It’s no secret that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is intensely disliked by organized labor and Democrats.
Indeed, the Republican governor’s opponents have made their feelings toward him very clear since he was first elected — especially during the state capital protests in 2011 and the defeated effort to have him recalled.
But if you thought the rhetoric aimed at Walker during the 2011 protests was bad, just wait until you hear his version of events included in his upcoming book, “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge” — particularly the chilling note that was sent to his wife.
State Patrol Capt. Dave Erwin, a former United States Marine, brought the governor a particularly eerie piece of hate mail during the protests that contained very specific information about his wife and children.
“[A]s I prepared to go out to the conference room for my daily press briefing, Dave came into my office and shut the door,” Walker recalls, according to a book excerpt published online.
“Sir, I don’t show you most of these, but I thought you ought to see this one,” the officer said.
The letter was addressed to Walker’s wife, Tonette. It read:
Has Wisconsin ever had a governor assassinated? Scotts heading that way. Or maybe one of your sons getting killed would hurt him more. I want him to feel the pain. I already follow them when they went to school in Wauwatosa, so it won’t be too hard to find them in Mad. Town. Big change from that house by [BLANK] Ave. to what you got now. Just let him know that it’s not right to [EXPLETIVE] over all those people. Or maybe I could find one of the Tarantinos [Tonette’s parents] back here.
Walker eventually told his wife about the threats — but only after some time had passed.
Erwin worked tirelessly to ensure Walker’s safety, the book notes. And it wasn’t just for him: Walker’s entire family was apparently being stalked.
“Governor, I’ve been at this awhile, and when the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, you have to be concerned,” the former Marine told Walker. “They know where you go to church; they’ve been to your church. They’re following your children and tracking your children. They know where your children go to school, what time they have class, what time they get out of class.”
“They know when they had football practice. They know where your wife works, they know that she was at the grocery store at this time, they know that she went to visit her father at his residence,” he said.
The size of Walker’s security detail was eventually increased and troopers had to be assigned to monitor his children at school.
During the protest, demonstrators left ghastly messages for the governor.
“The Wisconsin State Capitol had taken on an eerie quiet by late Friday. … The chalk outlines around fake dead bodies etched with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s name remained in dismembered parts, not yet completely washed away by hoses,” Time magazine reported in 2011.
Protesters at one point even physically blocked Walker and his entourage from leaving a manufacturing company in La Crosse, Wis.
“As we prepared to leave, the state troopers saw that the protesters had physically blocked the entrance we had used to come onto the property. So they turned the squad car around and headed toward the other exit. We watched in disbelief as the throng of people rushed toward the second exit to block our path. As we tried to pull out, they surrounded the car and began beating on the windows and rocking the vehicle,” Walker writes in the book.
“Just as we extricated ourselves from their grip, a truck pulled up and blocked our path, playing a game of chicken with the troopers. They turned the lights and sirens on and warned him to get out of way. Eventually he backed up, and we sped off.
“It was a lesson in how much our circumstance had changed in a matter of a few days. We were dealing with people who were so blinded by their anger that they were not in the least bit afraid to storm and shake a police car. We had never seen anything like it in Wisconsin before,” he adds.
And let’s not forget about the Wisconsin Democrats.
Democratic Sen. Lena Taylor at one point compared Walker to Adolph Hitler, saying, “The history of Hitler, in 1933, he abolished unions, and that’s what our governor’s doing today.”
Democrat Sen. Spencer Coggs called the Walker plan “legalized slavery.”
Ultimately, Walker said, the attacks and threats backfired on his opponents.
“Most people agreed with Tonette that targeting my family and disrupting the lives of our neighbors and their children was going too far,” he writes. “No matter what your political views, here in Wisconsin people simply don’t do things like that.”
Still, he notes, it “was important to me that they saw that I never responded in kind to the often vicious attacks directed against me. I was firm and did not budge — but no matter how personal the invective became, I never made it personal.”
Walker’s new book is scheduled to be released on Nov. 19.
Click here to see more excerpts.
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