‘Blue wave’ heading for Wisconsin, governor warns

Walker, others rally troops at GOP dinner
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Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Gov. Scott Walker speaks with Shawano County Supervisor John Ainsworth, seated, on Sunday prior to the Shawano County Republican Party’s Lincoln Reagan Day dinner as county GOP chairman Richard Kucksdorf, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher and local Realtor Terry Hilgenberg listen. Walker later made an impassioned plea to Republicans to keep a “blue wave” at bay by working to get Republicans elected to state and national offices.

Gov. Scott Walker brought his warning of a “blue wave” that threatens the midterm elections to town as he spoke to his base Sunday during the Shawano County Republicans’ Lincoln Reagan Day dinner.

Besides Walker, the dinner saw other A-list Republicans — including Attorney General Brad Schimel, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher and U.S. Senate candidates Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson. All spoke about the need to keep the GOP in power at the state and federal levels come November.

Prior to speaking at the Golden Sands Golf Course in Cecil, Walker made campaign stops in Calumet, Fond du Lac, Columbia and Green Lake counties. Walker has a number of challengers on the Democrats’ side vying to face him this fall.

Walker called last week’s Supreme Court election, where Rebecca Dallet beat out Michael Screnock for a 10-year term, a “wake-up call” for Republicans that Democrats are in a position to take back key legislative bodies all over the country if the GOP doesn’t band together.

“We saw a liberal win a Supreme Court seat for the first time in two decades, and I said it was a wake-up call,” the governor said. “There’s a real concern out there that, if we’re not careful, there’s a blue wave out there, and we can’t let it hit Wisconsin.”

Walker pointed out that former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder came to Wisconsin and campaigned for Dallet. He questioned why the state’s Supreme Court race should interest anyone at the federal level.

“The left is motivated,” Walker said. “They’re motivated by anger and hatred. Listen to their rhetoric — anger and hatred.”

Walker blasted liberals and said many of their campaign rallies are filled with hatred for him, President Donald Trump and others who fall under the GOP’s banner.

Gallagher said he experienced that almost immediately after being elected to Congress more than a year ago. He told those in attendance at Golden Sands that he went to a meeting at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., the day after the inauguration and was confronted by angry protesters participating in the Women’s March.

“I started weaving my way through the crowd, and people were starting to look at me because I wasn’t a woman, and I guess I looked like a generic Republican,” Gallagher said. “I come out of my meeting, and a crowd has formed. And they just start yelling, ‘Shame! Shame!’ They start following me around saying, ‘You’re a fascist!’”

One woman even kicked Gallagher, and he said he had to counter his Marine training in order to avoid confronting her back. Gallagher doesn’t doubt that had he retaliated, he probably would have wound up in jail.

Walker noted the wind is firmly in the face of Republicans for 2018. He told constituents that his election could be even tougher than the 2012 recall election, where he defeated Tom Barrett after taking heat for implementing Act 10, which rendered most public employee unions powerless.

“I was asked who I fear the most, and I fear two things,” Walker said. “Complacency, and I fear money from Washington.”

Walker is particularly concerned about who sits in his seat because the person will be governor going into the next decade, when legislative redistricting will take place. He suggested Democratic control of the governor’s seat could result in gerrymandering.

Walker suggested the way to counteract the Democrats is with optimism and organization. He urged county Republicans to spread the news of the state’s accomplishments, including Act 10 reforms and the state’s current low unemployment rate of 2.9 percent.

“Optimism is easy. We’ve got a great story to tell,” Walker said. “As frustrated as people are with Washington, in Wisconsin we offer an alternative. We actually get things done. We are able to show that common sense conservative reforms work.”

Gallagher, who served on Walker’s staff before running for Congress, praised the governor by saying he stands firm for conservative values.

“Seeing him hold his ground against overwhelming pressure, I’d seen a few people do that on the battlefield, but I’ve never seen it done quite that way in public office,” Gallagher said. “We’ve got to stand with him like he stood up for conservative values.”

Gallagher echoed Walker’s comments about the GOP’s great story. The congressman praised the tax reform bill, pointing out that recent tax cuts allowed Associated Bank to give 800 employees a raise and increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“The average Wisconsin family, which is a family that makes $60,000 or less, will stand to save $2,200 when they file their tax return next year,” Gallagher said. “I don’t know about you, but $2,200 is a lot of money from where I’m sitting. It is not ‘crumbs,’ as (U.S. House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi described it.”

Schimel, the state’s attorney general, noted that Wisconsin has traditionally been a blue-leaning state, and he believes what the state Republicans have done scares the Democrats. He expressed dismay that Walker even had an opponent, considering the low unemployment rate.

“We’ve done remarkable things in Wisconsin, thanks to you,” Schimel said. “We can’t take our foot off the gas. Wisconsin is moving forward.”