JANESVILLE

Democratic candidates for governor Kelda Roys and Paul Soglin set aside their differences Wednesday night and rallied behind a common cause: undoing the policies of Gov. Scott Walker.

At a Rock County Progressives forum at Basics, each slammed Walker and the Foxconn deal, asserting Walker has handed out favors to corporations and rolled back environmental regulations.

Speaking to a room of about 35, Roys, a former state legislator and executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, praised the state’s progressive and pragmatic history. She said she wants to ensure health care for all, reduce the “horrific infant mortality rate” and invest in small businesses.

“As I travel around Wisconsin, I feel so hopeful and optimistic,” Roys said. “People have the same concerns, the same challenges and the same belief that Wisconsin can do better.”

In order to oust Walker in November, Roys said Democrats must shift voter turnout by about 5 percentage points in their direction. She said she’s the candidate to make up the deficit by energizing the party’s base, mobilizing Generation X and Millennials, and rallying women. Roys, one of two women seeking the party’s nomination Aug. 14, said when women vote, Democrats win.

Soglin, the current mayor of Madison who has held the job off and on since 1973, has long been a leading figure for Wisconsin liberals. In 1973, he gave Cuba’s communist leader Fidel Castro the key to Madison. He was also a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War on the UW campus in the late 1960s.

The five pillars of Soglin’s campaign include affordable housing, health care, transportation, quality child care and education.

Questions from the audience led the forum discussion. One person asked if the candidates had plans to appeal to rural voters and whether they could win without the rural vote.

Both said they unquestionably must appeal to rural voters. Soglin said voters should “replace a governor who cannot speak ill of Donald Trump no matter how much his policies hurt Harley-Davidson, hurt Wisconsin beer, Wisconsin cheese and our milk producers.”

Roys said she would pursue broadband connectivity expansion in rural areas and modernize infrastructure.

On the environment, Roys said she wants to implement law and order for environmental regulation, saying, “If it’s good in the criminal justice system, why is it bad in the context of consumer protections? We have got to stop letting polluters write their own permits and get them rubber-stamped by the DNR (Department of Natural Resources).”

Soglin said eminent domain, long an issue for Rock County farmers, was originally intended so governments could obtain private lands for public use. Soglin said Walker is using it to acquire private property to give to private businesses.

On Foxconn Technology Group’s $10 billion manufacturing complex that recently broke ground in Mount Pleasant, Soglin said once elected he would announce that the “deal’s canceled. The money’s cut off. If you want it, you can sue.”

As a small business owner, Roys said Foxconn is “a slap in the face. I think that the longer people look at this deal, the worse it smells.”

Both candidates said they would end the state’s school voucher program by stopping new enrollments while allowing current students to finish their education. Roys said public money should not be used for schools “that are not fully public.”

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