• WisPolitics

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

 12:33 PM 

Poll: Lassa, Duffy neck-and-neck in 7th CD race

New polling released by Democrat Julie Lassa's campaign shows her race with Republican Sean Duffy for the 7th Congressional District seat is a dead heat.

The poll, conducted for Lassa's campaign by the D.C.-based firm Garin-Hart-Yang Research, shows Duffy leading Lassa 42 percent to 41 percent, within the margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

The telephone survey was conducted Sept. 26 and 27 among 504 likely voters in the 7th CD.

Seven percent of those polled said they would vote for independent candidate Gary Kauther, and 10 percent were undecided.

Lassa leads among two key demographics groups, seniors and college graduates, according to the poll. Among seniors, Lassa leads Duffy 49 percent to 37 percent; among college grads, she leads 45-39.

The polling memo notes that Duffy's record as Ashland County District Attorney was "extremely troubling" to the poll respondents. Lassa has been attacking Duffy on the issue TV ad over the last week. In the ad, the county's assistant DA says Duffy's campaigning for the congressional seat took him away from the job.

-- By Greg Bump


Monday, September 27, 2010

 5:59 PM 

Recounts changes outcome in 32nd AD, 45th, 84th unchanged

Republican Tyler August has overtaken Adam Gibbs by three votes in their GOP primary for the 32nd Assembly District following a recount.

August, a legislative aide to the retiring Rep. Tom Lothian, trailed Gibbs, a salesman, by four votes after the original count on Election Night before requesting the recount.

August picked up one vote in the recount of Kenosha County votes. But most of the action was in Walworth County, where August picked up two votes and Gibbs lost four.

Walworth County Clerk Kim Bushey said August picked up one vote because it was improperly rejected on Election Night. With the second vote, the board of canvassers took a second look at a ballot and determined the elector had intended to vote for August.

Gibbs lost three votes after county election officials realized some absentee ballots had been improperly counted Election Night. That required election officials to take all absentee ballots from that reporting unit and randomly select absentee ballots to be pulled out of the final total. Three of the absentee ballots pulled out were for Gibbs, while the fourth was for another candidate.

Gibbs did not immediately return a call from WisPolitics seeking comment on whether he may challenge the results of the recount in district court.

August said Gibbs congratulated him Sunday after the Walworth County recount was completed. But he had not heard from him since to know what his plans may be.

"I'm not sure what he's going to do," August said. "It's certainly his right to do that if that's what he feels he needs to do."

Recounts in two other GOP Assembly primaries did not change the results there.

Town of Clinton Supv. Amy Loudenbeck won the 45th, while fitness club manager Mike Kuglitsch won the 84th.

*See the recount results in the 32nd:
*See the recount results in the 45th:
*See the recount results in the 84th:

-- By JR Ross


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

 3:03 PM 

Recount ordered in the 45th AD GOP primary

The GAB today ordered a recount in the 45th AD GOP primary after Jeff Klett requested one.

Klett fell 19 votes short of Amy Loudenbeck, according to unofficial returns.

According to the order, the recount in Rock County is to start at 9 a.m. Thursday, while the second count in Walworth County is to begin at 9 a.m. Friday.

The deadline to finish the recount is noon Monday.

-- By Staff


 11:06 AM 

Recount ordered in 32nd AD GOP primary

A recount is under way in the 32nd Assembly District's GOP primary.

Tyler August, an aide to the retiring Rep. Tom Lothian, filed the request for a recount yesterday after coming up four votes short of Adam Gibbs, a 24-year-old salesman.

According to unofficial returns, Gibbs had 1,761 votes in the seven-way primary, compared to 1,757 for August.

The Government Accountability Board's notice of a recount says the count in Walworth County was to begin at 9 a.m. today. The Kenosha County results will be recounted tomorrow.

The recount order says the tabulations shall be completed "immediately," but no later than noon Monday.

UPDATE: GAB spokesman Reid Magney said the recount has not begun because Gibbs has not been served the required notice.

Sheriff's deputies were outside Gibbs' house last night, but could not find him. Magney also said Gibbs' father showed up at the Walworth County Clerk's office to object to the recount because his son had not been served the required papers.

If Gibbs cannot be served the papers, the recount will have to be put off until Saturday, Magney said.

UPDATE 2: Gibbs was given proper notice this afternoon, and the recount in Walworth County will start tomorrow morning, according to the clerk's office.

-- By JR Ross


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

 4:04 PM 

WisPolitics Stock Report

Here's a WisPolitics Stock Report on yesterday's primary results:


Scott Walker: A week ago, the Milwaukee Co. exec. was seen as fighting to save his campaign, fending off a surging Mark Neumann. On Tuesday, he recorded a 20-point win. Some Dems yell, “Sandbagger,” suggesting it was all a plan to lower expectations and help Walker get a boost out of the primary. But Republican insiders note Walker had to put real money into his final week of anti-Neumann shots. He also raised a good chunk of change in the final days, pulling in more than $300,000 between Sept. 1 and the primary. The good news, Republicans say, is that a stronger, battle-tested candidate and campaign emerged. Also good for Walker is a WMC-connected group coming in with a timely ad buy while Walker refills the campaign coffers. Barrett backers, however, jump on Walker’s poor showing out state as evidence that the county exec’s message is not resonating with voters outside of his base in southeastern Wisconsin.

Rebecca Kleefisch: Going into Tuesday, insiders were split on whether the former TV newswoman or state Rep. Brett Davis would win the lt. guv race. On Wednesday, the results showed it wasn't even close, with Kleefisch, a first-time candidate and wife of state Rep. Joe Kleefisch, beating Davis 47 percent to 25 percent. The self-declared mom in a van is now being praised in some quarters as the Sarah Palin of Wisconsin and the top GOP female candidate in the state. Though some think Kleefisch will make the Republican ticket too Milwaukee-centric, fans say she'll help get Tea Party activists to turn out for Walker and fellow Republicans. Still, insiders largely credit conservative Milwaukee talk radio with boosting her candidacy, noting she did best in counties in that media market.

Tom Nelson: The ambitious Assembly majority leader impresses insiders and gives Barrett an outstate presence on the ticket by capturing 52 percent of the vote in the Dem lt. guv primary. He beat three other candidates by a wide margin through tireless work and a real statewide campaign -- and without the help of WEAC (which endorsed state Sen. Spencer Coggs), fans say.

Reid Ribble: A year ago, few people in politics knew anything about the roofing contractor. Now Ribble is the Republican choice to knock off two-term Dem Congressman Steve Kagen. Ribble beat the Roth name ID (Roger is the nephew of longtime 8th CD Rep. Toby Roth) with the help of a robust fundraising operation and the confident voice of a political newcomer, backers say.

Brett Hulsey: In Dane Co. political lore, a lone female candidate is often favored in a crowded Dem primary. Witness Kelda Helen Roys’ win in a 2006 Dem primary to replace Rep. Dave Travis. But Brett Hulsey, a Dane Co. board member and former Sierra Club activist who became a consultant to help some businesses become greener, scored a bigger-than-expected victory over fellow board member Dianne Hesselbein in a crowded primary with the help of Dane Co. Exec. Kathleen Falk. The victory goes a long way to determine the successor to longtime Dem Assemblyman Spencer Black of Madison. Hulsey now will have to beat Green candidate Ben Manski to take over Black's liberal seat, and supporters say the sometimes Ironman competitor will hustle just as hard in the general election.

Margaret Farrow: The former state senator and lt. gov. had a good night. Her candidate for lt. guv, Rebecca Kleefisch, swept to victory. And her son, Paul, won the GOP primary for the 98th Assembly District now held by Rich Zipperer, who won the GOP primary for the 33rd Senate seat. Farrow’s a likely winner in November since it's such a strong GOP seat.

Milwaukee talk radio: Insiders often say you can't under-estimate the power of conservative talk radio in Republican primaries. That conventional wisdom was on display once again in Tuesday's primary results, as talk radio favs Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch and David Clarke cruised to victory. Walker and Kleefisch, in particular, rolled up big margins in the GOP-dominated collar counties around Milwaukee where many talk radio listeners reside.


TV ad effectiveness: Politicians, parties and special interests spent millions on ads in the run-up to the primary -- most of it on TV. Insiders point to the power of TV ads in helping Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson roll to an easy victory in the Dem lt. guv primary and Chris Larson blow out state Sen. Jeff Plale in a Milwaukee-area Dem primary. But TV advertising wasn't the magic bullet for lt. guv candidate Brett Davis or guv candidate Mark Neumann. Political pros conclude TV is essential for many top races but can't make up for all candidate flaws.

