It seems Scott Walker is having trouble going the distance

His boxing advert has taken some heat. Via Gawker:

Wisconsin GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker has released a new ad in which he wears boxing gloves and says he’ll whoop the likely Democratic nominee, Tom Barrett. Is this insensitive, though, considering Tom Barrett was “viciously beaten” last year?

Here’s the YouTube in case you missed it.

This release struck me as odd. For one thing, it abandoned the Brown Bag campaign to which Walker has attached himself. Also, it was out a day after the news he’s lost momentum to primary opponent Mark Neumann. And now there’s news Gawker isn’t impressed.

Uh oh.


  1. New Flash, Scott Walker sneezes, Cindy thinks he is making some statement about not caring about sick people.

  2. Goofy.

    It wasn’t me, but another group making the call. I thought it worth sharing.

    You know, if you don’t like what I do here, you don’t have to read.

  3. The Lorax says:

    He just seems so… smarmy.

  4. The Walker campaign is flailing…

  5. Point of interest: Walker won’t release any budget numbers for this year, but he just gave workers four more days of furloughs. I’m up to 26 in just one year.

    How can Walker think he’ll fix the state budget when he can’t even keep from breaking the county one?

  6. Capper. I am not from the Milwaukee area. How can he not release budget numbers? How is that legal? Sorry if there is an obvious answer, but I’m not understanding how the budgets are not public and accessible.

  7. Walker does not pay much heed to what is legal and what isn’t.

    The sad truth is that the local media doesn’t press him on the issues very hard and thus allows him to get away with most of this.

    Now that summer is winding down, I would expect things to heat up as the County Board comes back from hiatus and sees the mess they have to clean up.

  8. BrkfldDad says:

    Okay, this one gets my goat and is a great example of a stretch. I think the commercial is a non-issue. And as for Gawker… where anywhere in the commercial does Walker say he’ll “whoop the likely Democratic nominee’.

  9. BrkfldDad says:

    I’d say that if we are relying on the local media to ‘press’ Walker, we won’t get too far. If what he is doing is illegal, why are the authorities on his butt? Especially at this critical campaign point, he shouldn’t be allowed to play games at the county level.

  10. The DA’s office confiscated the computer of one of Walker’s top aides, Tim Russell. This much Dan Bice of the MJS reported.

    What wasn’t reported is that deputies from the Sheriff’s Office also did a full search of his office, including going into locked cabinets.

    What also wasn’t reported is that these actions are based on a pretty lengthy and detailed complaint filed by the Democrats, stemming from his campaign bike ride earlier this year.

  11. Just keep in mind, Gawker made the stretch. All I did was point you to their work.

  12. B-Dad. Although I was really distracted by the goofy-looking gloves, I wondered, briefly, who decided it was a good idea to do a commercial about punching a guy who was beaten up and is considered a bit of a Wisconsin hero out-state. So, I don’t think it was that much of a visual leap. Maybe you are too close to the subject matter and generally irritated with the local media to see it. (I don’t know the ins and outs of issues with the Milwaukee media market, so my goat wasn’t gotten.)

  13. Capper. Ok, now the ‘local media’ has my goat.

  14. John Foust says:

    The Happy Circumstance blog hit the nail on the head: Walker’s next message? “I’ll take a pipe to everything Barrett stands for.”

  15. And Walker will be holding a sewer pipe and he’ll feign innocence of being an attack.

  16. RL – my goat was gotten by Dan Bice and the ‘did Ron Johnson found his firm in 1977 or 1979’ expose :), so when I happened on this it just irritated me. I hate sensationalism.

    So – back to what irked me wtih Gawker and the spread of that blog post – where is the ad does Scott Walker ever say he’s going to punch Tom Barrett – my point is… he doesn’t. That’s all.

  17. BrkfldDad. Agree on the Ron Johnson thing. But I also thought Sykes and Belling were being idiots over Barrett’s hot water heater or whatever that didn’t get inspected. I’m a conservative through and through and those talking head in Milwaukee radio do a disservice to conservative thinking with their emotional and illogical rants. They should try to pretend to be a bit more balanced at times. I’ve lost respect for their opinions.

    I do think the visual of boxing gloves implies a punch. Visual thinking is the first language developed, and the inference was there whether intended or not; whether you got it or not. I personally think the Walker folks were too clueless to make the connection and do the commercial purposefully with that angle. It was a mistake on part of the Walker campaign, and they should just say they didn’t mean it that way, hadn’t thought of that angle, instead of defending it and saying ‘No punch was thrown’, as Walker did in his response.

