• WisPolitics

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


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