The eight Democrats vying for the chance to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker this fall made their cases to voters in their only broadcast debate Thursday night, with just weeks to go before the Aug. 14 primary.
The candidates attacked Walker and the $4.5 billion in tax incentives that state and local officials approved, in order to lure Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn to Wisconsin. The company is building a massive LCD screen manufacturing plant in Racine County. Foxconn says the operation could create up to 13,000 jobs.
Milwaukee attorney Matt Flynn said the Foxconn deal amounts to "criminal negligence" and vowed to bring a lawsuit to nullify the contract.
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin also blasted the arrangement, saying "in China, they're laughing at us." He added that he thinks Walker "doesn't know what he's doing."
State School Superintendent Tony Evers and Kenosha attorney Josh Pade were the only candidates who don't believe the next governor could end the Foxconn project. Evers says instead, the deal should be renegotiated to make it better for taxpayers.
Turning to other topics, former state represenative Kelda Roys described herself as a "champion for women's rights." She says she would pardon anyone charged with performing an abortion, should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, some of the candidates promised to cut the state's prison population in half, saying there are too many people incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. Wisconsin Firefighters Union President Mahlon Mitchell said he's painfully aware of the racial disparities that exist in the state's system. "When you talk about criminal justice reform, it doesn't escape me that I'm raising two black kids in the worst state to do so," he said.
Activist Mike McCabe vowed to cut the state sales tax by a half percent, while state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma promised free tuition at the state's technical colleges and two-year campuses.