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, 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.

Wisconsin wolf hunt already ending in one area

File photo: DNR

File photo: DNR

Just days after it started, the state’s wolf hunting season is already ending in portions of northeastern Wisconsin. The Department of Natural Resources says that Zone 2 of the hunt will close at noon on Saturday, October 18.

The decision comes after 12 wolves were reported as killed by hunters and trappers in the area. Zone 2 includes all of Vilas and Oneida counties, and large portions of Marinette, Oconto, Forest, and Lincoln counties. The DNR had set a season quota of 15 wolves for the area.

Five other zones still remain open in the state. As of midday Friday, 28 of the 150 wolves available for harvest had been taken. That’s almost 19 percent of the season’s quota and, if the pace keeps up, it could mean an early end to the hunt. The season is scheduled to run through mid-February, but the state will shut zones down as hunters approach the harvest quota in each area.

Governor Walker outlines Ebola prevention plan

WRN file photo

WRN file photo

Governor Scott Walker is directing state leaders to implement emergency preparedness measures, aimed at protecting the public in the event the Ebola virus spreads to Wisconsin. The virus has only been reported in Texas so far, and the state says there have been no confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

Walker outlined a planned response Friday that includes having the State Health Officer work with the Wisconsin National Guard to train teams on the proper protocols and procedures for treating individuals infected with Ebola. The state will also partner with the Wisconsin Hospital Association and hospitals around Wisconsin to develop an advisory team that can help provide technical and medical expertise to the Department of Health Services.

Finally, Walker joined a growing list of state and federal officials who are calling on the U.S. government to ban commercial travel for West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. The ban would still allow for charter, military, and other flights that are deemed “medically necessary” to help fight the spread of Ebola.

In a statement, Walker said “We must balance our continued efforts to support medical systems and contain and eradicate the virus in West Africa with taking necessary steps to protect American citizens from the virus spreading further within our country.”

In addition to the steps outlined Friday, Walker said the state has a surveillance policy in place to monitor people who have traveled in Ebola-stricken countries.

Congressman Reid Ribble wants Ebola travel ban

Congressman Reid Ribble

U.S. Representative Reid Ribble (R-WI)

A northeastern Wisconsin congressman is calling for stronger action to deal with the Ebola outbreak.

Congressman Reid Ribble (R-WI) sent House Speaker John Boehner a letter Thursday, calling for an emergency session to address the problem. The Sherwood Republican wants to ban commercial travel to Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea.

Ribble is also calling for increased medical and military aid, to help fight the disease. He says it’s very important to deal with the problem at its source.

Ribble said the CDC predicts there could be up to 1.5 million Ebola cases in Africa alone, by the end of January. He says the world needs to end the threat before it gets out of control.

WHBY