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Scott Walker

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs his first budget in front of supporters gathered at Fox Valley Metal Tech in Ashwaubenon, Wis., on Sunday, June 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Green Bay Press-Gazette, Corey Wilson)

To sign Wisconsin’s 2013-14 budget, Gov. Scott Walker will again be heading into friendly territory, highlighting the business of a generous campaign donor.

Walker’s office didn’t immediately respond to a message asking why Catalyst Exhibits — an exhibit design company that rents and sells products for trade shows and commercial design with offices in the U.S., the Netherlands and China — in Pleasant Prairie was chosen for Sunday’s signing.

Marquette University political science professor Charles Franklin speculates that Walker may be seeking to drive home his emphasis on job creation and the private sector.

"His staff must have considered why this was a good place to hold the signing," he says.

But it's worth noting the fact that Catalyst Exhibits CEO Paul Stahlberg forked over $20,000 to help Walker win last year's recall election, and the company’s president, Tim Roberts, kicked in another $20,000, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's campaign finance database. Both Catalyst officials gave $5,000 to Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch as well.

By way of contrast, former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle chose public venues, signing three of his four budgets at the Governor's Mansion in Maple Bluff and the other one at Memorial Union on the UW-Madison campus.

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Walker also turned to the private sector two years ago when he  signed the state budget at Fox Valley Metal Tech, whose president and CEO, John West, gave $400 for Walker’s first gubernatorial race in 2010, and has subsequently donated another $1,250 to Walker. That venue was chosen to highlight a tax cut for manufacturers amounting to $360 million over four years.

And as he ponders a run for the presidency, it probably doesn't hurt for Walker to keep in contact with his supporters.  

Earlier this month Walker held a  Forward Manufacturing Roundtable at Uline Shipping, also in Pleasant Prairie, whose owners, Liz and Dick Uihlein, have so far contributed $271,000 to the governor.

Steven Elbow joined The Capital Times in 1999 and has covered law enforcement in addition to city, county and state government. He has also worked for the Portage Daily Register and has written for the Isthmus weekly newspaper in Madison.