    It was not a huge leap to make in my observations, but then, I am a predominately visual thinker. As are most women. And, women continue to make or influence 85% of all purchasing decisions in households and I think this was a gaffe and offensive to visual thinkers and women alike.

  18. Understand the visual think/impression angle. But even since this post started it’s gone from

    ‘says he’ll whoop…’ to
    ‘commercial about punching a guy…’ to
    ‘visual of boxing gloves implies a punch…’

    Whether Walker, or Neumann, or Barrett, I want the facts, the rest of this is noise to me.

  19. B-dad. It is noise, but the thing that could be relevant about this is ‘leadership’ in communication and the understanding of perception. Walker just doesn’t seem to click on all cylinders when it comes to knowing how to communicate without putting his foot inside his mouth.

    It is important to me that the GOP/Conservative candidate with the most consistent and best leadership qualities win this election. Otherwise we will blow our chances to retain the governorship for more than one term. Walker is not the guy to put in charge of the show, for many reasons, but also based on this example of his continual communication bumbles and more serious scandals in county management.

  20. Jonas Wilkerson says:

    Prediction #1: If Scott Walker wins the primary, then the brown bag gimmick will be ditched. No one is buying it anymore. It will be replaced with another gimmick.

    Prediction #2: If Scott Walker wins the Republican Primary, his general election campaign will be prone with gaffes, embarassing twitters and more investigations. State and national Republicans will divert more resources away from Scott Walker and to Ron Johnson instead.

    Prediction #3: There is a story as to how Michigan based American Justice Partnership came to run pro-Walker ads. It will become news at the most opportune time.

    Prediction #4: If Scott Walker wins the Republican Primary, then county workers on furlough will file their “time off” with the Government Accountability Board as an in-kind contribution to Friends of Scott Walker.

    Prediction #5: It will be discovered that most general consultants make more than $20,000 a year.

    Prediction #6: If Scott Walker wins the Republican Primary, Tom Barrett will become Wisconsin’s next governor.

  21. Jonas Wilkerson says:

    One more…

    Prediction #7: More contributors from will be found out. Possibly related to a state assembly office or two. More shoes to drop.

  22. Ok, #7 is of interest. I heard a name the other day myself. Hmmm…

  23. Jonas Wilkerson says:

    Perhaps we will need to compare notes someday.

  24. When, Jonas? The shoes.

  25. #7 is interesting, and does fit in with something I noticed at my sites.

    However, #4 is way off base. The unions have already filed a complaint with the state’s labor overseer. From what I understand, it’s pretty much a slam dunk. If the ruling comes soon enough, Walker will be hoisted on his own poleaxe as the county has to pay workers back for any furlough past 12 days. I’m already at #15 myself, with four more coming this month.

    I’d feed guilty about it, except for the fact that the ones that will whine the most about it are the ones that voted Walker in the first place.

  26. I am having an Inception moment trying to comprehend these threads. I’m not from Milwaukee, I am not a blogger, I am so obviously not In the Know.

    I am waiting for ‘shoes to drop’, and hoping for the sake of the voters like me who are sick of politics as usual that any swarmy back-room deals are exposed prior to the primary.

    Capper. What is a potential cost for back pay of furlough days past 12 for all county employees? I’m not a Neumann math whiz, but that seems like it could amount to tidy sum.

  27. RL-

    I don’t know the exact number, but my best guess would be about $7 million dollars.

    A complaint has been lodged with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, a state level version of the National Labors Relations Board.

    We are hoping for a ruling soon, but in reality, it won’t come until next year, due to Walker’s stalling tactics.

    We are still waiting on a ruling from the two furlough days from last year. He originally ordered four, but rescinded two of them. Then he claimed he had a $9 million surplus. He originally said that the furloughs were due to a fiscal crisis. The last time he tried that, I got an hour of free pay.

    The unions should prevail and that that would take nearly a million out of his alleged surplus.

  28. I still argue any political leader with a surplus is one who taxed too much.

  29. Just for fun, I’d love to see a thread on the furloughs. Assuming a break even budget, I see Walker having four options:

    1. Furloughs accounting for 10% of work days
    2. Lay off 10% (probably less because not everyone was furloughed) of county workers
    3. Raise taxes to cover the funds saved with the furloughs.
    4. Slash the county budget to make up for the equivalent of the furloughs.

