No new ground broken in final Wisconsin governor’s debate

Gov. Walker and Mary Burke met in Milwaukee

Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke break little new ground in their second and final debate.

Walker and Burke largely played it safe in Friday’s debate in Milwaukee, sticking to their well-worn talking points honed over months on the campaign trail. The debate comes just 18 days before the Nov. 4 election.

Again, they disagree over whether Walker has turned the state’s economy around or made it worse. Walker points to the creation of more than 100,000 new jobs and 5.5 percent unemployment, while Burke says Wisconsin is lagging its neighbors and the middle class are hurting.

Burke also defends her jobs plan, even though portions of it were copied from other proposals.

She says Walker is using that issue to distract from his own jobs record.

Gov. Scott Walker frequently referred to Doyle during the debate.

At one point, Burke quipped, “From the number of times he’s mentioned Jim Doyle, it’s clear he’d rather be running against him than me.”

Walker frequently tries to tie Burke to Doyle, given that she spent nearly three years as Doyle’s Commerce Department secretary from 2005 to November 2007.

Walker points to the state’s loss of 133,000 jobs under Doyle’s watch, saying Burke’s policies would take the state down the same path.

Burke has tried to distance herself from Doyle in recent days, saying she disagreed with many of his policies.

Walker and Burke disagreed over whether to criminalize first-offense drunken driving.

Wisconsin is the only state in the country where first-offense drunken driving is treated like a traffic offense, not a crime.

Burke said during the debate that she supports making first offenses a misdemeanor, saying “We have to take a tougher stance on this.”

But Walker opposes that. He says the focus instead should be on toughening penalties for repeat offenders.