Gov. Scott Walker's campaign on Friday released a television ad linking Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke to former Gov. Jim Doyle, under whom she served as Commerce secretary from 2005 to 2007.
With Doyle and Burke represented in a deck of playing cards, a narrator reads: "When Jim Doyle was governor and Mary Burke was Commerce secretary, they gambled taxpayer money on dreadful policies. Like billions in middle-class tax hikes on nursing home beds, gas, phones and garbage."
In an interview broadcast Sunday on the statewide TV program "UpFront with Mike Gousha," Burke defended her time working for the state and took some shots back at the current governor.
"It seems like Scott Walker wishes he was running against Jim Doyle and not Mary Burke," Burke said. "I am a very different candidate, a business executive with actual experience balancing budgets, creating jobs, meeting payroll, starting my own business.
"I'm a very different person than Jim Doyle was. I am very proud of the years that I served the people of the state of Wisconsin as Commerce secretary, but out of a 30-year career, the two years that I spent as Commerce secretary are a very small portion of what I bring to the table as governor."
Burke jumped on the release last week of employment figures that showed Wisconsin ranked 37th in job growth in 2013. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the state has been 35th, 36th and 37th in terms of growth over the previous year.
"When Scott Walker ran for governor in 2010 and promised 250,000 jobs, his jobs plan was four pages long. And frankly, if you took out the pictures of himself, it was closer to two," Burke said. "I have seen eighth-grade term papers that have more thought put into them than that."
In the ad, Walker's campaign connects Burke with a loss of 133,000 jobs in Wisconsin from 2006 to 2010; Burke countered by noting on the show that the state's unemployment rate while she was Commerce secretary was 4.8 percent (it was 5.7 percent last month).
She left the Commerce post a month before what's considered the start of the recession in December 2007.
"You have to realize we came out of a recession since Scott Walker has been in office and every state has created jobs," Burke said. "The problem is we've created less jobs here in Wisconsin than any other state in the Midwest and 35th in terms of the country."
She said the unemployment rate of Milwaukee County, for which Walker was county executive of before becoming governor, grew from 6.6 percent when he took office to 9.9 percent when he left.
"So he should be answering for his jobs record during that time of the recession," Burke said. "I'll put up my jobs record at Commerce against his any time, particularly if you compare equal periods of time at which our national economy had greatly suffered."
Gousha wondered whether governors can really play a large role in the economy and employment. Burke said they can in terms of making sure workforce training and education are aligned with what the state's employers need.
And it appears Burke will make the economy much more of an issue in the campaign than the John Doe investigations into alleged campaign coordination involving Walker, his aides and supporters.
Walker was in the national news cycle last week after a court released documents Thursday in which prosecutors accused Walker of overseeing a "criminal scheme" to illegally coordinate with outside conservative groups.
Burke called it disappointing and said that, if she was elected governor, "people will be able to trust what I say, what I do."
But when asked whether she sees the issue playing a big role in the gubernatorial campaign, she indicated that it wouldn't be from her side.
"I want to focus on getting my message out to the people of Wisconsin — the type of governor that I would be, what I believe in, how I'm going to move Wisconsin's economy forward," Burke said. "So it's not going to be a focus of my campaign, but certainly this investigation should run its course. The people of Wisconsin are owed that."