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Saturday, February 13, 2016

 4:47 PM 

Lasee to run for 8th CD

GOP state Sen. Frank Lasee is running for the 8th CD, saying he has never been afraid to take on the establishment and has a record of cutting taxes.

“Big government’s greedy hand is robbing people of their liberty, looting the public treasury, rigging the system in favor of Washington politicians and lobbyists, and destroying the American Dream," Lasee said. "I want to downsize Washington, so we supersize freedom --- and restore the dream to live, work and prosper in the America we love."

As part of his formal announcement Sunday, Lasee, R-DePere, will lay out what he is calling a "liberty and prosperity plan." It includes: shrinking the size of government, balancing the budget, cutting spending, promoting market-driven health care solutions, securing the board, defeating terrorists and reining in "rogue government agencies like the IRS and EPA."

Other Republicans looking at the race include: Michael Gallagher, who was a foreign affairs adviser to Gov. Scott Walker's presidential bid; state Reps. John Nygren, of Marinette, and David Steffen, of Green Bay; and former state Rep. Chad Weininger, who now works for Brown County as the director of administration. 

-- By JR Ross

Thursday, February 11, 2016

 11:51 PM 

Dems, Kleefisch react to debate

State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton, wasn't surprised that Hillary Clinton mentioned Gov. Scott Walker so often during Thursday’s debate. In fact, she thinks it’s a smart strategy.

Asked what it will take for Democrats to win Wisconsin, Hesselbein said, "Talk about Scott Walker a lot more. Five years ago today he dropped the bomb with Act 10."

Wisconsin Dems generally praised Thursday night’s debate, while GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said Clinton and Bernie Sanders failed to deliver a winning message during their two-hour meeting.

Clinton made several Wisconsin-specific references during the debate. But state Dem Chair Martha Laning downplayed that Sanders did not.

"I think it's great that we're talking about the issues happening here in Wisconsin, but again, all of the issues that were talked about tonight are important to the people of Wisconsin,” she said.

Clinton’s campaign last year signed a joint fundraising agreement with the state party, and a WisPolitics.com check of FEC reports shows it pulled in $345,689 during the last three months of 2015.

Laning said the Sanders campaign has not reached out to create a similar agre‎ement, nor was she aware of any paid staff from either the Clinton or Sanders campaigns.

But Sander‎s spokesman Jeff Weaver told reporters that the senator will "soon have a ground game" in Wisconsin. 

"I think Sanders will do well here," Weaver said.

Asked why Sanders failed to mention Walker, Weaver said the senator "has spoken on Governor Walker on a number of occasions."

State Rep. Mandela Barnes of Milwaukee, who has not endorsed in the race, declined to declare a winner in the debate, but expressed confidence that either Sanders or Clinton will occupy the White House in 2017.

He said the candidates addressed issues that are relevant to Milwaukee, including a discussion of the black male incarceration rate and the death of Dontre Hamilton while in police custody. Barnes said he is encouraged by the “more nuanced approach” to criminal justice discussed by the candidates, an approach he said is lacking among Republicans.

While Walker was the target of criticism during the debate, Barnes said he wanted to hear Sanders and Clinton further discuss the impact of the governor’s policies.

“The governor’s failures are always at the top of the list as a member of the Legislature,” Barnes said.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett hugged Kleefisch, who was at the debate hall to present a GOP response, and joked that she must have come around to the Democratic side because she'd attended the debate.

Barrett, who has gone on record of supporting Hillary Clinton, called tonight's debate "very substantive." 

"In contrast to what you've seen with the Republican debates, you had two adults that were talking about issues that affect Americans on a daily basis and you didn't have a circus atmosphere, you didn't have them attacking each other personally, and that's why I think the big winner here was democracy," said Barrett.

Kleefisch declared tonight's winner as "The Milwaukee Bucks -- because I didn't really hear anything on the debate stage that I thought was a winning argument." 

