Walker shifts focus from presidential campaign trail back to Wisconsin
by Peter Culver, The Badger Herald
After an abrupt end to his presidential run, Gov. Scott Walker returns to Madison looking to re-focus on pressing state issues such as employment, while several Democratic legislators are still frustrated by his lack of attention to the state during his run for presidency.
Walker released a statement outlining a partnership with the Department of Workforce Development to promote the new Wisconsin Job Honor Award. According to Stephanie Bloomingdale, AFL-CIO spokesperson, Walker promised 250,000 new jobs when he first came to office but has yet to deliver them. Walker, however, said in the statement that his new initiative will present inspiring success stories.
“The Wisconsin Job Honor Awards provide an opportunity to recognize Wisconsinites who have overcome employment barriers to become successful, productive members of the workforce,” DWD secretary Reggie Newson said.
According to the statement, employment barriers can vary anywhere from a lack of consistent transportation to drug addiction. In addition, it said that the Wisconsin Job Honor Award is modeled after a similar award in Iowa.
While Walker is focused on promoting new job creation upon his return, Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, said Walker’s noticeable absence during his run for president will not be forgotten. She said it was particularly felt during the last round of budget negotiations.
“He is too narrowly focused on his own personal ambitions and is not interested in other people or other things,” Berceau said.
She also added that even when Walker is off the campaign trail, Democrats have limited interactions with him which staunches bipartisan collaboration.
Berceau’s colleague, Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, claimed that Walker’s presidential ambitions came at the cost of the Wisconsin people.
“He threw the people of Wisconsin under his campaign bus,” Shankland said.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, reinforced his support for Walker in a statement, saying that Walker has worked hard for Wisconsin and calling him “a man of true integrity and courage.”
Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a statement Wisconsin has been lucky to have Walker for the past four years and welcomes him back to Madison after leaving the presidential campaign trail.
“I look forward to working with Governor Walker on additional reform measures throughout his second term in office,” Vos said. “The nation’s loss is truly Wisconsin’s gain.”
Anthony Birch, chair of the UW College Republicans, insisted that Wisconsin voters still firmly support the governor, referencing Walker’s past three election victories.
Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, disagreed by saying in an email to The Badger Herald that the reason Walker failed as a presidential candidate was that voters want a unifying leader, not a divisive one.
Barca also pushed Walker to come away from his right-winged agenda in order to foster bipartisanship in Madison.
“Now that he is no longer seeking the Republican presidential nomination, I hope the governor will finally work in a bipartisan manner on important issues that our citizens truly care about — not just policies he thinks will benefit him and his fellow Republicans politically,” Barca said.