Matt Flynn is running as a Democratic candidate for governor of Wisconsin in 2018, and so far he’s not pulling any punches.
“(Gov.) Scott Walker is a policy mule for a Republican donor cartel, and (President Donald) Trump is essentially an agent of Russia. Both of them are betraying their constituents,” he said on “Capitol City Sunday.” “I’m a navy vet. I’m going to come at him very, very hard.”
In an interview that was highly critical of Walker, who launched his re-election campaign on Sunday, Flynn outlined his campaign promises, saying that he would run on a platform to improve wages in Wisconsin, overturn Act 10 and improve the state’s relationship with the University of Wisconsin.
Flynn is a lawyer from Milwaukee, and was the chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in the 1980s.
“Why now, at age 70 do you want to get back (into politics)?” Greg Neumann, host of the show, asked him.
“I frankly don’t want to see our democracy destroyed,” Flynn said. “We have Trump, running a crooked gangster government, really, in Washington, and Walker is slyer and more disciplined, but he is running a corrupt government in Madison. I’m going to put an end to it.”
To back up his claim of corruption, Flynn said Walker gave loans to “some of his donors and buddies who did not qualify for them,” an apparent reference to actions by Walker’s aides to push for a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation loan to a construction company. He also criticized Walker for the Foxconn deal, saying Walker “promised $2.8 billion in cash that’s going to come right out of our budget, so he can get himself re-elected.”
Flynn also said it was corrupt to turn down over $800 million in federal money to build a train line from Madison to Milwaukee and millions in Medicaid money “for his own purposes.”
Flynn said his platform would be based on improving wages in the state.
“I want to be the wage governor, wages are my campaign,” he said.
He said that, adjusting for inflation, wages in Wisconsin are lower than they were under Jim Doyle. He denounced Walker’s actions to “bust unions,” pointing to Act 10 and “Right to Work” legislation, and said he would reverse these actions as governor.
Neumann said polling would suggest that people have accepted the changes that came with Act 10, asking if Flynn still thought they were unpopular.
“It’s not so much unpopular, my values are I don’t like them,” Flynn said. “They killed a mosquito with a sledgehammer. If you want public employees to contribute to pensions and their medical plans, fine, but then pay them wages to do it.”
On education, Flynn said he would offer free public in-state tuition at tech and two-year colleges to prepare a “new generation of the workers in this state for the jobs in the new economy.” Turning to UW, Flynn said he was “disgusted” with Walker’s actions toward the university, and said he would be an “ambassador for the university,” fully funding it and statutory tenure.
There’s now a long list of Democratic gubernatorial candidates, including Andy Gronik, a businessman from Milwaukee, state Rep. Dana Wachs, state Superintendent Tony Evers and state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout. Flynn said the “real race” was between himself and Evers.
“Half the vote comes out of Milwaukee and Dane County for the primary, and Tony and I, I think, would be ahead in our respective places,” he said.
As the former chairman of the Democratic party in the state, Flynn framed himself as an advocate for the whole Democratic platform, and called Evers “nonpartisan.”
Neumann brought up the fact that Flynn represented the Catholic Archdiocese in cases where priests were accused of sexual abuse. Neumann pointed out that his involvement in the cases could leave a “bad taste” in voters' mouths, but Flynn insisted he was proud to have represented the archdiocese and said he did not represent the accused priests, but the archdiocese.
“Most priests are wonderful people. They make no money. I will always defend good priests, always,” he said. “My job is to clean it up; settle the cases, and put in protocol so it never happens again.”
He also denied reports that he had told an attorney for victims that the archdiocese would "throw a crumb to your clients if you drop these cases.”
“I have never told anybody they’re going to get crumbs, that’s a stupid thing,” he said.
Flynn has never held elected office; he has run for the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate a total of four times and lost each race. On the show, he said previous campaign failures don’t say much about the quality of a politician, pointing to Abraham Lincoln, who lost a Senate race before being elected president.
“If you want only people who have won every race, they go along to get along,” he said. “I’ve never deviated from my principals, I’ve never deviated from my values.”
Alec Zimmerman, communications director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, addressed the idea that Walker is running a "corrupt" government.
“Not only is Matt Flynn making baseless attacks, he is trying to distract from his record of endangering the welfare of victims of sexual abuse," Zimmerman said. "Matt personally chose to use bully tactics against victims of sexual abuse, saying he would only throw them 'crumbs' — making the the tragedy all the more unbearable for the victims and their families.”