"What you heard tonight is a 74-year-old socialist versus a Goldman Sachs speaker under investigation by the FBI,” she said. “I don't think the American people are prepared to take on what either one of those things means for the United States’ future, both domestic policy-wise and our stature in the world."

Walker responded via Twitter to one of Clinton’s lines that mentioned him. Kleefisch said she hadn’t seen his response.

"But I'll tell you my reaction," she said. "It tells me they are still scared of Scott Walker. You know it's the anniversary of Act 10 today."

-- By Samantha Nash and Kay Nolan

 10:01 PM 

Clinton gets in second knock on Walker

Hillary Clinton got in a second knock on Gov. Scott Walker in her closing statement as she called for people to stand up for unions and working people, who she said are being attacked by “ideologues, by demagogues.”

The comment was a reference to the collective bargaining changes Walker pushed through in 2011 that limited public employees largely to being able to bargain on wage increases, which were capped for inflation. Today is the five-year anniversary of Walker introducing the proposal.

The line prompted applause from the crowd. Clinton went on to say that Wall Street, "big oil" and others still have too much influence. But even if all of that went away, she said, there would still be the “indifference, the negligence that we saw in Flint,” racism, sexism, and prejudice against gays, bisexuals and those who are transgender.

“And we would still have governors like Scott Walker and others trying to rip out the heart of the middle class, making it impossible to organize and stand up for better wages and working conditions,” she said.

-- By Staff

 9:10 PM 

Clinton, Sanders answer question on Wisconsin incarceration rate for African Americans

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fielded a question on Wisconsin's incarceration rate for African Americans in Thursday's debate.

The question was submitted by Claudia Looze, a producer for WisconsinEye, a public affairs network.

Sanders went first, calling for an end to what he said is the over-policing of black neighborhoods. He said blacks and whites use marijuana at an equal rate, but African Americans are four more times more likely to be arrested.

He also called for police reform, saying he hoped all can agree they’re tired of seeing videos on television of police shooting citizens -- often African Americans -- who are unarmed. 

“What we have got to do is make it clear that any police officer that breaks the law will in fact be held accountable,” Sanders said.

Clinton’s answer to the question included a mention of Dontre Hamilton, who was shot and killed by a white police officer in a Milwaukee park. An internal affairs investigation that led to the officer’s dismissal found the incident began after the officer tried to pat down Hamilton. After Hamilton resisted, the officer tried to use his baton. But Hamilton took it away and struck the officer, who then shot him 14 times, according to the report.

Clinton said Hamilton should still be alive and said she supports recommendations from President Obama’s policing commission.

She then said there are other racial discrepancies in Wisconsin and others that are part of incarceration rates.

“When we talk about criminal justice reform and ending the era of mass incarceration, we also have to talk about jobs, education, housing and other ways of helping communities do better,” she said.

-- By Staff

 8:31 PM 

Clinton gets in dig on Walker while knocking Sanders' free college plan

Hillary Clinton got in a dig on Gov. Scott Walker as she knocked Bernie Sanders’ plan to provide free college.

Clinton said Sanders’ plan relies on guvs like Walker contributing $23 billion on the first day to make college free.

“I’m a little skeptical about your governor actually caring enough about higher education to make any kind of commitment like that,” Clinton said to applause.

Sanders did not reference Walker in his response or Clinton’s slam on his plan, stressing that he believes in providing a free college education.

“That should be a right of all Americans, regardless of the income of their families,” Sanders said.

UPDATE: Walker responded to Clinton, tweeting, ".@HillaryClinton, while you took big speaking fees, we froze tuition 4 years in a row to make college affordable. #DemDebate"

-- By Staff

 8:14 PM 

WisPolitics.com panel: Wisconsin April 5 open primary could be pivotal in presidential race

WAUWATOSA -- Wisconsin's April 5 open primary could prove pivotal for the remaining presidential candidates, a panel of political experts told a WisPolitics.com luncheon today.

Democratic pollster Paul Maslin predicted the Republican race would be down to three candidates by then and that the Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton race would be a long fight.

