Ex-govs collaborate on a COVID-19 shot publicity booster

    Image of TV spot with former governors Doyle and Walker
    Screen capture from UW Health COVID-19 vaccine public service spot with former governors Jim Doyle and Scott Walker, along with UW Health physician Jeff Pothof.

    They never ran head-to-head, but Jim Doyle and Scott Walker see eye-to-eye on one subject. The two former governors — Democrat Doyle and Republican Walker — have teamed up for a UW Health public service announcement promoting the COVID-19 vaccine.

    The 30-second spot depicts a Zoom call between the two in which they share their mutual exhaustion with the pandemic and then agree to do a PSA encouraging state residents to get vaccinated. Doyle tells Walker, “That may be the best idea you’ve ever had” — is there just a hint of a sly smile on his face when he says that? — and Walker jauntily responds, “I agree!” as he lifts a coffee cup emblazoned with “You Betcha!” to his mouth.

    UW Health’s chief quality officer, physician Jeff Pothof, arrives late to the call in time to close it out, saying, “It’s time to get vax’d, Wisconsin.”

    It’s a good reminder that COVID-19 is not a political issue, and we really do have broad agreement,” Pothof states in a UW Health announcement of the video. “We want everyone to get the vaccine to keep themselves and the community safe so we can end this pandemic.”

    Walker, a prolific Twitter user, announced his own vaccination on the social media platform earlier in the spring. But he has also commented on the vaccine to make rhetorical political points: criticism of Gov. Tony Evers’ administration for the shot’s early rollout in Wisconsin, and, later, of a priority list that put prisoners in an early group when the vaccine was still scarce.

    (The reason for that policy was to protect the safety of both employees and inmates in the close quarters of prisons, as well as to contain the risk of spread both to and from the communities in which prisons are located, defenders of the policy said at the time.)

    More recently, Walker has tweeted his opposition to requiring “vaccine passports” for people to document that they’ve been vaccinated.

    Doyle has kept a much lower profile as a former Wisconsin governor and isn’t on Twitter.

    Erik Gunn
    Senior Reporter Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, along with related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.