Tommy Thompson: You'd think the ex-guv and HHS secretary was on the ballot with all the campaigning he's been doing -- for brother Ed Thompson in his state Senate race, for Scott Walker's guv campaign and for former aide's Brett Davis' lt. guv campaign. Ed’s fundraising has been good, and Walker won the primary by a healthy margin. But Thompson's statewide sweep for Davis, a Republican from Oregon, wasn't enough to overcome southeastern Wisconsin forces that helped Rebecca Kleefisch to an impressive victory. Along the way, conservative Republicans from the Milwaukee area, including state Sen. Glenn Grothman, swiped at Davis by ripping Thompson administration spending levels. Some conservatives say it's a sign that Thompson's influence -- after almost a decade out of office -- is waning.

Scott Jensen: The former GOP Assembly speaker gets kudos for masterminding the Rebecca Kleefisch victory behind the scenes. But he gets ripped for the 0-3 primary day record of the American Federation for Children. The pro-voucher group with ties to Jensen backed candidates in three Milwaukee races. But state Sen. Jeff Plale in the 7th SD, Angel Sanchez in the 8th AD and Stephanie Findley in the 10th AD all lost. Defenders say it's nuts to knock Jensen since AFC's involvement in those races wasn't strategic but showing the flag -- proving the organization would stand with folks of either party who backed their agenda.

Officeholders: Jeff Plale, Brett Davis, Roger Roth, and Spencer Coggs -- all sitting state legislators -- fail in their respective races. But Milwaukee Co. Exec. Scott Walker and Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson make steps toward higher office despite what's seen as a year when “career politicians” are out of favor. Plale was also the only one of a dozen leggie incumbents who faced party primary challenges to lose. Voters also toss out a few local officials as well, including Waukesha Ald. Peggy Bull via recall.


Mark Neumann: He won 42 mostly outstate counties, including perennially important Brown Co.. But the homebuilder's $4 million personal investment in his campaign came up far short. The former House member now has come up short in two statewide races -- for the U.S. Senate versus Russ Feingold in 1998 and now for governor. While some praised Neumann’s TV ads in the closing weeks, insiders said Neumann for a variety of reasons was unable to tap into the anger percolating through the electorate. He also didn't build an organization that was anywhere close to the operation Walker put together, making it difficult for him to capitalize on any momentum he had been building. While some gave Neumann props for his exit speech, saying it was classy, his fights with the party and GOP establishment make it difficult for insiders to envision another run in his future.

Jeff Plale: The moderate Dem state senator from South Milwaukee gets overwhelmed by a massive liberal effort to oust him -- in part out of revenge for helping submarine Gov. Jim Doyle's “Clean Energy Jobs Act.” Efforts by pro-voucher and anti-abortion groups weren't enough to overcome the anti-Plale mail and the TV ads for victor Chris Larson. While some legislative incumbents were scared going into Tuesday, Plale was the only one to fall.

Henry Sanders: The Madison businessman's second attempt for office again fell far short of expectations -- despite the backing of the Madison Dem political establishment. Earlier, he failed to topple then-incumbent Rep. Dave Travis in a Madison-area primary. This year, he finished last with only 9 percent in a four-way primary for the Dem lt. guv nomination, even finishing behind James Schneider, a candidate few insiders could ID. Insiders note he also failed to win in Dane Co., where Tom Nelson was victorious.

-- By WisPolitics Staff


 2:42 PM 

Johnson commits to three debates

GOP Senate candidate Ron Johnson has committed to three debates against Dem U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold -- half the total that the Feingold campaign initially sought.

Johnson accepted invitations to an Oct. 8 Wisconsin Broadcasters Association debate in Milwaukee; an Oct. 11 Wausau debate hosted by the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, Wisconsin Public Radio, the Wausau Daily Herald, WAOW ABC-TV Wausau, and WSAW CBS-TV Wausau; and an Oct. 22 debate in Milwaukee hosted by WISN-TV, WisPolitics.com, Marquette Law School, Channels 10/36, and network affiliates WKOW, WAOW, WXOW, and WFRV.

Feingold's campaign had previously committed to six debates, including an event in Eau Claire on Sunday and debates in Madison and Oshkosh later this fall.

UPDATE: Feingold also originally accepted an invitation for a different Oct. 22 debate from We The People. But WISN reported tonight that Feingold is now in for its debate.

-- By Andy Szal


 12:33 PM 

Hyers says Walker weak out state, Biden to do fundraiser next month

Tom Barrett's campaign manager said today Vice President Joe Biden will be in Madison next month to help the Dem guv nominee raise money.

Bill Hyers also said the DNC recently made a significant investment in Wisconsin that shows national Dems are committed to winning the guv's office this fall.

Hyers said the Oct. 7 luncheon at the Monona Terrace will request donations of $250.

President Obama will be in Madison later this month for a rally. Asked if he would do another fundraiser for Barrett, Hyers said details of the president's trip have not been finalized.

Hyers spoke with reporters via conference call today to make the case GOP nominee Scott Walker is emerging from the primary without a unified base and with serious problems out state.

Barrett's campaign pointed to counties like Brown, Eau Claire and La Crosse, where Walker fared poorly against Mark Neumann, as signs that his message is not resonating with voters around Wisconsin. Hyers also said Walker's extreme message will not play well outside of his base of support in the Milwaukee suburbs.

Hyers said the campaign's internal polling shows Barrett trailing Walker by five points in the Fox River Valley, not nearly enough to carry Walker to a win come Nov. 2.

"You can't run for governor of Waukesha. You have to run for governor of the state of Wisconsin," Hyers said.

-- By JR Ross


 12:04 PM 

Feingold campaign says Johnson ducking debates

The Feingold campaign is pushing hard for six debates with Republican opponent Ron Johnson, with the first event Sunday in Eau Claire.

The Johnson campaign is huddling today to come up with a debate schedule to propose to Feingold. Johnson has told reporters that a debate Sunday is unlikely.

Feingold announced last week he had accepted six debates, though it wasn’t known yet who his Republican opponent would be. While the Johnson campaign hasn't formally answered the call, the Feingold campaign and state Dems are already accusing Johnson of ducking.

“We feel that he owes it to voters to get off the sidelines and make a commitment to have debates,” said Feingold spokesman John Kraus said this morning in a conference call with reporters.

“I don’t know why he’s not ready to debate,” Kraus said. “He’s been in this race for four months.”

Kraus said Johnson may be “afraid” to debate because he hasn’t offered voters any solutions to problems facing Washington.

Johnson has by a large margin outspent Feingold on TV advertising, Kraus noted. But he said the election shouldn’t be determined by TV ads.

“We’re not going to match him on television, there’s no question about that,” Kraus said. “We believe that voters deserve to have the candidates meet face to face, stand side by side and have an honest debate on the issues.”

-- By Greg Bump


 11:27 AM 

Primary turnout falls short of projections

Just under 850,000 Wisconsinites voted in Tuesday's primary, according to preliminary returns from the Dem and GOP gubernatorial primaries reported by the AP.

While those totals do not include any votes for third-party candidates or blank votes, the turnout falls well short of the record 1.2 million voters projected earlier this month by the Government Accountability Board.

The initial returns show about 19.4 percent voter turnout.

-- By Andy Szal


 12:34 AM 

GOP treasurers race close

With 95 percent of the vote in, Kurt Schuller has a narrow lead for the GOP nomination for state treasurer.

Schuller had 155,905 votes to Scott Feldt's 153,701. Jim Sanfilippo was in third with 107,590 votes.

UPDATE: Schuller is the winner. With 99 percent of precincts in, he has 37 percent, or 169,159 votes, to 36 percent, or 166,087 votes, for Feldt.

-- By Staff


 12:19 AM 

Plale looks like only incumbent leggie to fall

Outside of state Sen. Jeff Plale, the rest of the incumbent leggies who drew a primary opponent look like they'll pull through.

State Rep. Steve Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake, had the closest race, winning 56 percent of the vote. He was followed by GOP Rep. Don Pridemore of Hartford, who took 58 percent in a three-way primary.

Some precincts are still out in the Assembly incumbents' races. But the AP has declared the following incumbents winners in their races: Karl Van Roy, R-Green Bay, (73 percent); Jeff Stone, R-Greendale, (82 percent); Ron Turner, D-Racine, (77 percent); Pat Strachota, R-West Bend, (77 percent); Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, (73 percent); Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, (75 percent); Terry Van Akkeren, D-Sheboygan, (80 percent); Barb Toles, D-Milwaukee, (84 percent); Leon Young, D-Milwaukee, (70 percent); and Peggy Krusick, D-Milwaukee, (63 percent).

-- By Staff


 12:13 AM 

Priebus predicts biggest GOP year in Wisconsin history

Scott Walker's primary victory over Mark Neumann shows "the party matters after all," state GOP Chairman Reince Priebus told WisPolitics following Walker's victory speech.

The state GOP endorsed Walker at its convention this summer.

"It was a great win, and obviously Scott Walker's got a great message and it's a message that's going to carry him to victory all the way until November," he said.

"I was pretty confident that Scott was going to win," he said. "Obviously the party was out in favor of Scott. We didn't make any bones about it. We had all our chips on the table, and we rolled a seven and it was a great night."

