The first salvo was launched last week by a third-party group, the Koch-backed conservative organization Americans for Prosperity. Entitled "Stand with Scott Walker," the commercial commends the governor for purportedly taking the necessary steps to address the state's budget shortfalls, actions that would force public employees to pay a larger share of their pensions and health care benefits, as well as limit collective bargaining rights of the state's unions. It also directs blame at President Obama for supposedly helping to organize the massive protests, which the ad argues don't represent the will of Wisconsin voters.
The Republican Governors Association -- a group most commonly involved with electoral politics -- tried their hand at a different type of activism this week, taking to the airwaves to broadcast a similar defense of Walker. In their spot, the RGA paints Walker's budget proposal as a brave and reasonable solution, while criticizing the state's Democratic senators for "running away" from their legislative duties.
The Republican National Committee has taken a slightly different line, attempting to make the Wisconsin standoff a national issue. In the ad, the RNC attempts to connect the strife in the Badger State to a larger reelection goal for President Obama. It accuses "Obama and his union bosses" of creating the economic mess and standing in the way of reform, supposedly as part of a larger claim that Obama is supporting public employees because they will pump money into his 2012 campaign coffers.
On the left, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has sought to land a counterpunch with an ad that accuses Walker of enacting "class warfare" and an "attack on the middle class" with his anti-union budget proposal. The spot includes interviews with demonstrators at Wisconsin's capitol building in Madison, who allege that Walker has sought to redirect the tax burden away from corporations and the wealthy and onto public employees.
America's Families First, a left-leaning third party organization, has meanwhile gone to bat for Wisconsin unions with an ad that highlights Walker's controversial prank phone call with a liberal blogger claiming to be billionaire conservative benefactor David Koch. The ad portrays Walker as uncompromising and intent on stripping public workers of their rights.