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Friday, August 19, 2011

 11:53 AM 

Feingold won't be a candidate in 2012

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold announced this morning he will not be a candidate in 2012, telling supporters he will instead focus on teaching, writing a book and leading his Progressives United PAC.

Feingold was the favored candidate of some Dems to seek the party's nomination next year either for the open U.S. Senate seat or to challenge Scott Walker if the guv is recalled. He also acknowledged in the email to his Progressives United supporters of his strong standings in the polls for both races.

"After twenty-eight continuous years as an elected official, however, I have found the past eight months to be an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective," Feingold wrote.

With Feingold out of the race, it is expected U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, will soon announce her candidacy for the Senate. She has said she wanted to make a decision this month.

See the email

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

 11:26 AM 

Overview: Six Dem recall candidates top Barrett's 2010 vote totals

Dem recall candidates in six of the nine races pulled in more votes this summer than their party’s guv nominee did last fall, while Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls was the only GOP candidate to eclipse Scott Walker’s numbers from November.

What’s more, the drop-off for the GOP candidates was often fairly severe, according to a WisPolitics comparison of returns.

The eight GOP candidates who pulled fewer voters than Walker in their districts saw an average drop off of 9,106 votes. That number was skewed somewhat because of the candidacy of David VanderLeest, who received 18,602 fewer votes in the 30th SD than Walker did.

But even with that race pulled out of the equation, the other seven Republicans lost an average of 7,749 votes compared to Walker.

Harsdorf, meanwhile, pulled 463 more votes than Walker, while Dem Shelly Moore received 2,160 more votes than Dem Tom Barrett did last fall.

On the Dem side, Nancy Nusbaum in the 2nd SD, Rep. Sandy Pasch in the 8th and Sen. Dave Hansen in the 30th pulled fewer votes than Barrett. The other six received an average of 2,128 more votes than the Milwaukee mayor.

See a race-by-race comparison of vote totals from the fall guv race and this summer’s recall elections

Editor's note: This post has been edited to correct the average drop off for the GOP candidates compared to Walker's totals.

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 11:23 AM 

August 18 recall roundup - Headlines and commentary

HEADLINES
* Recalls leave both GOP, Dems claiming victory
* Lessons learned from recalls
* Summing up the Wisconsin recalls (by the numbers)
* Candidates speak in final recall results

COMMENTARY
* Scott Wittkopf: Holperin, Wirch victories shift momentum ... Walker hears footsteps
* Emily Mills: What's left after the dust settles, part two
* Sarah Bartash: Reflections from La Crosse on politics in Wisconsin
* Lisa Mux: Sensible people prevailed, Simac lost
* Bill Lueders: $45 a vote, and for what?
* Kevin Binversie: Democrats' recruitment victories led to recall edge
* Jay Miller: Exposure to differing views is a good thing
* Chris Walker: Results of recall elections show shift in voter attitudes

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

 12:45 PM 

August 17 recall roundup - Headlines, commentary and press releases

HEADLINES
* Dems survive in final Wis. recall races
* 2 Wisconsin Democrats Re-elected
* 2 Wis. Democrats keep their Senate seats
* Holperin and Wirch keep their jobs
* Wirch keeps seat
* Holperin keeps seat in recall
* Wirch, Holperin win Senate recalls; GOP retains 17-16 majority
* Wisconsin Democrats Holperin, Wirch keep their Senate seats in recall election
* Dems hold, GOP maintains edge after recall finale
* Holperin holds seat in recall election
* Holperin survives challenge from Simac in recall
* Democrat Wirch survives recall against Steitz
* Senator Robert Wirch keeps his seat in 22nd district
* Recall Elections: Senate Democrats Keep Seats

COMMENTARY
* E.J. Dionne Jr.: Democrats win last two Wisconsin recalls
* Scott Wittkopf: Wisconsin recalls and Barack Obama – a letter to the President
* Cory Liebmann: Keep your perspective, keep your focus
* Owen Robinson: They came, they spent, they lost
* Tom Jensen: Sentiment moving against Walker recall
* Jim Rosenberg: GOP says they were 'victorious' while WMC says 'let's change the rules'
* John Nichols: Democrats finish 'recall summer' with 2 big wins, a better position in the Senate
* Kerry Thomas: In Wisconsin, there's no accountability
* Jay Bullock: With all recalls done, Dems real winners
* Christian Schneider: How Paul Ryan unexpectedly won the Wisconsin recalls
* Dave Zweifel: Get ready for the coming culture wars
* James Rowen: Before a Walker recall -- voter education, assistance a must