Priebus said it was pleased that Neumann threw his support behind Walker and said he knew the party would come together regardless of who won.

The people, he said, are looking for "fiscal hawks" who will control spending and debt.

"Scott Walker's proven it," he said. "I think that's what people are looking for. They're looking for people of their word and that's what Scott Walker is."

Rebecca Kleefisch, who won the nod for lt. guv, will make a great running mate, Priebus said.

"Rebecca is going to be fantastic. She's smart, articulate (and) has a lot of energy," he said. "It's a great ticket, and we'll win in November."

Priebus pointed to winners in other key primaries -- Reid Ribble in the 8th CD, Sean Duffy in the 7th CD and Dan Kapanke in the 3rd CD -- and predicted a big year for the GOP.

"This will be the biggest Republican year in the history of the state of Wisconsin," Priebus said.

-- By David Wise


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

 11:59 PM 

Duffy, Lassa emerge in 7th CD

Republican Sean Duffy is betting there's a lot of blue dogs in the 7th CD.

Dem Julie Lassa says she will "shake things up" in D.C.

The northern Wisconsin district has been held with an iron grip by Democrat Dave Obey for more than 40 years. Obey, the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, announced his retirement early this year. Duffy says that puts the seat up for grabs.

"I think in an open race, in this environment, people are ready for a new direction and they're ready for common sense," Duffy, the former DA from Ashland County, told WisPolitics tonight. "Many of them are blue dog Democrats. They believe in personal responsibility and hard work and fiscal responsibility ... These aren't partisan ideas, these are American ideas I'm talking about."

The race has drawn national attention, partly because Duffy was a cast member on MTV's "Real World" reality show in the '90s, but also because many observers see it as a bellwether for GOP prospects to take over control of the House.

Lassa said in her statement that Duffy represents "the same old Washington status quo that has already failed us."

"Whether it’s supporting corporate tax breaks that ship Wisconsin jobs to China or refusing to hold Wall Street and special interests accountable, Sean Duffy represents the wrong direction for Wisconsin," she said.

Duffy says he's looking forward to running against Lassa's record.

"She's trying to run as a conservative now but she can't get away from her record," he said. "We'll talk about that tax and spend record."

The AP called the race for Duffy about two hours after the polls closed. With 78 percent of precincts reporting, Duffy has a 66 percent of the vote, compared to 34 percent for Rudolph farmer Dan Mielke, who was whipped by Obey in 2008.

Duffy says voters responded to his positive campaign that focused on the issues "as opposed to the dirty bombs that were thrown at us by Dan Mielke."

Lassa had an easier walk through the primary. She faced Don Raihala, a real estate company owner from Superior who entered the race at the filing deadline.

Lassa easily beat Raihala 85-15 percent.

While Mielke was viewed by many to be well out of the mainstream, Duffy said he didn't take the challenge lightly.

"Any candidate who works as hard as Dan does, you have to take seriously," Duffy said. "I had an approach that didn't just focus on the primary, but I had a message for the general as well."

-- By Greg Bump


 11:52 PM 

Lasee wins 1st SD primary

Former Rep. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, is projected to win the 1st Senate District primary and move on to face Kimberly Dem Monk Elmer in November.

With 87 percent of precincts reporting, Lasee had 55 percent of the vote to 37 percent for former Rep. Dave Hutchison and 7 percent for Jon Soyring of Green Bay. The seat is being vacated by retiring Sen. Alan Lasee, R-Green Bay.

In other GOP Senate primaries, Dane Co. Supv. Kurt Schlicht will face Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, while Wausau surgeon Pam Galloway will face Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston.

-- By Andy Szal


 11:48 PM 

Larson says he had better message than Plale for Dem voters

Republicans have argued the 7th SD would be in play if Chris Larson knocked off Sen. Jeff Plale in the Dem primary.

Larson, however, isn't buying it.

"You can argue right back that ever Democrat around is more progressive than Plale," Larson said, pointing out the 7th has been a 60 percent Dem district.

"Now we someone that actually represents the values of the district."

Larson chalked up his win to what he said was a better message for Dem voters than Plale's ties to corporate lobbyists.

He also said the outside money that poured into the district helped and hurt his campaign. The flood of mail began turning off some voters toward the end, he said.

-- By JR Ross


 11:46 PM 

Lee to face Baldwin

Mt. Horeb Republican Chad Lee has won a the race for the 2nd CD GOP nomination.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Lee had 53 percent of the vote in a race that was generally tight as results rolled in. Peter Theron of Madison had 47 percent of the vote.

Lee will now face U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, in November.

-- By Andy Szal


 11:32 PM 

Larson wins 67th GOP nom

Electrical company owner Tom Larson has emerged in the Republican primary to take over the seat vacated by independent state Rep. Jeff Wood.

With 100 percent of precincts in, Larson won the nomination with 33 percent of the vote. Finishing second in the six-way primary was Don Moga, who ran as a GOP write-in two years ago after Wood suddenly defected from the Republican party the day nomination signatures were due.

Laron moves on to the general election against Democrat C.W. King, who did not have a primary.

-- By Greg Bump


 11:23 PM 

4 votes separate Gibbs, August in 32nd AD

The race to replace Rep. Tom Lothian came down to a handful of votes.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Adam Gibbs received 1,761 votes. Coming in second place was Tyler August, a former aide to Lothian, R-Williams Bay, who received 1,757 votes.

Third place finisher Dan Necci finished with 1,721 votes, while Mel Nieuwenhuis finished in fourth place with 1,717.

-- By Greg Bump


 11:20 PM 

Zamarripa, Coggs win Milwaukee Assembly primaries

The AP has projected winners in a pair of safe Dem seats in Milwaukee.

In the 8th AD, JoCasta Zamarripa has defeated Angel Sanchez and Laura Manríquez in the race to replace departing Rep. Pedro Colón. And in the 10th AD, which is being vacated by retiring Rep. Polly Williams, Milwaukee Co. Supervisor Elizabeth Coggs has bested Stephanie Findley and Sherman Hill.

-- By Andy Szal


 11:15 PM 

Krusick safely ahead

Dem Rep. Peggy Krusick looks safe, too.

The Milwaukee Dem had 62 percent of the vote with 87 percent of precincts reporting, compared to 38 percent for Scott Dettman.

-- By Staff


 11:11 PM 

Walker claims GOP guv nomination

Declaring that "help is on the way," Scott Walker claimed the Republican nomination for governor to thunderous applause from the several hundred who gathered for his Election Night party at Serb Hall in Milwaukee.

Walker called his primary opponent, Mark Neumann "a good and decent man" and congratulated him and his team for running an "outstanding campaign."

"Because of this campaign, we are now tested and ready to take on the liberals in Madison," Walker said.

Walker noted he has a lot in common with Neumann in that "we each want to stop the Doyle disaster."

Walker promised the public would no longer have to be scared about losing their jobs come Nov. 2 and said he has a plan to get the state working again.

Walker highlighted his plan to create 250,000 jobs, which he called a "blueprint for prosperity."

He also highlighted his work in Milwaukee County where he said he cut debt, reduced the size of government and kept his pledge eight times in a row not to raise property taxes from the prior year's budget. Walker also reiterated his pledge to reduce the county’s property tax levy by $1 million.

"Eight years ago in this hall and others like it, I helped lead a grassroots movement to take back our county government, and take it back we did," Walker said. "Today, I stand ready to lead a similar movement -- some might call it a 'brown bag' movement -- but a movement nonetheless at the grassroots to take our state government back and put it firmly in the hands of the people."

Walker made scant mention of his Dem opponent, Tom Barrett, except to say he would represent a third term of Jim Doyle.

-- By David Wise


 11:11 PM 

Ribble surprised by margin of victory

Reid Ribble says he wasn't expecting his margin of victory in the 8th CD primary today, but said the size of his win will "make it easier to pull everyone together."

The former roofing contractor said his positive message "on the things that matter to voters" was the difference in the primary, and that he doesn't expect his message will change much heading into his race against U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen.

"The things that concern me and got my off my chair into this race don't change," Ribble told WisPolitics by phone from Green Bay. He said his message would be broader, but also would focus on the votes of the incumbent Appleton Dem.

"There's a tendancy for the congressman to come to the district and feign as if he's Ronald Reagan," Ribble said, only to return to Washington to vote with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Kagen's opening salvo in the general election predicted that 8th CD voters would not "give the car keys back to anyone who promotes the losing policies of the past that drove our economy into the ditch," but Ribble said he's more than willing to contrast the country's unemployment and deficit levels with Kagen's first election to Congress.

"There are plenty of ways that the congressman has contributed to the ditch that the economy is trapped in," Ribble said.

-- By Andy Szal


 10:52 PM 

Nelson continues to hold lead

Tom Nelson continues to maintain a sizable advantage in the Dem lt. guv primary.

