Weather Alerts 12 View »

Walker says 'Make sure people are applying the law' in recall process

Walker says 'Make sure people are applying the law' in recall process

By Jay Sorgi. CREATED Dec 20, 2011 - UPDATED: Dec 20, 2011

Click here to skip down and read the Democratic response.

MILWAUKEE - As has been the case for most of Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker's tenure, controversy continues to surround him and many of the political issues he has championed.

Much of that now surrounds the effort to force a recall election for Walker's job as Governor.

Walker joined TODAY'S TMJ4's "Live at Daybreak" and Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News" to discuss these issues.

The following is what he said about politics-related questions that our Jodi Becker, Jon Byman, Melissa McCrady and Vince Vitrano asked him, in Walker's own words (only one answer was posted if he responded to similar questions on both stations). 

About the pending lawsuit against the Government Accountability Board for how they say the Walker campaign and supports have to conduct the process of verifying recall petition signatures:

"We think the integrity of the process - and I think most people, no matter where you stand on a given issue, think that's it's responsible that if the law says only that one signature should count, not multiple signatures from the same person, that's something that the Government Accountability Board should be responsible for, particularly because if people, not only those who have the right to choose the recall petitions, but if someone chooses not to, their right should be protected the same way.

"If somebody is allowed to sign like the guy who was reported to have signed 80 times, that means that 79 other people who chose not to sign the petition are essentially having the right not to be compromised."

When asked if such problems would be solved during the process, anyway:

"We have 10 days under the state statutes to look at potentially 600,000 to 700,000 signatures.  I think any reasonable person looks at that and says, 'That's an incredibly difficult task.'  It's one where we're certainly going to play our part, but we think the Government Accountability Board, certainly they're the people that have the expertise.  That's what they do.  That's what they look at.  We're not asking them to do anything biased or favorable.  We're just looking and saying, 'Look at the facts.  Make sure people are applying the law.' "

On the financial cost of a recall to municipalities:

"I think it's frustrating. The Green Bay Press-Gazette did a story where they started looked at communities in Northeastern Wisconsin, but I think if you talk to counties and municipal leaders around the state, they'll tell you they don't have this money budgeted.  This is potentially millions of dollars collectively statewide, money that isn't in the budgets for any of our cities, villages, towns and counties, that somehow they're going to have to come up with, and it's after the tax levy's set, so they're going to have to take money from some other program out there. 

"There's a lot of issues in debate on a potential recall or not.  This particular issue hasn't really been covered much.  For people who are considering signing or not, they've got to take that into account.  Do you really want, potentially, literally could be several million dollars being spent that otherwise would be for cities, towns, villages and counties at this time of year when we're all facing tough budgets?"

On what he perceives he'd be running against in a recall election:

"I do know what I'm running against.  I'm running against big money from out of state, from national big government unions in D.C.  They're the ones who fueled the attacks on me in February.  They're the ones who largely fueled may of the attacks in the Supreme Court race.  They pumped tens of millions of dollars into the Senate recalls.

"Some of these external groups that have looked at elections have said there could be as much as $60 million to $70 million on a recall election in total.  I assume opponent matters less by name, because he or she is going to get support largely from money that is going to come...the unions that are the ones who are pumping up the ads on TV that you see right now, ads, by the way, that I would argue are not true.  Nobody's pointed to tell me what school district in Wisconsin has 47 kids in a classroom, or kids sitting on the floor.  That's just not happening.  Nobody can show me how we cut Medicaid when we added $1.2 billion. 

"The good news is, from our standpoint, we're assuming there's going to be a campaign.  We're assuming there's going to be an election, based on the number of signatures out there.  You've seen our ads.  Unlike the attack ads, our ads are positive.  Not me talking, but they're talking about moms and dads and teachers in elementary and high school, and small business owners all telling the story about how our reforms worked and how they've built a foundation of success for Wisconsin."

On Walker's strategy in a potential recall election:

"I think it's a combination. I think a little bit of it will be talking about what we've done.  Really, the thing about it, there have been tens of millions of dollars in March, in February, in the beginning of the year, throughout the summer.  You had tens of millions of dollars spent on those recall elections, almost all of it attacking me. 

"We've now been given an opportunity to talk about it after having three years of losing 150,000 jobs in the private sector.  We've not had a net gain of almost 20,000 jobs.  The unemployment rate today is down from where it was a year ago.  We still have a long ways to the reforms are paying off in our schools and local governments, and will help us not just with the next budget but for generations to come, and then talk about the future.  Where do we go from here?  That's the one thing people forget.  Elections are about the future, not about the past.  We've got a plan and a positive outlook for the future of Wisconsin."

