OAK CREEK — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie isn’t one to mince words.
“Here is your assignment,” Christie said to a crowd of 200 gathered to hear him stump for Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday afternoon.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.”