With 65 percent of precincts reporting, the Assembly majority leader has 51 percent of the vote. Sen. Spencer Coggs has 23 percent and James Schneider of Gotham has 17 percent. Waunakee businessman Henry Sanders trails with 9 percent.

UPDATE: 11:04 p.m. -- The AP calls the race for Nelson.

With 71 percent reporting, Nelson holds a 52-22 percent edge over Spencer Coggs. James Schneider is polling at 17 percent, and Henry Sanders at 9 percent.

-- By Andy Szal


 10:47 PM 

Johnson wants to work out debate schedule

Last week, U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold held a press conference to announce he has accepted invitations to six debates against his Republican opponent.

The first of those debates was to be this Sunday in Eau Claire.

But as they celebrate the primary victory tonight, Republican nominee Ron Johnson's campaign says they want to negotiate a schedule of debates with Feingold's campaign.

"Tonight is about winning the primary," Johnson campaign spokeswoman Sara Sendek said in an email to WisPolitics. "Ron is looking forward to debating Senator Feingold and comparing his record of a career politician to Ron's record of creating jobs. Now that Ron has secured the Republican Primary, we will start working with the Feingold campaign to work out a debate schedule that works for both candidates."

-- By Greg Bump


 10:46 PM 

Davis says he's not done with Wisconsin politics

Brett Davis says he's going to continue to work to get conservatives elected this fall.

Davis, a three-term state Rep. from Oregon who gave up his seat to run for lieutenant governor, came in second tonight to former TV reporter Rebecca Kleefisch in the primary.

"I'm proud of the campaign I ran," said Davis shortly after conceding. "Rebecca Kleefisch ran a teriffic campaign, and we're very close friends. Joel and I have been close friends and will continue to be."

"The most important thing tonight is we unify tonight in the common purpose of November," Davis said.

Kleefisch, who has been a featured reporter on conservative radio host Charlie Sykes's blog, got considerable support from southeast Wisconsin talk radio. Davis was taken to task by the conservative talkers for some tough budget votes he took in the Assembly.

"I have a lot of respect for talk radio, for the conservative movement," Davis said. "I certainly think it did influence this race. You can overcome it if you have enough money to do it, but in a lieutenant governor's race, it's difficult to raise enough money unless you can self-finance.

"I respect all the talk radio show hosts in the conservative movement. Obviously at times I wish they were a little more fair. But tonight is not about Brett Davis, it's about uniting as conservatives."

Davis says he will work in the next seven weeks to help Walker win the governor's race, to help conservatives take over the Assembly and Senate, and to elect Dan Henke, the Republican seeking to replace him in the 80th Assembly District.

"I plan to be involved in Wisconsin politics for a long time to come," Davis said.

-- By Greg Bump


 10:46 PM 

Neumann thanks supporters, expresses no regrets

Mark Neumann expressed no regrets about his GOP guv campaign as he addressed supporters after conceding to Scott Walker.

"I would much rather have been in the arena and have fought the battle and lost than never to have entered the arena in the first place," said Neumann, who put $4 million of his own money into his campaign.

"My parents taught me that fighting hard to win is important, but more important is giving it your all, giving it your best and knowing that honesty and integrity was there every step of the way."

Referring to the book he released during the campaign that outlined his financial plan for Wisconsin, he said that if nothing else, maybe some of his ideas will be adopted by the next governor.

"If that happens, perhaps something good will come out of this campaign," he said.

This didn't turn out the way we wanted it to, but this is still a great state and a great country, he told cheering supporters.

Applauding supporters brought out signs reading "Man With a Plan," "Less Politics, More Results" and "Bring Jobs Here" to greet Neumann as he entered the room.

A cheerful but clearly disappointed Neumann left quickly without taking questions from reporters. By 10:29 p.m., he was entering a minivan decorated for the campaign.

"See you guys!" he called to others in the hotel parking lot.

-- By Kay Nolan


 10:42 PM 

Ribble projected to win 8th CD GOP primary

The AP has declared Reid Ribble the winner of the Republican primary in the 8th Congressional District.

Ribble -- who bested Rep. Roger Roth and former Rep. Terri McCormick, both of Appleton -- moves on to face U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen.

In a statement on the primary, Kagen, D-Appleton, said, "I have faith in the people of our district; they know I am on their side. They're not going to give the car keys back to anyone who promotes the losing policies of the past that drove our economy into the ditch."

-- By Andy Szal


 10:40 PM 

Zipperer to succeed Kanavas in 33rd SD

State Rep. Rich Zipperer, R-Pewaukee, is projected to defeat Sussex trustee Tim Dietrich in the 33rd Senate District GOP primary.

Zipperer is now the only remaining candidate on the ballot to replace retiring Sen. Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield.

-- By Andy Szal


 10:36 PM 

Strachota, Turner expected to survive

Add Reps. Pat Strachota, Barb Toles, Bob Turner and Leon Young to the list of incumbents likely to make it through their primaries.

With 71 percent of the vote in, Strachota, R-West Bend, had 77 percent of the vote.

With 87 percent of the vote in, Toles, D-Milwaukee, had 84 percent of the vote.

With 89 percent of the vote in, Young, D-Milwaukee, had 69 percent of the vote.

With 65 percent of the vote in, Turner, D-Racine, had 80 percent of the vote,

-- By Staff


 10:29 PM 

Neumann endorses Walker

As promised earlier in the campaign, Mark Neumann endorsed primary rival Scott Walker for governor after the results came in.

"I am sending Scott a copy of my book and hope he will use it as he sees fit," Neumann said in a brief statement from his campaign, referring to his "Wisconsin Taxpayers First" publication issued in August.

"I wish him the best in the general election."

-- By Andy Szal


 10:24 PM 

Johnson says he'll continue contrast of career politician vs. business man against Feingold

Fresh off his win of the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, Ron Johnson said he will continue to make the case to Wisconsin voters that they have a choice between a career politician and successful businessman in his race with Russ Feingold.

"We will certainly do everything we can to unmake this maverick, individual label that he's put on himself," Johnson said of the Middleton Dem.

"When his vote is needed he’s right with the liberal wing of his party, and he’s a very dependable ally of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi."

Asked if he would be a reliable vote for Republicans in the Senate or would break with the party on any issues, Johnson demurred.

"That’s kind of a hypothetical, and what's past is past. We’re looking to the future," Johnson said, adding he'll vote with anybody who is dedicated to cutting government spending and the nation's debt.

-- By JR Ross


 10:21 PM 

Hulsey declares victory in 77th AD Dem primary

Dane County Board Supv. Brett Hulsey says Dem rival Dianne Hesselbein has called him to concede in the 77th AD primary.

Hesselbein did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Returns were still trickling in to the Dane County Web site. But Hulsey said his checks show he had 45 percent of the vote to 31 percent to Hesselbein.

Hulsey now faces Green Party candidate Ben Manski in the general election.

"I’ll put up my progressive environmental record against anybody," Hulsey said.

-- By JR Ross


 10:19 PM 

Kleefisch: I'm going to be Walker's biggest advocate

Rebecca Kleefisch says she isn't surprised that she handily won the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.

At the outset of the race, many insiders gave the edge to state Rep. Brett Davis. But Kleefisch, a former TV reporter and wife of state Rep. Joel Kleefisch, had strong support on conservative talk radio in southeast Wisconsin, and as the days wound down to the primary, her campaign looked to be picking up steam.

"We worked our same plan from the very beginning, our strategy has never changed," Kleefisch told WisPolitics after Davis conceded. "From the very beginning I've been talking about true conservatism and I think that's the only way we take back our state. I think the voters saw that, it resonated with them."

Kleefisch says as lt. guv she would see herself as "VP of marketing for the state of Wisconsin." The office traditionally has not utilized by governors to push policy, but Kleefisch said she expects that to change under a Walker administration.

"Our problems are way too big to have a part of the administration sit around in the closet," she said.

For the next seven weeks, she said, her job will be to get Walker elected.

"I'm going to be his biggest advocate," she said. "I think we're going to be a great ticket."

-- By Greg Bump


 10:14 PM 

Davis concedes to Kleefisch

State Rep. Brett Davis has conceded to Rebecca Kleefisch in the GOP lt. guv campaign, Davis' campaign has confirmed.

Kleefisch, a former TV reporter, is the wife of GOP state Rep. Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc.

-- By Greg Bump


 10:10 PM 

Clarke has comfortable lead over Moews

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke appears to have survived this primary night.

Clarke, who runs as a Dem but who has often aligned himself with Republican candidates and causes, has a 54-46 percent lead over Chris Moews with 71 percent reporting.

-- By WisPolitics staff


 10:08 PM 

Van Akkeren likely to face Endsley

It appears Dem Rep. Terry Van Akkeren has safely made it through his primary and will face Mike Endsley.

With all but two precincts reporting, Van Akkeren led former Sheboygan Mayor Juan Perez 81 percent to 19 percent.

