Dem Doubted She Wanted to Be Part of ‘Full-Time Work Force’

Mary Burke twice debated whether having a job was the thing for her

Mary Burke
Mary Burke / AP
September 8, 2014

Democratic candidate for Wisconsin governor Mary Burke took a two-year break from her career for a "snowboarding sabbatical" and a decade later expressed doubts that she ever wanted to have a full-time job again.

Burke’s career has come under scrutiny after it was revealed that her résumé includes a two-year gap between positions at Trek Bicycle Corporation, which was founded by her father.

After working in Europe for Trek overseeing operations in multiple countries, Burke decided she "needed some time off," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. Explanations of what Burke was actually doing from July 1993 to September 1995 vary, largely because Burke’s explanations have varied.

Burke at one point said that, feeling burnt out from her job, she and a group of friends went off to a popular Argentinian mountain resort to snowboard for three months. At another point she said that her time spent in Argentina was because she was "going out with this guy."

Her actual "snowboarding sabbatical" lasted two months in Argentina, though it remains unclear who she was with.

She then headed to the Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, where she says she spent her time "traveling and relaxing" and also teaching snowboarding part time for a couple of months.

She even considered going back to school at the University of Colorado in Boulder but ultimately decided not to, and went back to Trek, putting an end to the two year period of snowboarding, traveling, and relaxing.

Burke has put in the work to try to nail down for voters what she actually did during this gap, offering old receipts and passports to show that she is not hiding anything.

However, email records show that this was not the only time Burke considered shedding work responsibilities from her life altogether.

Burke was considered in 2004 after her second stint with Trek to be part of Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s cabinet, but she expressed doubt that she would want a full-time job.

"I do not know at this point whether I will want to re-enter the full-time work force," wrote Burke in a December 2004 email. " I would appreciate being kept in mind but I don’t want anyone wasting their time."

Burke was appointed secretary of commerce by Doyle and accepted the position. She resigned in 2007 citing her desire to "spend more time" on "other interests."

Burke is currently slightly outpacing Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the polls, according to a Real Clear Politics average of recent polls.

It is unclear whether she will be pleased to win the election, which will involve her assuming the full-time governor position.