By Sam Morateck and Jerry Bader
Wisconsin Democrats continue to look for a jobs narrative with which to run against Governor Scott Walker. Their early strategy was to cherry pick statistics to paint the picture of a failed jobs record on Walker’s part. A booming economy has robbed them of that theme. The next strategy they deployed was to demonize the Foxconn development in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Early efforts in that strategy pointed to an announced Foxconn development in Pennsylvania that never came to fruition. When it became clear the Wisconsin Foxconn development would happen, Democrats attempted to portray it as a boondoggle that would cost too much while benefitting only the southeast corner of the state. Despite news of Foxconn related developments in Green Bay and the Chippewa Valley, Democrats continue to believe criticizing Foxconn is a winner. And Walker is now firing back.
The attempts from Democrats to discredit the Foxconn deal have taken on a desperate tone, such as with Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, whose alliteratively titled article: “Foxconn Folly Fueling Family Farmer Famine” tries to suggest the Foxconn development is threatening the state’s farmers, but ultimately turns into an argument about funding for road work and complaints on other broad Republican policies.
“Farmers and small businesses in rural communities are being especially hard hit by the Foxconn tax giveaways as Republicans divert nearly $100 million in state funding away from local roads in order to accelerate Foxconn related projects.”
Farming in Wisconsin is an $88.3 billion industry, yet Republican policies and reckless trade wars have hurt farm families by driving down commodity prices, limiting export opportunities and creating financial instability in the marketplace.
Many other Democrats running for office have used their derision of Foxconn as a selling point for campaigns, such as Democratic gubernatorial candidates Kelda Roys and Matt Flynn, and Lt. Governor candidate Mandela Barnes. Roys tweeted against “throwing billions of dollars at #Foxconn” on Twitter, while Flynn promotes on his campaign website that, “As governor, I will move to stop the Foxconn deal with immediate litigation once in office.” Barnes noted on Twitter that instead of investing in Foxconn, he’d rather invest in increasing the minimum wage.
Wisconsinites are struggling. It's time we raised the wage and invested in small businesses, not mega-corporations like Foxconn. pic.twitter.com/ops53CDFqs
— Mandela for Wisconsin (@MandelaForWI) July 26, 2018
The Democratic carping appears to be an effort to distract from the statewide benefits the project has already produced. An article by gmtoday.com reported that, “37 companies — all with operations in Wisconsin — were awarded contracts to be involved in constructing a multipurpose building at Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park.” A press release from the Governor’s office also detailed that the company is purchasing “a six-story building in Green Bay for a new facility that is expected to create at least 200 high-tech jobs. In addition, another new expansion is on the way in Eau Claire that will create another 150 high-tech jobs.”
Further, Walker’s campaign fired back on Tuesday with four regionally targeted TV ads aimed at demonstrating Foxconn’s statewide economic impact – including western Wisconsin; central and northern Wisconsin; the Green Bay and Fox Valley region; as well as southeastern Wisconsin.
The Green Bay ad, entitled “Foxconn: Work for Local Companies,” features Gov. Walker speaking at Foxconn’s Green Bay Innovation Center and the Foxconn job site as he describes how job creators will benefit: Wisconsin landed Foxconn … It will create 13,000 family-supporting jobs. Plus hundreds of high tech jobs at this innovation center, and work for local companies ….
The western Wisconsin ad, entitled “Foxconn: Keeping Wisconsin Working,” features the governor and workers from Hoffman Construction, which has added 100 jobs from the Foxconn project, with Hoffman workers saying: It’ll help companies like ours in Black River Falls. … Hoffman Construction will put in a half million man hours and add 100 jobs.
The central and northern Wisconsin ad, entitled “Foxconn: Helping Companies Like Mine,” highlights a local business leader from Merrill Steel and a worker who join the governor in discussing how Foxconn will have a positive impact in their community – with company president Fred saying: It’ll help companies like mine here in Schofield. … And keep Wisconsin working for generations to come.
The southeastern Wisconsin ad, entitled “Foxconn: Wisconsin’s On a Roll,” features Governor Walker highlighting the overall transformative economic growth under his leadership – including Foxconn’s record investment, with the governor saying: And this, this is where Foxconn is building the largest economic project in state history, creating 13,000 family-supporting jobs.