With less than two weeks until a historic June 5 recall election, Democrat Tom Barrett downplayed his showing in recent polls Tuesday as he continued to focus on Gov. Scott Walker’s record of job creation and values.
The Milwaukee mayor was in La Crosse to kick off a tour of western Wisconsin on the heels of Walker’s Monday campaign stop, where he was joined by former Minnesota governor and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty while touting new numbers that show Wisconsin has added 23,300 jobs during his first year in office.
Barrett questioned not only the timing but the veracity of Walker’s numbers, which are based on a census of about 160,000 state employers and are in stark contrast to survey data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that show the state lost 33,900 jobs in 2011.
Economists say Walker’s numbers paint a more accurate picture, but Barrett said they suggest an unprecedented error on the part of the BLS that can’t be verified before the election.
Barrett continued to pound Walker over the secret John Doe investigation that has resulted in misconduct charges against aides from his time as Milwaukee County executive. Pulling from his coat pocket a copy of pages from the criminal complaint against one aide, he repeated calls for Walker to disclose who is funding his legal defense fund and to release emails from his time with the county.
Walker has called the request a “desperate attack.”
“I think he’s trying to run out the clock,” Barrett said. “He doesn’t want to answer any of these questions.”
Barrett dismissed polls that have shown Walker pulling ahead.
Walker held a 5 to 6 point lead in polls released last week by both the Marquette Law School and the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. But the Marquette poll also underestimated his performance in the Democratic primary.
Barrett, who trails far behind Walker in campaign fundraising, pointed to internal polling showing him within three points of the governor, and to the great divide in the Wisconsin electorate.
“The problem he’s having is he’s spent over $25 million, and he can’t get above 50 percent,” he said. “People know that there’s something wrong.”
The election, Barrett said, will be decided by turnout, a point not lost on Democrats who are staging early voting drives across the state this week and next to highlight absentee voting options.
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind will rally Barrett supporters this afternoon in Riverside Park before heading to the city clerk’s office, where city clerk Teri Lehrke said in-person absentee voting was heavier than normal in the first two days.
Barrett plans stops today in Hudson, Menomonie, Alma, Mondovi and Black River Falls, where he will be joined by fellow Democrats Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma and Rep. Chris Danou of Trempealeau.