• WisPolitics

Saturday, November 1, 2014

 11:46 PM 

Burke emphasizes turnout as tight race draws to a close

APPLETON -- Chants of "Mary! Mary!" from a crowd of supporters greeted gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke Saturday evening at a gathering for her at the Appleton headquarters of the Outagamie County Democratic Party.

"This is football and we're in the last two minutes of the game," she told supporters. "We have everything it takes; it's all about turnout."

Burke said recent attacks over her history with Trek Bicycle -- including allegations she was fired from the family business in the early '90s -- have only made her stronger.

"I'm not backing down one inch," she said. "The tougher they get, the tougher I get."

Burke mentioned more than once was that she'll be a collaborative leader. "This divisiveness we see now in our state – it's not who we are, and it's not how we do our best work," she said.

Burke said the outcome Tuesday evening is dependent on voter turnout.

"I'm sort of putting this on you," she said, urging supporters to join the phone banks or go door to door to speak to people about the issues affecting them. "Whether it's education and our kids, whether it's women and getting equal pay for equal work, or the environment, (or) safety in our communities, these are the issues affecting our communities that are on the line here in Wisconsin," she said.

Burke mentioned that raising the minimum wage could be a positive for the state's business climate. "This is all money that gets spent right back in our communities and our businesses, which helps create more jobs," she said. "We know people can't live on $7.25 an hour."

Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber joined Burke at the Appleton gathering after having spent much of the day going door to door talking with people in the 19th Senate District, which includes the Fox Valley. Bernard Schaber is running against Republican Roger Roth for the Senate seat.

Bernard Schaber said three issues continue to pop up more often than others in her talks with citizens: BadgerCare, school vouchers and raising the minimum wage.

She said she runs into many people with family members who no longer qualify for Badger Care after the governor turned away $4 billion in federal funding for medical coverage.

"People want us to accept the federal funds," Bernard Schaber said. "People want us to support their public schools; they feel like our true investment should be in them, and that we should not be sending vouchers to private schools," or providing tuition tax breaks, she said.

Retired teacher and corrections worker Ronna Swift is one of those with family members who fell between the qualification cracks of Badger Care and the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges. A member of the Sierra Club, she also disagrees with the governor's environmental track record (especially concerning mining), his turning down of federal funds to build a high-speed rail system across the state, and his support of voucher schools, which, she says, mainly benefit upper-class families sending their kids to private schools.

High school senior Clara Carpenter of Appleton said she hopes to go to college next year if she can afford it. She was an eighth-grader four years ago when students in her class staged days of school walk-outs to protest the Governor's cuts in education spending. "Kids were walking downtown and yelling," she said.

But the governor's policies on issues affecting women are what really motivated her to step up as a volunteer on Saturday, she said. "I feel like he's trying to take away reproductive rights, and that's what is motivating me," she said.

-- By Lee Marie Reinsch
For WisPolitics.com

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