PRESS RELEASES
* Rep. Barca: Statement on Sen. Bob Wirch's landslide victory in the 22nd Senate District
* Rep. Barca: Statement on Sen. Jim Holperin's victory in the 12th Senate District
* Rep. Hulsey: Election score: Walker/GOP 0 wins to Democrats 8 wins
* RNC: Statement on second round of Wis. recalls
* Sen. Fitzgerald: Statement on recalls
* Simac Campaign: Statement on election results
* We Are Wisconsin: Statement of We Are Wisconsin spokesman Kelly Steele in response to tonight's election results
* WisDems: Statement of DPW Chair Mike Tate on Democratic victories in the historic Wisconsin state Senate recall elections
* WisDems: Statement of Senate Democratic leader Mark Miller regarding the election victories of Senators Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch
* WisDems: Voters resoundingly support Bob Wirch in summer election
* WisGOP: Statement on recall election results
* WMC: Wisconsin needs recall reform

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

 11:11 PM 

Steitz doesn't blame lack of resources for loss

Attorney Jonathan Steitz downplayed his financial disadvantage in his challenge of Dem Sen. Bob Wirch, saying he stayed positive and focused on the issues.

Conservative groups did not come to Steitz’s aid in the final weeks over the airwaves, while Dem and union groups hammered him on several fronts.

“Our goal was to run a grassroots campaign and take our message directly to the people,” Steitz told WisPolitics.com in an interview from his Election Night party. “The people who had a chance to meet me and heard me out had a favorable impression. It’s hard to run a campaign like that on the time frame that we had, and I think there’s a good number of people in the district who unfortunately listened to what they were saying about me and didn’t give me much of a chance to change their minds.”

Steitz said he knew he was mounting an uphill battle against Wirch in a district that he said is shifting, but has traditionally leaned Dem.

Despite the loss, he said he remains open to another political campaign down the road. He said he has no interest in becoming a career politician, but hopes his career is marked by periods of public service and time in the private sector.

“If an opportunity arises and it feels like the right time for my family and me, I could definitely see myself running in the future,” he said.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:47 PM 

Simac says campaign sent a message

Republican Kim Simac told supporters her campaign sent a message the only "special interests" that should matter are those of the people of the Northwoods.

"While we didn't win tonight, we sent a message to Madison and Washington D.C.," Simac told supporters in Eagle River.

Simac spearheaded the effort to recall Holperin and told the crowd she was inspired by her supporters. Simac named off several campaign workers, some who had worked on the initial recall effort and some who had worked on her campaign.

Simac said she had called Holperin to congratulate him, but she didn't get an answer. That prompted some in the crowd to suggest he was in Illinois or that she had the wrong area code.

Simac simply said she would try again. She added she would work to ensure Holperin represented everyone in the district.

Simac concluded by saying she lived in the best part of the state and asking supporters to celebrate what they had accomplished.

-- By Arthur Thomas

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 10:38 PM 

Holperin says he's never seen such commitment, energy from volunteers

Dem state Sen. Jim Holperin thanked a cheering crowd of about 100 supporters for his win in the 12th SD, telling them he has never had seen such a commitment and energy from workers in a campaign.

“You did a hell of a job,” Holperin said. “That is what made the difference in this race.”

With 79 percent of the vote in, Holperin had 23,756 votes, or 54 percent, to 20,150 votes, or 46 percent for Tea Party activist and small business owner Kim Simac.

It is the second time Holperin has survived a recall election. Voters failed to recall him from his old Assembly seat in 1990 over spear fishing rights for American Indians.

Holperin said Tuesday's win signals that voters rejected Simac’s contention that the recall was all about him leaving the state during the debate over the governor’s collective bargaining bill.

“Maybe delaying the vote on the collective bargaining bill was more good than bad,” Holperin said.

The Democrat said the Republican's new 17-16 majority in the Senate will “signal the start of a new era of a moderate approach to public policy, starting with the governor.”

The crowd erupted with chants of "Recall Walker, recall Walker, recall Walker."

Holperin smiled at the crowd.

"Later,” he said as the crowd cheered some more.

