Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

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Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker’s path for reelection is in trouble: Walker’s opponent, Democrat Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, handily won his primary across Wisconsin; Democratic turnout was enthusiastic, nearly 100,000 more voters than the costly, competitive GOP Senate primary (true for 33 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties); several polls show Evers leading; Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball called Evers a “credible candidate” and said Walker is in a “perilous position”, changing his rating from “leans GOP” to “toss-up” and the Washington Post included Walker in the “top 10 governor’s races of 2018 (that) heavily favor Democrats”.

Then there is the Trump drag effect in what looks like a good year for Democratic pick-ups. NBC News, citing its July poll, said “Trump approval sags” in Wisconsin. Trump’s approval was 36 percent, disapproval 52 percent. No coattails for Walker. But Trump tweeted an endorsement: “Scott Walker of Wisconsin is a tremendous Governor who has done incredible things for that Great State. He has my complete and total Endorsement!” Compare to how Trump insulted Walker in 2015: “Wisconsin’s doing terribly. It’s in turmoil. The roads are a disaster … . They’re borrowing money like crazy. … The schools are a disaster.” Politics has made bedfellows of two masters of deception.

Walker knows he is in trouble and has been sounding the alarm for months. He will run a no holds barred race to save his political career. And, the supposedly “unintimidated” Walker will hang on to Trump for dear life because Trump’s base demands fidelity. The Washington Post said: Walker “has twisted himself into a pretzel on whether he supports Trump’s tariff policy which has ensnared Wisconsin’s Harley-Davidson.” Evers, in contrast to Walker, will stand up for Wisconsin: “Trump will no longer have a doormat here in Wisconsin.”

There are no groups left for Walker to “divide and conquer”. All that’s left is deception. With Wisconsin roads “ranked as 49th worst in the nation” (Urban Milwaukee) and state bridges “rank(ed) among the worst for (being) structurally deficient” (Milwaukee Business Journal), what’s a governor to do? Lie. Walker said: “If Tony Evers wants to talk about jacking up the tax on gas, you know, a buck, I think people deserve to know”. Evers only said “that every possible revenue source is on the table”. Infrastructure, roads, bridges and mass transit, can’t be paid for with fairy dust. Walker’s hero Ronald Reagan raised the federal gas tax. And, over the last few years about half the states have raised gas taxes to pay for infrastructure.

But election-year deception is not limited to the gas tax. Walker is trying to pretend he wants to strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange to purchase private insurance. However, at the same time Walker and Wisconsin GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel have filed a federal lawsuit to have the ACA declared “unconstitutional”. Good-bye health coverage and consumer protections. “Oral arguments have been scheduled for September 10 …” (Politico). Election-year trouble begets breathtaking deception by Walker. And, a money advantage for Walker.

–Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

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