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Walker and Hartley

Bob Hartley of Portage, right, greets Gov. Scott Walker before Walker's address Monday at a campaign rally at Penda in Portage.

Gov. Scott Walker told a Portage audience Monday that his hopes for winning a third term hinge on his supporters voting 10 times.

Walker was quick to say, to more than 100 people gathered at Penda Corp., that he doesn’t mean his supporters should engage in fraudulent voting.

Rather, they should cast their own votes, then ensure that nine other supporters are able to cast their ballots Nov. 6, he said.

“We win the election if we get the facts out,” Walker said. “The facts are, we are a lot better off than we were eight years ago.”

Bob Spencer, human resources vice president for Kruger Brown – the parent company of Penda and TriEnda, which employ a total of about 600 people in their Portage plants – said Walker’s campaign staff wanted to hold a campaign appearance at Penda.

Penda officials wanted “to give our employees an opportunity to hear what Scott Walker has to say.”

The crowd included not just employees, but also Walker supporters from throughout the area.

They applauded when Walker laid out what he sees as the difference between him and his Democratic opponent, Department of Public Instruction Secretary Tony Evers.

“Do you want more jobs and higher wages?” Walker asked. “Or do you want more spending and higher taxes?”

And they nodded in agreement when Walker denounced former President Barack Obama’s claim that under the federal Affordable Care Act, all people could keep their existing health insurance if they liked it.

According to Walker, Evers’ campaign proposals, if they all were adopted, could cost taxpayers an additional $7 billion, and could result in gasoline taxes as high as $1 per gallon.

“Everything’s on the table. That’s what he said,” Walker said. “And when somebody says that, you’d better hold on to your wallet.”

Walker said if he wins a third four-year term, he would focus on three key priorities:

  • Ensure not only that Wisconsin students graduate from high school, but also that they graduate with a career plan. He said he would like to extend a youth apprenticeship program to students as early as seventh and eighth grades.
  • Keep graduates of Wisconsin’s post-high school education institutions, public or private, in Wisconsin. Toward that end, he said he proposes a $5,000 tax credit for any recipient of at least a two-year degree who works in Wisconsin for at least five years.
  • Recruit new workers, primarily millennials, from Midwestern cities outside Wisconsin, and from military bases.

Walker noted there are about 100,000 jobs available in Wisconsin now, for which employers report having great difficulty finding qualified workers.

Countering Evers’ contentions that Walker is anti-education, Walker said he has invested “more actual dollars into schools than ever before in our history” – an extra $200 per pupil statewide, and more for rural schools.

Walker also took issue with claims that he opposes ensuring health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions.

That’s ludicrous, he said, because he has family members with such conditions, including his wife, Tonette, who has diabetes.

“We will always cover people with pre-existing conditions, without prolonging the failure that is Obamacare,” Walker said.

With a week before Election Day, polls show, for the most part, a neck-and-neck race between Walker and Evers. The most recent Marquette University poll shows Walker leading Evers, 47 percent to 46 percent.

“We’re really encouraging people to get out and vote,” he said. “In past situations when we were down in the polls, the key is getting people out to vote.”

Follow Lyn Jerde on Twitter @LynJerde or contact her at 608-745-3587.

Portage Daily Register Reporter