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Politics & Government

Scott Walker & Tony Evers Meet In Second & Final Debate For Wisconsin Governor

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Lauren Sigfusson
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(From left) Tony Evers and Scott Walker at a debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Oct. 26.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic candidate Tony Evers met for their second and final gubernatorial debate with the election more than a week away. Polls show the race to be a dead heat.

Moderators opened the debate by asking the candidates how they would plan to bring all their constituents together in today’s bitter partisan climate.

The question came after authorities arrested Cesar Sayoc in Florida on suspicions that he sent explosive devices to Democratic figures around the country over the last week.

Evers said the last few days have been trying for the country. “Hats off to the law enforcement officers and the people that are bringing this to conclusion," he said. "The most important thing is that people should have the right to make sure that no matter what issues they’re talking about, whether it’s religion or politics, they shouldn’t have to fear for their lives or their safety. That’s critically important to me.” 

He says the issue is one of tone and that he believes what unites people is far more important than what divides them. He’d use his background as an educator to seek common ground, Evers says.

Walker, meanwhile, says he knows what it’s like to be targeted. He pointed out that his family was threatened during protests over his signature law stripping public workers of their union rights.

“An attempted terrorist attack against any American is an attack against every American," he said. "We need to stand united against terrorism, no matter where it’s at," Walker said. "In fact, I said if you take on one of us, you take on all of us, no matter what the political background, no matter what your religious beliefs.”

READ: Walker & Evers Face Off In First Debate For Seat As Wisconsin Governor

Walker's response to the suspicious packages was a departure from what President Donald Trump said earlier this week. Trump condemned the attacks but blamed the media for setting a tone of divisiveness.

The candidates also addressed an issue that’s at the top of many voters’ minds: health care. Evers said that Minnesota has cheaper health insurance than Wisconsin because that state took Medicaid money when offered. He said he would do the same thing and ensure that Wisconsin has the best coverage for people with pre-existing conditions possible.

“I can guarantee that to the people of Wisconsin," he said. "Now, I’ve tried to get Gov. Walker to think about this because presently, he’s in federal court to do away with the Affordable Care Act and also to do away with the pre-existing conditions protections. The people need to know why you don’t drop that lawsuit.” 

Walker said that the state can cover people with pre-existing conditions without “the failure that is Obamacare.” His plan going forward would hinge on bipartisan cooperation, similar to the passing of the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan. He says it would lower premiums, increase choices and help improve health care.

READ: Walker & Evers Disagree Over Whether Foxconn Is Way To Financial Innovation

"And per what Tony talked about, his plan to do what Minnesota did — when they first did it, premiums actually went up," he said. "In fact, two years ago, the Democrat governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton said ‘the Affordable Care plan is no longer affordable.’ And that was because premiums in that state were going up 50 to 67 percent. Our plan actually lowers premiums, increases choices and helps improve health care.” 

The moderators asked the candidates pointed questions on education — both k-12 schools and colleges. Walker was asked how he would close the high school graduation gap between white and black students. He said he wants to get as many students into youth apprenticeships as possible, so they have hope for a career.

“I’ve been giving earlier experiences. Youth apprenticeships have nearly tripled since I’ve been governor," Walker said. "I want to move them into seventh and eighth grade. I want to get our students interested earlier on just so they can see the courses they’re taking apply to what their future’s going to be.”

READ: K-12 Education On Minds Of Candidates For Wisconsin Governor

Evers was asked whether voucher schools need new standards, referring to state subsidies for private school student tuition.

“People in the state of Wisconsin are all paying for publicly funded private schools now," Evers said. "I believe every taxpayer on their property bill should be able to see, OK, the school district is taking this much out of our tax bill, the municipality and how much goes for voucher schools.”

The two also went head to head on immigration, the economy and roads, among other issues, repeating arguments they’ve made consistently throughout the campaign.

The debate was hosted by WUWM and Today’s TMJ4.

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Listen to the full debate, featured on WUWM's Lake Effect.

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