Democratic candidate for governor Tony Evers responded to negative ads Republicans are running against him by calling GOP Gov. Scott Walker a “slash-and-burn politician,” adding his campaign expected the advertising onslaught.
Some of the TV ads currently running slam Evers, who is the superintendent of the state Department of Public Instruction, for how he handled various cases of teacher misconduct. Evers has said he acted within the constraints of state law, and worked to change the law when it was inadequate.
“Everybody knows Scott Walker is a slash-and-burn politician. We expected him to carpet bomb us in this race. That’s his M-O,” Evers said on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
“Whenever possible, I have revoked licenses from bad actors,” Evers said, adding that he has revoked over 1,000 licenses during his time as DPI superintendent.
Evers said he will offer a positive vision and campaign on issues that people care about and that Walker has failed on, including education, roads, and natural resources.
Gousha asked Evers about jobs and the economy, considered a strong issue for Walker with the state unemployment rate at less than 3 percent.
“You have to look underneath the hood a little bit. We have thousands of people who are doing two or three jobs just to keep food on the table,” Evers said.
He also said wages are stagnant.
“We need better jobs in the state of Wisconsin,” he said.
Gousha asked Evers what he would do with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which Walker formed after eliminating the former state Commerce Department.
“I’d get rid of it. They’ve failed miserably,” Evers said.
He said economic development should be focused regionally and locally.
“Iron County needs economic development as much as Racine County does,” Evers said. “We have to invest in main street Wisconsin.”
Evers also said he would “more than tweak” the state’s contract with Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn, which is building a huge plant in Racine County.
“It was a horrible deal. We need to make sure that that horrible deal becomes something productive for the state,” Evers said.
He said the hiring of women- and minority-owned contractors, environmental standards, and transportation to Foxconn from Milwaukee’s central city neighborhoods all would be things he would bring up with Foxconn executives.
Evers also pledged to find a bipartisan solution to Wisconsin’s transportation funding woes, which has eluded Republican and Democratic lawmakers for years.
“Once I am governor, I will bring those people together, and we will find a solution to this,” he said. “We can solve this; we just have to sit down and do it.”
Also on the program, Court of Appeals Judge Brian Hagedorn, who is a candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court, explained why he would steer away from the phrase “judicial conservative” in his campaign.
“I don’t go around using that term necessarily, because I don’t want people to confuse political conservative and judicial conservative,” said Hagedorn, former general legal counsel to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
“My message is that partisan politics have no place at the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and that whatever a judge’s personal views, mine or anybody else’s, that they are not supposed to be a part of it,” said Hagedorn.
“It’s the law that’s written that governs, and that’s the message I’m running on,” he said.
Hagedorn said he would run a “vigorous, hard-fought campaign.”
“I expect to compete and win this race,” he said.
Hagedorn is running to succeed current Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who has announced she would not seek another term in 2019.
“Justice Abrahamson, though she’s been a pioneer in many ways, and though she certainly is very smart and has a great work ethic, has far too often injected political decision-making into the work of the court,” Hagedorn said.
“I wholeheartedly reject that and think we need to go in a very, very different direction,” he said.
Gousha also asked him about the likelihood that he would end up facing fellow Appeals Court Judge Lisa Neubauer in the race next year.
“I like Judge Neubauer. She’s a very nice person, she’s been a good colleague, and I think we have a real mutual respect for one another. And I mean that,” he said.
“So I think that hopefully sets us up for a different kind of race. That doesn’t mean we can’t tell the truth about competing judicial philosophies, and about where we see the court going over the next 10 years,” Hagedorn said.
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