Yesterday, gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann issued a press release criticizing a poll that showed a commanding 20 point lead presence. The poll was commissioned by Walker's campaign and conducted by the Tarrance Group, which questioned a sample of 5000 "likely GOP voters".
The poll confirmed that Walker has maintained a 20 point lead over Neumann since March, which shouldn't be much of a surprise since Walker won the GOP endorsement at the convention with no less than 90% of the party delegates.
Neumann's press release was aggressive and made a number of points, but due to length restraints, I will only focus on what I consider to be the most egregious.
Neumann's press release stated:
"Walker’s own record shows he flip-flopped on stimulus. First he wrote in the Wall Street Journal that he opposed it, then he flip-flopped on the issue. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on April 16, 2009: Back in January, Walker said he wouldn't ask for anything from the federal economic recovery plan…he has since put out a list of $130 million in stimulus funds that his agency chiefs are seeking or having secured."
Let's take Neumann's statement bit by bit.
First, Neumann has the chronology wrong. Walker's first editorial wasn't in the Wall Street Journal; it was in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The chronology is important in terms of context, and I will explain why in the next point.
Second, Walker did not categorically oppose accepting federal funds. In January of 09, Walker wrote his first editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel laying out three conditions that must be met before he would accept federal stimulus. This means, of course, that Walker would accept stimulus funds, period. There is no way around it. If those three conditions were met, Walker would gladly take the money.
Neumann's press release skipped Walker's first editorial and pointed to the editorial in the Wall Street Journal (written two months later) where Walker does not specifically mention his three conditions. Why is this important? If the reader wasn't aware of Walker's earlier editorial, reading the second might give them the false impression that Walker opposed stimulus funds in a categorical manner.
It is worth pointing out, however, that Walker did say he would not submit a wish list to the federal government because the funding wasn't free. This is an important point because this is the only part of his Wall Street Journal editorial that alluded to his earlier three conditions. But the bottom line is that Walker said he wouldn't accept federal funding if there were strings attached, and Neumann knows this.
Third, Walker said he wouldn't pursue stimulus funds unless these three fiscal conditions were met: there must be no match required; there must be no long term commitments; and there must be no future operating costs to the county. In other words, Walker will not accept government money if it means that county taxpayers had to pay for it. By not mentioning Walker's three conditions upon which he would accept federal funds, Neumann's press release is disingenuous and fraudulent.
What is most interesting about Neumann's criticism is that he, if in the same place, would do the same thing. In fact, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did a piece entitled, "Neumann Benefits from, Yet Bashes Stimulus Plan." Reporter Daniel Bice stated, "Neumann owns a stake in two companies that are benefiting big time from the very same stimulus plan that he criticizes." Neumann not only benefited, but his company promoted the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home owners thanks to the stimulus bill. That may not be a flip-flop, but it's certainly speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
When asked to explain the inconsistency, Neumann's outsourced-campaign manager, Chip Englander, said that Neumann opposed the bill, but not the parts that benefit Neumann's company of course. Those parts Neumann likes. When Bice asked Walker adviser R.J. Johnson what he thought of Neumann's response, he said, "So he's okay with the part that makes him money so he can run for office. Got it."
The content of Neumann's press release was surprising. I was told that Chip Englander was known for waging bloody primaries and scorched-earth campaigns, but I also thought Neumann would reign him in a bit. It appears, however, that Mark Belling was correct. Neumann's campaign is warming up for the bloodiest primary in Wisconsin history. And as long as Walker is comfortably ahead in the polls, we can expect Neumann to go negative. Let's just hope when it's all said and done, Neumann doesn't alienate himself from all registered Republicans permanently.