    Other options?

    Frankly, it’s a no win situation, Ament and friends decimated Milwaukee County, it’s going to take generations to recover.

  30. Just prior to reading your post, Bdad, my Milwaukee County resident daughter and I were discussing the county furlough issue. Consensus in our group was that it would be better to cut staff than to furlough people for 26 days. She quoted (I think) 5% furlough days for city of Milwaukee and city of Madison. (Whatever the number, it was significantly fewer days than MC has accrued.) Seems Walker is relying on furloughing workers to manage his budget problems.

    Your comment about Ament. Is that a reference to the retirement costs? I think I understand the burden of that problem, but Walker always reminds me of Pres. Obama blaming Bush for his problems when Walker blames the current budget issues on what he ‘inherited’. Didn’t both Walker and Obama aggressively run for office to fix the problem? Didn’t they use their ‘solution’ as a key platform? Seem like it is an outdated excuse by now. Especially to me, someone who lives outside of MC.

    When I was a child and I whined to my dad about some challenge, he would respond,’Figure it out.’ I have the same no-nonsense answer to Walker when he jumps into his blame game. He wanted the job, he promised he had the answers, he’s had years to figure it out. I have come to suspect he can’t figure it out, and is trying to high-tail it out of Dodge before he has to admit that.

  31. The pension benefits granted during Ament’s tenure can’t be revoked, except perhaps via a protracted legal battle, that most have advised the county would be ill-advised to pursue and would probably lose. The county did sue Mercer the financial advisor on the pension deal, but it was settled for a pittance. Last I saw, the back drop pension plan has resulted in an estimated $900,000,000 long-term liability that the county does not have funded. That’s a huge hit to a $1.5B enterprise. The pension benefits are no longer so rich for new county employees (a fix enacted during Walker’s tenure), but those who were lucky enough to be qualified and employed when Ament was in office, will continue to reap the outrageous benefits for a long time coming. In the meantime the pension burden on the county budget is significant.

  32. Thanks, Bdad. You explained the pension issues well. What I don’t understand, though, is isn’t that why Walker ran in the first place, to fix this problem? Weren’t these issues campaign issues that he ran on to resolve if he was elected CE? Was the unfunded liability something that he was aware of when he first ran, and when he ran for re-elections?

  33. Walker was opportunistic. I think like many Milwaukee County residents he was incensed by the pension scandal. With Ament resigning, and the special election was the perfect time for Walker to advance his career, plus the chance for a ‘fiscal conservative’ to win in Milwaukee County (pretty much unheard of). I don’t believe any of the candidates running ran on the platform they would fix the pension problem, it was a done deal. What needed to happen was to eliminate that benefit for future employees and at the same time get rid of the good ole boy network in Milwaukee County. I believe the first time Walker ran, it was on a fiscal responsibility platform if anything. But sure, everyone played the pension scandal to their advantage. The unfunded liability was apparent, but I don’t think anyone realized the size of the problem until 1-2 years after Ament was out of office. Every once in a while, you’ll still see an article in JS about a long term county employee who is walking away will a full pension, plus a mid-six figure lump sum payment. It’s disgusting…

  34. OK, time to insert some facts into this discussion.

    The worst of the pension scandal occurred in 2004, when all the enhancers ripened. Walker was warned of an exodus, but ignored it. When hundreds (I think even over 1,000) employees up and retired, the county was left quagmired and Walker did nothing to prepare for it or deal with the aftermath.

    The Public Policy Forum reports that the current fiscal crisis stems not so much from the pension scandal, but from the stock market crash and from the ever-skyrocketing health care costs.

    The pension fund was mishandled when Walker first refused to fully fund it. That only compounded the debt that the county owes to it. When he was finally able to ram through his risky pension obligation bond scheme, it only covered half the cost and converted the soft debt into a hard one. That means that even as the economy recovers, and the high payments to the pension fund are no longer needed, the county will still have to through more than $20 million in there every year, more if his scheme doesn’t work.

    It should be noted that almost all of the county employees walking away with the big back drops are non-represented, and Walker could have stopped that any time in the last eight years. Word is there is a bean counter from the airport that already has/is about to retire with a seven figure back drop. Guy’s been here for 38 years and is currently making nearly $100K a year.

