MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tony Evers meet Friday night for their second and final debate with the election just over a week away. Polls show the race to be a dead heat.
Five things to watch for in the debate hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee:
The issue blew up after both Evers and Walker touched on it in their first debate, with Walker running a television ad accusing Evers of wanting “special treatment for illegals.” Voces de la Frontera, a group that advocates for immigrants, decried the ad for using “offensive slurs referring to immigrants as ‘illegals’.” The Evers campaign called it an act of desperation. Walker has been inconsistent in his approach to immigration, once calling for a path to citizenship for people here illegally, then taking a harder line stand during his run for president. Evers supports in-state tuition for children of people here illegally, as well as issuing driver’s licenses to people here illegally so they can drive to work. Walker opposes both.
ACT 10 AND EDUCATION
Walker has argued throughout the race that the Act 10 law, which all-but did away with collective bargaining for public workers while also forcing them to pay more for benefits, helped pave the way for economic prosperity in the state and more funding for public schools. Evers opposed the law and while he hasn’t campaigned on overturning it, he has spoken in favor of returning some of the collective bargaining power teachers and others lost in 2011. Both Evers and Walker support increasing funding for K-12 schools, but they’ve offered few details in how they would do that. Walker argues Act 10 must stay in place, while Evers contends more money can go to schools without raising property taxes. Walker has argued he’s an “education governor,” while Evers, the state superintendent, calls that laughable. Evers also supports freezing enrollment in the private school voucher program which began in Milwaukee but that Walker expanded statewide. Walker is a strong supporter of choice schools.
The Foxconn Technology Group development that Walker landed with much fanfare didn’t come up in the first debate, but it’s hard to imagine it not being a topic in the second one, especially given the project’s impact on the debate host city of Milwaukee. Walker has lauded the display screen manufacturing project near Racine, which could result in a $10 billion investment in the state and creation of 13,000 jobs. Evers took a softer approach than other Democrats on Foxconn, arguing not to end the deal but rather renegotiate it. He’s also calling for reconsideration of the state’s issuing air permits for the plant over concerns of increased air pollution.
Walker was put in a bind when President Donald Trump called for a boycott this summer of Harley-Davidson motorcycles after the Milwaukee-based company said it may move some production overseas to avoid Trump tariffs. Walker said then that “of course I don’t want a boycott of Harley-Davidson,” while also saying he supported moving toward having no tariffs. Evers has alleged that Walker won’t stand up to Trump on tariffs that are hurting Harley-Davidson and other Wisconsin manufacturers and farmers.
The debate, just 11 days before the election, gives Walker and Evers a chance to make their closing arguments to voters. Look to Walker to point to unemployment at or below 3 percent the past eight months as evidence that the economy is strong under his leadership. Walker promises not to seek a fourth term and will argue that he should get four more years to complete the work he started. Evers argues he cares more about the issues that the people of the state prioritize — health care, education and roads. Evers contends that Walker cares more about his political standing than the people of the state and he can’t be trusted to guarantee insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions as he’s promised.