Walker pushes back against Burke in first ad

Gov. Scott Walker
Gov. Scott Walker

MADISON (AP) – Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign demanded Friday that Democratic challenger Mary Burke’s first campaign television ad be taken off the air, insisting it falsely claims that unemployment went up since Walker took office.

Burke’s ad says that “under Walker, unemployment’s up,” and the image on the screen shows the figures of 4.8 percent and an up arrow to 6.3 percent, the current rate.

But when Walker took office in 2011 statewide unemployment was 7.8 percent, not 4.8 percent as Burke’s ad infers. What the Burke campaign said in supporting information, but not on the screen in the ad, is that the 4.8 percent refers to the unemployment rate when Burke was secretary of the Department of Commerce in 2007.

“Mary Burke’s ad is false and blatantly misleading,” said Walker’s campaign manager Stephan Thompson. “Failure to remove this ad would fly in the face of factual reporting and deceive Wisconsin voters.”

Walker’s campaign sent letters to television stations in Green Bay, La Crosse and Wausau demanding that the ad be taken down.

Burke’s spokesman Joe Zepecki did not immediately return a message seeking reaction to Walker’s call for the ad to be taken down.

Earlier Friday, Zepecki defended the ad.

“Unemployment was lower, and more people were working when Mary Burke was commerce secretary than under Scott Walker as governor,” Zepecki said in an email. “Those facts may be inconvenient for career politician Scott Walker – but that doesn’t make them untrue.”

Burke released her ad online on Wednesday, giving Walker time to quickly put together a spot in response that began airing the same day as Burke’s on Friday.

Walker accuses Burke of lying in her ad and closes with: “We can’t trust Mary Burke.”

Watch the ad:

Burke was commerce secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle between 2005 and 2007. During that time, the unemployment rate dropped to as low as 4.6 percent but never went above 4.9 percent, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But Burke doesn’t make that distinction in the ad, which simply says that unemployment is up under Walker.

Walker’s ad also notes that since he’s been governor, Wisconsin has added more than 100,000 private sector jobs. That is true, but what the ad doesn’t say is Walker promised during his 2010 campaign – and reiterated during the 2012 recall – that the state would add 250,000 private sector jobs by the end of this year.

Burke is a member of the Madison school board. This is her first race for statewide office.

Walker is the first governor to win a recall election in U.S. history. He is seeking re-election amid talk that he’s considering a run for president in 2016. Prior to becoming governor, Walker served eight years as Milwaukee County executive and nine years in the state Assembly.

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