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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett takes questions from the media after addressing supporters Wednesday morning, May 23, at Key's Café & Bakery in Hudson. <i>Randy Hanson photos</i>

Tom Barrett rallies the base in Hudson

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Tom Barrett rallies the base in Hudson
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democratic candidate for governor in the June 5 recall election, attacked Republican Gov. Scott Walker for starting an ideological civil war during a campaign stop in Hudson.

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"We need a fresh start in Madison with values representing all of us throughout the state, that reflect Wisconsin values, and not the values of billionaires from Texas," Barrett told 100 or more supporters who crowded into Key's Café & Bakery on Wednesday morning, May 23.

His hard-hitting stump speech assailed Walker for raising "nearly 70 percent" of more than $25 million in campaign donations from out-of-state special interests and wealthy individuals.

Barrett also attacked the governor for a comment he made about dividing and conquering unions -- as well as for poor job creation numbers, cuts to education and a continuing John Doe investigation into the activities of his staff during the time that he was the Milwaukee County executive.

Barrett called attention to a video of Walker talking to a billionaire donor that was released by a Milwaukee filmmaker a few weeks ago.

It shows the governor greeting Diane Hendricks of Beloit, the head of ABC Supply Co. and the 188th richest person in the United States, according to Forbes Magazine.

The video was shot in January 2011, prior to the introduction of the budget repair bill that stripped public employee unions of almost all of their bargaining powers. Filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein was working on a documentary about the closing of the General Motors plant in Janesville.

"Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions?" Hendricks asks.

"Oh, yeah," Walker says.

"And become a right-to-work (state)?" Hendricks continues. "What can we do to help you?"

"Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill," Walker says. "The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer."

Barrett told the gathering in Hudson that in the following weeks Hendricks wrote checks of $10,000 and $500,000 to Walker's campaign. She also donated $25,000 to the Republican Governor's Association that the association is using to run negative ads against him that he describes as "30-second drive-by shootings," Barrett said.

He said Hendricks' company paid no corporate income taxes from 2005 through 2008, the most recent years for which tax records were available.

"So her company has paid no corporate income taxes, she can write a check to him for half a million dollars, and they want to go after the rights of working people," Barrett said. "That's what this governor is all about."

He said Walker has been busy "flying around the country making fundraising speeches touting how successful he has been in taking away the rights of working people."

Barrett said he wasn't interested in being the "rock star" of the far right or the far left.

"What I want to be is rock solid in focusing on creating jobs and better education and health care right here in the state of Wisconsin," he said.

Barrett said good leaders try to bring people together in difficult times.

"What you saw in that little video tape is this man who said that there is a crisis, and that he is going to use this crisis to try to divide this state. And I think that's how basic the choice is in this election," he said. "Are we going to have a leader, when times are difficult, who is going to pit people against each other? Or are we going to have a leader who is going to try to bring people together?"

Barrett accused the Walker administration of rushing out new job figures showing a gain in jobs in previous 12 months after earlier U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures showed Wisconsin losing more jobs than any other state in the nation in 2011.

Barrett said that if the new numbers are accurate, it would mean the Bureau of Labor Statistics had made the biggest error in its history. He doubted that was the case.

"It's not telling people the whole story. It's not telling them the truth," he said of the administration's latest jobs report.

Barrett also took Walker to task for reportedly blaming the poor job creation numbers on the political division in the state.

"Gov. Walker, you divided the state," he said. "...People have lost friendships over what has happened in this state over the last year."

Barrett also raised the issue of on ongoing John Doe investigation into the activities of Walker's staff during the time he was the Milwaukee County executive.

Six of Walker's associates have been charged with 15 felonies, to date, as a result of the investigation. The charges have included staff members doing political work while being paid by taxpayers.

In April Walker transferred $60,000 from his campaign account to a legal defense fund, but maintains he isn't a target of the investigation.

Barrett said Walker is the only governor in the nation who has a criminal defense fund.

Click this link to see a story on where River Falls citizens can vote Tuesday, June 5: www.votingplaces

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Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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