    Another fact is that when the county filed the suit against Mercer, the Board wanted to also go after Reinhart, the law firm that OKed the pension deal. Walker refused and threatened to stop all the lawsuits if they included Reinhart. The reason being that Rick Graber, former head of WISGOP, worked at the law firm and Walker was making his first failed attempt at the Governor’s chair.

    Don’t forget that the buy back scandal popped on Walker’s watch, and even though he knew about it for years before it hit the media, he refused to do anything about it. The pension almost lost its status as being tax-exempt due to Walker’s mishandling of it.

    And for those keeping track at home, the City of Milwaukee has four furlough days (2 for cops and firefighters), the state has 8 per year, and the County is now up to 26 (8 for deputies, prison guards and some – not all- staff at the mental health complex).

    I personally will be taking number 16 on Tuesday. That’s more than the city and the state combined. What’s more, the city’s budget is balanced, the county’s isn’t.

    One of the biggest reasons is that Doyle, Barrett and every single municipal and county leader, except for one, has sat down with the unions and negotiated concessions. The lone exception is Walker, who is now spending tax payers dollars to defend his actions in a number of law suits, which even his own labor negotiator said they are going to lose.

  35. Well, well, well. That is some checklist, Capper.

    (Wonder how it compares to the fabricated campaign promise checklist Walker contends some guy still has on his fridge from 2002.)

    I perceive you are an evil Dem to some, but I can’t figure out what would be to your advantage to present this information if it wasn’t factual. Anyway, I get the sense that you are a decent fellow, and I believe what you have written. And I thank you for transcribing the litany of leadership infractions Walker has committed.

    All I keep thinking is well, well, well. This is an entirely different perspective than what has been fed to the voters by Walker, his supporters, and the media. When Walker loses the primary, it looks like he will finally have to lie in the bed he has made. So sad for the taxpayers of Milwaukee County.

  36. “…almost all of the county employees walking away with the big back drops are non-represented, and Walker could have stopped that any time in the last eight years.”

    Really? I guess I’m going to need you to source that better.

  37. Compare the recent names with their job descriptions via JSOnline’s “Data on Demand.” Admin jobs are not represented positions. Most of the union workers that were to benefit from this stuff left in 2004. By the union’s count, there is just over 100 left.

  38. RL-

    I happen to have that list, and no, he does not say he was going to fix the pension. The closest he comes is to have non-reps under his control sign a waiver for the pension (he didn’t) and to have the pension system converted to a 401k style, which is only being talked about now, but by county supervisors, not Walker.

  39. I’m sorry. I don’t think I was very clear. I don’t doubt most are non-represented, but I thought once a pension was decided, that was that.

    If Walker indeed campaigned on them signing waivers, that’s a piece of information that would change things. First, what would make the man think he could convince someone to give up something so grand, and next, obviously, it hasn’t been done.

  40. I will be doing a series starting today or tomorrow (I hope) focusing on his promises and kept/broken record.

    After all, I have all this extra free time on my hands, but no money, so….

  41. So Cindy, you are asking a legal question about the pension funding re-negotiations post sign-off of the agreement?

  42. Oh, that makes it sound important. I guess I’m asking:

    1) What Walker could actually affect in this situation, and
    2) What did Walker promise?

    I’m still not really clear. It kind of sounds like he made promises not understanding the depth of the problem, but still wants the glory even though he really couldn’t do anything about it.

    I think it would be interesting to compare what he’s taking credit for – “fixing Milwaukee County” – against the reality of what is the ongoing pension burden.

  43. The exact promise comes from the platform that my dear friends at CRG had Walker sign on to.

    The wording is thus:

    Require that any non-union employees under control of executive sign such a waiver “as a condition of their continued employment.”

    The “such a waiver” refers to Walker’s promise to sign a waiver of all salary and benefit increases that were enacted after Jan. 1, 2000.

  44. Oooh. Aaaah. Good information.

  45. Thanks capper for all the follow up, it does clear some things up for me. But I too, like Cindy, have been under the clear impression that once the pension deals were done, they were done. The only immediate way out was to get each individual to waive their right to the benefits. My understanding is that union or non-union, Walker was is no position to have ‘stopped that at any time…’ I thought the legal opinion (then again I read it in JS, so who knows if it’s right) was that revoking the pension benefits would have been a legal fight that may have made it all the way to the Supreme Court. And, that state/nationwide legal precedence (including some precedence in Milwaukee County from the 50s/60s) made that fight a waste of taxpayers money to go after?

