It's a well-known success story: Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker inherited a troubled state economy in 2011 after he defeated Democrat Tom Barrett. In his three years, unemployment dropped from 7.8 percent to 6.2 percent at the end of 2013 and he claims he turned a huge deficit into a budget surplus.
But that's not the story told in the first ad from his Democratic foe, former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke. “Under Walker, unemployment is up,” says her ad, which shows a graphic with an up red arrow beside “6.2 percent unemployment.”
According to her spokesman, Joe Zepecki, while the ad doesn’t say it, Burke is making the comparison between Wisconsin unemployment rate today and when she was commerce secretary nearly 10 years ago, from 2005-2007.
While some see it as an apples-to-oranges argument, Zepecki emailed: “4.8 percent is the highest the annual average unemployment rate ever was during Burke's time at Commerce. Under Scott Walker it's never been lower than 6.2 percent. Compared to when she was secretary, unemployment is up.”
Zepecki added: “Unemployment IS higher than when she was the secretary of commerce. It's not an argument, it's a fact.”
Republicans have panned the ad as a blatant lie.
Walker, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid, recently bragged: “After losing more than 133,000 jobs and 27,000 businesses during Gov. Jim Doyle's last term, Wisconsin added more than 100,000 jobs and 15,000 businesses during my term as your governor. That's a shift of more than 230,000 jobs and 40,000 businesses. The unemployment rate that was 9.2 percent four years ago is now 6.2 percent. Wisconsin is working again, but there is still more work to be done.”
The latest poll has Walker up 47 percent to 41 percent over Burke, who recently said she prefers wine to beer. “I would say red wine's my favorite,” she said, adding, “although Wisconsin beers, we have so many great Wisconsin beers here that it's tough.”Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.