-- By Bob Imrie

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 10:35 PM 

Wirch says hard work, anger at Walker fueled win

State Sen. Bob Wirch credited a combination of retail politics, anger at Gov. Scott Walker and a lack of resources for his GOP challenger in today’s win.

Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie, also noted Republican Jonathan Steitz is the third attorney he’s beaten in the Kenosha-area district, including now-RNC Chair Reince Priebus in 2004.

“I love it when they put lawyers up against me, especially corporate lawyers,” Wirch told WisPolitics.com in an interview from his Election Night party.

With 100 percent of the vote in, Wirch had 25,541 votes, or 58 percent, to 18,838 votes, or 42 percent for Steitz, according to unofficial returns.

Wirch also told WisPolitics he will make a decision on his political future within the next month. Under the map Republicans approved last month, Wirch has been drawn out of the 22nd SD for the 2012 election. Barring a successful challenge to the map, Wirch will either have to run against GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard in a new district that largely includes the rural areas of Kenosha and Racine counties or move into a new district that is most comprised of the cities of Kenosha and Racine.

“I’m going to talk to my family and staff and will be making a decision certainly within the next month on my future,” he said.

Appearing on “UpFront with Mike Gousha” this weekend, Wirch demurred when asked whether the recall elections were proper. But he said tonight they were worth it and sent a clear message about the anger and frustration in the electorate and said he hoped it would set a different path for the Legislature over the remainder of the session.

“I think there will be a different tone,” he said. “I believe even the governor is talking a more moderate way because he’s worried about being recalled. Maybe they’ll even follow up that moderate talk with some moderate action.”

-- By JR Ross

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 9:50 PM 

Holperin inching closer

State Sen. Jim Holperin continues to inch his way toward re-election.

According to a WisPolitics tally of the vote, Holperin has 23,886 votes, or 53.7 percent, to 20,553, or 46.2 percent for GOP opponent Kim Simac.

At this point, we're only missing numbers from Lincoln County, which is doing a hand count, along with a handful from Florence, Forest and Oneida counties.

-- By JR Ross

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 9:20 PM 

Wirch takes lead

With Kenosha County returns still coming in, Dem Sen. Bob Wirch has opened up a led on GOP challenger Jonathan Steitz.

With 51 percent of the vote in, Wirch has 55 percent to 45 percent for Steitz.

-- By Staff

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 9:18 PM 

Holperin: 'I feel pretty good about the numbers'

Dem state Sen. Jim Holperin expressed some confidence to supporters just now, telling them he's doing better in some precincts than he did thee years ago.

Holperin said he's waiting to see final numbers from Antigo, Merrill and Rhinelander to know for sure whether his optimism will hold up.

"I feel pretty good about the numbers," Holperin said. "It leads me to be pretty optimistic about the outcome."

-- By Bob Imrie

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 8:45 PM 

Some early returns

Here are some early returns.

In the 12th, with 19 percent reporting:
54% - Sen. Jim Holperin, D-Conover (Incumbent)
46% - Kim Simac, R-Eagle River

In the 22nd, with 14 percent reporting:
44% - Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie (Inc.)
56% - Jonathan Steitz, R-Pleasant Prairie

-- By Staff

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 8:44 PM 

Holperin, Simac parties starting up

Supporters of state Sen. Jim Holperin and GOP challenger Kim Simac have gathered to watch election returns as they await the outcome of today’s most watched recall race.

Holperin’s backers gathered at the Best Western Claridge Hotel in downtown Rhinelander. About 75 people are packed into a small room off the Claridge Club, the hotel bar. Many are wearing green Holperin for Senate T-shirts or red We Are Wisconsin T-shirts.

There was a round of applause after it was announced that Holperin won Sugar Camp, a GOP area. According to the Oneida County Clerk's website, Holperin had 453 votes there to 412 for Simac.

Simac’s backers are at the Eagle River Inn. The banquet room currently has around 45 people in it gathered around the bar and tables set up on the dance floor. The Brewers game is on TV, but it seems most of the supporters are talking amongst themselves.

Meanwhile, the four TV stations in attendance have their cameras aimed at the lectern where Simac will likely speak later this evening

-- By Bob Imrie and Arthur Thomas

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 8:19 PM 

Kenosha County turnout looking like 55 percent

Kenosha County Clerk Mary Schuch-Krebs said turnout would likely be 55 percent there, rivaling a normal gubernatorial election.