  46. You know this, of course, but all employees are under the county executive, repped or otherwise. So each time you hear of someone retiring with a big backdrop, remember it’s one of Walker’s broken promises.

  47. I don’t know if they would have won. Walker wasn’t taking it away, per se. He was giving them a choice of taking it now or giving it up. Ironically, many people retired, taking the back drop, and came back to work for the county as contracted workers.

    With the unions, yeah, it would have cost an arm and a leg to get them to give it up.

  48. I guess the debatable issue is what Walker promised. My recollection was that he wanted to fix the broken pension system, and I believe he did for new employees. For vested employees, I don’t know there was anything he could ‘fix’. It was a legal battle he’d probably never win, and getting folks to voluntarily give up the back drop was never achievable.

    All that being said, I don’t know that I agree with his fiscal policies. His ‘hell-bent on no tax increase, let’s cut to the bone’ attitude is grating on me.

  49. You can safely place me in the anti-Walker camp. ;^)

  50. Bdad, cut to the bone is tough talk, but not always smart talk.

    Really, the challenge is to fund intelligently.

    I was just having a long conversation with the spouse about how much fluff remains in the Brookfield budget. I would have to think there’s fluff in the Milwaukee County budget, too. However, I certainly would have handled the facility maintenance differently.

    I’m flat confused by the Walker claims. On the one hand, he’s furloughing employees instead of making real employment decisions, but on the other I swear he was on TV a few weeks ago bragging about a surplus to the last budget. $8.9 million surplus for 2009 while buildings weren’t being inspected because it was too expensive!

  51. The trick, dear Capper, would be to move you to the pro Neumann camp.

    You old mule.

  52. I am pro-Neumann. Until 8 pm on Sept. 14th, that is.

  53. If Walker had really, really wanted to balance the 2010 budget, he should have laid off 300 people at the beginning of the year when he declared his fiscal emergency.

    But he has no where to cut that many people without serious problems. If he cuts further into the mandatory services, he runs the risk of having the state come in and take over those services as well. How would that look to the rest of the state, who is already paying for income maintenance?

    If he cuts non-mandated services, that means killing the parks or the transit system. Again, bad PR.

    It’s as I’ve been saying for over a year. He’s cut himself into a corner and now can’t get out.

  54. Randy in Richmond says:

    You are not pro-Neumann. You are anti-Walker as you state in #49. You have about 15 comments in this post alone and only once do you mention Neumann and that is in a sarcastic light. But alas, many of us conservatives were of the same mind for Hillary in the 2008 Democratic Primary, and look what that got us. Be careful what you wish for.
    And just think, if Walker becomes Governor you would get a new boss.

  55. I hadn’t thought about that!

    Well I say Capper is stuck with Walker for a long time. 😉

  56. I don’t know about that. There are already rumors that if he loses, Walker will pull a Sarah Palin and leave midtour to go hide somewhere until F. James finally retires or is taken out in a box.

  57. Listen, that line for F. James Sensenbrenner’s seat is about ten deep right now. Walker, Kanavas, Zipperer…about every staffer Sensebrenner ever had except John Ratzel wants that job.

    Heck, if I get bored I might even stand in that line. (Sorry, watched Legally Blonde 2 tonight and it looks like so much fun!)

  58. I never accused Walker of being smart, did I?

    I’m just saying what I’m hearing. He’s run away from things before, i.e. college. Now he has a mess he can’t resolve and I wouldn’t put it past him to dump it and run away from the problems he created.

  59. What I hate, and yes, I’ll even lump Sarah Palin in on this one because she’s currently not on my happy list of people to emulate, is that the problems are never resolved. It feels like this country lives in permanent campaign mode, and I’m exhausted by it.

    Everyone’s so busy posturing that nothing is ever resolved.

    There are some serious messes out there that someone needs to tackle. Maybe it will get better after November.

  60. Who is going to want to clean up after Walker? Or would they close county government down? Is that possible? Didn’t Walker once say in the MJ-S that he wanted to disband County government because it was so dysfunctional? (Yes, he apparently said this without realizing he is in charge of it….) Can’t find the exact quote, but my neighbor told me about it after reading that statement in the paper.

  61. He said it, but like with most things he says, it can’t be taken seriously. It would require a change in state law, and there are too simply too many things that have to be taken in account, such as the myriad of laws that are specifically aimed at Milwaukee County, for any realistic expectations for that to happen.

    The mistake people continuously make is taking everything Walker says without a grain of salt.