MADISON (WITI) — In the race for governor, Republican Scott Walker and Democrat Mary Burke have been arguing over jobs here in Wisconsin — but now, the issue is jobs overseas. In a new attack ad, Walker says Burke’s former company took state money and then outsourced jobs.
This week, Walker launched a new campaign ad. It is designed to weaken Burke on what Democrats see as her strongest credential: her connection to Trek Bicycle.
The ad attacks Burke on the issue of outsourcing.
“Sending jobs overseas that could have been done in Wisconsin,” the ad says.
In 2012, Trek outsourced at least 80 employees from a facility in Wisconsin to a plant in China. In a statement about the ad, Burke’s campaign says “Scott Walker should be ashamed of himself.”
“The bottom line is voters deserve to know all the facts, not just the ones that Mary Burke and her campaign picks out,” Walker said.
At a recent Marquette University forum, Burke was asked by an audience member about outsourcing at Trek.
Audience member: “How can we trust you when you already outsourced jobs before?”
“Well, as I had mentioned in response to Mike’s question, I’m willing to work with all Wisconsin companies to identify jobs that can be brought back,” Burke said.
Walker says the issue is fair game because Burke has used her Trek experience as the main argument for her candidacy.
In 1995, Trek received an $875,000 loan from the state to build a new facility. Trek has defended the loan.
“In the end $392,300 of that loan was forgiven, and Trek paid the remainder of the loan in accordance with the terms,” Trek spokesman Eric Bjorling said.
UW-Milwaukee Professor Mordecai Lee says the strategy for both campaigns is to spend money on ads that touch a nerve with independent voters.
“I’m guessing what we’re going to see is some ads that inflame the base, keeping them excited, keeping them agitated, but more than that I think they’re going to be spending a disproportionate amount of their money just to reach those few undecided voters,” Lee said.
Burke’s campaign defended the company — saying it continues to employ 1,000 people in Wisconsin and contributes $100 million to the state’s economy.