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Friday, May 27, 2016

 9:12 AM 

Ryan leads primary challenger Nehlen 80-7 in new poll

House Speaker Paul Ryan had a commanding lead on GOP challenger Paul Nehlen in a new poll conducted for the conservative Washington Free Beacon.

The survey of likely GOP primary founders found 80 percent backed the Janesville Republican, while just 7 percent favored Nehlen.

Ryan also lead a generic Dem candidate 54-36 in the general election with 11 percent undecided.

It’s the second poll out this month to find Ryan up on Nehlen by a big margin. The Remington Research Group found him leading Nehlen 78-14.

The Free Beacon survey suggests Ryan is not suffering with Republicans at home even as he holds out from endorsing Donald Trump for president.

Ryan was viewed favorably by 76 percent of Republicans in the district, while 15 percent viewed him unfavorably.

The poll also found U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Gov. Scott Walker upside down in the GOP-leaning district. Thirty-three percent had a favorable opinion of Johnson, while 40 percent did not. Walker’s split was 39-51.

Trump and Hillary Clinton also were underwater. Trump’s split was 31-57, while Clinton’s was 32-58.

In a general election contest between the two, Trump and Clinton were tied at 38 percent apiece.

Vox Populi Polling conducted the poll Sunday and Monday. It surveyed 1,197 likely general election voters taken from a list of registered voters, and the margin of error was plus or minus 2.83 percentage points for that sample.

The GOP primary sample was 451. The toplines overview did not include a margin of error for that sample.

See the toplines:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

 10:54 AM 

Ryan says Trump phone call 'productive,' declines to provide details

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he had a productive phone call Wednesday with presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, but declined to provide details of the conversation during a press briefing today.

"It was a productive phone call," Ryan said. "We had a very good and productive phone call. I'll leave it at that."

Ryan also reiterated previous comments about why he is not yet ready to endorse Trump.

"What I'm most concerned about is we have real party unity, not pretend party unity," Ryan said.

Ryan spent much of the briefing slamming House Democrats for voting against an energy and water appropriations bill.

Ryan said the fact Dems voted against it despite it having Dem amendments included shows they are trying to "sabotage the appropriations process."

-- By David Wise

 9:29 AM 

Sanders sends fundraising pitch to help Feingold

Bernie Sanders' campaign announced today it has sent a fundraising pitch to its national list encouraging backers to contribute to Russ Feingold's bid to re-take his old Senate seat.

"We are going to have to elect candidates up and down the ballot who recognize that it is too late for establishment politics and economics,” Sanders wrote, according to a campaign release. “Candidates like my friend, former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold. Russ led the fight with me to make the Affordable Care Act much stronger in 2009. He voted against the USA Patriot Act and the war in Iraq. He authored and passed landmark campaign finance reform legislation and his campaign is powered by small-dollar contributions like ours.”

Feingold is challenging GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who beat the Middleton Dem in 2010 for the seat.

It's the second time this week Sanders has sent an appeal to his national list on behalf of a Wisconsin candidate. He did the same for freshman state Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, the only Wisconsin superdelegate to endorse him.

Feingold has so far declined to say who he supported in Wisconsin's April 5 presidential primary.

-- By JR Ross

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

 9:30 PM 

Walker defends New Mexico guv day after Trump knocks her

Gov. Scott Walker is defending New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez's record one day after Donald Trump accused her of "not doing the job."

Trump's criticism of Martinez, the GOP's best-known Latina elected official, came at an Albuquerque event after she skipped his rally there. Among other things, Trump criticized her for a growing number of food stamp recipients in New Mexico.

Martinez chairs the Republican Governors Association with Walker serving as the group's vice chair.

The group issued a statement late Wednesday in which Walker said she has a dedicated record of helping elect conservative guvs and is leading the charge in states that are in dire need of "real leadership."

"From delivering crucial tax reform, standing up to Washington by suing the EPA for federal overreach, turning a deficit into a surplus and making New Mexico the leader in jobs for export growth while increasing the state’s business friendliness, Governor Susana Martinez has effectively driven conservative reforms in a blue state won twice by President Obama, while winning re-election by the largest margin by a Republican in state history," Walker said. 

