Television Ads Tout Walker's Jobs Record, Raise Eyebrows

Oct 7, 2013

The business lobbying group, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, has been airing ads on behalf of Gov. Scott Walker.
Credit Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce

If you have watched television lately, you may have seen ads touting Gov. Scott Walker’s job creation efforts. He campaigned in 2010 on a promise to create 250,000 private sector jobs by 2015.

The business lobbying group, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, has been running the ads across the state. They come 14 months before next year’s gubernatorial election – when the jobs picture promises to be an issue.

The ads reflect favorably on Gov. Walker’s tenure.

“Wisconsin is creating jobs…thousands of jobs. So many jobs that the Federal Reserve Bank now ranks Wisconsin in the top two states in the country for economic growth…”

The ad goes on to credit Gov. Walker with balancing the state budget, lowering taxes and investing in worker training.

Jim Pugh is spokesman for WMC. He says the ads are “issue” ads, designed to let the public know where Wisconsin’s business community stands.

“WMC members, CEOs, give Wisconsin a 94 percent rating in terms of moving in the right direction and people need to know that,” Pugh says.

While Pugh says the purpose of the ads is to spread the business sector’s viewpoint, Melissa Bauldauff claims they’re designed to distort the governor’s record, because Wisconsin ranks 34th in private sector job creation. Baldauff represents the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

“It’s nearly $1 million in spending and it’s not an ad buy they would place if they were confident in Scott Walker’s ability to get re-elected based on his record. I think this is a sign that Scott Walker is scared,” Baldauff says.

The state Democratic Party has sent a letter to TV stations across the state, asking them to pull the ads, insisting they contain misleading information. The WMC’s Jim Pugh insists they’re factual and predicts TV stations will continue airing them.

Both sides are using different data, in order to get their message across, according to Joe Heim - a political science professor at UW-La Crosse. He thinks the aim of the WMC ads is to soften the blow, in case Gov. Walker does not meet his jobs goal.

“From what I understand it’s very clear they’re not going to reach 250,000 and I think they’re trying to lay the groundwork, saying Wisconsin’s getting better, Wisconsin’s improving,” Heim says.

Heim expects Democrats to watch the job numbers closely and launch an onslaught of ads - if it becomes evident, Walker won’t meet his promise. The political scientist calls the airing of such ads, more than a year before a state election, unprecedented.