the land is not developed. It pointed to news coverage at the time the deal was announced, which indicated the business group receiving the grant believed it would have no trouble unloading the property if Abbott did not pursue expansion plans.
Burke’s campaign on Tuesday also released a 60 second biographical ad, which highlights her family’s history starting up the Trek Bicycle company and her desire to help create new jobs in Wisconsin.
Speaking to reporters at a campaign stop in Oregon on Tuesday, Governor Walker also responded to a question on why his campaign is focusing solely on Burke so far and not on Democrat Brett Hulsey, who is running a long-shot campaign for the Democratic nomination. Hulsey has showed up at past events where Governor Walker was speaking and appeared at the state Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention in June, despite not being invited to speak to delegates. After a brief pause following the question, Walker simply responded “He’s entertaining…that’s probably my best comment right there.”