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Gov. Walker, Republicans shift attack of Tony Evers to taxes

MADISON — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans shifted the focus of their attacks on his Democratic challenger Thursday, saying Tony Evers would support a host of tax increases that would take the state back to the “dark” days before Walker was elected.

The argument, made in a new Walker ad , comes two days after a poll showed Evers, the state superintendent, with a slight lead in the race. There are seven weeks until the election.

The Republican shift in focus came the same day that Evers was to deliver his annual state of education speech. Evers has served as state superintendent since 2009.

Two Republican members of the Legislature’s budget committee — Rep. Mark Born and Sen. Tom Tiffany — said at a news conference that Evers would take the state backward.

“Wisconsin will no longer be open for business under Tony Evers,” Born said.

Evers has said all options, including raising the gas tax, should be considered to help improve the condition of the state’s roads. This week, he called for a 10 percent increase in state aid to schools and said it could be funded without raising property taxes.

Evers also supports eliminating a manufacturing and agriculture tax credit, pointing out that 93 percent of the benefit goes to taxpayers who make more than $250,000 a year.

“What taxes are going to go up?” Tiffany said. “That is the question that needs to be posed to Tony Evers.”

Under Walker since 2011, Wisconsin’s taxes have been cut about $8 billion. Walker is calling for about $200 million in tax breaks in the next state budget, which the Legislature would consider if he’s re-elected.

In the latest Walker TV ad, Walker speaks directly to the camera and says: “With all of the attack ads these days, it’s easy to forget” positives like lower property taxes, strong schools and that more people are working now than ever.

Walker then goes on to criticize Evers, saying he’ll raise property, income and gas taxes and that this “would put our jobs at risk.”

Evers’ spokesman Sam Lau accused Walker of trying to rewrite his record as part of a “scorched earth campaign of false smears.”

While Walker bemoans attack ads in the latest spot, Walker and his allies have run more than $10 million worth of mostly negative ads since Evers’ Aug. 14 primary win.

Many of the ads have focused on a teacher who was caught viewing pornographic images on his school computer. Evers did not revoke his license to teach, saying the law didn’t allow him to do so at the time.

Walker has claimed that Democrats are “filled with hatred and anger” and said that he is running “an extremely positive campaign.” On Wednesday, Walker tweeted that Evers was “bought and paid for” by unions and cited spending by unions to help Evers in his earlier campaigns.

Unions and union-affiliated groups spent $1.5 million to help Evers on his three races for state superintendent, while Walker received nearly $43 million from outside groups for his three past gubernatorial runs, according to a tally from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks spending on campaigns.