By Andy Rathbun
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett delivered a barrage of attacks on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker during a recall-election campaign visit to Hudson.
The Democratic mayor used the stop to hit the Republican governor on a number of issues, from job numbers to public unions, making the current political division in the state a center point.
"Are we going to have a leader ... who is going to pit people against each other, or are we going have a leader who is going to try to bring people together?" Barrett said to cheers Wednesday, May 23, at Keys Cafe & Bakery.
"Governor Walker started this civil war and I will end it," he told the mix of supporters and breakfast customers who filled the restaurant at 8 a.m.
Barrett's Hudson stop was his first recent campaign visit to St. Croix County, which tipped heavily in favor of Walker in 2010. The stop comes less than two weeks before the June 5 recall election, in which Barrett will face Walker again.
Joining Barrett on his tour through the western part of the state was state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, who lost to Barrett in the May 8 primary.
"Western Wisconsin is key to winning a statewide race," Vinehout said. "Having Tom come here is very important for helping the people of western Wisconsin get to know him and counter the barrage of negative attacks."
Barrett lost in St. Croix County by about 25 percentage points in 2010, but Vinehout said she believes there is a shift in the traditionally Republican
region this go-around.
"The shift is subtle, but it is important," she said. "If we can take parts of western Wisconsin and move them from 35 percent Democrat to 40 percent Democrat, that 2,000 or 3,000 voters in a very close race can make the difference."
Turnout will decide the election, Barrett told reporters.
"I think there are approximately 37 undecided voters in the state," he joked. "It's going to be really who gets their base out to vote.
"I would tell you that these people who give him $500,000 or $250,000, they don't care what's going on in Hudson or River Falls," he later told reporters. "They have an ideological agenda, a ... tea party political agenda that they want to spread throughout this state."
Barrett said the governor's budget measure last year, which included limiting collective bargaining for most public employees, were meant to divide the state -- and they did.
"As long as he is governor, we're going to have this tension," he said.
Hudson resident Paul Bode was one of several supporters who came out to see Barrett. Bode said he believes the mayor would perform better in job creation than Walker and would restore civility to the state.
"We in western Wisconsin don't always get the attention from Madison, so this is good for us," he said.