"Is Hillary Clinton still the favorite? Yes. But a much weaker favorite than before," Maslin said in Wauwatosa at the UW-Milwaukee Innovation Accelerator.

Former Madison-area GOP Congressman Scott Klug, now with Foley & Lardner, predicted the three Republicans left April 5 would be Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and a more establishment figure such as Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush or John Kasich.

Klug said the primary and caucus calendar and lack of winner-take-all events could mean a deadlocked convention.

Maslin, Klug and Journal Sentinel Washington bureau chief Craig Gilbert did not rule out that this weird election season could result in a Sanders vs. Trump general election this fall.

"Theoretically. I don't think you can rule it out. But not probable," Klug said.

"Anything is possible," Gilbert said.

"Entirely possible," is how Maslin put it.

Maslin said Michael Bloomberg would be in the race now if it weren't for the Electoral College and figuring out the state-by-state math to become president. But he said Bloomberg will have to decide soon because of filing deadlines. Gilbert quipped that if Bloomberg gets in, U.S. voters in November could be choosing between three New Yorkers.

The luncheon came in advance of the Sanders-Clinton debate at UW-Milwaukee.

Gilbert said he was interested to see whether Clinton attacked Sanders more directly. Maslin predicted Clinton would be sending messages to African-American and Latino voters.

The three pondered an audience member commenting that Sanders and Trump weren't that far apart in their rhetoric.

"People are mad and frustrated and angry," Klug agreed. "Both are tapping into the same thing. The question is whether either of them can rise above 35 percent."

"The big difference is Bernie Sanders is kind of an ideological candidate," Gilbert said. "What's (Trump's) ideology? One's a personality; one's an ideological candidate. ... There's like eight ideologies in your average Donald Trump speech."

Maslin added he wasn't sure whether "celebrity or ideology is more powerful in America" now.

"I think there is some similarity here. ...(early voters are saying), 'You have failed. I am willing to try this,'" he said.

-- By Staff

 6:57 PM 

Protesters gather outside Dem debate

MILWAKEE -- As darkness falls, dozens of protesters are gathering outside UW-Milwaukee. 

Across the street from the debate hall, activists were waving signs and chanting. In addition to the retired teamsters, a group of high school and college students are protesting the Alberta Clipper extension to the Enbridge pipeline.

Holding signs shaped like oil drops, as well as others "shaped like the drops of water we're trying to protect," student organizer Cassie Steiner said the group wants to hear Bernie Sanders' and Hillary Clinton's response to their concerns.

"Both Bernie and Hillary have come out in opposition to the Keystone XLPipeline, but have not talked about the Enbridge Pipeline, so we're urging them to communicate their stance on these tar sands projects," Steiner said.

Steiner, a recent UW-Whitewater grad, said students belonging to the group, Wisconsin Youth Tar Sands Resistance, come from UW campuses across the state, as well as some out-of-state colleges, especially in Kalamazoo, Mich., where a tar sands oil spill occurred, and Minnesota, which, like Wisconsin, has a pipeline running through it.

Steiner said she was expecting at least 100 protesters to show up, but noted "many are having trouble finding a place to park."

A group of young men who say they are "campus Republicans," are chanting "Cure the Bern," a take on Sanders' campaign slogan, "Feel the Bern."

When someone thought they had yelled, "Kill the Bern," the youths quickly said, "Oh no, that would be too extreme. We'd never say that."

While some of the College Republicans' signage also targeted Clinton, Thomas Dougherty, the UWM College Republican chair, said Sanders messaging seems to resonate with millenials.

“Most of his base is college students,” Dougherty said. “I think he appeals to people on different types of social media.”

But he warned conversations on sites like Reddit.com can be one-sided, prompting his organization’s outreach efforts at the debate. Dougherty said it is tough for Republicans to reach younger voters, and said he would like to see more voter education targeting college students from the GOP.

Dougherty said voter outreach and discussion is the primary motivation for the group’s presence outside the debate.

“I’m not out here to sway anybody’s opinion, but when we have a conversation, that’s what moves the country forward,” Dougherty said.

