MEMO: Walker’s Debate Challenge: Explain 8 Years of Putting Himself Before Wisconsin Families

October 19, 2018


To: Interested Parties

From: Maggie Gau, Tony for Wisconsin Campaign Manager

Re: Walker’s Debate Challenge: Explain 8 Years of Putting Himself Before Wisconsin Families

Heading into the first debate of Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race, Governor Scott Walker has a difficult task in front of him: he must attempt to explain away his eight-year record of failure and putting himself before Wisconsin families in just a single hour-long debate.

And the worst news for Walker? He’s spent millions of dollars and 30 television ads trying to do this already, and it hasn’t worked. He’s can’t even count on support from members of his own party. Just yesterday, the fourth Walker cabinet secretary publicly denounced his politics-first leadership style. In a letter signed by former secretaries Paul Jadin, Peter Bildsten, and Ed Wall, they write of Walker: “It became clear that his focus was not on meeting his obligations to the public but to advancing his own political career at a tremendous cost to taxpayers and families.”

Walker will work hard tonight to pretend like the last eight years didn’t happen and to cover up his real record of failure. But Wisconsin voters know that he is a typical politician who will always put himself and the special interests before the issues that matter most to them:


Walker’s duplicity on health care has become a national laughingstock, and his attempts to rewrite his record have grown more and more desperate this week. He claims he supports protecting people with pre-existing conditions from insurance discrimination, but he signed off on a lawsuit that aims to end that protection and has backed other legislative attacks on the Affordable Care Act. As Politifact pointed out yesterday, “Scott Walker says he would cover pre-existing conditions, but backs plans that would end protections.”

The Associated Press reported “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is seeking a third term, has been working for years to repeal Obama’s health care law and signed off on the state attorney general joining the lawsuit against it…His Democratic rival, Tony Evers, launched an ad calling on Walker to drop his support for the lawsuit. ‘Actions speak louder than words,’ Evers said.”

Walker even called pre-existing conditions a distraction earlier this week, taking his callous stance on the issue to new heights.

It’s no wonder Walker is trying to cover up his real record here. A recent Marquette poll found that 78% of Wisconsin voters say covering pre-existing conditions is “very important.”

But Walker’s health care failures aren’t limited to pre-existing conditions. Under Walker’s watch, health care costs have soared, with families in Wisconsin paying nearly fifty percent more for health care than our neighbors in Minnesota on the marketplace exchanges. Walker’s political decision to decline federal money to expand BadgerCare denied affordable, quality health care to thousands of Wisconsinites.


Voters haven’t been buying Walker’s transparent attempts to rebrand himself as the education governor after spending 8 years attacking Wisconsin’s public schools, UW system and technical colleges. The Washington Post just reported “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s assault on public education could be coming back to bite him.”

Walker’s historic cuts to school funding have left Wisconsin’s schools with fewer state resources now than they had a decade ago, leading to teacher shortages and a spate of referenda that has shifted the burden onto local taxpayers. More than 1 million Wisconsinites have already voted to raise their own taxes because Walker has crippled school funding, and $1.4 billion worth of referendum are on the ballot this November.


Under Walker, Wisconsin has seen its roads crumble to 44th in the nation, while Walker has spent nearly $1 million in taxpayer dollars flying himself across the state. That includes trips to political events, picking him up from errands, and even a 24-mile flight from Appleton to Green Bay, a trip that Tony and Mandela Barnes live-streamed by car at the beginning of October.

Walker’s own former allies have criticized him for his lack of investment in infrastructure and his wasteful spending on the state plane. Former Walker Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb has accused Walker of being dishonest on transit spending, while his former Corrections Secretary Ed Wall has spoken out about Walker’s rampant overuse of the state plane at taxpayer expense.


We can expect an hour tonight of Walker trying to distract and paper over his eight year record of doing what’s best for himself instead of what’s best for Wisconsin. But Wisconsin families won’t be fooled. They’re tired of typical politicians who will do or say anything to get elected. They are ready for a leader like Tony Evers who can bring people together, solve problems, and always put Wisconsin first. It’s time for a change.

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