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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

 6:57 PM 

Roth won't run for 8th CD

State Sen. Roger Roth announced today he won’t be among the candidates running in the 8th CD, saying it’s “not the right time” for his family.

Roth came in second in the 2010 GOP primary for the seat, losing to U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, who announced Saturday he won’t seek a fourth term.

Roth, R-Appleton, said although he's gotten calls encouraging him to run, his top priority is being “the best father and husband I can be,” noting he has two kids and is expecting a third in April.

“The problems facing our country are very real,” Roth said in a news release. “Our nation deserves leaders who are willing to set aside political rhetoric in favor of governing. While I believe I can be that voice in Washington, I know that right now is not the right time, and therefore I will not seek the GOP nomination for the 8th Congressional District.”

See the release here.

-- By Polo Rocha

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

 9:04 AM 

Bradley starts radio ad

Justice Rebecca Bradley's campaign is going up with a new radio ad saying she understands "that it's not her job to make laws, but to interpret them."

The spot features a girl coming home from school and telling her mom she learned about the state Supreme Court. The mom notes there's an election to pick a justice this spring, and the daughter says it's an important vote because justices "have to uphold the constitution."

"I know, and that's what I already know I'm voting for Justice Rebecca Bradley," the mom says. "One of the hardest jobs of a judge is to make decisions based only on the law as it's written. Justice Bradley understands that it's not her job to make laws, but to interpret them."

The spot closes with Bradley asking listeners for their support in the Feb. 16 primary.

Her campaign said the 30-second spot is running statewide starting today. 

-- By JR Ross

 8:15 AM 

Possible candidates line up for 8th CD

At least half a dozen GOP state lawmakers are looking at a run for the 8th CD now that incumbent Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, has announced he will not seek re-election this fall.

Meanwhile, Outagamie County Exec Tom Nelson, a former Dem lawmaker who ran for lt. guv in 2010, says he has received calls urging him to run and he owes "it to those family, friends and supporters to give this opportunity to continue to serve Northeast Wisconsin due consideration."

He touted his work as county exec, including a stable tax rate, AAA bond rating and economic growth he attributed to "the lost art of bipartisanship and working together, an approach that would serve the US Congress well."

Those taking a look at the race on the GOP side include: state Sen. Frank Lasee, of De Pere; state Rep. John Macco, of Ledgeview; state Rep. John Nygren, of Marinette; state Sen. Roger Roth, of Appleton; and state Rep. Dave Steffen, of Green Bay.

State Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, said he is watching to see how the field develops and likely would get in only if he's disappointed with the crop of GOP candidates.

Also, GOP sources have said Michael Gallagher, who was an adviser to Gov. Scott Walker's presidential campaign, has been making calls about a bid.

Lasee and Roth would not have to give up their seats for a bid, and Lasee said he'll talk with family and constituents while also praying about a run. He didn't have a hard timeframe for a decision.

"Looking at the federal government, there's a lot to do there to move in a whole different direction," he said.

Roth finished second to Ribble in a four-way GOP primary for the seat in 2010. Roth said he hopes to have a decision on a bid this week.

"I want to give it careful consideration," he said. "At the same time, I know there's an urgency to get this done."

Nygren, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, said family will be a major consideration as he weighs a bid.

He has authored a series of bills to battle opiate addiction and has been open about his daughter's struggles. He said things are going great for Cassie Nygren and he wants to be part of her life as she makes positive changes. Meanwhile, his other children are a senior and freshman in high school.
"My concern is we wouldn't have as much of those family opportunities if I decide to run for Congress," Nygren said. "That's first and foremost."

Macco won his Assembly seat in 2014 after losing a 2012 bid for the state Senate. He was traveling back to Wisconsin today and said he hadn't had a chance to discuss a bid with his wife.

"The biggest driver for me is what would be an objective, a good reason for me to want to go and serve in the federal government as opposed to what I'm able to do here," he said.

Steffen said as he weighs a bid "by far the most important thing will be: Is it the right time for my family?"

Several possible candidates have ruled out bids. That includes Dem state Reps. Eric Genrich, of Green Bay, and Amanda Stuck, of Appleton, both of whom told WisPolitics.com today they won't run.

 7:42 AM 

New WAR TV ad says Bradley gets a fair, impartial judiciary protects rights

The conservative Wisconsin Alliance for Reform’s new TV ad says Justice Rebecca Bradley gets that a “fair and impartial judiciary protects all of our rights.”

The narrator in the spot, which started today, says colleagues call her “measured, fair, willing to work with anyone” while judges applaud her “insight, hard work, compassion.”

The narrator goes on to say as a judge, Bradley has helped sexually exploited children and has promoted youth mentorship. Meanwhile, her record has “earned praise” from more than 100 judges, prosecutors and sheriffs from both parties.