-- By Kay Nolan and Samantha Nash

 5:23 PM 

Journalists, audience gathering ahead of tonight's Dem presidential debate

An estimated 400 local and national journalists are expected at UW-Milwaukee for tonight's Dem presidential debate.

The Zelazo Center's Helen Bader Concert hall where the debate will be held is relatively small -- about 500 people will be in the audience. The crowd will include 25 UWM students, chosen by a Student Association lottery.

While most of the people grabbing a meal in the student union, listening to iPods or walking between classes are millennial-aged students, a group of gray-haired, grim-faced older men just entered, carrying protest signs.

"We're all retired Teamsters," explained Mike Bogdonovich, 72, of Milwaukee, who said the group hoped to call attention to the plight of retirees who paid into the Central States Pension Fund. "They took our money away -- all of us."

Bogdonovich said Bernie Sanders is sponsoring a bill in Congress to try to get not such a drastic cut or no cut at all, though he's not aware if Hillary Clinton has a stance on the issue.

"We're just trying to call more attention to it," he said.

-- By Kay Nolan

Monday, February 8, 2016

 1:11 PM 

Bradley tops both rivals for January fundraising

Justice Rebecca Bradley raised $87,922 last month, topping both of her rivals in this spring's state Supreme Court race.

Bradley's haul included $27,342 from committees, according to a cover sheet her campaign released. She also spent $156,299 and had $107,883 cash on hand Feb. 1. She listed $4,492 in obligations and $102,500 in outstanding loans. That debt is leftover from her 2013 campaign to retain her then-seat on the Milwaukee County bench.

Joe Donald raised $35,678, while JoAnne Kloppenburg pulled in $55,924.

 -- By JR Ross

 11:41 AM 

Kloppenburg outraises Donald in January

Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg outraised Milwaukee County Judge Joe Donald last month in the Supreme Court race.

Fundraising numbers for Justice Rebecca Bradley were not yet available this morning. Reports covering activity between Jan. 1 and Feb. 1 are due to the GAB today.

Kloppenburg raised $55,924, spent $19,544 and had $268,724 in the bank as of Feb. 1, according to a cover sheet her campaign released. She also had $6,217 in incurred obligations and $157,000 in outstanding loans.

Kloppenburg got a boost through $18,450 in committee contributions, while Donald listed none.

He raised $35,678 for the period, spent $24,601 and had $206,801 in the bank. He also listed $7,500 in loans, according to his cover sheet.

-- By JR Ross

 10:37 AM 

Donald's first TV ad says politics shouldn't be 'in our courts'

Supreme Court candidate Joe Donald is going up with a new TV ad that bemoans politics on our TVs, radios and computer screens and in our mailboxes.

As he mentions politics on “our computer screens,” a man shakes his head and shuts a laptop that has a picture of Justice Rebecca Bradley and Gov. Scott Walker.

“But one place it shouldn’t be is in our courts,” he says in the spot, which his campaign said is slated to begin Tuesday.

Donald then says he’s been guided for 20 years by the principle that rich or poor, black or white, Republican or Democrat, “Under the law, we are all the same.”

“Politics does not apply,” Donald says. “That’s why I’m running for the state Supreme Court and why I’m asking for your vote.”

-- By JR Ross

Sunday, February 7, 2016

 9:08 PM 

Kloppenburg's first TV ad knocks Bradley, Donald

Supreme Court candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg is out with a new TV ad that slams Justice Rebecca Bradley as Gov. Scott Walker’s "crony."

The 30-second TV spot also knocks Joe Donald for supporting "Rebecca Bradley, Walker’s choice, twice."

The spot notes Bradley has been appointed by Walker to three judgeships in three years as the words “Walker appoints political crony Bradley” appear on the screen.

The narrator then says Bradley is "backed to the hilt by right-wing special interests" and knocks Donald for backing her. The narrator then says Kloppenburg is "different. We can count on her."

"Independent, principled, experienced, JoAnne Kloppenburg for justice. For us," the narrator says to close the spot.

-- By JR Ross

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

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