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Republican Gov. Scott Walker had it two ways while defending his state’s economic record during a stop in Minnesota as he moves toward a 2016 presidential bid.
Some media outlets interpreted his remarks as pushing back on the idea that Wisconsin’s economic recovery trails that of Minnesota, where Democrat Mark Dayton is governor.
But Walker also spoke of Minnesota’s "advantage" in terms of economic growth and attributed it to politics.
"For many years, when (Republican Gov. Tim) Pawlenty was in office, the state was doing quite well," Walker said.
"You've had the advantage of having, other than a two-year period, Republicans in charge of at least one part of government for at least some time," Walker added, then noted. "Before we came into office, for many years there was a Democratic governor, a Democratic Assembly and a Democratic Senate."
We can’t fact check Walker’s implication that Wisconsin fell behind because Democrats were running the whole show. That’s his opinion.
But we can check his facts on who was in charge and when.
Walker didn’t say how far back his comparison went, but his mention of Pawlenty suggests at least 2003, when Pawlenty was first elected.
Here’s what we found when examining partisan control in both states:
Pawlenty served two terms, from 2003 through 2010, giving way to Dayton at the same time Walker assumed power in Madison in January 2011.
So that means Republicans controlled at least one key lever for those eight years.
From 2011 to present it’s been Dayton, a member of the state’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, in the governor’s chair in St. Paul.
Republicans held both legislative chambers in 2011-12, and one starting in 2015.
But Democrats -- as Walker correctly noted -- ran both chambers from 2013-14 and of course had Dayton for those years as well.
Walker confined his argument here to the years before he took office in 2011.
But he misfires in saying Democrats had a total lock on power for "many years."
Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle took office in Wisconsin in 2003 -- at the same time Pawlenty assumed control next door. Doyle also served eight years, then decided not to run for a third term.
But Doyle only had a Legislature under total Democratic control for his last two years, 2009 and 2010.
In fact, Republicans controlled the Assembly and Senate for Doyle’s first four years. Control then was split for two years before Democrats enjoyed their brief unfettered reign.
Going back further, to 1995, Republicans in Wisconsin controlled at least one of the three power spots every year until 2009.
The kind of single-party dominance that Walker claimed Democrats have enjoyed for many years is rare in recent Wisconsin history.
Walker, though, is now in year five with Republicans gripping all three levers of authority at the Capitol.
Walker said Minnesota’s "advantage" has been having "Republicans in charge of at least one part of government" for all but two years, while Wisconsin Democrats "for many years" controlled both legislative chambers and the governorship before 2011.
In making the comparison, though, he overstates how long the Democrats had total control in Wisconsin. It was for a two-year period, before he took office and Republicans won complete control. The Republicans have had that status more than twice as long as the "many years" Walker said Democrats did.
We rate the claim False.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Scott Walker defends Wisconsin economy on Minnesota visit," April 23, 2015
KMSP-TV, "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker makes Minnesota visit," April 23, 2015
Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, Party Control of the Minnesota Senate, 1951-present
Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, Party Control of the Minnesota House of Representatives, 1951-present
Wisconsin Blue Book, 2013-14, Political Composition of the Wisconsin Legislature, 1885-2013
Emails with Our American Revival spokeswoman AshLee Strong, April 29, 2015
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