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Politics & Government

Gubernatorial Debate Features Firm, Civil Statements from Walker and Burke

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Republican Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke appeared on stage together for the first time on Friday night.

A panel of journalists asked the leading candidates for governor about a wide range of issues, in a debate held in Eau Claire. However, much of the conversation centered on jobs and the economy.

Burke and Walker remained civil during the debate, while they both touted their platforms and criticized their opponent’s record.

Before the debate, Burke had said her goal was to introduce herself to the state, in her first major run for office. She spent much of her career as an executive with Wisconsin-based Trek Bicycle. During the event, Burke said if she’s elected, she would restore public unions’ collective bargaining rights, lower the cost of college, raise the minimum wage and focus on the middle class. Burke said families have seen a decline in income under Walker, and his economic plan has resulted both in slow growth for the state and a new deficit.

Prior to the event, Walker said his goal was to lay out a plan for another four-year term. On Friday night, he said he’s put Wisconsin’s economy on the right track, and he encouraged voters to give him a chance to continue his progress. He said the state’s unemployment is the lowest it’s been since 2008. Walker added that when he was elected in 2010, he inherited the job losses that occurred under his predecessor, Democrat Jim Doyle. Walker frequently points out that Burke was commerce secretary for Doyle.

Both Walker and Burke said they plan to serve the full four-year term, if elected. Walker has sidestepped the question in the past, as many believe he’s contemplating a run for president in 2016.

The candidates will meet for a second and final debate on Friday Oct. 17. WUWM’s Erin Toner will moderate the discussion, which will originate in Milwaukee.

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