October 24, 2014

Dems, GOP work overtime to turn out voters in Wisconsin

WRN file photo

WRN file photo

In a polarized, evenly-divided state, in which polls show the two gubernatorial candidates in a dead heat among likely voters, every single vote counts. Both political parties say turnout is the key to a win. In the days remaining before the election, Republicans and Democrats are knocking on doors, working the phones, and rallying voters.

Melissa Baldauff is communications director for the state Democratic Party. “There are about a million voters who cast a ballot in 2012, but didn’t vote in the midterm election in 2010.” She says, “It’s a very pivital goal for us here at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to find those voters, and engage those voters, and get them out.” Baldauff adds, early voting frees people up to volunteer on Election Day.

Joe Fadness is executive director for the state Republican Party. He says the state GOP ground game is “second to none.” Fadness says, “These 22 offices that the Republican Party of Wisconsin has are literally across the state everywhere from Kenosha up to Superior.” He says, “There’s not a single vote that can be taken for granted, especially in a state like Wisconsin and especially in a race like this.”

Fadness says TV ads “can only do so much.” It’s the personal one-on-one contact, he says, “that will make the difference.”

A photo ID is not needed in order to vote, but you will need to fill out an absentee application before getting a ballot.

Early in-person voting continues through October 31st — the Friday before Election Day. Absentee ballots can also be cast by mail.

Voters should check with their local municipal clerk’s office for voting times, which is limited to between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays but can vary among offices. Early in-person voting began on Monday October 20th.

Former President Bill Clinton was in Milwaukee Friday motivated the base for Mary Burke. Current President Barack Obama will be campaigning in Milwaukee next week. Meanwhile, Walker’s campaign says New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will campaign in Wisconsin next week to encourage voters to cast their ballots.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report :79

Walker, Burke make closing arguments in final debate

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and GOP Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and GOP Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

The two candidates for governor field questions about jobs numbers, the state budget, education costs, taxes, the Kenosha casino, the economy, and whether to criminalize first offense drunk driving.

The city of Milwaukee gets a lot of attention, with questions about central city violence, unemployment among African Americans, and an arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Governor Scott Walker’s predecessor sees even more attention from the current chief executive. “In the last three years,” Walker says while defending his jobs numbers, “we created twice as many jobs as were created during the three years that my opponent was in charge of the Department of Commerce under Governor Doyle.”

In an effort to compare his Democratic challenger Mary Burke to former Governor Jim Doyle, Walker references Burke’s former boss multiple times. “With the number of times that Governor Walker has mentioned Jim Doyle,” Burke quips, “it’s clear that he’d be running against him than me.”

Burke and Walker differ on drunk driving

Burke says first time offense for driving drunk should be a misdemeanor, saying there needs to be more consequences for the thousands of alcohol-related crashes on Wisconsin roadways. In addition to avoidable deaths, “This is costing our society a lot of money along with the type of personal injury that it causes.”

Republican Governor Scott Walker says it’s a “tragic” issue, but criminalizing first time offenders isn’t the answer. He says the focus needs to be on those who are on the road multiple times driving drunk. “That’s something we have to crack down on,” he says, “Those first time offenders … criminalizing that isn’t the answer. It’s going after repeat offenders.”

Walker says this is an issue that Republicans and Democrats at the Capitol can work on together.

AUDIOOne non-scripted moment came when the clock malfunctioned. :44

Disagreement on the Kenosha casino debate

The high-stakes issue of expanding gaming in Wisconsin gets a lot of attention among the two gubernatorial candidates. Burke says an impartial study is needed before making a decision on a proposal for an off-reservation casino in Kenosha, saying it’s important to look at the impact on Kenosha, Milwaukee, and the state over all.

“I have said that if it shows that it creates a significant number of new jobs and it adds to Wisconsin’s employment and tax base, that I would approve that casino.”

Burke says she will make a decision and won’t “kick the can down the road” like her opponent.

Meanwhile, Walker says he’s done a lot to increase jobs in the area, but says the biggest issue holding up the Kenosha casino project is the tribal compacts his predecessor Governor Jim Doyle negotiated. Walker says he’ll take the time to get it right, so the state doesn’t lose money on the deal. “We’re gonna take the full amount of time that we need to … to make sure we can get to a point where we can create those jobs. We can have a win, win, win. Create the jobs there, protect the jobs in other parts of the state, and make sure we do that without creating a $100,000 hole in the state budget.”

