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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

 2:32 PM 

Walker tours painting plants, says he looks forward to being just guv again rather than campaigner

WAUSAU – A relaxed and confident Gov. Scott Walker toured a painting plant early Tuesday afternoon and showed no visible signs of being nervous that he could become only the third governor in U.S. history to be booted from office in a recall in a matter of hours.

The Republican shook hands with about a dozen workers at Tomcor Industries in Wausau’s industrial park, saying he wanted to spend time on the historical Election Day with hard-working workers, “the people making it happen,” not just asking for votes.

He told some he looked forward to being only governor again, not a campaigner, and pledged to visit the factory again in that role.

“You damn well better be back,” one worker shouted over the hum of machinery, smiling.

“Absolutely,” Walker said, calling himself a champion of small business.

Tomcor, which contracts with companies to paint their products, employs 28 workers, owner Corey Suthers said. It was founded two years ago as a subsidiary of Norlen Inc., which started in 1964. Walker stopped at Norlen Inc. on Election Day 2010, Suthers said.

Tuesday is the third gubernatorial recall in U.S. history. The other two ousted California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921.

“I haven’t even thought about that,” Walker told a reporter Tuesday when asked whether he was worried about losing.

When pressed about how he felt on the historic day, the governor called his first 17 months in office, the political turmoil and the ensuing national spotlight he is in “a little surreal.”

“We came in and tried to fix this. I didn’t have a master plan or dream of what all was coming. I just tried to fix things,” he said.

Walker said the high voter turnout being reported across the state was evidence of the “passion” involved in today’s election.

“My hope is it’s a sign that people have heard the facts. They see what’s at stake here,” the governor said. “And I hope they are turning out in massive numbers because they understand that what’s at stake is whether or not our government is going to be controlled by a handful of special interests, which is the way it was in the past, or whether or not to stand with taxpayers.”

GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who faces Democrat Mahlon Mitchell in her bid to remain in office, spent the hour-long tour at the plant at Walker's side. A pickup truck with a big “We stand with Walker” sign sat outside the front door. No protesters showed up to oppose Walker.

Walker, who won with 52 percent of the vote in 2010, refused to predict whether the race will be closer this time.

“One of my sons texted me on the way over here today. He said, ‘Dad remember: Win or lose, I love you,’” Walker said. “We are just ready to move on. I think most people in the state are ready to move on.”

-- By Robert Imrie
For WisPolitics.com

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