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Iowa Gov. Branstad says he and Scott Walker aren’t anti-labor

Gov. Terry Branstad says statements from the Iowa Democratic Party that he and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are “anti-worker” aren’t fair, claiming they both inherited difficult fiscal situations when they took their oath of office in January and are trying to get their states back on track.

The IDP’s statement came as Walker visited West Des Moines on Wednesday for a fundraising dinner benefiting the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank located in Washington, D.C. Branstad attended the event.

Walker gained national attention earlier this year when he pushed a bill stripping some collective bargaining rights for public workers and requiring them to pay more for health insurance, among other things.

IDP Chairwoman Sue Dvorksy said Walker “brings a familiar anti-worker agenda that is nearly identical to that of Governor Terry Branstad.”

“While Scott Walker’s attack on working men and women in his state drew national attention, Governor Branstad and Iowa Republicans were pushing their own anti-worker bill. If passed, it would have ended decades of important protections for workers across the state,” Dvorsky said. “Throughout his career, Governor Branstad has failed to support working men and women across this state, just as Scott Walker is doing in his.”

But Branstad called the IDP’s statements “an unfair and inappropriate characterization,” and said both he and Walker are trying to deal with tough state budgets.

“He, like me and a lot of other governors, inherited a real financial mess and is making tough decisions to try to get his state on the right track, and I think the people of Wisconsin can make their judgment on their governor,” Branstad said. “And I feel confident to stand for the people of Iowa and point out what we’re doing in the state of Iowa to bring more business and jobs and to increase opportunities for workers in this state.”

Democrats in Wisconsin have undertaken an effort to recall Walker. In an e-mail to supporters on Wednesday, former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) said Walker “has torn our state apart.” Feingold is founder of Progressives United, a 501(c)4 organization.

“Since taking office in January, Scott Walker has attacked the rights of Wisconsin workers, passed an undemocratic voter ID bill, and done the bidding of the Koch brothers and his deep-pocketed corporate backers at every turn,” Feingold wrote.

Feingold asked for donations to help recall Walker, saying he’s “governed so extremely and so recklessly, going right at the throat of working people when our families are suffering, that we have no choice.”

“Enough is enough. The people of Wisconsin can’t afford four full years of Scott Walker as our governor — and it’s time for us to recall him,” he said.

About 100 people gathered outside the Sheraton Hotel where Walker was speaking to express their displeasure with him, Branstad, and what they see as a nationwide attack on workers’ rights.

The Heritage Foundation event was closed to the media, but a video is expected to be available online on Thursday.

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