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Tony Guerra

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May 22, 2014 - 8:21 pm
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Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, who survived a 2012 recall effort by groups angered over his successful push to end withholding of dues paid by state employees to their unions, is set to square off against Democratic challenger Mary Burke for Election Day honors this November.

And recent polling shows that the recall victor could face a tough fight to keep his job this time around.

Burke, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s nominee for governor, is a current school board member in Madison. She’s also a former top executive at Wisconsin’s Trek Bicycle Corporation, a company founded by her father in the 1970s that has since become the country’s largest bike maker.

Walker, former Milwaukee County executive, the county’s top leader, is clearly a man with presidential aspirations. He first came to national attention in 2010 after riding a wave of voter dissatisfaction that saw Wisconsin Republicans take control of the state legislature until a summer 2012 recall election loss tossed control of the upper house, the Senate, back to Democrats.

Walker’s Republicans stormed back, though, cementing their grip on state government in November 2012 by keeping the legislature’s lower house and recapturing its upper. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says more than $81 million was spent by all sides during that recall.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a recent editorial also projected high spending by Walker and Burke as well as groups sympathetic to their respective campaigns — most of it “just to air noisy television ads,” the paper observed.

Democratic challenger Burke should present a stiff challenge to Walker. She served as the Badger State’s commerce secretary from 2005 to 2007, a position she was appointed to by Jim Doyle, Walker’s Democratic predecessor.

In an Oct. 7, 2013, campaign video, the Democrat also claims success during her commerce tenure.

“All in all it meant 84,000 more Wisconsin jobs than we have today,” Burke said.

In selecting Burke to carry the fight to Walker, Wisconsin’s Democratic leaders hope the challenger’s business credentials will appeal to centrist voters in both parties as well as an increasingly growing number of independents claiming allegiance to neither major political party.

Burke herself is described by friends and associates as a tireless worker and she spent time in the early 1990s as a consultant in New York and Washington, D.C. Prior to her employment she gained a finance undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1985. Burke is also well-regarded by many for her philanthropic and charitable efforts.

Scott Walker is a relative rarity in high-level state and federal politics, being one of the few leaders of national importance not possessing at least a four-year college degree. He left Wisconsin’s Marquette University in his senior year without finishing studies, though he recently announced an intention to complete his alma mater’s graduation requirements as soon as possible.

Walker deciding to complete his college studies at the age of 46 — he’ll be 47 this coming November — perhaps provides a clue that his eyes are fixed on the ultimate prize, the White House, should he triumph over Burke.

The last U.S. president without a college degree was Harry S. Truman, who left office in 1953, and Walker may believe that gaining a degree would silence criticism from national Democrats who say that he’s unqualified for a run for the presidency despite his tenure as Wisconsin governor.

Polling of the battle between Walker and Burke hasn’t yet fully spooled up and what results are available shows a generally competitive race between the two combatants.

A Marquette University poll this week put Walker ahead by 3 points. An April 14-15 poll of likely voters by Magellan Strategies, a Republican-leaning polling firm, showed a tie between Walker and Burke. In early March, Rasmussen Reports, a national polling organization considered sympathetic to Republicans, released its own survey, with another Walker-Burke dead heat the result.

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Top Rated Comments   
Not sure that it's accurate to say the WI governor's race is "tightening". It remains tight, as always, because WI is a purplish-blue state, lots of unionized blue collar workers and lefty types in Madison. However, Walker's decapitation of the public workers and teacher's unions will go a long way to reducing the size and influence of union money ... I understand public union membership is now down to well less than half of what it had before Walker busted the public union mononopolies. That is why they fought so viciously against him!

Walker has no major scandals, he did exactly what he promised to do while campaigning four years ago and again during the recall election two years ago. He doesn't make stupid verbal gaffes, nor does he come across as a right wing ideologue ...he is just a "good government" moderate-conservative with lots of executive experience. It'll be very hard for any Democrat challenger to take him out unless he stumbles badly in the campaign, which he does not seem prone to do.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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Blue states elect dems who have no business running...let alone winning...

Scott Brown was and is an example of that...Elizabeth Warren is a disgrace...yet Massachussetts feels better inside by electing her.

This race should not even be close...as the dem is taking a free ride on Walker's reform successes and claiming the job gains as her own. Are they that stupid up there in Wisconsin? Probably.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
This will be a tough battle for Walker, he is going to need all the money he can get. Presidential aspirations? He'd be the first President since Grover Cleveland not to have graduated from college or university. Maybe he could align himself to Geo Washington who at least had a Surveyor's Certificate from Wm and Mary. Not saying lack of higher education is a disqualifier, only that it will be tough for Walker if he goes Presidential.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Harping on it sure will be embarrassing for all those college graduates who have not accomplished nearly as much.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Harry Truman was not a college graduate either.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
The fact that Burke is using the tired old term "trickle down" so early in the game signals to me that she lacks imagination. In order to field a winning campaign today's Democrat candidates must have enough imagination to speak about their plans in a way that doesn't reveal what they actually are. As for Walker's lack of a college degree, hasn't that piece of paper been pretty well degraded by now?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I live in Michigan but stopped contributing to Walker after his comments on amnesty and open borders during the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interview.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
There are many liberal trolls who are desperate to torpedo Walker.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mary Burke (D). In a debate the first question to her should be "why does someone from a family that has benefitted enormously from the free-market and capitalism sell-out completely to the leftist agenda of the socialist (Democrat) party?".
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not sure that it's accurate to say the WI governor's race is "tightening". It remains tight, as always, because WI is a purplish-blue state, lots of unionized blue collar workers and lefty types in Madison. However, Walker's decapitation of the public workers and teacher's unions will go a long way to reducing the size and influence of union money ... I understand public union membership is now down to well less than half of what it had before Walker busted the public union mononopolies. That is why they fought so viciously against him!

Walker has no major scandals, he did exactly what he promised to do while campaigning four years ago and again during the recall election two years ago. He doesn't make stupid verbal gaffes, nor does he come across as a right wing ideologue ...he is just a "good government" moderate-conservative with lots of executive experience. It'll be very hard for any Democrat challenger to take him out unless he stumbles badly in the campaign, which he does not seem prone to do.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, the whole kerfuffle about public sector unions that led to the attempted recall was because the "decapitation" of unions was never part of what he ran on four years ago. Not disagreeing with his strategy or position, but he didn't run it.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
More like he swept their feet out from under them than cut their heads off. 'Decapitation' is a term chosen to generate negative prejudice.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
He didn't run on it and he didn't do it. "Decapitation", that is. He ran on fiscal responsibility and delivered.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
For sure our guys are smarter but DEFINITELY not tougher than the Ds.
Why haven't he and the state party fought back more forcefully against recent Dem attempts to criminalize his successful recall campaign and thus to block similar groups from helping him again?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
We are fighting back. The John Doe probe is in federal court right now and has p-0retty much been stopped. I am certain that Eric Erickson will be suing the crap out of the Milwaukee Cty DA Chisholm and all the others that have illegally been investigating Walker and everybody that has ever talked to him.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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