COPY-UPDATE: Walker, Burke spar in first gubernatorial debate - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

COPY-UPDATE: Walker, Burke spar in first gubernatorial debate

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EAU CLAIRE (WKOW) -- 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.


MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke says Gov. Scott Walker's approach to leading the state isn't working and it's time for a change.

Burke aggressively criticized Walker's record in a debate Friday, the first of two in the race.

Walker says he has turned the state around since being elected in 2010. He notes that Wisconsin lost 133,000 jobs in the years before he took office and that since then more than 100,000 jobs have been added.

But Walker promised in 2010 to add 250,000 jobs.

Burke, a former state Commerce Department secretary and executive at Trek Bicycles, says that's a broken promise. She says, "I know we can do better, a lot better."

Walker says Wisconsin has come a long way, but it's got more to go.

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