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Scott Walker Launches Re-Election Bid For Governor

Hundreds Protest Outside Rally Sunday

Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

Gov. Scott Walker is starting a three-day bus trip across Wisconsin on Monday, asking voters for another four years in office. Walker formally kicked off his gubernatorial re-election bid Sunday at a rally at Weldall Manufacturing in Waukesha.

The two-term Republican incumbent touted several things he says he’s been able to accomplish during his time in office, including a University of Wisconsin tuition freeze, ending the state property tax and boosting employment rates.

“We now have more people employed in this state than we’ve ever had in the history of the state of Wisconsin. We are moving Wisconsin forward,” Walker shouted.

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The state’s unemployment rate, bolstered by the national economy, is the lowest it’s been since 2001. Walker earlier this year signed the largest economic development deal in state history, with Taiwanese company Foxconn Technology Group planning to invest up to $10 billion on a display screen factory that could employ 13,000 people.

Though some Democrats have criticized the deal, it was a significant victory for Walker, who has never fulfilled a 2010 campaign promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs.

“We’re not satisfied with just where we’re at,” Walker said Sunday. “We’re moving forward because there’s more to be done.”

Walker said he wants to accomplish more during another term, including a potential tax cut.

“We want a state where we see household income going up, not just through more jobs and higher wages and greater prosperity, but where we let you keep more of your money,” he said.

But state Democratic Party Chair Martha Laning says the GOP governor has already done too much, pointing to his record in areas such as limiting the power of public sector unions.

“What is he saying to superintendents all over the state who are struggling to find teachers to come work at their schools because of the animosity and how he targeted and attacked teachers?” Laning asked. She said Walker is pretending to be the public servant he’s never been during his 25 years in government.

About 150 supporters attended Walker’s remarks.

Barbara Schinker of Pewaukee said the governor has done well at holding down taxes and bringing jobs to the state. Schinker said she and her husband believe those are important accomplishments.

“First of all we’re older, we have children who live here, are raising families here. We’re looking for good jobs for them, and a good state economy, ” Schinker said, adding that her enthusiasm for Walker hasn’t dimmed during the governor’s seven years in office.

To win a third term, Walker called for an “army of grass-roots volunteers” to combat what he said will be a coordinated attack against him by Washington-based special interests, saying it “isn’t going to be easy.”

Uniqua Gordon, left, of Milwaukee speaks during a protest outside Walker’s re-election announcement rally. Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

“The big government special interests in Washington, they’ve already made us a target in this election,” Walker told his backers on the factory floor. A larger group of about 300 protesters, organized by the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, rallied outside.

They were protesting state legislation that could make it easier to deport some immigrants.

Angelica Elizalde of Waukesha said the governor should promise to veto the bill, “because (immigrants living in the country illegally) are going to be afraid of going to their jobs, picking up their kids at school, buying their groceries. So, the stores are not going to have as much business as they do now.”

Low-wage workers organized by labor groups also protested outside Walker’s event.

Uniqua Gordon of Milwaukee called on the governor to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“Really? We can’t get it? We ain’t worth it? Come on, now, ” Gordon told the crowd.

Walker is scheduled to visit more than a dozen cities by Wednesday evening. Labor activists promise to tour the same communities.

More than a dozen Democrats are either running or thinking of taking on Walker for the November 2018 election.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated with additional reporting from the Associated Press at 9:15 a.m., Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.