Walker has said he will support the GOP nominee, but backed Ted Cruz in Wisconsin's April presidential primary, campaigning with the Texas senator as he won the state. Trump also took several shots at Walker in the run up the state's primary, saying he sent Walker "packing like a little boy."

-- By JR Ross

 8:23 PM 

Trump, Wiley part ways

Donald Trump has parted ways with Rick Wiley, the former Scott Walker campaign manager the businessman hired a little more than a month ago as his political director.

Trump's campaign said in a statement Wiley was hired on a "short-term basis as a consultant until the campaign was running full steam." When he was brought it, the move was seen as an effort to professionalize the staff.

But Politico, citing Trump campaign sources, reported Wiley was fired after clashing with aides who predated his hire.

"It is now doing better than ever, we are leading in the polls, and we have many exciting events ready to go, far ahead of schedule, while Hillary continues her long, boring quest against Bernie," Trump's campaign said of its operation. "We would like to thank Rick for helping us during this transition period."

-- By Staff

 3:30 PM 

Ryan aide confirms call with Trump planned for tonight, but no indication about an endorsement

House Speaker Paul Ryan is slated to speak with Donald Trump tonight by phone, his campaign confirmed.

But aide Zack Roday said the campaign gave no "indication the call was about an endorsement."

"The purpose of the call tonight is for the two of them to continue their conversation about unifying the party," he wrote in an email.

There has been intense speculation in the national media about Ryan, R-Janesville, endorsing Trump after the businessman's campaign told several outlets they expected the speaker's backing to come shortly. Ryan's campaign today has pushed back on that suggestion, saying it has not told the Trump campaign to expect an endorsement.

-- By JR Ross

 1:26 PM 

Public Opinion Strategies poll finds Clinton leading Trump by 12 in Wisconsin

A new poll from Public Opinion Strategies finds Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by a dozen points among likely Wisconsin voters.

The survey looked at support in Wisconsin for school choice and what voters believe should be the top priorities for the guv and lawmakers. But a six-slide presentation on the poll included one on the expected presidential match up.

It found 43 percent of those polled backed Clinton, while 31 percent supported Trump.

The survey of 600 likely voters was conducted May 10-12 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

-- By JR Ross

 8:15 AM 

Ryan aide: 'we've not told the Trump campaign to expect an endorsement'

House Speaker Paul Ryan has not told Donald Trump’s campaign to expect an endorsement, an aide to the Janesville Republican said.

National media have cited top Trump campaign sources saying Ryan will endorse the presumptive GOP nominee. 

The two have been at odds in recent weeks with Ryan saying he wasn’t ready to back Trump and wanted to hear more from the businessman. 

“He's also not told anyone he regrets anything,” the Ryan aide said.

At this month's GOP state convention, Ryan said he expected Republicans to eventually rally together. But he said the party wants "real unity" heading into the presidential race and would not put a timeline on when he could get behind Trump.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

 12:31 PM 

Sanders sends fundraising letter for Bowen

Dem presidential candidate Bernie Sanders today sent a fundraising letter in support of Rep. David Bowen, who is seeking re-election to a second term in the 10th AD.

The Milwaukee Dem is the only Wisconsin superdelegate to endorse Sanders.

According to Sanders' campaign, he sent an email today to his national fundraising list in support of eight candidates running for seats in state legislatures around the country. The others are in South Carolina, South Dakota, Illinois, California, Colorado and Vermont.

In a news release announcing the support, Sanders' campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said the candidate believes change starts by taking back control of state capitols.

“In their home states," Weaver said, "these candidates are standing up against the wealthy interests and biggest corporations, and putting working families first.”

-- By Chris Thompson

 10:55 AM 

Attorney calls GOP Assembly map worst partisan gerrymander in modern history

The Assembly map Republicans drew in 2011 was one of the worst partisan gerrymanders in modern American history and designed to withstand political swings to ensure a GOP majority for a decade, an attorney for a dozen Dems suing to overturn the lines argued today.

University of Chicago Law Professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos, representing the Dem plaintiffs, said in federal court Wisconsin’s Assembly map stands out from other state plans that have been challenged. In addition to its blatant partisan intent, he said, it was drawn in such secrecy that it violated the “basic responsibility to govern.”

“It was designed to be an egregious gerrymander,” Stephanopoulos said, adding that goal will continue to be accomplished unless the court intervenes to “protect democracy.”