One ward in the city of Kenosha ran out of ballots, and Schuch-Krebs estimated it was some 15 minutes or so that voters couldn't cast ballots. The ward captain realized ballots were running low and called the clerk's office, which printed up 300 additional ballots and delivered them to the polling site.

-- By JR Ross

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 5:12 PM 

August 16 recall roundup - Headlines, commentary and press releases

HEADLINES
* In Wisconsin recalls, GOP looking to win one back
* In final Wisconsin recall, signs of a national tea party backlash?
* Tight race expected in final Wisconsin recall
* Wisconsin Democrats aim to hold on in recall votes today
* Final recall races today
* After dramatic summer, recall races take final bow
* Today marks the last of the recall elections

COMMENTARY
* Rebecca Kemble: Spinning the recalls
* Christian Schneider: Wisconsin heads back to the polls, again
* Emily Mills: Two more Senate recalls, searching for a healthier Wisconsin
* Kevin Binversie: Wisconsin gears up for recall finale
* Randy Melchert: What to watch: Senate District 12 -* Jim Holperin v. Kim Simac

PRESS RELEASES
* Recall Wirch: Correcting misstatements by Sen. Wirch
* Simac Campaign: Holperin record in Madison is bad for jobs
* Simac Campaign: Unemployment in the 12th: The Holperin effect
* Steitz Campaign: Politifact determines Wirch claim a "Pants on Fire"
* We Are Wisconsin: Top reasons corporate attorney Jonathan Steitz is wrong for SD22
* Wisconsin Wave: Election integrity activists to monitor Tuesday’s recall elections
* WisDems: While Jim Holperin stands up for the northwoods, Kim Simac fails to show up

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 2:51 PM 

Clerks say turnout brisk in 12th, 22nd

Clerks in the 12th and 22nd districts are reporting high turnout in today's recall election, but no real problems at the polls.

The clerk's office in Rhinelander reported turnout approaching that of a presidential election, with a line stretching outside of a VFW post serving as one of the polling places.

Eagle River reported “brisk” turnout with 294 of the city's 772 registered voters having voted as of 1 p.m. Clerk Debra Brown said the turnout has been busier than most elections and so far closer to what they normally see in presidential elections compared to a spring election.

Turnout in Antigo and Merrill has also been brisk, with the clerks there reporting turnout higher than spring elections, but below fall elections. Merrill City Clerk Bill Heideman said he anticipated high turnout and that it has met his expectations so far. Crivitz reported turnout so far typical of a spring election, with 119 of 550 registered voters voting as of 1 p.m.

In the 22nd SD, Burlington had seen about 1,200 of its approximately 5,800 registered voter at the polls today. The clerk's office reported that the polling places have been busy, and that turnout has been heavier than a spring election, but below that of a presidential election.

In Twin Lakes, 500 of the city's 2,821 registered voters voted as of 1:30 p.m., which the clerk's office said is about what the village sees in a spring election. While there have been lines, they've been moving well all day, the clerk said.

Silver Lake has seen steady turnout, but has hit an afternoon lull, Clerk/Treasurer Terry Faber said. Out of about 1,200 registered voters, Faber said 295 had voted as of 2:30 p.m.

-- By David Wise

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 12:14 PM 

Long lines in Arbor Vitae, Kenosha

State election officials have received complaints of long lines in Arbor Vitae in the 12th SD and Kenosha in the 22nd. But things are going smoothly otherwise with a fairly high turnout, GAB Director Kevin Kennedy says.

Kennedy said the Government Accountability Board has advised officials in Arbor Vitae and Kenosha to split up the poll books to create more lines when voters check in and speed up the process.

He also said the Kenosha County DA has received complaints of electioneering at some polling sites, largely because of bumper stickers on cars. No electioneering is allowed within 100 feet of a polling place.

Kennedy said officials in reality aren't going to enforce the ban on someone pulling into a parking lot to vote and then leave. The issue is when cars are parked in front of polling sites intentionally with political messages and left there for the day.

He also said some of the complaints are over bumper stickers calling for the recall of Gov. Scott Walker. But such messages aren't covered by the electioneering ban since the guv isn't on the ballot today.

