CHIPPEWA FALLS — Gov. Scott Walker said he doesn’t doubt polls that show he is trailing Democratic challenger Tony Evers as the gubernatorial race enters the final month before the election.
“I believe those polls are real,” Walker said Wednesday during a stop in Chippewa Falls. “They are a snapshot in time.”
However, he pointed out that U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson was trailing in polls two years ago but came back to win.
“The polls aren’t wrong — we changed the polls,” Walker said. “When people cut through the attack ads, they’ll see more people are working than ever before.”
As part of that message, Walker said he needs to remind people that more state residents are working in this state than ever before, and he is actively recruiting veterans from other states to move here and take some jobs.
“The only thing that is slowing our potential growth is the labor to fill jobs,” he said.
Britt Cudaback, deputy communications director for Evers’ campaign, challenged Walker’s comments about the growth in jobs.
“One in 5 Wisconsin workers hold poverty-wage jobs, 870,000 families can’t afford basic necessities, and health care costs continue to climb because Walker puts his political interests before the people of Wisconsin,” Cudaback said. “The bottom line is that our economy isn’t working for hardworking families. That’s why we’re ready for a change in Wisconsin.”
Walker dismissed claims that more school districts statewide are seeking referendums because the state isn’t providing enough revenue. Walker said that more districts introduced referendum questions under Gov. Jim Doyle’s eight years in office.
“It’s an ongoing myth that’s out there,” Walker said.
Walker also was asked about possible changes to tracking chronic wasting disease in the state’s deer herd. Walker said he’s willing to make modifications as long as it continues to protect the safety of the herd.
Walker was visiting Chippewa River Industries, which is celebrating its 50th year in existence. CRI has 500 employees, nearly all of whom are developmentally disabled, performing a variety of jobs, such as assembly line packing. Some employees also have found other jobs in the community, based on their skill set. Walker presented a proclamation to CRI President David Lemanski for his work in growing the company.
“God calls us to find joy in labor, in work,” Walker said. “We know, historically, there have been barriers (for developmentally disabled people) to work.”
Walker praised CRI for breaking down those barriers.
“We need as many opportunities for people to be working in this state as possible,” he said.
Rep. Kathy Bernier, R-Lake Hallie, was Chippewa County clerk when CRI spun off from being a county-operated entity into a private business in 2009. Bernier said in its early days, CRI offered more crafts, games and movies for the developmentally disabled. Now, it has a great focus on finding jobs that meet workers’ skill sets, she said.
“The success of it is phenomenal,” Bernier said. “We didn’t know what to expect because the old (format) wasn’t as productive. Lemanski is responsible for where it is today. It has really evolved into a terrific program. It gives our disabled another option; it gives them a sense of accomplishment.”