The HOG connection
David Davis, president and CEO of Menomonee Falls-based Securant Bank & Trust, got to know Walker about six years ago, when Davis was asked to take part in one of Walker’s motorcycle tours of the state, which Walker said he used to promote tourism in Milwaukee County. Since that time, Davis has accompanied Walker every year on his week-long motorcycle tours of the state.
“When you ride with people and live with them for a week, you learn a lot about them,” Davis said. “Over that period of time, we’ve developed a discussion based around politics and our values. We (both) pride ourselves in treating people the way we want to be treated. He does what’s right. I truly believe that he, more than anyone else I’ve met, does what he says he’s going to do. That’s what is of most importance to me.”
Walker’s passion for governing is similar to the passion most CEOs have, Davis said, which makes him the right choice for governor.
“When I talk to him about what he’ll do and how he’ll do it – if you are a CEO or someone in charge – you’ll understand that people who are successful have embraced the passion for what they do,” Davis said. “Scott embodies that from top to bottom. He has the same passion about state government that many entrepreneurs have about their businesses.”
Nancy Einhorn, co-owner and officer with Wauwatosa-based Einhorn & Associates Inc., said she and her husband, Stephen Einhorn, the president of the company, support Walker because of his commitments to lower taxes and control state spending.
“We believe that his values and actions as (Milwaukee) County executive are more in line with the things we believe in,” she said. “He’s done his best to control spending and keep taxes low, and come up with ideas for fixing the things that are wrong with the county and the state.”
Walker’s position on transportation issues, including the proposed high-speed train between Milwaukee and Madison, also are important, Nancy Einhorn said.
“He’ll do all he can to not have $1 billion spent on that train,” she said. “It’s important to have roads and buses and things like that work well. We believe he will do his best on that.”
A friend of business
As governor, Walker will create a more business-friendly environment, said Rob McIntyre, president of the Waukesha branch of The Horton Group.
“Walker is better for business because he will create an environment that is more business friendly – with lower taxes and less government spending,” McIntyre said. “He’ll be more helpful to industry. Where he’ll be helpful is his willingness to meet with businesses and help them when they’re having difficulty.”
As governor, Walker also will work against combined reporting, federal health care initiatives and more strict environmental policies, McIntyre said.
“The general mood of businesses today is that there are so many unknowns about the future and so many hidden and unexpected new costs, they’re sitting on the sidelines on their cash, not hiring and not buying new machinery,” he said. “That lack of confidence is hurting our economy. Conservative, business-minded candidates should predominate in the win column (this November). I believe that will be a move back toward a more business-friendly environment.”
Walker’s experience as Milwaukee County executive, where he has fought to keep property taxes from growing while dealing with rapidly increasing pension costs, makes him a suitable choice for governor in light of the budget problems the state will face, said Lisa Mauer, president of Milwaukee-based Tool Service Corp., a distributor of metalworking tools with locations in Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
“He has executive experience with the county working in a difficult environment,” she said. “It’s going to be a difficult environment at the state level as well. He has a tremendous ability to balance budgets and be fiscally responsible. I think the experience that he’s demonstrated here in the Milwaukee area for us taxpayers and business owners would well serve the state.”
As Milwaukee County executive, Walker has repeatedly made difficult decisions on where to make budget cuts, staff reductions and other cost-cutting moves to property tax increases. That experience will be crucial to the success of the next governor, said Nancy Hernandez, founder and president of Abrazo Multicultural Marketing and Communications.
“He’s had to face a lot of tough decisions, and from a business perspective, I can appreciate his methodology and how he weighs them out,” she said. “I want an increased level of responsibility in government, and I think his approach is the right balance. He’s not afraid to make tough decisions, and that is exactly what our state needs today.”
Walker’s willingness to enter public-private partnerships in Milwaukee County is something that Hernandez hopes he will continue as governor.
“I think the state needs to look at a long-term strategy,” she said. “The more the state does that, the more business succeeds. I want someone who understands that if business prospers, the state prospers.”
Walker’s desire to shrink state government, both in terms of employees and the property taxes people pay to support it, has won the support of Carol Schneider, CEO of Grafton-based SEEK Careers/Staffing Inc.
“I think he understands the role between jobs and government coffers – you can’t fill them up without jobs,” she said. “In my personal view, government needs to go on a diet. I’ve seen him put things in place in Milwaukee County like furloughs and trying to contain the pension packages. His budgets look like they make sense.”
Extra hours, extra mile
Walker’s willingness to work nights and weekends in his role as Milwaukee County executive, doing things that are not necessarily part of the job description, make Chris Schult, owner of the Sussex-based companies Bevco Engineering and Babish Material Handling, believe he would act similarly as Wisconsin’s governor.
“I’d be watching TV on Saturday morning and would see him promoting the Mitchell Park Domes. He’d be working to promote Milwaukee County,” Schult said.
Schult has attended several Walker fundraisers, and has had several opportunities to meet with with Walker. Walker’s approaches to business friendliness and economic development make sense, Schult said.
“He’s going to cut taxes and state government regulations, which will make it more affordable and easier to do business in the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “He’s not afraid to make tough decisions. If he has to cut something, he’s willing to do to that. And he’s willing to get into a fight to manage a budget.”