“Tell Rebecca Bradley you believe in a fair and independent judiciary,” the narrator says to close the spot.

The WAR says it is a significant statewide TV buy ahead of the Feb. 16 primary. The liberal One Wisconsin Now has pegged the first week of advertising at $450,000.

-- By JR Ross

Saturday, January 30, 2016

 11:35 PM 

Ribble won't seek re-election

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble announced today he will not seek re-election this fall.

The GOP lawmaker said he made several promises when he originally ran for Congress in 2010: to roll back federal discretionary spending to pre-bailout, pre-stimulus levels; to make Bush tax rates permanent; and to limit himself to a maximum of eight years in the House.

"My reasons are fairly simple and straightforward," Ribble said. "I feel very fortunate to have a strong marriage, grown children, and three wonderful grandchildren. I want to dedicate more time to them. Additionally, I’ve always said elected office shouldn’t be a career. I come from the private sector and am anxious to return to it and to a more private life."

-- By Staff

Friday, January 29, 2016

 4:00 PM 

Johnson raises about $1 million less than Feingold in fourth quarter of 2015

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, raised $1.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, about $1 million less than Dem rival Russ Feingold.

Johnson’s campaign said he will report spending $758,000 for the three-month period and ended the year with $4.4 million in the bank.
Feingold, D-Middleton, raised almost $2.7 million between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 and had $4.8 million in the bank. Since jumping in the race mid-May, Feingold has now raised $7.4 million.

Johnson collected $6.3 million in 2015.

Johnson’s campaign said for the most recent three-month period, more than 83 percent of the contributions were from Wisconsin, while more than 84 percent of the donations were less than $100.

-- By JR Ross

 3:22 PM 

Walker's presidential campaign ended 2015 $1.2 million in debt, super PAC returned $18.4 million in donations

Gov. Scott Walker's presidential campaign ended 2015 with $1.2 million in debt, according to his filing with the FEC today.

The report showed Walker also raised $597,280 over the final three months of 2015 and had $153,460 cash on hand.

His campaign focused on the amount of money he was able to raise in the period, which occurred after he formally dropped out of the race in September.

"Governor Walker made substantial progress in addressing financial commitments over the last quarter, and he remains humbled by the outpouring of support from friends across the country who continue to believe in his commonsense reform agenda," said spokesman Joe Fadness.

Meanwhile, the super PAC that backed Walker’s campaign raised $24.1 million last year, according to its latest report filed with the FEC.

The PAC ended up returning almost $18.4 million in donations after Walker dropped out of the race. That includes $4 million to Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks and more than $3.9 million to Marlene Ricketts, the wife of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.

The PAC also returned $2 million to Richard Uihlein, owner of the shipping company Uline, and $740,000 to his wife Elizabeth, the company president. It also sent back $1.2 million to Access Industries Inc., a New York holding company created by Leonard Blavatnik, a Russian-born business magnate.

-- By JR Ross

Thursday, January 28, 2016

 12:37 PM 

Clinton-Sanders race tightens in Marquette poll, Trump leads GOP race, Feingold lead stead

Bernie Sanders continued to close the gap with Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin's Dem presidential primary, while Donald Trump led the GOP field in the latest Marquette University Law School Poll.

Meanwhile, Dem Russ Feingold's lead over GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson remained steady at 50 percent to 37 percent, compared to a 49-38 spread in November.

Clinton led Sanders 50-41 in November and had a 12-point lead in September. But the latest survey has the Dem primary race at 45-43 in her favor, well within the poll's margin of error.

On the GOP side, Trump led the pack at 24 percent with Marco Rubio at 18 percent and Ted Cruz at 16 percent. In November, Ben Carson led at 22 percent with Trump and Rubio at 19 percent and Cruz at 9 percent. Carson has now dropped back to 8 percent.

The poll of 806 registered voters was conducted Jan. 21-24 with half of the interviews conducted via landlines and the rest over cell phones. The margin of error for the full sample was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The sample included 313 GOP presidential primary voters and the margin of error for those questions was plus or minus 6.5 percentage points. It also included 312 Dem presidential primary voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 6.5 percentage points for those questions.

When leaners are included, 47 percent of the sample was Democratic, 42 percent Republican and 10 percent independent. That's in line with the poll's historical average.

 -- By JR Ross

 8:58 AM 

Candidates differ on approach to policing Supreme Court

MILWAUKEE -- Two Supreme Court candidates called Wednesday for changes in how the Wisconsin Supreme Court conducts its business, while Justice Rebecca Bradley defended the rules set by the body's conservative majority.

Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg and Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Joe Donald also depicted themselves as more independent than Bradley, an appointee of Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Bradley insisted she doesn't let her personal or political views influence her judicial decisions.

In their first forum, hosted by the Milwaukee Bar Association, the three candidates answered questions audience members submitted to moderator Steve Walters, senior producer for WisconsinEye. Many of those questions focused on court rules.

Donald supported creating an independent panel, perhaps of appeals court judges, to resolve ethics cases involving Supreme Court justices. Kloppenburg said Bradley had voted with fellow conservatives to defeat that change. Bradley said the request didn't follow proper procedure and that she would be open to considering changes within established rules.

The high court now polices itself. In 2010, justices deadlocked 3-3 on whether to try Justice Michael Gableman on charges of lying in a 2008 campaign ad. Another ethics case stalled when five of the seven justices recused themselves from considering whether Justice David Prosser physically attacked Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in 2011.

Kloppenburg and Donald said the court should be more transparent by meeting publicly on administrative matters and outlawing email votes, such as the procedure used to elect Pat Roggensack as chief justice. Rebecca Bradley said it was appropriate to discuss some administrative issues privately.

Donald also said justices should state a reason for recusing themselves from a case, as circuit court judges do. Bradley said justices sometimes must keep their reasons secret to avoid violating the confidentiality of a former law client. Kloppenburg agreed, but called for less-subjective recusal standards and for reconsidering a rule that says justices don't have to recuse themselves from cases involving campaign donors.

Kloppenburg and Donald repeatedly attacked the influence of politics and special interests on the court, on which conservatives hold a 5-2 edge.

"Our Supreme Court used to have a national reputation," Donald said. "It now also has a national reputation, but not the one it used to have."

He and Kloppenburg noted Bradley has accepted Republican Party assistance in the nonpartisan race and that Walker appointed her to the circuit and appeals courts before the Supreme Court.

"She's bringing her partisanship onto the court," Kloppenburg charged.

Bradley said she didn't solicit GOP aid and would accept help from anyone who offered it.

She also said the court needs justices like her, who "say what the law is, not what they wish it would be."

But Kloppenburg and Donald didn't limit their fire to Bradley. Kloppenburg noted she was the only candidate not originally appointed by a governor. Donald conceded he was appointed by GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson but also suggested the forum's seating -- with Bradley on his right and Kloppenburg on his left -- symbolized his centrism and their partisanship.

Bradley also took issue with the perception of a tensely divided court, saying she worked collegially with all the other justices. One sign this race is so far more civil than some past court campaigns: All three candidates hugged each other at the end of the forum.

-- By Larry Sandler

 8:00 AM 

California car dealer, developer files for Wisconsin Dem presidential primary

Roque "Rocky" de la Fuente, a California car dealer and developer, has filed signatures with the GAB seeking to be placed on the April Dem presidential primary ballot.

de la Fuente was not one of the candidates placed on the ballot earlier this month by a committee comprised of Dem and GOP leaders. Those who don't win recognition by the committee have the option to collect a minimum of 8,000 signatures -- with at least 1,000 from each of the state's eight congressional districts -- to qualify.

GAB spokesman Reid Magney said the campaign representative who filed the petitions Tuesday said they included about 11,500 signatures. But that had not yet been verified.

The deadline to challenge the filing is 4:30 p.m. Feb. 4. Magney said GAB staff will review the petitions, as well as any challenges filed, and make a recommendation to the board prior to the March 1 deadline for certifying the ballot.

See more on how the petition process works.

-- By Staff

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

 8:55 AM 

Feingold defends against GOP attacks over Tomah VA

Russ Feingold Tuesday slammed U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and his allies for suggesting the Wisconsin Dem failed to act in 2009 about concerns at the Tomah VA and linking him to the death five years later of a 35-year-old Marine being treated at the hospital.

The GOP attack has focused on a memo written by the union president at the VA hospital; the memo was marked as hand-delivered to Feingold and two fellow Wisconsin Dems.

Feingold again Tuesday said he didn't receive the memo and accused Johnson of having "made up" the suggestion that the Middleton Dem knew about the concerns of the prescription practices at the facility.

He also knocked Johnson, R-Oshkosh, on Tomah. Johnson has said his staff could have done more to address the concerns about opiate prescriptions following a report his staff didn't refer the complaints to leadership of a Senate committee that could have taken action. His staff referred them to aides on the committee, but no action was taken.

"Using a tragedy involving our fighting men and women as a way to try to get yourself re-elected is really kind of pathetic, and that's what's being done here," Feingold said at Marquette Law School as part of the "On the Issues" series with Mike Gousha.

Johnson campaign spokesman Brian Reisinger accused Feingold of playing the "blame game," saying Johnson took action once he personally learned of the problems.