On Walker currently being behind pace in his efforts to fulfill a campaign pledge to create 250,000 new jobs:

"For us, the goal was 250,000 by 2015. We said it would start out slow.  After three years, remember, we lost 150,000 jobs between '07 and 2010.  The fact that we're up...I'd like to be more rapid than that.  You're right.  Brokaw, Mosinee, we've had some losses, and in places like Eagle River, and Wausau itself, and even here in town, we've had Ruud Lighting that had almost 500 new jobs recently announced.  We've had other places in Bayside and others. 

"It will be a mixup.  Some up, some down.  Some are industry driven.  Some are part of the global economy.  Overall, the fact that we have a net increase is a positive thing...the fact that unemployment's down is good, but we have a long ways to go.  We have too many of our friends and neighbors and family members who aren't working.  Particularly, we have a new year where we want to make sure they have a chance to work."

On the effect of recall efforts and protesters' actions toward Walker and his family:

"We have in addition to our two sons, we have another young man living with us.  I remember, last month, he was raking leaves with me in front of our busy house in Wauwatosa.  Somebody came by, honked and flipped us off.  He said, 'How do you deal with that?'  I said, 'You know what, for everybody like that, there's somebody else who's positive out there.' 

"No more than a minute later, as we were raking leaves again, a horn honks again at 68th Street, and two people come flying by, both with thumbs up.  I told him, 'If you stay positive, stay respectful, for everyone out there that maybe is annoyed with you, there's other people who are positive and you just need to  stay upbeat'  That's really what we do with our family, as we do in our campaign and our daily activities."

"It's tough, not just for me, but I've got two teenagers.  My wife, like a lot of moms out there, is a sponge for worry, so she'll soaks up all the worry around us.  I worry more about her.  I'm used to this.  I asked for the job.  My kids, my parents, my family, my wife in particular, and even my neighbors.  When they have bussed protesters in front of our house, those folks didn't ask for it, my neighbors with two small girls, an 80-year-old woman who lives two houses down, but in the end, it works out.  It happens a day or two, it gets a little publicity, and then thankfully, most days are pretty calm."

When asked about the grade he would give the Fitzgerald brothers (Jeff and Scott, the Republican leaders of the two houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature):

"Surprisingly, and this doesn't always get covered, but if you look at most things related to jobs that we passed this year, they passed with broad bi-partisan support.  Obviously a few bills, the budget itself, the Budget Repair Bill, was more on a party line vote.  If you look at a lot of things we did to improve the tax climate, to lower the tax burden, to put in place regulatory litigation reform, to open the door for small businesses in terms of greater job creation, those were things that were done with plenty of Democrat votes as well as Republican.  I think in the end, it's because jobs aren't Republican or Democrat jobs, they're just Wisconsin jobs. To that extent, not just the leadership but many members of the Assembly and Senate have said that when it comes to economic development, we're going to work together.  My hope is in the new year, we can do more of that."

On calling the Capitol's tree a Christmas tree instead of a holiday tree, while also taking part in a Hanukkah menorah lighting Tuesday:

"I did that (calling it a Christmas tree) for eight years as the County Executive.  It's kind of funny.  No one ever made a stink about it then about a Christmas tree.  That's what it is.  I didn't name it that.  That's what it is.  Today, as we've done in the past, with a friend of mine who's a rabbi, along with some others, we're going to light the first candle on the menorah candle for the Festival of Lights which begins today at sundown, and I said, 'I'm not going to call it a holiday candelabra.  I'm going to call it a menorah candle, because that's what it is as well."

We asked Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski for a response.  The e-mailed response is below:

"Wisconsin leads the nation in job loss, Scott Walker has given away $2 billion in tax gifts to the corporations he represents, he's kicked some 30,000 kids off BadgerCare for Christmas and is at the center of a criminal corruption probe that extends to all parts of his administration. And yet the extremist Scott Walker is once again playing the "victim" card with a frivolous lawsuit that has no legal merit and is meant to distract from the his disastrous record. Half a million Wisconsinites have signed a petition to see him gone, and in record time. When Scott Walker was involved in various recall efforts, he had no problem with the "integrity" of the process. But now that he is the righteous target of a Wisconsin that is united in rejecting his radical policies, he sees fits to play games with the system."