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Saturday, February 4, 2017

 8:53 AM 

NRSC targets Baldwin on Supreme Court in new TV ad

The National Republican Senatorial Committee today announced a new TV ad knocking U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin over her opposition to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch.

Shortly after the president announced his pick, Baldwin said she would meet with Gorsuch, but had deep concerns about his record. She later announced she will not support the nomination and would not vote for cloture, which would clear the way for a final vote on the Senate floor.

The TV ad opens with the announcer saying Baldwin, D-Madison, said last year senators have an obligation to vote on nominees for the Supreme Court.

The ad then plays a clip of Baldwin saying, “To ignore this nomination is wrong and deeply irresponsible” and “it is disrespectful to the American people.”

“But now Baldwin and Democrats want to block a vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch,” the announcer says before playing a clip of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying Dems will “fight it tooth and nail.”

The announcer closes the spot, “Tell Tammy Baldwin: Put your country ahead of your party.”

A spokeswoman for the NRSC said the ad will run in the Green Bay market Sunday during the Indiana-Wisconsin basketball game on CBS.

-- By JR Ross

Friday, January 27, 2017

 12:11 PM 

Federal panel orders new Assembly district maps by Nov. 1

A federal panel today ordered lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker to draw up and approve new Assembly district maps by Nov. 1.

But the state DOJ says it expects to appeal the decision.

The three judge-panel, which in November ruled the current maps were an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, ignored the DOJ’s request to hold off ordering new maps until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on the issue.

Waiting on the high court’s input might be the right approach “in a perfect world,” the panel wrote, but it’s not clear the court would decide on the issue in time to have them in place for 2018. The new maps, the judges added, would also be contingent upon the court agreeing with their November decision. If the justices disagree with them, the panel wrote, the state can "retain easily the present map."

“The people of Wisconsin already have endured several elections under an unconstitutional reapportionment scheme,” the panel wrote. “If they are to be spared another such event, a new map must be drawn in time for the preparatory steps leading up to the election, such as candidate petition circulations in mid-spring 2018.”

DOJ spokesman Johnny Koremenos said the agency is reviewing the order but “we expect to file an appeal with the Supreme Court and seek prompt reversal of this decision.”

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson added the administration believes the maps are constitutional.

Dems, meanwhile, hailed the ruling.

“The court’s decision to require new maps is good news for anyone who supports free, fair and competitive elections,” said Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay. “The responsibility now falls on the Governor and Republican leaders to comply with the court’s order.”

Sachin Chheda, the director of the Fair Elections Project, which helped organize the lawsuit, said it's "time to move ahead and draw new maps."

“This is a victory for democracy and we look forward to a process to draw these maps that engage the community and invite public participation," Chheda said.

In November, the panel had split 2-1 on its decision, with Judges Kenneth Ripple and Barbara Crabb ruling against the maps and Judge William Griesbach dissenting.

All three of them joined in today’s order.

See the order

This post has been updated with additional details.

Monday, January 23, 2017

 10:31 AM 

Campaign: Baldwin had more than $1 million in bank to start 2017, raised $1.8 million last year

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin will report more than $1 million in the bank to start 2017 after raising $1.8 million in 2016, her campaign said in a memo today.

The Madison Dem also is elevating Scott Spector to campaign manager of her 2018 bid. He had been serving as her political director. Prior to joining Baldwin's staff a year ago, Spector had spent the previous four years working for Wisconsin Progress.

Baldwin's campaign says the $1.8 million raised in 2016 was one of the biggest hauls by any senator who wasn't on the ballot last year.

By comparison, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, had $605,977 in the bank to start 2015 ahead of his successful re-election bid. He raised $1.4 million in 2014, according to his reports posted at the FEC site.
-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

 8:20 AM 

Walker reached settlement with 10 vendors to reduce presidential campaign debt

Gov. Scott Walker reached settlements with 10 vendors paying them less than what he owed to help retire his campaign debt, according to a letter his campaign sent the FEC.

Walker's campaign announced on Friday that he had paid off his remaining bills from his failed presidential bid. That met his previous pledge to pay off his debts by the end of 2016, clearing the deck ahead of an expected bid for a third term in 2018.

According to the letter, Walker originally owed the 10 vendors $374,083, but reached deals to settle the debts collectively for $333,448, a reduction of $40,635.

The biggest reduction was the $10,000 Walker shaved off the $30,000 he owed Drucker Lawhorn LLP.

The debt reduction plan needs FEC approval, and the $40,635 was still listed as an outstanding debt on Walker's latest campaign finance filing.

That report, filed Friday, shows Walker had receipts of $223,726 in December, expenses of $172,471 and $71,870 left in the bank.

Walker's biggest source of income was $146,992 from Granite Lists for renting out his list of donors.

The report also reflected fundraisers he had in Philadelphia and New York at the end of November.

Some of his individual donors included $5,400 from Robert McNair, chairman and CEO of the NFL's Houston Texas.

He also listed two donations that were partly refunded and then attributed to the donor's wife. John Oliver, president of the Oliver Group in Missouri, donated $5,000 originally before half was late attributed to Rachel Oliver. Scott Wagner, president and owner of Penn Waste in Pennsylvania, originally donated $5,400 before half was attributed to Tracy Wagner.

