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Saturday, March 31, 2012

 9:31 PM 

Barrett: Walker started a civil war


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WAUSAU -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett continued the roll out of his third run for governor Saturday by comparing himself to a battlefield leader in a war started by Gov. Scott Walker, a politician with a vocabulary that doesn’t include the word compromise.

“We have spent 15 months in this state in a civil war,” Barrett said, a day after becoming the fourth Democrat seeking to oust Walker in a historic recall election this summer. “I don’t want our state to be divided. I want us to come together. The person who started this civil war is Scott Walker and I am here to end it.”

Barrett, who on Tuesday seeks to be elected to his third term as Milwaukee’s mayor, told a spring meeting of about 150 Marathon County Democrats at a labor temple in Wausau that Walker was a “divide and conquer” leader who dropped a “bomb” on the state with his successful plan to eliminate collective bargaining for most public workers.

“This was an ideological war to rip the unions apart in this state,” said Barrett, who in 2010 lost to Walker 52 percent to 47 percent.

“I am here to tell you I am the strongest candidate against Scott Walker.”

Barrett drew laughter from the crowd when he mentioned his “unsuccessful boxing career” at State Fair Park, a reference to his being attacked while helping to diffuse a domestic dispute. He also drew cheers on his verbal assault of Walker.

Barrett called Walker a politician interested in “kicking his political enemies when they were down” instead of trying to find solutions to problems.

“We all know what happens when someone drops a bomb. They either obliterate a village or people fight like they have never fought before,” Barrett said. “And that is what happened here in the state of Wisconsin.”

Walker decided rather than focus on jobs, he focused on “ripping this state apart,” Barrett said. “For the first time in my lifetime, we can’t talk politics in this state without getting mad at each other.”

Walker cares only about himself and his “ideological war,” Barrett said, blaming the governor for failing to resolve differences over a new mining law and a venture capital bill. “He cared about going around the country delivering his gospel according to Scott Walker.”

Fellow Dem guv candidate and state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, a one-time dairy farmer who takes pride in being described as “utterly effective” and known as the “candidate on a shoestring,” also addressed Marathon County Democrats. She said Walker has mismanaged the state budget by postponing debt payments more than any governor in Wisconsin history.

“There is a big interest payment coming due,” she said.

She characterized the recall as evidence of a “renaissance in democracy” in Wisconsin.

“The heroes who are working to save us are right here among us,” she said. “We must stop pitting business against labor as if they are enemies.”

Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin and a Dem running for lt. guv in the recall election against incumbent Rebecca Kleefisch, said compromise no longer exists in Wisconsin politics and it was time to end the “chaos.”

“It is time to recall Scott Walker,” said Mitchell, a 15-year veteran of the Madison Fire Department. “This is about justice. This is about the right side of history. Solidarity, brothers and sisters.”

-- By Bob Imrie

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