But Assistant Attorney General Brian Keenan countered the maps do not fit the traditional definition of gerrymandering and are, in fact, a reflection of changing demographics, not illegal partisan intent.

He also dismissed concerns raised by Stephanopoulos over the method used to draw the maps. Under that process, Republican aides used a room at a private law firm for their work.

There was limited access to the room for then-Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and several of their aides. GOP lawmakers were brought in privately for briefing on the changes to their districts, but Dems had no knowledge of the proposed lines until the bill outlining the map was formally introduced.

Keenan noted other maps drawn by lawmakers in states such as Indiana and Pennsylvania, asking if anyone believes the opposite party was brought into the room and had input on how to draw the lines.

He said the facts plaintiffs will raise at trial are illuminating but do not support a constitutional violation.

“This isn’t a result of partisan gerrymander,” Keenan said. “It is a result of the change of political coalitions in this country.”

-- By JR Ross

 8:33 AM 

Walker says his prez campaign on track to retire debt at start of next year

Despite a drop in fundraising for April, Gov. Scott Walker says his presidential campaign is on pace to pay off its debt by the beginning of next year.

"Our plan is still on track to be essentially done with it by the start of the year," Walker told reporters Monday of the $898,676 his campaign owed at the end of April.

Walker's campaign brought in $70,930 last month, down from $128,678 in February and $127,650 in March.

Walker attributed the decline in income to candidates dropping out of the presidential field; his campaign had been leasing its list of more than 300,000 donors. But Walker said that drop-off should be picked up by the campaign leasing parts of its list to statewide and congressional district-level campaigns.

"That's been fairly productive in generating revenue to drive down the debt," Walker said of leasing the list.

Any announcement on whether Walker will seek another term would likely wait until the middle of next year.

I think it will be both after the elections and probably after the budget's completed before we make a decision,’’ Walker said in Milwaukee yesterday.

Walker spoke with reporters in Milwaukee after addressing the Main Street Now Conference, which focuses on improving downtowns and commercial districts.

Walker told reporters $300 million has been invested in Wisconsin communities over last five years through the Main Streets program, to which he attributed 400 net new businesses and jobs gains. He said that investment has also been coupled with historic restoration tax credits to help revitalize downtown areas.

Monday, May 23, 2016

 10:20 AM 

Walker's effort to wipe out presidential campaign debt slowed last month

Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to chip away at his presidential campaign's debt slowed in April as his receipts dropped off more than 40 percent from the month before, according to a check of his latest campaign finance filing.

The report showed Walker still owed $898,676 at the end of April after collecting $70,930 in receipts. 

Since Oct. 1, a little less than two weeks after Walker dropped out of the presidential race, the guv has collected just more than $1 million. 

But his April haul was down from $127,650 in March and $128,678 in April. 

Once again, the bulk of Walker's income last month came from a firm that rents out mailing lists. Walker collected $49,584 from Granite Lists in New Hampshire. 

He also spent $79,656 during the month with $53,641 going to pay off old debts. And he finished the month with $16,789 in the bank. 

His debt payments included another $20,000 to FLS Connect Inc. for the telemarketing and data work it did for the campaign. Walker still owes the firm $260,000. 

Walker's biggest individual donations last month included $2,700 each from: Steven Cotten, CEO of Point 72 Asset Management in Connecticut; Michael Sullivan, the managing director of Point 72; Foster Friess, of Friess Associates in Wyoming; and Paul Singer of Elliot Management in New York City. 

Friess and Singer have donated to Walker's state campaigns. 

-- By JR Ross

Sunday, May 22, 2016

 10:40 AM 

Johnson's personal wealth far outstrips Feingold's

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson had three investments in 2015 that each were valued at significantly more than Dem rival Russ Feingold's net worth, according to their financial disclosure statements. 

Altogether, Johnson and his wife reported assets of at least $13.4 million and as much as just under $60 million in his annual economic disclosure form. Feingold, meanwhile, reported between $328,000 and $795,000 in assets between he and his wife.

Feingold also listed a salary last year from Stanford University. Johnson's campaign has sought to make an issue out of Feingold's work there.