Walker's biggest disbursement in December was the $100,000 he paid to FLS Connect LLC to over the last of his outstanding debt to the Minnesota telemarketing firm.

Read the letter:

See Walker's report:

Friday, January 13, 2017

 3:06 PM 

Walker's campaign says he paid off presidential debt last month

Gov. Scott Walker paid off his remaining presidential campaign debt last month, meeting his promise to take care care of his outstanding bills by the end of 2016, according to a memo his campaign circulated this afternoon. 

Walker still owed $140,635 at the end of November as he continued to whittle away at the more the $1.2 million he owed when he dropped out of the race in September 2015. 

According to the memo, Walker's state campaign finished the year with just more than $59,000 in the bank. It offered no other details. 

The reports for his federal and state accounts are expected to be filed in the coming days, his campaign said.

-- By JR Ross

 8:12 AM 

State superintendent candidate proposes education board to oversee DPI

State superintendent candidate John Humphries is calling for a state education board that would boost oversight of the state's top education official.

Humphries said Thursday the current superintendent, Tony Evers, is "out of ideas and out of excuses for our state's stagnant performance." The board, he said, is aimed at getting new ideas from parents, students and educators, which he said Evers doesn't do enough.

"Wisconsin children deserve better than the same failed leadership and lack of accountability they've had with Tony Evers at DPI for 16 years," he said. "It's time for a new direction. It's time for genuine accountability for educational results in Wisconsin."

Humphries, a former Dodgeville School District official, is challenging incumbent Tony Evers, along with former Whitnall School District superintendent Lowell Holtz. The Feb. 21 primary will decide which two candidates will make it to the April 4 general election.

Humphries' proposed Education Accountability Board would, among other things, have the final say over the Department of Public Instruction's administrative rulemaking and audit DPI's accountability measures to "ensure DPI is effectively using, but not abusing, its authority to help low-performing schools and teacher preparation programs improve."

The board, whose president would be a guv appointee, would have nine members who would serve three-year terms. Those members would be appointed by lawmakers from both parties and would serve no more than two terms. The majority of the board would be students, parents and educators.

See Humphries' statement:

The two other candidates said Humphries' proposal amounted to more bureaucracy.

"We don't need more bureaucracy or more centralized control," said Evers' campaign manager Amanda Brink.

"The state legislature passes education laws, while the State Superintendent is directly accountable to the citizens," Brink said. "Our Founders debated this at length when writing our Constitution, and they wisely created an independent State Superintendent for a reason."

Brink also defended Evers, saying he "convenes and participates in dozens of advisory councils across our state." Input gathered there, she said, help shape DPI policies.

Holtz echoed Brink's criticism, saying Humphries' proposal adds "another layer of bureaucracy."

"Expanding government feels good to some, but the reality is it would give more power to bureaucrats in Madison and not to the school districts and parents where it belongs," he said. "I believe in local control. Unelected appointees usurping power from Wisconsin's elected school boards is simply counter-productive to real school reform."

Read Evers' statement:

Thursday, January 5, 2017

 9:23 AM 

Feingold outraised Johnson by nearly $3.9M

Dem Russ Feingold outraised U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson by almost $3.9 million in a losing effort, according to their post-election reports.

But adding in outside group spending tips the balance in Johnson's favor in a race that cost at least $72 million. 

The detailed summary pages for Feingold's post-election report, which his campaign provided to WisPolitics.com, shows net contributions of nearly $24 million and net expenditures of almost $23.8 million. He finished the post-election period with $198,547 in the bank. 

Johnson, meanwhile, had net contributions of $20.1 million, net expenditures of $20.2 million and $149,288 left in the bank on Nov. 28. 

A tally by OpenSecrets.org, though, pegs pro-Johnson spending by outside groups for the cycle at $18.7 million and $9.8 million for Feingold.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

 5:10 PM 

Ziegler to run unopposed for re-election to state Supreme Court

Justice Annette Ziegler will face no challengers in the upcoming spring election, the first Supreme Court incumbent in more than 10 years to run for re-election unopposed. 

Meanwhile, state Superintendent Tony Evers drew two challengers: Lowell Holtz, of Palmyra, and John Humphries, of Mount Horeb. 

The deadline to file candidacy and nomination papers was 5 p.m. today. The finalized ballot status will not be available until later tonight or tomorrow morning, an Elections Commission spokesman said.

The primary will be Feb. 21, while the general election is April 4. 

 8:05 AM 

Ziegler may be unopposed in re-election bid

State Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler may be unopposed this spring in her bid for a second 10-year term.

No one had registered to challenge Ziegler by the latest update from the Elections Commission, which was posted late Friday. The deadline to file candidacy and nomination papers, including a minimum of 2,000 signatures to run for the state Supreme Court, is 5 p.m. today.

Ziegler filed her signatures Dec. 22. The last Supreme Court justice to be unopposed for re-election was Pat Crooks in 2006.

Meanwhile, four people have filed a declaration of candidacy to challenge state Superintendent Tony Evers, while a fifth person has filed a campaign registration statement. The five are: Jeffrey Holmes, of Germantown; Rick Melcher, of Racine; Lowell Holtz, of Palmyra; Remberto Andres Gomez, of Tomah; and John Humphries, of Mount Horeb.

The primary would be Feb. 21 with the general election April 4.

See a list of candidates registered so far:

: See older blog items :

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