Democrats looking to beat Wisconsin’s Republican governor in November should polish their speaking skills and talking points because he’s got those down pat.
They also would do well to follow his example and get someone to give a rousing introduction, as Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett did for Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday night at the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner.
The announced attendance was more than 500, and most stood to applaud as Walker took the microphone.
Klett, a Beloit native, promoted her hometown, noted that the gubernatorial airplane is called Bucky One, and managed to say nice things about supper clubs in her introduction.
She also set up Walker for an anecdote about how his first prom date was at the Butterfly Club outside Beloit.
Walker proceeded to give a wow-I-made-Wisconsin-great-but-there’s-more-to-do speech. And he did it well and enthusiastically.
But he didn’t so much as joke about his political troubles.
Analysts say Walker’s re-election is far from a sure thing. A recent study found his approval rating was 43 percent. And his fellow Republicans in the state Senate are rejecting his proposal to use a projected budget surplus for a sales tax holiday.
Walker didn’t mention that a claim he made when he flew into Janesville last month—that he has spent more on transportation than his Democratic predecessor—was found to be not true by the Politifact fact-checkers.
Walker didn’t mention national issues, either. The closest he came was another story, this one about Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who worked at the McDonald’s in Janesville while Walker was doing the same in nearby Delavan.
Walker marveled that the manager at the Janesville McDonald’s didn’t think Ryan had people skills, so he put him in the back, flipping burgers. He wondered what that manager thinks now.
Walker ticked off happy news at breakneck speed—for example, how unemployment has dropped from around 9 percent in the year he was first elected governor (2010) to 3 percent in 2017.
“Jobs, jobs, jobs” was the mantra back in 2010, he said, and now it’s “workforce, workforce, workforce” as businesses struggle to find workers to fill those jobs.
Walker spoke at length about programs he said have helped workforce development, such as Project SEARCH, which teaches job skills to students with disabilities.
He said Wisconsin is among the top 10 states for hiring people with disabilities, and he touted state benefits to veterans as the best in the nation, including free higher education and no taxes on military pensions.
Walker urged his audience to tell veterans they meet around the country to consider Wisconsin, for its veterans benefits and its opportunities.
Education also is key to developing the workforce, he said, and touted what he said was the most money dedicated to K-12 education in Wisconsin history. Politifact also has found that claim is “mostly false.”
Walker briefly mentioned his idea that welfare recipients should have to work and pass a drug test to qualify for public housing. Being drug-free is must for many jobs, he said.
Walker said he wanted to move people from dependence to “true independence” through “the dignity of work.”
Walker also referred to Act 10, saying changes he and fellow Republicans made to state labor laws are allowing school districts to hire people on merit and pay them for performance, things he said would improve student success and help build the workforce.