By Brendan O'Brien
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Democratic candidates vying for a shot at ousting Governor Scott Walker from office in a June recall election aimed their attacks at the Republican incumbent rather than each other during a debate on Friday.
"This state has been at war for the last 16 months," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the frontrunner in the primary to select a Democratic candidate to oppose Walker.
"I will end the civil war in the state of Wisconsin," said Barrett. "I will restore trust in the governor's office and heal the wounds that have deeply divided the state."
The winner of the Democratic Primary on Tuesday will face Walker in a special election on June 5.
The first-term governor enraged Democrats and public sector unions last year when he pushed a measure through the Republican-led state legislature reducing the power of public sector unions.
The measure forced state and local government workers like teachers to pay a portion of the cost of health insurance and pensions, capped wage increases and required unions to be recertified every year.
Walker's opponents collected nearly a million signatures from registered voters to force a recall vote.
All of the Democratic candidates vowed to restore collective bargaining powers for public sector unions if elected.
They also promised to focus their efforts on creating jobs in the state after a report last week said Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state in the last 12 months.
"We are all united here in our effort to defeat Scott Walker in a month," said Kathleen Falk, the former Dane County executive who has been running second behind Barrett in polls. Continued...