Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) sidestepped some direct questions, while Mary Burke (D) struggled to name something positive about her opponent. Those were some of the takeaways from Friday night's first gubernatorial debate.
Economic issues dominated the discussion, as both candidates were asked if the current minimum wage of $7.25/hour is enough to live on.
After Gov. Walker dodged the question once, WQOW-TV Anchor/Reporter Keith Edwards asked him a second time.
"And my point is, I believe the state should be focused on helping people create jobs that are much greater than the minimum wage," said Gov. Walker, pointing out that training people for skilled jobs such as welding should be the focus going forward.
"It's unrealistic to think that all of the people who work in retail and home health care that are paid the minimum wage are going to be able to shift to welding jobs," said Burke. "That's just not realistic."
Questions on the Governor's rejection of the federal Medicaid expansion and the state's projected budget shortfall put Burke on the offensive.
"In the business world, CEO's would be fired for this type of fiscal irresponsibility that Governor Walker has shown," said Burke.
But the Governor fired back, saying hard working taxpayers disagree with Burke.
"This spring we lowered property and income taxes again, so the typical family will see an extra $322," said Gov. Walker.
On abortion, Gov. Walker was asked directly if he thought it should be illegal, even in cases of rape or incest. Again, he dodged.
"Per the specific request you made, that issue's been resolved. That was decided by the United States Supreme Court more than 40 years ago," said Gov. Walker.
"His position is anything but reasonable," Burke responded. "He believes that even in the extreme cases of rape and incest that that is not a woman's choice."
The most surprising question of the night? Name something about your opponent that you see as a positive for leading the state forward. On that, Burke stumbled.
"Uh...I think that Governor Walker has certainly done, uh, good things in the community...certainly his work around domestic abuse was important," said Burke.
The Governor did not hesitate at all, praising Burke's philanthropic work with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County.
"And I gotta tell you, she's done some remarkable work, donated some great money, provided some great leadership there. I give her hats off for that," said Gov. Walker.
Walker and Burke will debate for a second and final time in Milwaukee next Friday night.
----------- Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke both scored points and avoided any major gaffes in the first of two gubernatorial debates.
Walker laid out his case Friday during the debate in Eau Claire for why he deserves a second term, noting that the state has added more than 100,000 jobs and he's returned about $2 billion in tax cuts.
But Burke says Walker has failed to live up to his promises, divided the state and does not have the interest of average Wisconsin residents at heart.
She says it's time for a new direction.
Walker defended not taking federal Medicaid expansion money, something Burke says was unwise and will cost taxpayers. She also spoke for raising the minimum wage, something Walker opposes.
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