Walker says recall election could have national implications

Post-unions, pay raises higher, but go to fewer

Despite the upcoming recall election looming, Republican Gov. Scott Walker appears to be rising in his party’s ranks as he spoke to supporters at a Chicago luncheon on Friday.

The governor was speaking to Illinois Policy Institute event, where he told business leaders, politicians and activists that he believes if his plans succeed in Wisconsin, these policy changes will resonate around the country.

“I think it’s about one simple concept. It’s about courage,” he told the audience.

Speaking to the attendees, Walker defended his controversial actions of the past year and half while protesters chanted against his visit.

“I don’t plan on losing. I’m running to win, but I’m not afraid to lose. If you do things for the right reasons, you should never be afraid to lose,” he said. “We avoided massive layoffs. You wouldn’t know it from talking to some of the guys out in the front, but the irony of all ironies is, what we did allowed us to avoid massive layoffs of public employees in our state and local governments.”

The governor struck a confident tone as he talked about the recall and what might come out of it. He said he believes the recall elections targeting himself and five other Republican lawmakers could have national implications and might be felt in state legislatures throughout the country.

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“When we prevail, I think it sends a powerful message not just in my state and Madison,” he said. “I think it sends and equally powerful message in Springfield and St. Paul and Indianapolis and Austin and Albany and Columbus and state houses all across America.”

Walker was taking this message to some of these places as he made several out-of-state stops earlier this week. He spoke in Washington, Oklahoma and Springfield, Ill., in recent days.

John Tillman, CEO of the think tank Illinois Policy Institute, said that Walker’s stature among conservatives for his policy stands in Wisconsin was one of the reasons they invited him to speak.

“He’s a darling of anyone who seeks to reform the public policy situation in the country,” he said.

However, some supporters of Illinois unions rallied against Walker’s Chicago trip, saying they stood with Wisconsin’s public-sector workers who protested against the governor’s controversial collective bargaining law last year.

They said that they believe the Windy City trip was more about fundraising for the recall election.

“He’s probably coming here to talk to the people who have means, the people who get all the tax breaks and the economic relief because he can’t face the people in Wisconsin who are barely making it by right now,” said Bob Rieder, of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

In one brief remark to reporters in Chicago, Walker defended his stop.

“We started the day in Wisconsin and we’ll end in Wisconsin,” he said.

While this speaking engagement wasn’t a fundraising event, it was on the governor’s campaign schedule, and many Chicago business leaders were in attendance.

His speech was his only public event on Friday. The Walker campaign said that he was also meeting with Republican Party officials during his Illinois trip.