FOX 11 Fact Check: Dueling governor ads

Dueling Ads
Dueling Ads

Dueling campaign ads in the race for governor are making noise and opposing claims.

The expected nominees, Republican Incumbent Scott Walker and Democrat Mary Burke, both released their first ads this week, focusing on jobs.

Mary Burke's ad shows the unemployment rate at 4.8 percent spinning up to 6.2 percent.

"Under Walker, unemployment's up," says Burke's ad.

Governor Walker challenges that saying unemployment was 7.8 percent when he took office, and now it's 6.3 percent.

"Quite the contrary, Mary," says Walker's ad.

So is unemployment up or down since Governor Walker took office? FOX 11 did a fact check.

Our fact check referenced the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is the same source both commercials used.

In December 2010, unemployment was at 7.8 percent. The latest figures from December 2013 put the unemployment rate at 6.3 percent. These numbers match Walker's ad.

FOX 11 requested interviews with a spokesperson from each campaign for this story. Requests were denied.

In a statement, Burke's spokesman defends her ad, saying the unemployment rate when Burke was commerce secretary was lower than it has been under Governor Walker.

FOX 11 did another fact check.

Burke served under Governor Jim Doyle between 2005 and 2007, when the unemployment rate ranged from 4.6 percent to 4.9 percent.

Under Walker, unemployment has never been lower than 6.3 percent.

What's not explained in the ad is that unemployment was lower when Burke was commerce secretary than it has been under Walker.

In an email, I asked Burke's spokesman why the ad doesn't make a clear distinction.

The spokesman said, "We believe it is clear."

Scott Furlong from UW-Green Bay says claims like this are common in short television ads.

"And frankly much easier to defend once a campaign is actually challenged on it a little bit," said Furlong.

He expects we'll see many more in these next eight months until the election.

Walker's ad also notes, since he's been governor, Wisconsin has added more than 100,000 private sector jobs.

FOX 11 checked the most recent state workforce development data, and it shows almost 95,000 private jobs added for all of 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The ad doesn't mention Walker's 2010 campaign pledge to add 250,000 private sector jobs during his four-year term.