October 20, 2014

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 and Burke set to meet for 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)

Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke will meet tonight for another debate, a week after their first meeting in Eau Claire.

The two candidates will meet tonight at seven on the Milwaukee Area Technical College campus. It’s the second and final debate between the two, with a little over two weeks to go before the November 4th election. The debate will be broadcast statewide.

Walker and Burke have been polling consistently within the margin of error against each other, with the most recent Marquette University Law School Poll showing them splitting the vote among likely voters at 47 percent each. Both candidates have repeatedly said the election will hinge largely on turn-out, which is a message both have been trying to push across the state in the final weeks of the campaign.

Check back with WRN later tonight for full coverage of the debate.

Burke says broader approach needed at WEDC

Mary Burke (Photo: WRN, file)

Mary Burke (Photo: WRN, file)

The Democratic candidate in the race for governor says the state needs a different approach to economic development.

Democrat Mary Burke claims the current setup of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is not working. If elected, she wants to create a position above the current CEO of the public-private partnership, to help promote job creation and coordinate efforts between multiple agencies. During a stop in Middleton Thursday, Burke said “You have to align entirely economic development and public policy around job creation, and so you have to involve workforce development, regulation, education.”

Republican Governor Scott Walker, who Burke is challenging in November, serves as the chair of the agency’s board, but Burke says a higher level of involvement is needed because it’s “not enough.”

The agency, which was created by Walker and Republicans to replace the state Department of Commerce. The agency has attracted a great deal of controversy in its early years, including an audit that found the agency had failed to track loans it was charged with overseeing. Governor Walker has repeatedly defended the agency and backed reforms to improve accountability.

Race for Wisconsin governor remains a dead heat

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)

With less than three weeks to go before the election, the race for governor in Wisconsin remains a statistical dead heat between incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke.

The latest Marquette University Law School Poll released shows Walker and Burke tied among likely voters at 47-47. Walker led Burke 48-45 among registered voters, within the poll’s margin of error.

The poll also shows a split in the race for attorney general, with Republican Brad Schimel and Democrat Susan Happ splitting the vote at 42-42, with about 16 percent of voters still undecided on who they will vote for in the race.

The poll interviewed 1,004 registered voters, with 803 of those saying they are likely to vote on November 4. It was conducted October 9-12 and has a margin of error among registered voters of +/- 3.2 percent and +/- 3.5 percent among likely voters.

Burke blasts school choice

Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

Central Wisconsin saw more activity from candidates for statewide political office Monday. Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke stopped in Stevens Point, where she discussed her jobs plan with employees of Sentry Insurance before taking some questions from the media.

Burke made it clear she is not satisfied with recent reports showing the state spent millions of dollars on charter schools that failed.  “It’s outrageous that the state has spent over $100 million on schools that were not meeting their requirements, and their accountability, and so this is a program that Governor Walker wants to expand throughout the state without the type of accountability that is needed, and at the same time, it is draining money from our local schools and local school districts, and that is my concern.”

The Democratic candidate for governor says the school voucher program is hurting public schools. “The fact that Governor Walker wants to take precious resources, education dollars, and put them into unaccountable, taxpayer funded, private school voucher programs is not how we’re going to improve education here in Wisconsin.”

She adds,“There are some good schools in these programs. We should build on the good models, but expanding this program statewide without identifying how it’s going to be funded, or unless someone has another way of raising that money, or Governor Walker plans on raising taxes to pay for this program, the statewide expansion is only taking money from our public schools, so I do not believe it has any role in being expanded throughout the state.”

Burke said she felt she did well in Friday’s debate, and looks forward to meeting more people before this Friday’s second debate.

Larry Lee, WSAU