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Chris Christie's 'star power' lends Walker a hand

By   /   May 1, 2012  /   3 Comments

By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter 

OAK CREEK — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie isn’t one to mince words.

Although he has been known to itemize. 

“Here is your assignment,” Christie said to a crowd of 200 gathered to hear him stump for Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday afternoon.

“For the next five weeks, you have to go to your friends and your family, to your neighbors and your co-workers, to the people you see at the baseball fields and at the supermarkets, to the people you see in the parking lots at church on Sunday and in schoolyards when you pick up your kids on Monday, to every one of those people, you need to look them in the eye — and believe me, this is more important than anything else you could do — look them in the eye and say, ‘I know Scott Walker. I’ve met him. I’m looked him in the eye. I know the man’s character. You need to go out and vote for him on June 5.” 

With polls showing Wisconsinites split about evenly on whether to oust Walker, voter turnout is expected to decide the race.

And when you’re hoping to energize your base of supporters to get out the vote, be it in next week’s primary election or the June 5 recall general election, it helps to have a friend with star power.

Christie — a popular conservative who has been suggested as a presidential and vice presidential candidate — brings just that, said Scott Furlong, political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

“He’s a national name,” Furlong said. “Scott Walker is a national name for different reasons. Walker’s name is much more connected to the state of Wisconsin, with things going on in Wisconsin.

Christie, while he is a governor, too, has a reputation and message that is a little broader in meeting a national audience, Furlong said. 

The two governors stumped in Green Bay and Oak Creek on Tuesday before attending a fundraiser together.

Walker has a Republican primary opponent, political activist Arthur Kohl-Riggs, but is expected to win the primary.

More competitive is the Democratic primary, also scheduled for Tuesday.

The Walker-Christie Oak Creek visit was not far from where Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk campaigned, separately, in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

The two are the front runners in the race to decide which Democrat will compete in next month’s recall general election.

“The day after reporting millions in massive donations primarily from super-rich, out-of-state right-wing partisans, Walker is turning to another out-of-state partisan to prop up his campaign,” Barrett’s campaign said in a statement.

“Both Scott Walker and Chris Christie are ideological warriors pursuing extreme agendas,” Barrett’s campaign said. “So while Scott Walker and Chris Christie are perfect for each other, they are both flat-out wrong for Wisconsin.” 

Christie was elected in 2009, a year before Walker.

But the men’s politics are similar, from their determination to balance their states’ budgets without tax increases and their drive to force significant concessions from public unions.

Though controversial in his own right, Christie has not faced the level of criticism and protest that has greeted Walker, particularly since the Wisconsin governor pushed through legislation last year that all-but-eliminated collective bargaining for unionized public employees.

That bill, Act 10, brought tens of thousands of protesters to Madison and, ultimately, served as a driving force in the recall elections against nine state senators in 2011 and, this year, against Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four additional GOP senators.

“People ask me all the time, ‘Where’d this all come from?’” Walker said, beginning a point he has turned many times in recent weeks. “From two simple places — one’s called Matthew, and the other’s called Alexander. Those are my two boys. … We make the tough choices in our life, not just in politics, but in all that we do, and we do it for our kids.”

Christie’s message to the conservative faithful gathered Tuesday at KEI, a landscaping company in Oak Creek: Keep the faith.

Walker campaigned in 2010 on a pledge that, under his governorship, 250,000 private sector jobs would be created in Wisconsin during his first term.

Yet the Badger State lost a net 23,900 jobs from March 2011 to March 2012, according to an April report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Walker campaign was quick to point out that the Milwaukee metro area lost 4,400 jobs in March, under Barrett’s leadership.

The Walker administration also has been strongly criticized for cuts to education and local government — cuts critics say threaten the Wisconsin’s quality of life.

Christie said New Jersey shows that better times are ahead for Wisconsin because, since he was elected a year before Walker, reforms have had a year longer to work in the Garden State.

“(New Jersey residents) sacrificed for two years,” he said. “Now, in year three, everyone will get a tax cut in the state of New Jersey. That’s how things should work.”

Wisconsin taxpayers have seen signs of lessening tax burden from Act 10. School districts around the state have reported a collective tens of millions of dollars in savings from public employees contributing more to their benefits, and property tax rates have fallen for the average homeowner. 

But the Christie-Walker line of politics isn’t right for Wisconsin, Falk’s campaign said.

“Chris Christie can leave his state for Wisconsin and Scott Walker can leave our state for his national fundraising tour, but they can’t hide from voters when it comes to their extreme records and their war on women,” the Falk campaign said in a statement. “Neither governor shares our Wisconsin values.”

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  • Mary

    And we are all STILL waiting to hear how Falk, Barrett, Vineout and LaFollette will continue to keep property taxes from increasing and how they will keep WI moving forward and out of debt. I haven’t heard one idea! So, under one of those democrats as Gov. our taxes WILL INCREASE and this state goes to hell. I sure don’t want that and I honestly don’t think majority of Wisconsinites want that either. So democrats, quit hiding behind made up excuses on issues and ANSWER THE QUESTION!…….is your plan to increase taxes on the people of WI for a few union workers because of your desparation to be Gov. or do you care about EVERYONE in this state?!

  • Charie

    I don’t see that the Falk campaign holds any values at all, except far left ideological values – and those are spend, spend, spend and tax, tax, tax. They had their chance to fix things in this state during Jim Doyle’s 8 year term in office. All they did was add more taxes, fees and regulations while trying to scoop up more votes by aiming entitlements at various groups.

    They have the nerve to complain about Scott Walker getting out-of-state money when most of their money is coming from out of state, too. Hypocrites!

    BTW, when is WEAS Trust going to be investigated for fraud in their ripping off of taxpayers by huge overcharges on their insurance ? Had this been done by Prudential or Mutual or any other big insurance company the Democrats would have been screaming at the tops of their lungs. So far I’ve heard nothing about the millions siphoned off the citizens of this state to go into union and thence to Democrat coffers.

  • Scott

    Ever wonder why the jobs situation isn’t improving? What company would choose to locate their headquarters and hire workers in Wisconsin knowing that the Governor is facing recall for nothing more than doing the job of Governor?!! Scott Walker has not committed any crimes or malfeasance. I was a Scott Walker fan the first time he ran for Governor and continue to believe that he is the best hope to put Wisconsin on a sane fiscal path. Go Scott Walker!

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