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Tom Barrett
Tom Barrett
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, met in the first of two debates Friday evening. Leading in the polls, Walker just had to hold his own, while Barrett needed to score some solid hits. Since Friday night debates aren't exactly must-see TV, the big question was who, if anyone, would dominate news coverage coming out of the debate, and Barrett had the edge there, with Scott Bauer of the Associated Press reporting that "Barrett kept Walker on the defensive throughout much of the hour-long debate."
"You decided to use a budget crisis to try and divide and conquer this state," Barrett said, speaking directly to Walker as the two stood near each other behind podiums in a television studio. "That’s what happened. That’s what led to all of this. And you succeeded. You succeeded in dividing this state."

Walker said he was focused on moving the state forward and didn’t want to relive the past.

State jobs numbers were also a central part of the debate:
...the two candidates continued an ongoing dispute over whether state has lost or gained jobs — thanks to a maneuver by the Walker administration last week, when the state’s Department of Workforce Development released a jobs report based on a different measurement method using quarterly census data and tax reports, which the Walker administration maintains is superior to the usual monthly surveys that have shown a loss. The quarterly figures were released more than a month ahead of the normal schedule, before the federal government finishes its own review of them for a national report in late June.

"The mayor and his allies are talking about numbers based on a sample of 3.5 percent of employers in this state," Walker said, compared with the 96 percent of employers in the census data.

Barrett shot back that the release of the census figures was an attempt to twist the facts in the election: "He brought his key political appointees together and said we need to have a different measurement. They brought a measurement out 20 days before this election. They had TV commercials running four hours later, saying, 'Let’s use this set of numbers instead.' These numbers have never been verified. He knows they cannot be verified."

(Note that the "numbers based on a sample of 3.5 percent of employers in this state" that Walker was so scornful of are widely used government statistics that Walker himself cited aggressively at times when those numbers made him look good.)

Barrett additionally pressed the issue of Walker's role in the John Doe investigation that has led Walker to start a defense fund and that has seen former Walker aides, an appointee, and a donor facing a variety of charges; while Walker stayed on message by painting the investigation as a distraction, simply keeping that issue as part of the recall election story is a win for Barrett.

Please contribute $3 to Tom Barrett to help recall Scott Walker.

See more discussion in diaries by Giles Goat Boy and Cedwyn.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat May 26, 2012 at 07:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Badger State Progressive, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Hippie, and Daily Kos.

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