Columnist: Wisconsinites Not Surprised by Tight Gov. Race

Friday, 29 Aug 2014 04:59 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The Wisconsin governor's race has turned into a horse race, but Dan Bice, political watchdog columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, isn't surprised.

"No one in the national media expected it. The only people who aren't surprised with those numbers are people in Wisconsin," Bice told Rick Ungar, guest host of "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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A new Marquette University Law School poll gave Democrat Mary Burke, a former state commerce secretary and bicycle company executive, a slight increase in her lead over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker among likely voters — 48.6 per cent to 46.5 per cent.

But with the margin of error counted, the two candidates remain in a dead heat.

It's Walker's second major challenge to hold onto his office, having survived a recall attempt in 2012.

That was prompted by anger over a state law Walker promoted that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public employees.

"During the recall election, which Walker won 53 to 46 [percent], there was a sizeable group of voters who voted with Walker, not because they liked him or liked any of his positions on collective bargaining, but because they disliked the recall election," Bice said.

"Walker started referring to this and started saying that three to four percent of the population – of the voters – are not with me anymore.

"This is going to be a tough fight. The interesting thing is these numbers have not changed dramatically over the last eight months. The Marquette poll, which is the best poll that we have, it was right on target back in 2012 and again in 2010. These numbers have been incredibly stable."

Bice believes that five to six percent of Wisconsites "haven't figured out what their position is" on Walker.

"All of these millions of dollars are going to be spent over the next two months trying to convince the small group of voters whether they should vote for him or for Mary Burke," he said.

Walker also faces hurdles over two investigations he's the subject of, including one that focuses on possible illegal campaign coordination among conservative groups.

Court documents released last week include excerpts from emails showing that Walker's recall election campaign team told him to instruct donors to give to a key conservative group that would run ads for Walker and distribute money to other conservative groups backing him.

The documents, released by a federal appeals court, also show prosecutors believe Walker personally solicited donations for conservative group Wisconsin Club for Growth to get around campaign finance limits and disclosure requirements as he fended off the recall attempt in 2012.

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