Democratic recall candidates hold forumThe four Democratic candidates for Governor spoke to Democratic voters at a forum in Madison last night.
By: By Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The four Democratic candidates for Governor spoke to Democratic voters at a forum in Madison last night. Each blamed Republican Governor Scott Walker for dividing the state of Wisconsin. They largely agreed on most topics but split on the issue that prompted the recall election.
Candidates at last night's Dane County Democratic Party forum were pitching themselves in a city that will have a big say in the Democratic primary for Governor. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told the crowd he ran close with Governor Walker when he lost in 2010 and could beat him this time, "We have to have our strongest runner for the final leg of this marathon. I am that runner."
Kathleen Falk said she'd been a leader on women's issues as a lawyer and as the former Dane County Executive, "I'm used to being the only woman in a courtroom. I'm used to being the only woman in executive office. And I want that to change."
Secretary of State Doug La Follette implied that he was different than Falk or Barrett, "I'm not seen as a Madison liberal or a big city Mayor. I'm sort of a maverick."
State Senator Kathleen Vinehout said she was the candidate who could bring a fresh start to the race, "If you don't like politics as usual, work for the unusual."
All four candidates said they would work to restore the collective bargaining rights for public employee unions that Governor Walker had taken away. It was the only issue where they turned their attention momentarily away from Walker and onto each other.
Falk has been the most adamant about restoring union bargaining rights, saying she would veto any state budget that does not include them. Barrett attacked that stand last night, saying that if there's split party control of state government, no new budget will ever pass, "If there is no budget, we will have a permanent Scott Walker budget. A permanent Scott Walker budget."
Barrett said he'd support a bill to restore collective bargaining rights and would call a special session on the topic. But Falk says that won't be good enough because Assembly Republicans would never pass the bill, "Calling a special session won't get the Assembly Republicans to actually convene. So those are the two ways you know it can't happen."
Senator Vinehout took a stand similar to Barrett's, but said the next Governor could talk to state workers with or without a collective bargaining law, "Day one, I will as Governor lift up the voices of those people that are working in state government. And in the public sector outside of state government."
Secretary of State La Follette said the key was to flip control of all of state government at once, "We're not going to be able to restore collective bargaining even next year unless we in November elect Progressive Republicans--and there's a few out there--and Democrats to the Assembly."
The four Democrats were asked what they could do to create jobs given that Wisconsin lost thousands of jobs last year. Three of the candidates, including Falk, struck very similar notes, saying the state should invest in public schools, tech schools and universities, particularly for job training, "What we need a Governor to do is what we know works. We invest in education. Instead of big tax breaks for corporations, you fund education."
Here's La Follette.
"It's an educational system where people want to send their kids. An educational system that educates people for jobs, particularly technical schools and research at the University."
And here's Vinehout talking about the need to restore education, transportation and broadband funding.
"We need a balance. The private sector provides the jobs but the public sector provides the support."
The Democratic primary for Governor is on May 8th--less than four weeks from today.