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Tom Barrett lashes out at Gov. Walker, gets endorsements

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MADISON (AP) — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett lashed out at Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday, April 4th, saying his collective bargaining changes unleashed a civil war in Wisconsin that can only be healed if Barrett is elected governor in a recall election.

Barrett also announced the support of three Democrats who either considered running or were frequently mentioned as potential candidates in the recall. Barrett spoke on the lawn of the state Capitol in one of his first public appearances since announcing he was getting into the recall race. He also renewed his call for his three primary opponents to agree to a clean campaign pledge he issued Sunday. “The biggest mistake we as Democrats can make is if we form a firing squad and line up in a circle,” Barrett said.

Barrett said the pledge is even more important given an email sent earlier this week by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to its members misrepresenting Barrett’s position on collective bargaining. The email included a link to a
video that leaves the incorrect impression Barrett supported the changes Walker pushed through the Legislature last year.

Barrett did support the portion of Walker’s proposal calling on public workers to pay more for their health insurance and pension benefits, something the unions also agreed to. But he opposed taking away of bargaining rights over anything other than wage
increases no larger than inflation. Barrett on Wednesday announced the endorsements of U.S. Rep. Ron Kind and state Sens. Tim Cullen, of Janesville, and Jon Erpenbach, of Waunakee. Erpenbach, the most visible of the 14 state senators who fed to Illinois for three weeks last year to try to block passage of Walker’s collective bargaining bill, said Barrett was in the best position of Democrats running to beat Walker.

Walker’s campaign spokeswoman did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Other Democrats running are Kathleen Falk, former Dane County executive, Secretary of State Doug La Follette and state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, of Alma. La Follette, who has served as secretary of state since 1986 and won his first election as a state senator in 1972, said his long history of winning makes him the best candidate to take on Walker. “People know that I am independent thinker and I will try to do the best for Wisconsin,” La Follette said.

The secretary of state’s office in Wisconsin has few duties and polls have shown La Follette far behind against either Falk or Barrett, the front-runners. When asked for a response to Barrett’s comments, Falk’s spokesman Scot Ross noted the backing Falk has received from public employee unions and other groups since she announced her campaign in mid-January. Falk filed a lawsuit against the collective bargaining law last year, circulated recall petitions in November and was the first to enter the recall race in mid-January.

Ross said Falk has won the backing of unions and others because she has been in the race “since Day One.” Vinehout’s campaign did not immediately return a message seeking comment.