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Ron Johnson pushes an odd line about jobs in his home state

All politicians brag about creating job opportunities for their constituents — or so I thought.

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It’s the sort of cliché that’s so common, the rhetoric barely registers: Politicians say they’ll create job opportunities for their constituents before they’re elected, and say they have created job opportunities for their constituents while running for re-election.

I’ve never heard an elected official express a degree of indifference on the subject — until yesterday.

About a year ago, Oshkosh Corporation, a Wisconsin-based company, won a contract to produce next-generation delivery vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service. Several months later, the company said it planned to manufacture the vehicles at a facility in South Carolina, creating plenty of local jobs in the process.

Not surprisingly, Wisconsin’s Democratic senator, Tammy Baldwin, got to work trying to keep those jobs in her home state, rather than in South Carolina. “To me, it’s simple — I want Oshkosh Defense to manufacture trucks in Oshkosh with Wisconsin workers,” the Democrat said in a written statement.

Oddly enough, her home-state colleague doesn’t quite see it that way. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported yesterday:

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said Saturday he won’t try to persuade a Wisconsin manufacturer to place more than 1,000 new jobs in his hometown. “It’s not like we don’t have enough jobs here in Wisconsin. The biggest problem we have in Wisconsin right now is employers not being able to find enough workers,” Johnson said about Oshkosh Corp.’s plans to locate the jobs in South Carolina.

It’s not that the GOP incumbent is opposed to jobs being created in his state, but Johnson said if the company wants to boost the economy in South Carolina instead of Wisconsin, that’s up to the company and he doesn’t want to insert himself into the process.

What I find amazing about this is that I’ve never seen this before. I can’t think of a single instance in which a politician — during an election year, facing poor poll numbers ahead of his own bid for another term — said he could try to fight to keep lucrative job opportunities in his home state, but he’s choosing not to bother.

The Journal Sentinel’s article added:

When told of Johnson’s remarks, Democratic candidate and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson was dumbfounded, declaring that the added jobs — and money — would help the wider community. “He wants a third term and he just doesn’t understand economic development,” Nelson said. “It’s mind blowing, breathtaking.”

If you’re thinking this will be appearing in some campaign ads in Wisconsin in the coming months, you’re not alone.