(Reuters) – Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker and his challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett drew sharp ideological differences on Friday during the first of two debates before a special election to recall the governor on June 5.
Walker faces a special election after he angered Democrats and labor unions by pushing through the state legislature a law that strips public sector labor unions of much of their power. Walker would become the third governor in United States history to be recalled if he loses.
During the one-hour debate in Milwaukee, Walker touted his efforts to balance the state’s budget by curbing the power of public sector labor unions, while Barrett painted the first-term governor as untrustworthy.
“This election is not a rematch or do-over because we can’t do over the decisions of Scott Walker to start a political civil war,” Barrett said.
The two candidates are familiar foes, with Walker defeating Barrett by five points in the 2010 gubernatorial race. A recent poll conducted by St. Norbert College and Wisconsin Public Radio showed Barrett trailing Walker by a similar margin, 50-45 percent.
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