MADISON, Wis. — Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann have repeatedly called for Attorney General JB Van Hollen to be given the authority to intervene in a multi-state effort among Republicans to derail the federal health reform act but are silent on Van Hollen’s seeming unwillingness to represent the state in its effort to challenge a federal court ruling to block funding for life-saving stem cell research.
“Stem cell research is not just about saving lives, it’s also about 34,000 current Wisconsin jobs,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “That Walker and Neumann stay silent while one of Wisconsin’s most promising areas for future job growth is under attack shows they are more interested in winning extremist ideological support than creating jobs and putting Wisconsin to work.”
Immediately following passage of the federal health reform act in March, Walker and Neumann called for Van Hollen to join a partisan Republican lawsuit to block the reform act, which would reduce health care costs and prevent insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Walker went so far as to say his opposition to the reforms “will be a defining issue in the general election” in his campaign for governor. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/22/10]
On Thursday, it was reported Van Hollen would not be representing the state in its legal efforts challenging a ban on federal funding for stem cell research, requiring taxpayers to finance outside counsel to protect Wisconsin’s interests. One noted non-partisan political scientist said Van Hollen was “dragging his feet” on the issue. [Wisconsin State Journal, 9/9/10]
“Here’s where the rubber meets the road for Walker and Neumann on life-saving stem cell research,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now. “We will now see if Walker and Neumann reject the right-wing extremists who oppose stem cell research, or if they are nothing more than a couple of stem ‘sell outs.’”
Both Walker and Neumann have been endorsed in their race for governor by Pro-Life Wisconsin, which has been a vocal opponent of stem cell research. On its endorsement questionnaire, Pro-Life Wisconsin devotes 20 percent of its questions to calling for restrictions on stem cell research. [2010 Pro-Life Wisconsin candidate questionnaire]
Currently, Wisconsin has over 600 biotechnology companies and 11 stem cell companies. Under the leadership and state investment provided by Gov. Jim Doyle, Wisconsin has cemented its status as the nation’s leader in biotechnology and stem cell research and enjoys resources such as the UW-Madison Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center and WiCell. [Gov. Doyle Press Release, 9/9/10]