Endsley, laid off from his job at Thomas Products after it moved to Louisiana, had 79 percent of the vote compared to 21 percent of Kevin Matichek.

-- By Staff


 10:04 PM 

Duffy takes 7th CD GOP primary

Sean Duffy has won the Republican nomination in the 7th Congressional District, setting up a general election showdown with state Sen. Julie Lassa in a race to take over for retiring U.S. Rep. Dave Obey.

With 33 percent reporting, the AP has called the race for Duffy, who holds a decisive 67-33 percent lead over Dan Mielke.

-- By WisPolitics staff


 10:03 PM 

Nelson, Kleefisch build leads in lt. gov. race

The race for the lieutenant governor nominations have begun to come into focus as Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson, D-Kaukauna, and former TV reporter Rebecca Kleefisch are leading their respective primaries.

With 40 percent of the precincts reporting, Nelson has 53 percent of the vote. Milwaukee Sen. Spencer Coggs has 21 percent, James Schneider of Gotham has 17 percent and Waunakee businessman Henry Sanders has 9 percent.

On the GOP side, Kleefisch has 45 percent to Oregon state Rep. Brett Davis' 27 percent. They are followed by Superior Mayor Dave Ross with 15 percent, Robert Lorge with 9 percent and Nick Voegeli with 4 percent.

-- By Andy Szal


 9:56 PM 

AP calls 3rd, 4th CD primaries

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, has won her 4th CD primary against Paul Morel, while state Sen. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse will be the GOP candidate against La Crosse Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind.

Kapanke defeated Bruce Evers in the 3rd CD GOP primary.

-- By Andy Szal


 9:50 PM 

Larson campaign declaring victory over Plale

7th Senate District candidate Chris Larson's campaign manager Josh Kilroy says they've beaten Dem incumbent Sen. Jeff Plale 60-40 percent.

Kilroy said the campaign had volunteers at all the precincts.

Larson just sent out this victorious tweet: "With all the results in except Oak Creek, we won 6823 to 4074! Thank you for all of your support! On to the general and then to Madison!"

-- By Greg Bump


 9:37 PM 

Van Hollen jabs Dem opponent

GOP AG J.B. Van Hollen just got off the stage at Walker's party following a speech in which he threw a few jabs, thanked supporters and welcomed the crowd the “the first victory party of 2010.”

Van Hollen said for the last three-plus years he's had the "misfortune" of having to work with liberals in the Legislature and a "governor who doesn't understand the ends don't justify the means."

Van Hollen talked up his work in fighting sex offenders and getting criminal illegal immigrants off the street in his lead role at the DOJ, but said he's had to work a lot harder than he should have had to because Dems have been in control of state government.

He praised Walker, saying that if he's elected the state will have not only a Department of Justice that believes in the rule of law, but a governor who believes in the rule of law.

He also guaranteed the state will join a lawsuit against federal health care reform if Walker wins and that it will be the last election "where we will have to worry about mass voter fraud."

Van Hollen took a stab at his Dem opponent, Scott Hassett, calling him a “horribly unqualified, liberal candidate for attorney general” and also dug into Barrett, calling him a “horribly liberal, unqualified candidate for governor.”

-- By David Wise


 9:36 PM 

AP: Lassa wins 7th CD primary

State Sen. Julie Lassa has cleared the first hurdle in her quest to move into the 7th Congressional District seat vacated by the retirement of longtime Dem U.S. Rep. Dave Obey.

With 19 percent reporting, the race has been called for Lassa, who holds an overwhelming 83 percent to 17 percent over rival Don Raihalla.

In the GOP primary, former Ashland County DA Sean Duffy leads farmer Dan Mielke 66-34 percent.

-- By WisPolitics staff


 9:32 PM 

Kestell trails in early returns

State Rep. Steve Kestell could be in trouble.

With 30 percent of precincts in, the Elkhart Lake Republican was trailing Sheboygan Falls Mayor Randy Meyer with 40 percent of the vote. Meyer had 60 percent.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Karl Van Roy, R-Green Bay, successfully fought out a primary challenge from Dan Nowak. He had 72 percent of the vote with all but one precinct in.

UPDATE: With 54 percent of the vote in, Kestell was up on Meyer 52-48.

-- By Staff


 9:20 PM 

Westlake will back Johnson

David Westlake, the Watertown businessman who ran an underfunded campaign for U.S. Senate, says he will throw his support behind winner Ron Johnson.

Westlake said he tried to run a grassroots campaign that didn't follow politics as usual. He thought that approach would attract voters in this cycle, when voter resentment is high.

"I'm disappointed," Westlake said. "We tried something that frankly didn't work."

Westlake said he doesn't hold ill-will against Johnson despite his opponent's refusal to debate him or appear in public forums with him in recent weeks.

"What good would it do to turn my shoulder to Ron Johnson," he said. "We want to move this country forward."

The AP declared victory tonight for Johnson, who owns Oshkosh plastics company Pacur, less than an hour after polls closed.

Despite the disappointment, Westlake said he will keeping his political options open.

"I always keep my options open for everything," Westlake said. "It's been a lot of fun, and a great learning experience."

-- By Greg Bump


 9:19 PM 

NRSC, DSCC spin Johnson win

Leaders of the U.S. Senate campaign committees are already spinning tonight's primary results to their benefit.

"With less than 50 days until the midterm elections, I am confident that Wisconsin’s Senate seat presents a prime pick-up opportunity for our party this November -– and our country’s respected political analysts agree," wrote U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the NRSC chairman, in a memo to GOP leaders.

"Public surveys show that Ron Johnson has been neck-and-neck with Senator Feingold for several months, and Rasmussen Reports’ most recent survey showed Johnson holding a 1-point lead. Johnson also out-raised Feingold by a significant margin in July and August 2010, not including the significant investment that he has made of his own personal funds."

The chairman of the DSCC, meanwhile, linked Johnson's win to Christine O’Donnell's upset victory tonight in the Delaware GOP primary. U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey wrote in a memo that Johnson and O'Donnell join Tea Party-backed candidates in other states who will prove out-of-touch for their states.

"Wisconsin Republicans are now running an extremist candidate who cares more about imposing a strict social doctrine than addressing the economic challenges working people face today," Menendez wrote.

-- By Andy Szal


 9:11 PM 

With 13 percent in, Walker leads

Scott Walker has a 51 percent to 46 percent lead over Mark Neumann. Thirteen percent of the votes are in.

Scott Paterick has 3 percent of the vote.

UPDATE: 9:41 p.m. -- With 25 percent reporting, Walker leads Neumann 55-42 percent, with Paterick polling at 3 percent.

-- By WisPolitics Staff


 9:02 PM 

Lasee, Galloway & Schlicht lead in early returns

Former state Rep. Frank Lasee has a lead on two opponents for the Republican race for northeastern Wisconsin the 1st Senate District.

Lasee has a 53-38 percent advantage over Dave Hutchison, also a former state representative, with 15 percent reporting. Jon Soyring has 9 percent.

In the 27th SD Republican primary with 2 percent reporting, Kurt Schlicht has an 81 percent to 10 percent advantage over Tom Lamberson. Tony Wickersham has 9 percent.

In the 29th, Pam Galloway has a commanding lead over Jimmy Boy Edming, 80 percent to 20 percent.

-- By WisPolitics staff


 8:56 PM 

Barrett says little difference beween Neumann, Walker

Dem guv hopeful Tom Barrett said it makes little difference to him whether Mark Neumann or Scott Walker wins the GOP nomination because both are coming off a "hard right" primary battle.

"If people are looking for the ideologue in this race, it's not me. I'm a pragmatist," Barrett said by phone from Oshkosh after he was declared the winner of the Dem nomination.

Barrett said his campaign remains focused on "jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs."

Whoever wins the GOP nomination today is expected to be financially depleted during the opening days of the general election. Barrett said he fully expects outside groups to continue attacking him as his GOP opponent reloads financially.

"They’ve done it throughout the summer, and I'd be surprised if they stop now," Barrett said.

-- By JR Ross


 8:53 PM 

Ribble has early lead in 8th CD

De Pere Republican Reid Ribble, a former roofing contractor, is out to an early lead in the GOP primary for the 8th Congressional District.

With 10 percent of precincts reporting, Ribble has 55 percent of the vote. State Rep. Roger Roth of Appleton has 25 percent of the vote, with former Rep. Terri McCormick receiving 16 percent.

Door Co. Supv. Marc Savard, who has dropped out of the race but whose name remains on the ballot, has taken in 4 percent of the vote so far.

UPDATE (9:22 p.m.): With 30 percent of precincts reporting, Ribble's margin has largely stayed the same. He now has 53 percent of the vote to Roth's 26 percent and McCormick's 17 percent.

-- By Andy Szal


 8:49 PM 

Color from the scenes

The parties have already begun.

