Wisconsin job climate to be focal point of 2014 gubernatorial ra - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wisconsin job climate to be focal point of 2014 gubernatorial race

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Scott Walker is still committed to the lofty campaign pledge of creating 250-thousand jobs during his first term in office.

Walker made the promise during his 2010 run for the Governor's mansion.

"We're still aiming for that," Walker said Wednesday outside a Wisconsin Hospital Association event at Monona Terrace.

The Governor officially kicked off his re-election campaign Tuesday. He told supporters at stops around the state that his administration has so far created more than 100-thousand new jobs.

"We aimed big," Walker said of the 2010 promise. "We had probably one of the most aggressive goals in the country."

Walker faces former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke in this November's election. He said he's not concerned about the 250-thousand jobs pledge becoming a major campaign issue.

"I don't think the people of this state, come November, are going to penalize someone for aiming big," Walker said.

Many Democrats believe Walker should be held accountable for falling short of the 250-thousand jobs goal.

Burke, on a campaign stop in La Crosse Wednesday, said Wisconsin's economy has been sluggish under Walker's leadership.

"We are ninth out of 10 Midwestern states in terms of job creation," Burke said.

Dr. Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School political poll, said voter perceptions of Wisconsin's job climate, as it relates to other states, might prove more crucial to this fall's campaign than Walker's 2010 promise.

"Republicans who believe we're lagging behind are about 20 points less approving of Governor Walker, 75 percent approval compared to 95 percent among Republicans who think we're keeping up on jobs," Franklin said.

He added the trend also applies to Democrats.

"Only five percent of Democrats approve of the Governor if they think we're lagging behind," Franklin said. "But 25 percent of Democrats, one in four, approve of him if they think we're at least keeping up."
"Those are pretty big differences," he said.

Although Franklin added the Governor's 250-thousand jobs pledge is likely to still be used by the Burke campaign.

"The Governor did make a pledge, right? He did encourage people back in 2010 to judge his administration on how he performed on this issue," Franklin said.

"So I think that's a pretty strong invitation to the Burke campaign to continue to point that out," Franklin said.

Franklin said Marquette Law School Poll data taken during the last two years suggests somewhere between eight and 15 percent of the state's electorate remains up for grabs, with the rest of voters too ideologically entrenched to be persuadable.

He said Walker and Burke will likely spend a substantial chunk of the campaign trying to sway those voters in the middle.

"I think there will be continued argument over whether the picture is as rosy as the Governor's portrait of it and whether the Burke campaign is able to offer a credible alternative that voters will really say, 'you know, even though it's a change and there's a risk in any change, I'm more convinced by her claims,'" Franklin said.

"In a state that's divided something close to 45 percent (Democrat) to 45 percent (Republican), that last 10 to 15 percent is a pretty important group," Franklin said.

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