Because assets are reported as ranges, Johnson's and his spouse's assets could be valued as low as $13.4 million or as high as just under $60 million. Of that total, between $300,000 and $600,000 is attributed to his wife, Jane. 

Johnson's holdings included a 5 percent ownership interest in PACUR, the manufacturing company he helped found three decades ago. 

The report pegged that asset at between $1 million and $5 million. Johnson listed gross receipts from the company of $4.9 million before expenses, and income from the investment of between $100,001 and $1 million. That's up from income of between $50,001 and $100,000 in 2014 on gross receipts of $4.65 million. 

Johnson was Pacur's CEO for 13 years and received $10 million in deferred compensation when he left to run for the Senate. He pumped nearly $9 million of his own money into his 2010 campaign. 

After Pacur, Johnson's other largest source of income was from a commercial rental real estate company he owns with his wife. The report valued the company at between $5 million and $25 million and showed income of between $100,001 and $1 million. Johnson also reported a Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. money market account jointly held with his wife and valued between $5 million and $25 million. 

Johnson reported no liabilities exceeding $10,000. 

Feingold's primary source of income was $150,000 from Stanford University, where he was a visiting professor. 

Feingold also listed $7,079 in income from a state of Wisconsin pension. Feingold was a state senator for a decade before joining the U.S. Senate in 1993. He served 18 years in the Senate before losing the seat to Johnson in 2010. 

Feingold's personal assets range between $30,000 and $100,000, but also include his state pension, for which the value is listed as "unascertainable." Feingold's wife, Christine Ferdinand, was reported as holding assets of between $298,000 and $695,000. 

Feingold's largest assets include a checking account with U.S. Bank and a Marquette University Retirement account, both valued at between $15,001 and $50,000. The report shows his wife holds a savings account with the Bank of New Zealand valued at between $250,001 and $500,000. The report also showed she holds savings accounts with Lloyds Bank of London and the Yorkshire Building Society, each valued at between $15,001 and $50,000, and a New Zealand State Pension, also valued between $15,001 and $50,000. 

Feingold also reported between $50,001 and $100,000 in liabilities in the form of a home equity line of credit with U.S. Bank. 

-- By David Wise

Friday, May 20, 2016

 4:08 PM 

U.S. Chamber updates TV ad to fix line incorrectly saying Feingold spent 28 years in DC

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has updated a TV ad praising U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and hitting Dem Russ Feingold to fix a line that erroneously claimed the challenger spent 28 years in Washington, D.C.

Feingold was in the U.S. Senate for 18 years until Johnson defeated him in 2010. Prior to that, Feingold spent a decade in the Wisconsin Senate.

Following an inquiry from WisPolitics.com, the ad was updated to say, "Russ Feingold's 28 years in office failed Wisconsin. Why would we ever go back to that?"

A Chamber spokeswoman said it is a six-figure buy running in Green Bay and Milwaukee. The spot is slated to begin tomorrow.

-- By JR Ross

See the revised ad:

 12:40 PM 

U.S. Chamber releases new TV ad hitting Feingold, praising Johnson

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is going up with a new TV ad tomorrow that praises U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and says there is a “clear choice on leadership” in Wisconsin between the Oshkosh Republican and Dem Russ Feingold.

It also incorrectly says Feingold spent 28 years in Washington, D.C., rather than the 18 he served in the U.S. Senate before losing to Johnson in 2010.

The spot features Johnson and Feingold’s heads imposed on cartoon bodies. It shows Johnson flipping a switch on a conveyor belt as the narrator says for the Republican, it’s about “giving back,” creating jobs, growing the economy and giving people new opportunities. Johnson high fives a worker on the conveyor belt as it fills a truck with boxes. 

It then shows Feingold stopping the truck as it tries to pull away and pushing a wheelbarrow to the back of the vehicle. As the narrator says it’s all about growing ineffective government, raising taxes, increasing spending and expanding Obamacare, Feingold’s wheelbarrow fills with money bags from the truck and then from workers next to the conveyor line. 

“Russ Feingold’s 28 years in Washington failed Wisconsin. Why would we ever go back to that?,” the narrator says to close the spot.

A spokeswoman did not immediately return an email inquiring about the mistake on Feingold's service in Washington, D.C.

The chamber said the ad is part of an eight-figure buy that includes Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. The campaigns will run through July.

-- By JR Ross

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