Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke dominated Gov. Scott Walker in the first debate between the two Wisconsin candidates. Walker was on the defensive and was repeated pressed for dodging questions. Walker looked clueless, while Burke seemed ready to be governor.
Democrat Mary Burke began her opening statement by hitting Scott Walker on his broken promise of creating 250,000 jobs. Burke nailed Walker for lower taxes on the rich while raising them on everyone else. She echoed other Democrats around the country by promising to restore education funding that Walker cut.
Gov. Walker used his opening statement by calling for an open and honest discussion about the future of the state. The governor immediately tried to spin his broken job creation promise. Walker’s message is, “We’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet.” He cherry picked some numbers to argue that Wisconsin is on a comeback. He called Burke’s data outdated, but he can’t escape the fact that Wisconsin only added 8,800 jobs this year. Wisconsin’s job growth ranks 33rd in the country and lags behind the national average by two percent.
The first question was about the state’s voter ID law that was shot down by the Supreme Court. Burke supported everyone getting to vote. It was ironic that Walker of all people claimed that voter ID protects the integrity of the state’s elections. The documented cases of voter fraud that have been found in the state have been carried out by Republicans. Walker tried to dodge the voter ID question by saying that he didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
The candidates were asked what they would do that hasn’t been done before to create jobs. Walker used more cherry picked numbers and a manpower report projection. Burke said that what she will do to create jobs is to reduce the costs of higher education. Walker didn’t name a single new policy that he would use to build jobs. Burke hit Gov. Walker for offering a jobs strategy that was more of the same.
The next question focused on the minimum wage. Burke said that the state’s minimum wage wasn’t enough to live on, and she supported raising the wage to $10.10/hour in three steps. She made a great argument that raising the minimum wage gets people off of government assistance. Walker said that he wanted jobs that pay two or three times minimum wage. Walker tried to take credit for putting money into technical colleges, but Burke came back by telling he slashed the technical college budget. Walker brought out the Republican talking point that Wisconsin doesn’t have a jobs problem. They have a work problem. The moderators hit Walker again for dodging the minimum wage question, and he promptly dodged the question of whether he supports raising the minimum wage.
Gov. Walker’s nightmare got worse as he was asked about abortion. Walker tried to massage his harsh anti-woman abortion laws. Burke rocked Walker for passing legislation that gets in the way of women’s health care decision. She drilled Walker for cutting funding for women’s health clinics, and championing laws that harm a woman’s right to choose. Burke came back at Walker for trying to have it both ways, and she said that his position is extreme, and he opposes abortion in all cases.
Walker is having a bad debate. He hasn’t been able to define Burke at all.
The candidates were asked if they would serve their full terms if elected. Burke said she wanted to be the longest serving governor in the state’s history. Walker said his plan was to be there for four years.
Walker was then asked about his decision to turn down federal funds for the Medicaid expansion. Walker said he wanted to repeal Obamacare. Walker cut health care funding by $250 million and threw tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents off of their health care. Burke said that CEO’s would be fired for the kind of fiscal irresponsibility that Walker has shown on health care. Burke hammered Walker again for taking taxpayer dollars away from the state by turning down the Medicaid expansion. Walker slashed more money from Medicaid than any other state.
Questions were asked about Act 10 and fracking. Burke tied Walker to changing the rules for an out of state strip mining company after they gave him a large campaign donation. On a question about the budget, Burke brought up her business experience and called Walker fiscally irresponsible. Burke said that she would stop Walker entitlement programs for the wealthy.
Walker had to be repeatedly pressed by the moderator because he didn’t answer the questions that were asked. Gov. Walker was defensive and evasive all night. Mary Burke was impressive in this debate. She was a first-time debater who kept the Republican incumbent on the defensive. She strategically brought up her business background.
Mary Burke looked strong, and Scott Walker sounded like he was way off of his game. Walker spent the debate defending his record. It was telling that he couldn’t offer a single idea to grow the economy in the state. This election is looking like a referendum on Scott Walker. The governor tried to sound moderate, but was debunked at every turn by Burke.
Scott Walker was exposed tonight. Gov. Walker better forget about a run for the White House in 2016. Mary Burke looked like the better and stronger candidate. Walker’s struggles mirrored those of Republicans governors all around the country. He was reminiscent of governors like Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania and Rick Scott in Florida. These Republican governors are reeling, because their Koch agenda has failed.
Mary Burke looks poised to be governor as Scott Walker had no answers and no solutions for the people of Wisconsin.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association