With results still trickling in, supporters of GOP guv hopefuls Mark Neumann and Scott Walker have gathered with high hopes.

A crowd of more than 200 Walker supporters are milling about Serb Hall in Milwaukee chatting and drinking soda, cocktails and free beer from the cash bar under the soft light of polished brass chandeliers as they wait for returns to come in.

A handful of people are gathered around a pair of large HDTVs displaying early returns, with a few cheers erupting as they show Walker winning by a healthy margin early on.

The walls are checkered with blue and white “Scott Walker: Believe in Wisconsin Again” posters. At the far end of the room is a stage and podium with several rows of bleachers behind them. On blue drapes that line the wall hang's a large “Brown Bag Guide to Government” poster.

Walker's not here yet, but among some notables here are AG JB Van Hollen, state GOP Chair Reince Priebus, Milwaukee County GOP Chairman David Karst and a number of GOP state leggies.

By 8:30, about 100 people had arrived at Neumann's primary election night gathering, which was open to the public. The mood was upbeat as poll results were awaited, with pop music blaring and red, white and blue balloons decorating tables.

Neumann campaign spokesman Chris Lato was cheered by reports of relatively high voter turnout.

"The higher the turnout, the better for Mark, we think," he said, "Instead of getting all the people who just vote the party line, we might get more independents and conservatives looking for someone else."

Neumann lost the GOP endorsement to Walker this spring.

Retired teacher and landscaper Del Wolfrath, who traveled with his wife, Ellen, from Appleton to show his support, agrees. Wolfrath said he doesn't want career politicians or the status quo, and likes that Neumann supports term limits.

"He's willing to think outside the box, and we sure need someone who thinks outside the box," said Wolfrath.

-- By Kay Nolan and David Wise


 8:48 PM 

AP calls Senate primary for Johnson

As expected, Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson will be U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold's opponent this fall.

The AP has called the race for Johnson over Watertown small businessman David Westlake and Milwaukee plumber Stephen Finn.

-- By Andy Szal


 8:28 PM 

Early numbers show tight GOP guv race

It's very early, but signs are the GOP guv primary could be close.

With 1 percent reporting, Scott Walker and Mark Neumann are in a dead heat, each with 48 percent.

In the Dem Lt. guv race, Tom Nelson has a comfortable lead, with 53 percent. Next is James Schneider, with 16 percent. Spencer Coggs and Henry Sanders are tied at 15 percent.

On the Republican Lt. guv side, Brett Davis leads at 34 percent. Rebecca Kleefisch is next with 23 percent.

Looks like it will be an early night in the GOP U.S. Senate primary. Favorite Ron Johnson leads with 86 percent of the vote with 2 percent reporting. Dave Westlake has 10 percent of the vote.

-- By WisPolitics staff


 7:29 PM 

AP: Dems crossing over to vote for 'weaker' Republicans

Some exiting Dem voters who talked to the Associated Press said they voted for Republicans in the hope that weaker candidates would emerge for the general election.

According to the AP: "All of them voted for Republican Mark Neumann over Scott Walker in the governor's race primary and for Republican Dave Westlake over Ron Johnson in the Senate race."

See the story here.

-- By Greg Bump


 5:05 PM 

Milwaukee voters complain about partisan primaries

Dozens of Milwaukee voters were unhappy today that they had to vote in one party primary or another and couldn’t switch back and forth.

“They don’t like the partisan primary,” said Sue Edman, the Milwaukee Election commissioner. “They don’t like that they cannot cross party vote. I had a woman tell me this is like Russia.”

Edman said things were “a little rough” this morning in Milwaukee with some machines problem, a few precincts opening early and some poll workers that didn’t show up.

By far the biggest complaint was about the requirement that voters only cast ballots in one party primary. Milwaukee also had a number of polling places that were surround by construction, which made parking an issue for some voters.

Still, Edman said turnout could top the 86,000 the city expected based off what it say in the 2002 Dem guv primary that featured three Dems. If the state’s projection of 28 percent turnout holds, that would be about 87,000 voters in Milwaukee, Edman said.

“It could be more,” she said. “There are a lot of people out voting.”

-- By WisPolitics staff


 2:52 PM 

Barrett rallies students, defends recent TV ad

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told supporters today on the UW-Madison campus that Republicans "so overconfident and so cocky" about this fall's governor's race that they're already measuring the windows in the governor's mansion.

"The work begins tomorrow," Barrett said at at the Madison leg of his primary day statewide tour.

The mayor -- a heavy favorite over Tim John of Oconomowoc in the Dem primary -- heads to Oshkosh this evening for a primary night victory party. He told student backers that the Republicans' "whole strategy this fall is that you will not vote."

"They're banking on collective amnesia," Barrett said, blaming for Republican leadership for the economic downturn of late 2008. "Don't forget who drove that car into the ditch."

Speaking before the rally with reporters, Barrett defended his campaign's latest TV ad, which recounts his brutal assault while trying to intervene in a domestic incident outside State Fair Park last year.

Barrett said the experience changed his life and that the public should be aware that a candidate's life experience is an important part of who they are.

"It certainly has given me a different perspective on domestic violence," Barrett said of the assault.

Asked whether he was courting voter sympathy with the ad, Barrett said that as with any other political spot, "There'll be people who who like the ad and don't like the ad."

"For people who don't like negative ads, this was definitely a positive ad," the mayor said.

-- By Andy Szal


 11:14 AM 

Johnson calls Feingold's ad 'disappointing and just plain sad'

Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Ron Johnson says a TV ad from Dem U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold's campaign misleads about the nature of industrial revenue bonds his company received.

The ad uses excerpts from a television newscast on which the $2.5 million loan was first reported.

Johnson said the loan was between his company, Pacur, and a private bank. He said the involvement of the city of Oshkosh was minimal, and taxpayer money was never at risk.

"The Feingold ad claims it was a government loan. That is simply not true," Johnson said in a conference call with reporters today. "I think for Senator Feingold to make that claim, he's either being knowingly dishonest or he's simply ignorant of what an industrial revenue bond is. And either way it's disappointing and just plain sad."

Industrial revenue bonds are offered at below-market interest rate and are exempt from federal taxes. Johnson said accepting the favorable rates aren't a government subsidy, but are like "complying with any other portion of the federal tax code.

"When we deduct for our labor, when we deduct for our materials, it's certainly not considered a subsidy. You're just utilizing what the tax code is," he said.

Johnson was joined by two former state Commerce secretaries, Dick Leinenkugel and Bill McCoshen, and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce VP of government relations James Buchen. Leinenkugel, who served under Dem Gov. Jim Doyle, briefly ran as a Republican for the U.S. Senate seat this spring before dropping out and endorsing Johnson.

Leinenkugel and McCoshen last week wrote an op-ed denouncing the characterization of the loan as a government subsidy.

A two-page excerpt from the loan agreement obtained by WisPolitics states that the city could take possession of the property if the company defaulted on the loan.

McCoshen disputed that, saying that the agreement is between "the local bank, the business and the bondholders. The government's really out of that mix."

Johnson reiterated the loan was between Pacur and the bank.

"Had Pacur defaulted on that the bank would have had the collateral of the equipment and building and the bank would have taken possession of those two things," he said. "There was never any taxpayer money at risk ... the city had no dollars involved either in the loan or at risk ... that's why it's not a government loan."

Johnson said he couldn't estimate how much the company saved by taking out the bonds. The state Dem Party has estimated the company saved $1.1 million.

"I don't know what rate we were really competing against at the time," Johnson said. "I'd have to take a look at the bonds and what was the alternative. All I know is we dealt with the bank, basically."

UPDATE: Feingold spokesman John Kraus issued a statement responding to Johnson's conference call that says the Republican has been "exposed by the media for not shooting straight with people of Wisconsin" and is "is using two former government officials in a desperate attempt to argue that a government program that they ran and Johnson benefited from is not government assistance.”

“The loan program is run by the government," Kraus said. "Johnson applied for the loans with the government. Government approved the loans for Johnson. Government issued the bonds and loaned the proceeds to Johnson’s company. Government signed an agreement for the loans with Johnson. Government subsidized the loans at below market rate for Johnson. Johnson paid government back for the loan. And had Johnson defaulted on the loan, his agreement with government gave government the authority to take control of the company, operate it, and apply the profits to the amount owed.”

-- By Greg Bump


 10:59 AM 

Guv candidates plan stops

Top guv candidates Tom Barrett, Mark Neumann and Scott Walker have a series of stops planned around the state today.

Barrett was to hit Racine, Kenosha and Madison before heading to Oshkosh, where he planned to watch election returns.

Neumann voted at 8 a.m. in Oconomowoc before hitting Delafield. His campaign was finalizing details of a 3 p.m. stop before his campaign Election Night party in Waukesha.

Walker voted at 7 a.m. before heading to Green Bay. He also had stops planned in Wausau and at the campaign's Kohl center in Fitchburg before his Election Night party in Milwaukee.

