Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke campaigns in Janesville

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Andrea Anderson
Thursday, July 24, 2014

JANESVILLE—Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke tugged at the heartstrings of supporters who filled the Italian House banquet room Thursday afternoon.

At a campaign stop before moseying over to the Rock County 4-H Fair, Burke held a sign given to her by a first-grader, Victor.

On the paper were Burke, a school building, a brief case, the American flag, a map of Wisconsin and the phrases “A better Wisconsin,” “Better jobs,” and “Better schools.”

“I can't really say it any better than Victor says it. That's what this is about,” Burke said.

Burke bashed her Republican opponent, Gov. Scott Walker.

Walker's campaign has spent “$2 million on attack ads, and they haven't even landed a punch,” Burke said as the crowd clapped.

She repeatedly mentioned Wisconsin being “dead last” in the Midwest and 35th in the country in job creation under Walker's administration.

She said she hears stories “too often” of families across the state struggling to make ends meet and provide a better future for their children.

“I'm afraid if we have four more years of this type of governor, we're not going to recognize the state that we know,” Burke said.

Burke said her family taught her values she wants to use as governor.

Her great-grandparents were farmers, her mother was the first in the family to attend college, and her father started Trek Bicycle on a farm in Waterloo.

The crowd “aww-ed” when she said her grandfather delivered mail to the house where she now lives.

A Marquette University Law School poll, released Wednesday, shows the Governor's race could be a nail bitter. The poll shows Walker has 46 percent of the support of registered voters and Burke has 45 percent.

The poll data also shows Burke's name recognition isn't as high as Walker's.

Burke plans to continue getting out and speaking with citizens to increase name recognition.

“I have no doubts that in three-and-a-half months people in Wisconsin will get to know me and the type of governor I'm going to be,” Burk told The Gazette.

A few people in attendance asked Burke to strive for accessible education, to not forget about small business owners and to work with local government.

Burke, a former Trek Bicycle executive, said she understands the importance of small businesses. She said small businesses and startups account for 70 percent of job creation, and Wisconsin is 46th in the country for new business.

She hopes to be a “good partner” to local government by maintaining communication and helping communities set priorities to thrive, she said.

As a Madison school board member, Burke stressed the importance of education. Schools across the state have faced “historic cuts,” she said.

Walker's recent call on the Legislature to repeal the Common Core standards is “disappointing,” Burke said in a conversation with reporters.

“In Wisconsin, we have to improve the education level of our students so they can compete for the jobs of the future,” she said. “Right now, Wisconsin is lagging.”

Walker campaigned in Janesville Wednesday.

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