"Ron is leading the only bipartisan investigation of what happened as chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and is working to pass legislation to protect whistleblowers who try to prevent tragedies like this from happening in the first place," Reisinger said.

Feingold also refuted the GOP suggestion he's changed since leaving the Senate.

That includes the former senator dropping a pledge made during his first Senate campaign in 1992 to raise the majority of his money from Wisconsin.

Feingold said when he made that promise, he didn't anticipate the U.S. Supreme Court "would take all of our campaign laws and throw them in the garbage can." He said allowing corporations, billionaires and Johnson to have a super PAC has changed the campaign finance landscape dramatically.

Still, he defended his fundraising, saying 90 percent of his contributions are $100 or less and he has received donations from all 72 counties. He also said he's still getting more donations from Wisconsin than Johnson.

"Ask yourself who is more Wisconsin?" Feingold said.

He also said he hasn't changed his integrity or honesty. Still, his experiences since leaving the Senate, such as teaching at Marquette and serving as a special envoy to Africa, have changed him for the better, Feingold said.

"I feel good about who I am at this point, but it's not exactly who I was previously," he said.

Feingold also said he didn't run for guv after losing his Senate race because "the people of this state told me to take a break, so I did."

Some Dems had hoped Feingold would take on Gov. Scott Walker in the 2012 recall or 2014. But Feingold said it was appropriate to take some time away with his family.

On other topics, Feingold:

*indicated he would support the Dem nominee whoever it is, while calling Bernie Sanders an honorable person and committed progressive.

Some Republicans have called for Feingold to say whether he supports Sanders or Hillary Clinton in the Dem primary. He did not side with either candidate, saying he would be comfortable with both.

*praised the president for keeping his "eye on the ball" in seeking to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

Republicans have criticized Feingold for his support of the deal the Obama administration negotiated with Iran. Feingold said it's still not certain the agreement will work, but it's looking like it will.

"The cement has been poured," Feingold said. "This can lead to the stopping of Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and that is very good."

Feingold also took a shot at Johnson, who has said he would support the U.S. invading territory held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria with a multinational coalition.

Feingold said that approach wouldn't address other areas of the world where ISIS has a foothold or other threats.

"Invading our way to security is not going to work," Feingold said.

The Johnson campaign's response to Feingold's appearance at Marquette included a knock on his support for the Iran deal.

"The Iran deal exemplifies the dangerously weak national security record Senator Feingold developed during his 18 years in Washington, and his hypocrisy on special interest money," the campaign said.

The statement also recounted past knocks the Johnson campaign has thrown at Feingold.

Johnson is scheduled to participate in the "On the Issues" series Feb. 5.

See the release:

Friday, January 15, 2016

 11:37 AM 

Walker's state account collects $514,148 in last half of 2015

Gov. Scott Walker collected $514,148 through his state campaign during the last half of 2015, a period that included the final months of his failed presidential bid.

It was one of Walker's smallest fundraising hauls since taking office, just eclipsing the $473,719 on his January 2013 report. That covered the six months after he shattered fundraising records in successfully fending off a June 2012 recall and while donors were focused on the fall campaign.

The latest report shows Walker spent $977,653 and had just $20,257 left in his campaign account Dec. 31.

Walker's income during the last six months of 2015 included $329,300 in individual donations and $5,000 from committees. The remaining $179,848 was listed under other income and commercial loans.

Even though he spent much of 2015 on the presidential campaign trail, Walker still raised $6.4 million through his state account for the full year, according to the cover sheet.

The guv is expected to file a report with the Federal Election Commission later this month that will update his efforts to pay off remaining debts from his presidential campaign.

See the cover sheet here.

-- By JR Ross

 8:20 AM 

Bradley raises $228,320 for Supreme Court bid in last half of 2015

Justice Rebecca Bradley raised $228,320 during the latest reporting period, according to a cover sheet released by her campaign.

That trails the $251,195 JoAnne Kloppenburg raised over the second half of 2015 for her Supreme Court bid, but ahead of the $141,270 Joe Donald pulled in.

Bradley trailed both challengers for cash on hand.

Still, Bradley's campaign stressed she did not announce her candidacy until mid-September. Both Kloppenburg and Donald jumped into the race before the six-month reporting period began.

Bradley spent $54,281 during the period and had $176,260 in the bank as of Dec. 31. Kloppenburg had $232,289 in her account, while Donald had a warchest of $195,724.

Bradley's cover sheet also listed an outstanding loan balance of $102,500. But that is leftover from her 2013 campaign to retain her then-seat on the Milwaukee County bench.

Campaign finance reports covering the last half of 2015 are due to the GAB today.

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