MADISON - A campaign ad released early Wednesday morning seems to point toward a likely run at re-election for Gov. Scott Walker.
The 60-second YouTube video shows Walker jogging, riding a motorcycle across Wisconsin, touring manufacturing facilities, and other various stops, many from his time as governor. It also includes a new campaign logo, with Walker's name morphing into a "W" and the slogan "forward" underneath.
Walker hasn't formally announced a bid for re-election yet, nor does the ad itself. However, a source with knowledge about the topic told Newswatch 12 that an announcement from Walker is "forthcoming." The ad ends with Walker asking viewers, "Are you with me?" while riding on his Harley-Davidson.
The video focuses heavily on school funding, health care, and job gains made during Walker's tenure as governor. Walker notes tuition freezes at University of Wisconsin system schools helped "more families can afford to send their kids to college."
"Our budgets are now balanced and we now have surpluses, so we lowered taxes," Walker says in the spot. "At the same time, we're investing more into schools than ever before."
Walker routinely touted investments in K-12 education after signing an overdue 2017-2019 budget in September, noting the $11.5 billion for schools is the "highest actual dollar amount for K-12 funding in state history," a release from the Governor's office said last week.
Wisconsin's unemployment rate also dropped to 3.2-percent in May, the lowest rate in 17 years. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported then that Wisconsin's labor force participation rate increased to 68.6-percent, about 6-percent higher than the national average.
The ad includes on an often-used Walker phrase: "We're open for business," while showing a news broadcast with the headline "Foxconn Deal Done".
Walker landed that potentially huge economic boost for Wisconsin by helping court Foxconn to build a $10 billion manufacturing facility in Racine County. The negotiations call for $3 billion in tax incentives for the Taiwan-based electronics company, a deal some Democrats call a "gamble." Others have expressed concerns over softening environmental restrictions and a plan to send Foxconn legal challenges directly to the state Supreme Court.
Democrats also often criticized Walker often during the latest budget process. Lawmakers battled both across the aisle and within the GOP over transportation and school funding before approving the two-year spending plan about three months beyond an early-summer deadline.
"As Wisconsin working families continue to pay more for less, the Republican budget further rigs the economy for the wealthy," State Sen. Jen Shilling (D-La Crosse) said in a statement shortly after Walker signed the budget in late September. "This budget was bad from the start, and with his veto pen Gov. Walker managed to make it worse by cutting more funding from Wisconsin schools while keeping a tax break for 47 millionaires."
The strongest indication in the ad toward a Walker campaign announcement comes near the end with the governor saying, "There's more to be done." Walker says worker training, job creation, and schools all need to continue to improve.
You can view the ad by clicking on the link below this story.
The field for Democrats who want to replace Walker has been growing rapidly in 2017. At least seven candidates have declared their campaigns. Those include State School Superintendent Tony Evers, businessman Andy Gronik, State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, State Representative Dana Wachs, former Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Matt Flynn, and former Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Director Mike McCabe.
Walker first won the governor's office in November 2010, beating Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by nearly 6 points. He's since survived a recall election in 2012 and successfully won re-election in 2014, beating Barrett and Mary Burke, respectively.
The governor also launched a presidential bid in summer 2015. The short-lived campaign ended when Walker withdrew from the race in September, just two months later.
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