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Sunday, May 6, 2012

 2:11 PM 

Falk tells Wausau crowd a 'mom' needed to heal Wisconsin

WAUSAU – Kathleen Falk on Sunday compared Wisconsin to a family that is hurting and asked cheering supporters at a labor temple who generally leads a family toward healing.

“It takes mom to get people back together. That’s how families do it,” said Falk, who for 14 years served as Dane County executive, the first woman in that office.

Falk told a crowd of about 60 people at the Wausau Labor Temple that she raised her son to not think that men are better than women or women are better than men.

Falk characterized herself as a woman who has broken through anti-women barriers and glass ceilings all her life, a woman with a “big-tent” theory of bringing people together.

“We just want our opportunity to do what the men have had their opportunity to do,” the 60-year-old mother said. “That’s what’s fair. The fact that we haven’t had a woman governor in 164 years is a little bit lame. I say, if not now, when? But I believe I am the most qualified of all the candidates.”

Falk, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout and Secretary of State Doug La Follette square off in a Democratic primary Tuesday for the right to challenge Walker in a recall election June 8. Recent polls indicate Barrett, who narrowly lost to Walker in 2010, and Falk, with the endorsements of many labor unions, are the frontrunners.

Le Mellin, a 72-year-old retired technical service manager from Mosinee, said he stopped at a Barrett campaign event in Stevens Point on Saturday and Falk’s appearance in Wausau on Sunday because he wanted more information before deciding whom to support Tuesday.

He might not decide until he goes into the voting booth, he said.

“For me, it should be a no-brainer because I dislike Walker so much and what he has done to the state of Wisconsin,” Mellin said. “I want to make sure I am going to vote for the candidate that stands the best chance of beating Walker.”

He left Sunday’s session with Falk with a good “gut feeling” about her.

“She talked more specifically by about issues and how she’s handled them than Tom Barrett did,” Mellin said.

On a Sunday morning campaign tour that included stops in Rhinelander and Wausau before noon, Falk talked some religion, too, but only lightheartedly.

“It’s like being in church right here,” she said, smiling at the crowd. “Thank you.”

Falk focused her only harsh words at Walker, calling him dishonest as a candidate for governor two years ago, a failure at job-creation and a misguided supporter of tax breaks for corporations in hopes they “trickle down.”

“You know he isn’t delivering our agenda here in Wisconsin,” Falk said. “He is delivering an agenda for a far-right extreme, national agenda that isn’t ours.”

Falk said new manufacturing jobs can be created in Wisconsin in the wood-pulp industry by finding new uses for that resource, including for jet fuel. Central Wisconsin recently suffered the closure of a paper mill in Brokaw that cost the economy some 400 jobs.

Wisconsin can also be a leader in finding new solutions for water pollution as a way for more new jobs, Falk said.

Falk drew loud applause when she promised to fight for restoration of union rights that she said were needed to keep the middle class viable. She has vowed to veto any state budget that doesn’t include that provision.

“A generation before us fought hard for a better life for all of us and I’ll be darned if we let 50 years of collective bargaining go down the drain,” Falk said. “Measure me, please, by what I’ve walked, not just by my thoughts. I’ve got the record here that is the best one to go toe to toe against Scott Walker.”

-- By Robert Imrie

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