AUDIO: Burke closing argument 2:47

AUDIO: Walker closing argument 3:06

The small percentage of independent voters have just two weeks to make up their minds before Election Day. Walker and Burke continue to say a win in this hotly-contested race will depend largely on voter turn-out. Both candidates have been running head-to-head in polls, with the most recent Marquette University Law School Poll showing them at 47 percent each among likely voters.

The two candidates met in Milwaukee for an event that was sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and was broadcasts statewide on television and radio. Burke and Walker were questioned by a panel of broadcast journalists. Burke and Walker met the week before for their first debate in Eau Claire.

Walker, Burke differ on significance of abortion debate among voters

Mary Burke, Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Mary Burke, Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Republican Governor Scott Walker, who is pro-life, says voters don’t want to belabor the abortion issue. “You guys are asking a lot of interesting questions that quite honestly I don’t hear anyone ask.” He says people who talk to him on the campaign trail prefer to talk about jobs and education.

During a meeting with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board on Tuesday (jsonline video), Walker said people who talk to him on the campaign trail have other priorities. The following day, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, who is pro-choice, met with the same editorial board, whose meeting was streamed live on its website.

Burke said people do want to discuss women’s health — and abortion. “I think people do care. And the fact that there are ads running on TV I think indicates that it is a subject that is important to people.”

And not just women. Burke says men who have daughters want them to have options, the right to make their own decisions about their bodies.

Some arguments include a mandated 24-hour waiting period before having an abortion, a required ultrasound, and bans on abortions after 20 weeks. Walker and Burke agree on parental consent of minors.

The two candidates meet for the second of two debates tonight in Milwaukee.

Mary Burke downplays ties to former boss Jim Doyle

Then-Governor Jim Doyle introduces his new Commerce Secretary Mary Burke. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

Then-Governor Jim Doyle introduces his new Commerce Secretary Mary Burke. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke appears to be distancing herself from former Governor Jim Doyle, with whom she worked for nearly three years.

During a meeting with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board Wednesday, Burke said she hasn’t sought advice from the man who appointed her as his Commerce Department secretary in 2005. “I talk to Governor Doyle, uh, infrequently.”

Burke said she hardly communicates with her former boss at all. “Not even once a month,” saying it’s been only a “few times” since she got into the race. Doyle was first elected in 2002 and served two terms as Wisconsin’s chief executive. Burke said, “I have a lot of good people on my team and I get a lot of good advice.”

Governor Scott Walker, who doesn’t talk about Burke by name, frequently compares his opponent’s policies to those of his predecessor — even mentioning him four times in last Friday’s debate. Walker says electing Burke would be essentially a third term for Doyle.

For her part, Burke said there were things on which she and Doyle did not see “eye to eye,” including raids to the transportation fund and large increases to college tuition.

Burke and Walker are tied in the latest Marquette University Law School poll that was released on Wednesday.

Burke says plagiarism accusations slowed campaign momentum

Mary Burke rallies her supporters in Madison (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

Mary Burke rallies her supporters in Madison (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

When pressed about earlier accusations of copying parts of her jobs plan, first reported by BuzzFeed, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said criticisms are just a matter of ‘politics as usual.’

During a meeting with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board Wednesday, Burke said she took the claims seriously and responded immediately. “I was on it from day one. I remember because I was on the phone and doing interviews the first day that it came out.” She says, “That’s politics. This was no doubt politically motivated to take the attention off some really bad job numbers that were released at the exact same time.”

A consultant, who worked for several Democratic candidates, was blamed for using his own words in multiple campaigns. Though, Burke said, “It’s definitely my plan.”

In her defense, Burke had said she wants to bring the best ideas to Wisconsin and “I don’t care where they’re coming from.”  She also said last month, “As governor, I am going to welcome ideas from other places — the best ideas, the best practices.”

Burke said at today’s meeting the snafu probably slowed the momentum of her campaign as she strives to replace first term Governor Scott Walker on November 4th. “Yeah, sure. It had an impact, but there are three weeks to go on this. This is how politics go. This is how campaigns go.”

Turnout will be the key to winning the election. Just minutes after Burke made her comments, the Marquette University Law School poll released its latest findings, showing Burke and Walker tied.