first official campaign stop at Wilson's Coffee on Nov. 15, the day he announced. As far as we know, neither of the two already-announced Republican candidates -- Scott Walker or Mark Neumann -- has been here since they began campaigning. Nor has rumored Republican candidate Tommy Thompson. (Correx: Neumann was here on Jan. 3.)
Barrett spent more than an hour meeting the faithful, and another 20 minutes or so speaking of what he hopes to accomplish as governor. With a nod to Mayor John Dickert in the front row, he spelled out the difference between being mayor and being governor: "People don't care whether their garbage is picked up by a Democrat or Republican; being mayor is a very practical job."
But as governor, he said, the issue is jobs. "My priority as governor of this state is to create, retain and attract jobs." He said he's focused on that issue as mayor, and pointed to recent successes in landing new operations by Republic Airlines and Talgo. "That didn't happen by accident; we were pro-active," he said. Taking note of some criticism regarding Talgo, the Spanish train manufacturer, Barrett said, "I don't care if they're from Mars."
As governor he promised to look at existing programs by such agencies as the Department of Commerce, WHEDA, the DNR and others, "and I will put more meat on the bones that are working." Pointing to State Sen. John Lehman and Rep. Cory Mason, among "name" Democrats in attendance, Barrett said he would focus on programs like ones they have proposed, tying tax credits to job creation. "Getting our fiscal state in order" is a top priority he said, noting that states with governors from both parties -- Arizona and California headed by Republicans, for example; and Illinois and Michigan by Democrats -- are in trouble.
"It sounds masochistic," he said, but "I would rather have someone who shares my values making the tough decisions. In hard times, someone who shares our values is important. You saw that last week in the debate on health care." Voters, he said, should ask those who want to repeal the new health care bill "why they would want to deny health care to that child who needs it."
"The debate has to change now. They've had their fun for the past 12 months, talking about Death Squads and Armageddon. Well, there is none of that."
Holding up his still-bandaged hand, injured in the August State Fair Park incident when he aided a woman who was being attacked, Barrett said voters should take away two lessons about him from it. First, Wisconsin has "tough challenges," a "a tough, tough period" ahead, and "Tom Barrett doesn't run from a fight." And, the second lesson, Barrett said -- with a smile -- as he pointed out that the attack he broke up was really about five blocks from the State Fair. "Tom Barrett doesn't like to pay for parking."