Walker, Barrett supporters rally over weekend
Both sides claim momentum following primary
With the path clear for the rematch between Gov. Scott Walker and Tom Barrett for Wisconsin governor, members of both parties rallied around their candidates over the weekend.
Everyone who's someone in Wisconsin's Republican Party cheered on Walker at the annual GOP convention Saturday in Green Bay.
Walker delivered an impassioned defense of his record at a speech on Saturday.
The governor reiterated his 2010 campaign pledge to create 250,000 private sector jobs by 2015, and he said the only to way accomplish that is with his re-election.
"It's a commitment I made in the campaign the first time," Walker said. "It's a commitment I make again today. And by 2015, with your help, it's a commitment we'll see fulfilled for the betterment of all the people of Wisconsin."
So far, only 5,600 jobs have been created. But Walker said he has laid the foundation for success and he said his job creation plan will be fulfilled.
Meanwhile, Gov. Walker’s familiar opponent, Tom Barrett, continued his campaign in western Wisconsin.
Barrett has been trying to capitalize on a video that surfaced over the week in which Gov. Walker used the phrase "divide and conquer" when talking about public employee unions with a Beloit billionaire.
"He has had 16 months to divide and conquer this state," said Barrett. "I will end the civil war that he started."
In Dane County, supporters of the Democratic party said last week's primary votes show excitement on both sides.
Frank Wood is a high school business teacher who cites Gov. Walker as his reason for retiring at the end of this school year.
"I've decided this year, after 33 years, that this will be my last year in education," said Wood.
Wood said the decision comes with frustration over growing class sizes and a recent pay cut, both of which he blames on the governor.
He said he didn't care which Democrat won the primary.
"I would of been happy with any of the candidates," said Wood. "I think the main goal is obviously, we can't keep going in this state the way this is."
But more than 600,000 Republican voters came out for to show their support for Gov. Walker at the primary election, even though he faced no real threat.
"Well, for my party it's a nice sign, it shows a lot of energy," said Republican supporter Dave Cartter.
Cartter said he understands what it's like to be a public employee.
He was a deputy sheriff in Dane County for 30 years.
And he said he stands with Gov. Walker.
"600,000 conservative people walked in and voted," said Cartter. "So, when you look at the numbers, yeah there's a lot of grassroots movement with us also."
At Saturday’s GOP convention, Walker played to that movement, knowing that he has three weeks to convince those who haven’t committed to either movement that he’s still the right man for the job.
"We don't want to go backward, we want to go forward," said Gov. Walker. "We want to go forward in this state and that's exactly where we're going to go with your help."
Gov. Walker’s campaign predicts the employment numbers out next week will look positive, though his administration has also tried to de-emphasize month-by-month numbers in the past when they were not positive.
Meanwhile, to jump start the grassroots part of Tom Barrett's campaign the group "We are Wisconsin" had their solidarity kickoff in Madison.
Hundreds gathered to hit the streets, encouraging people to go to the polls on June 5.
With more than 29 "We are Wisconsin" kickoffs throughout the state, organizers expect to knock on 30,000 doors this weekend alone.
"We're here just to send a message and keep the momentum going," said We are Wisconsin’s executive director Kristin Crowell. "It's been 15 months, and again, it's just three-and-a-half more weeks to finish the job and send Scott Walker home."
Those that rallied at the Madison Labor Temple were joined by Representative Chris Taylor, "The Nation"'s John Nichols, and Representative Marc Pocan.
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