UPDATE: Neumann added two Waukesha stops to his itinerary. One was at his campaign headquarters for GOTV calls. The other was at a Waukesha deli.

-- By Staff


 9:45 AM 

Neumann doesn't put any more of own money into campaign

Mark Neumann has apparently decided putting $4 million of his own money into his guv campaign is enough.

The Nashotah home builder reported $14,397 in late contributions since the close of the pre-primary period Aug. 31. But the total does not include any more money out of his own pock after he sunk some $4 million in to his campaign by the end of August.

Campaigns are required to report donations of at least $500 received between the close of a reporting period and the next election.

GOP guv rival Scott Walker, meanwhile, reported $310,550 in contributions of $500 or more as of this morning. That includes $56,548 from the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Dem Tom Barrett reported $41,834 in late contributions.

-- By JR Ross


Monday, September 13, 2010

 4:53 PM 

Daschle says DGA has spent $1 million in Wisconsin

The head of the Dem Governors Association said the group has spent $1 million in Wisconsin this year and will continue supporting the Greater Wisconsin Committee to raise important issues in the guv's race.

The GWC previously reported a $300,000 donation from the DGA in March. The GWC, which has run a steady stream of TV ads attacking GOP guv hopefuls Scott Walker and Mark Neumann, also received $1 million from Dem Gov. Jim Doyle.

"What we consider to be our most valuable way of playing a role in this race is helping support an organization like the Greater Wisconsin Committee, which we think is raising some important issues," said DGA executive director Nathan Daschle.

Daschle told Wisconsin reporters this morning that the state was one of the DGA's top 10 races this fall and praised Tom Barrett as "the person that we wanted in this race." He said the primary fight between Neumann and Walker is indicative of the "GOP civil war" seen around the country, calling Neumann the kind of candidate that the Tea Party likes, while Walker is the kind of candidate those activists hate because he'll say or do anything to win election.

"The far-right voters see Scott Walker, and they see a phony," Daschle said.

He said the DGA plans to use "ruthless targeting" this fall to decide which races to prioritize. There are 37 gubernatorial contests on the fall ballot, 24 of which are open seats.

"It is without a question one of our top 10 states," Daschle said of Wisconsin.

-- By JR Ross


 11:31 AM 

Johnson, Westlake make primary pitches on 'UpFront'

Republican U.S. Senate candidates Ron Johnson and Dave Westlake made separate appearances on Sunday's "UpFront with Mike Gousha."

Johnson, head of Oshkosh-based Pacur Inc. and the heavy favorite in tomorrow's primary, continued to paint incumbent U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold as a career politician and defended a recent campaign ad alleging the Middleton Dem "has not worked anywhere outside of politics."

Westlake, a Watertown small businessman, criticized Johnson for refusing to debate him face to face, saying Johnson has turned down a dozen such opportunities.

“We've had 12 opportunities to debate Ron Johnson and he's turned down every single one of them,” Westlake said. “And that I think is unfair to the people of this state. The people of Wisconsin deserve to be able to hear both of the candidates side by side. Ultimately, you expect that as well.”

Stephen Finn, a plumber from Milwaukee, is also on the GOP ballot for U.S. Senator.

-- By David Wise


Friday, September 10, 2010

 3:11 PM 

Campaigns plan primary parties

GOP guv rivals Scott Walker and and Mark Neumann have scheduled their primary night parties in the Milwaukee area, while their prospective Dem opponent and the GOP Senate frontrunner will be in Oshkosh.

Walker will host his celebration at American Serb Hall, 5101 W. Oklahoma Ave., in Milwaukee. Doors will open to the public at 7:30 p.m. and the event will begin at 8 p.m.

Neumann’s campaign has decided to host its primary night election celebration at the Milwaukee Marriott West, N1600 Corporate Court in Waukesha. According to a campaign spokeswoman, the doors will open at 7:30 p.m., and the public is “definitely” invited to attend.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who faces token opposition in the Dem guv primary, will hold his primary celebration at 8:01 p.m. at the Oshkosh headquarters of the Winnebago County Democratic Party.

Ron Johnson, an Oshkosh native and the heavy favorite to best Dave Westlake and Stephen Finn in the GOP U.S. Senate primary, will hold his primary night event beginning at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1355 W. 20th Ave.

In addition, GOP lt. gov. candidate Rebecca Kleefisch has announced her campaign will celebrate primary night at the Western Lakes Golf Club in Pewaukee.

See more information on the WisPolitics Events Page.

-- By WisPolitics Staff


 11:55 AM 

7th SD Dem primary race getting ugly

The 7th Senate District Dem primary is getting uglier, as new reports surface of legal troubles for both Sen. Jeff Plale and his challenger Chris Larson.

After WisPolitics.com ran a story last week reporting CCAP histories of legislative candidates, a source that requested anonymity provided a police report from a Nov. 24, 2001 incident regarding a domestic incident between Plale and his then-wife.

And Thursday afternoon, WisPolitics received another record of a run-in Larson had with the law -- this time in 2004.

According to the citation sent to WisPolitics, Larson's car was towed on May 21 of that year after he parked in a tow-away zone. Larson jumped into the car, and according to the citation, rode in the towed car all the way to the tow yard. The tow truck driver told police Larson "beeped the car continuously" throughout the ride.

When the truck and towed car arrived at the tow yard, Larson refused to exit the vehicle. He was cited for disorderly conduct.

See more here.

-- By Greg Bump


 11:04 AM 

Walker, Neumann spat continues

GOP guv hopeful Scott Walker has another ad ripping primary rival Mark Neumann for voting for a $9 billion transportation bill when he served in Congress.

"Congressman Neumann may have gone to Washington as a reformer, but the record shows he voted for pork. Just like the rest of 'em."

The ad follows supporting words from Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who has endorsed Walker. Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, weighs in on the transportation bill dispute in a 60-second radio spot.

Sensenbrenner says he will "set the record straight."

"I served with Mark Neumann. Mark Neumann voted 'yes' for $9 billion in pork projects when he was in Congress. He voted 'yes' to wasteful transportation spending," Sensenbrenner says. "I voted against that bill because it was full of waste and payoff to special interests. Like me, Scott Walker opposed the bill and the nine billion of wasteful spending."

Sensenbrenner calls Walker "the conservative choice for governor."

Find all the latest ads in the WisPolitics.com Ad Watch.

-- By JR Ross


Thursday, September 9, 2010

 9:09 AM 

Nelson, Davis lead lt. gov. primary warchests

Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson reports $72,279 raised in his Dem lt. guv bid and has cash on hand of $223,992, giving him by far the largest warchest in the Dem primary.

Nelson, of Kaukauna, spent $41,797 in the pre-primary period, which covers July and August, according to his campaign finance report. Nelson reported $46,510 raised from individuals and $25,769 from committees.

State Sen. Spencer Coggs of Milwaukee reported raised $44,829 and had $68,319. Madison businessman Henry Sanders raised $11,188 during the period and had $10,414 in the bank. Former Lodi Ald. James Schneider reported $305 cash on hand after raising $500 in the period.

On the GOP side, Rep. Brett Davis of Oregon led the field with $164,199 cash on hand, following a period in which he raised $53,577. Davis spent $48,329 in the period.

Rebecca Kleefisch's campaign said she raised $67,188 for the period and had $102,300 cash on hand. And Superior Mayor Dave Ross reported raising $7,215, spending $5,201 and $26,554 cash on hand.

-- By Greg Bump


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

 12:01 PM 

Walker, Neumann trade shots over pork barrel spending

With a suddenly hot GOP guv primary only days away, Scott Walker has a second mailer slamming Mark Neumann for acting "like Nancy Pelosi."

The mailers are in addition to a Walker TV ad knocking Neumann for his vote on a 1998 transportation bill while serving in Congress. The charges signal to election observers that the race once thought to be an easy win for Walker now has tightened.

The new Walker mailer calls Neumann a "seasoned politician" who's "using to saying one thing to you, and doing another when in Congress."

On the flip side, it reads "Mark Neumann sounds like a fiscal conservative, but he acts more like Nancy Pelosi."

Neumann said Wednesday he wants Walker to take the TV ad off the air, saying the Milwaukee Co. exec supported the bill at the time.

"He's calling it pork today, but back then he said it saved taxpayers money," said Neumann, referring to a letter to the editor written by Walker.

See more here.

-- By JR Ross


 8:44 AM 

Neumann self-funding grows to $4M

Mark Neumann has now put $4 million of his own money into his GOP guv campaign.

That figure emerges after Neumann again moved his own money in and out of his campaign account around a key reporting date. Neumann’s report showed almost $2.3 million raised for the pre-primary period. That includes more than $2.1 million of Neumann’s own money.

But the homebuilder repaid himself $840,000 on the first day of the reporting period. That means Neumann put in about $1.3 million of his own money and raised some $136,400 from individuals and another $7,413 from PACs.

