MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker's first television ad of his re-election campaign launched Tuesday highlights his efforts to bolster worker training in the state, but features a firefighter who a liberal group said did not benefit directly from the program being touted.
One Wisconsin Now called the ad misleading. But Walker's campaign defended it, noting that the emergency medical technician and firefighter from Hartland in the ad said Walker is helping people "like me," not her specifically.
The ad comes six months before the Nov. 6 election but is two months later than when Walker first advertised during his re-election campaign in 2014. That year his Democratic opponent was set, but this year more than a dozen Democrats are running and the race appears to be wide open. The primary is Aug. 14.
Walker's campaign said the first spot is running statewide but wouldn't say how much it cost. One Wisconsin Now said its media tracker put the cost at $1.4 million, with the spot to run in Green Bay, Wausau, La Crosse-Eau Claire, Milwaukee and the Duluth/Minneapolis cable market through July 8.
The substantial buy that shows the advantage Walker has over the large Democratic field where no candidate has run a television ad to date. Walker's campaign said it was the first in what will be a series of ads touting the governor's record.
The workforce training program highlighted in the ad is called Wisconsin Fast Forward, which Walker created in 2013 to help narrow the skills gap and connect people in high-demand fields with jobs. The firefighter, identified only as Shayla, says "Governor Walker is helping people like me get the training we need."
Walker, looking directly at the camera, then says the Fast Forward program is providing funding to help people get better jobs and new skills.
"And people like Shayla, well she can help save lives," Walker says.
The ad is titled "Helping People Like Me."
One Wisconsin Now identified the woman in the ad as Shayla Schuett. The year she got her degree from Waukesha County Technical College, the school received $1.2 million in Fast Forward grants but none were for reducing waiting lists for EMT programs.
Walker's campaign spokesman responded by saying Walker has invested more than $200 million into worker training and created incentives to help other first responders across the state like Schuett, even though she herself may not have been a direct beneficiary.
The Associated Press could not find a telephone listing for Schuett. No one immediately responded to a message left on Schuett's Facebook page.