Milwaukee Co. Exec. Scott Walker's report showed $826,542 raised during the pre-primary period. He also spent $2.2 million and had $1.2 million cash on hand.

See more here.

-- By JR Ross


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

 4:54 PM 

Black helps fund anti-Plale group

Outgoing state Rep. Spencer Black is helping finance a group that’s attacking a fellow Dem, state Sen. Jeff Plale. The Madison Dem has blamed the South Milwaukee Dem for the demise of the “Clean Energy Jobs Act” that he supported.

Black gave $12,000 to the Citizens for Progressive Wisconsin PAC, which reported raising $42,000 in the pre-primary period, according to campaign finance reports. Of that, $20,000 came from the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, while the SEIU Wisconsin State Council PAC gave $7,000 and AFT Local 212 donated $3,000.

The Citizens for a Progressive Wisconsin has sent out a series of mailers attacking Plale and produced a TV ad running in the Milwaukee market.

The group reported $19,399 in independent expenditures for mailers and had $22,601 cash on hand as of Aug. 30.

Meanwhile, the American Federation for Children Action Fund, which has been sending out pro-Plale mailers, was financed by $50,000 from its national group in Washington, D.C.

The group’s pre-primary report shows it paid $15,000 to the Valkyrie Group in Whitefish Bay for consulting fees.

The Valkyrie group is run Todd Rongstad, who has a reputation for attack lit. Former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen is an adviser to the AFC.

-- By JR Ross


Monday, September 6, 2010

 8:04 AM 

Walker, Neumann appear on 'UpFront'

With less than two weeks to go before the primary, Neumann says he's confident he can win, while Walker says he's not taking anything for granted.

The two discussed their campaigns in separate interviews on Sunday's “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” a statewide TV newsmagazine produced in conjunction with WisPoltics.com.

Neumann said his message is resonating with voters, adding crowds at his events are growing and more Neumann signs are popping up.

He declined to say what his internal polls have shown, but said he's “very optimistic.”

“Everything seems to be falling into place,” Neumann said.

Walker said that while his campaign is generating excitement, he isn't taking victory for granted against Neumann, whom he described as a “career candidate.”

“The biggest challenge we have is the amount of money Congressman Neumann has put into this race -- literally, millions of dollars of his own money from his private businesses -- and the fact that if that's out there and that clouds our ability to get our message out that could have an impact,” Walker said.

-- By David Wise


Saturday, September 4, 2010

 3:51 PM 

Larson arrest arises in 7th SD primary race

7th SD candidate Chris Larson's arrest for shoplifting in 2000 became an issue this week as he takes on state Sen. Jeff Plale in the Dem primary.

Larson's arrest occurred when he was a freshman at UW-Milwaukee. But the case doesn't show up on the CCAP database because it was expunged, according to his campaign.

Larson's campaign put out a press release yesterday alleging that a push poll was being conducted in the district.

"In the last twenty-four hours, we have received over a dozen phone calls and e-mails from voters, informing us that they were receiving calls that sounded like polls, but in fact were repackaging old information about a citation for shoplifting that Chris received when he was a teenager," Larson campaign manager Josh Kilroy said.

"These charges came up two and a half years ago and they were vetted then and it seems that they will come up every time Chris Larson stands up for working families. These sleazy Republican attacks often work, but they will not work this time," Kilroy said.

The arrest also came up in 2008, when Larson first ran for Milwaukee County Board.

-- By Greg Bump


 12:49 PM 

Phone glitch accompanies progressive group's anti-Plale calls

7th SD residents who responded to a call sponsored by the Citizens for Progressive Wisconsin bashing state Sen. Jeff Plale got a surprise.

"You all are a bunch of dumb s----," is what they heard if they called 1-800-528-4187, the number that registered on their caller IDs.

Citizens for a Progressive Wisconsin spokesman Eric Hogensen said the call was handled through a national vendor, and he believes the message on the call-back was altered by a hacker. He said the group is investigating how that happened.

The call told voters that Plale's campaign is being propped up by former Republican Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and his group, the American Federation for Children.

"So why would this Republican help Democrat Jeff Plale?" the call asked. "Because they both worked together in Madison ...To privatize Social Security. To outlaw stem cell research. And to deny a woman's right to choose, even for victims of rape and incest.

"Jeff Plale should support us, not the right-wing agenda of his Republican allies," says the call.

Hogensen said the message that callers found when they called the phone number shouldn't obscure the overall message: "Scott Jensen is trying to get Jeff Plale elected. That's what should concern Milwaukee County voters.''

TV records show Citizens for a Progressive Wisconsin has purchased $64,845 of air time on Milwaukee TV affiliates.

The two-week buy began Aug. 31 and runs through Sept. 13.

-- By JR Ross


Friday, September 3, 2010

 4:44 PM 

77th AD Dems mostly back energy reform proposal

Outgoing state Rep. Spencer Black was a driving force behind the so-called “Clean Energy Jobs Act.”

So it’s no surprise the Dems seeking to replace him in the district representing Madison’s west side and its near suburbs largely support the proposal.

The lone exception is former Middleton Mayor Doug Zwank, who argues any move toward green energy should be accomplished through incentives rather than state mandates.

“I think the state has a reputation of being anti-business,” Zwank, 62, said. “I think it’s legislation like that that creates that image.”

The other four Dems in the primary are: Dane County Supvs. Diane Hesselbein, 39, and Brett Hulsey, 51; Jon Imes, 49, executive director of the Wisconsin Environmental Initiative and owner of an environmental inn; and Fred Wade, an attorney.

See more from WisPolitics interviews with the 77th AD candidates here.

-- By JR Ross


 2:37 PM 

Neumann outspends Walker in major TV markets

GOP guv hopeful Scott Walker ramped up his TV buys in the state's largest markets last month.

But he continued to trail rival Mark Neumann largely because the homebuilder is outspending Walker heavily in the Milwaukee market, according to a WisPolitics check of TV records in state markets.

The records show Walker spent some $870,000 between the beginning of August and the first week of September on TV ads on network affiliates. That's more than double what Walker had spent in Eau Claire, Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee and Wausau through the end of July.

By comparison, Neumann spent more than $1 million over the same period and has now eclipsed $1.5 million in those markets for the campaign.

The biggest discrepancy between the two campaigns was their spending in the Milwaukee market, where Walker has spent eight years as county executive.

Neumann has spent more than $650,000 there, compared to some $235,000 by Walker, according to records available at the TV stations.

-- By JR Ross


 8:31 AM 

Hesselbein mailer draws criticism in 77th

Dane Co. Exec Kathleen Falk and two environmental activists took shots Thursday at Assembly candidate Diane Hesselbein, calling one of her campaign mailers "deceptive."

The Dem primary race for retiring Rep. Spencer Black's west Madison seat has attracted a lot of interest from candidates and politicos.

Hesselbein, a Dane Co. board member, said the criticism was surprising.

One side of the mailer shows Hesselbein speaking with members of the RTA Board and a caption that says she's discussing her support of the RTA with the three, who have endorsed her. Another picture shows her and her family at the Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton, "an area that she helped to protect from development," while the third picture shows her visiting the Ice Age Trail and says her "leadership conserved this land and saved taxpayers $582,000 to be used to conserve other land."

Falk, former DNR Secretary George Meyer and former Sierra Club state director Caryl Terrell -- all of whom have endorsed Hesselbein rival and former Sierra Club activist Brett Hulsey -- complained Hesselbein actually voted against the RTA. Meyer also said the land for the Ice Age Trail hasn't been conserved and that rejection of an initial offer for the land put the project in jeopardy. Falk also complained that Hesselbein voted for a subdivision that wasn't sewered, promoting sprawl.

"In 35 years of working for the environment, I've seen a lot," Falk said. "But this campaign piece is really deceptive. I want someone in the Legislature whose word I can trust."

Hesselbein said she voted against the RTA because she preferred a version with a referendum, but is now comfortable with the plan and supports it. She said she voted for the subdivision because the town plan matched the Dane County comprehensive plan and said there's a deal in place for the Ice Age property that's up for a vote and her work on the proposal will help save taxpayers money.

"They have been out the gate for Brett Hulsey for a long time, and they have been supporting him," she said. "I’m rather surprised that they’re doing this."

-- By JR Ross


Thursday, September 2, 2010

 2:32 PM 

GAB projects record primary turnout

The GAB is projecting a record-high 28 percent voter turnout -- about 1.2 million voters -- in the Sept. 14 primary election.

If accurate, the turnout would narrowly exceed the 27.9 percent primary turnout of the 1964 election, the record high for state primaries since 1960. The last election with a contested gubernatorial primary in 2002 saw a 22.5 percent voter turnout.

GAB Director Kevin Kennedy attributed the likely "tremendous interest" in the primary to the open governor's race, open seats in 20 percent of legislative districts and contested primaries in many congressional races.

-- By Andy Szal


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