A coalition of groups including the Election Defense Alliance, the Wisconsin Wave and Protect California Ballots announced it has trained volunteers to conduct exit polling in both Senate districts. The groups don't believe electronic voting machines are accurate and have been conducting exit polling during the recall elections.

There was a conflict in the Milwaukee suburb of Milwaukee last week, and the GAB has received other complaints about exit polling volunteers. But Kennedy said he's heard of no issues so far today.

-- By JR Ross

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 9:22 AM 

Campaigns set Election Night plans

The candidates in today's recall elections have lined up where they'll spend Election Night.

Sen. Jim Holperin, D-Conover plans to be in Rhinelander at the Claridge Best Western Club House Restaurant, while GOP challenger Kim Simac will stay in her hometown at the Eagle River Inn. Both parties kick off as the polls close at 8 p.m.

In the 22nd SD recall, Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie, will hold his party at 8 at the Kenosha UAW hall, while Jon Steitz's campaign event starts at 7 p.m. at the Brat Stop in Kenosha.

-- By Staff


Monday, August 15, 2011

 4:04 PM 

Both sides optimistic on turnout efforts in 12th Senate District

WAUSAU – On the eve of a historic summer election in northern Wisconsin, political leaders say enthusiasm remains high even though the outcome means little to the balance of power in the state Senate.

“Our office is wall-to-wall full here,” Phil Walzak, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party, said in a telephone interview from Rhinelander on Monday, referring to volunteers. “The shifts are full.”

Matt Capristo, a spokesman for the state Republican Party, estimated 50 to 100 volunteers were making telephone calls and knocking on doors to back his party’s get-out-the-vote strategy at midday Monday.

“We are getting enough (help),” he said. “There is a lot of enthusiasm”

In Tuesday’s District 12 Senate recall, incumbent Jim Holperin, a 60-year-old Democrat with a long resume in government and politics, faces political newcomer Kim Simac, a 52-year-old small business owner, political newcomer and tea party activist who organized Holperin's recall.

District 12 includes all or parts of 11 mostly rural counties, stretching from near Wausau to Marinette, Rhinelander and Eagle River.

Holperin, who narrowly won the seat in November 2008 against another small business owner, survived a similar recall when he was in the state Assembly in 1990 amidst angst over the Chippewa Indians’ reviving special fishing rights retained in century-old treaties.

Holperin and 13 other Democratic senators fled to Illinois in February for three weeks to thwart passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill, a move that ultimately failed to block passage of the legislation.

Holperin contends the move was responsible and gave the people of Wisconsin more time to consider Walker’s anti-union changes. Simac’s campaign characterizes the move as walking off the job and leaving constituents with no voice.

No matter the outcome of Holperin’s race, Republicans will keep control of the Senate, after GOP incumbents won four of six recalls last week and one Democrat was re-elected earlier. The only remaining races involve Holperin and fellow Democratic incumbent Robert Wirch. After last week's races, Republicans hold 17 Senate seats and Democrats have 16.

Walzak said the Democratic Party was mounting a “full-fledged voter turnout” for Tuesday with volunteers “eager to protect” Holperin and the gains Democrats made in ousting two Republican senators last week.

“While the Senate didn’t flip, it is a much different Senate than a week ago,” he said. “We made some strides. Moderates and progressives have new influence. Our volunteer pool continues to be strong.”

Elizabeth Novak, an organizer for the Democratic Party in Rhinelander, estimated about 300 different volunteers have worked on Holperin’s behalf, mostly knocking on doors and distributing campaign literature, since Friday.

The campaign has set up “satellite offices” in Antigo, Tomahawk and Merrill for the final push, she said.

“We haven’t changed anything,” she said. “We are doing what we planned to do – making sure we turn out our supporters.”

Capristo said he felt good about his party’s get-out-the-vote effort, predicting up to a 45 percent turnout for the historic recall. Some top Republican officials, including the lieutenant governor, have visited the district to campaign for Simac in recent days.

“There is a reason for this recall,” Capristo said. “People are upset.”

Simac was spending the final hours of her first run for elective office on what she called a “pickup truck tour” of Lincoln and Langlade counties, hauling a 4-foot by 8-foot campaign sign and making stops to shake hands and greet voters, Capristo said.

“We are doing out best to get to every single township,” he said.

Holperin attended an AARP picnic in Rhinelander on Monday and planned a later stop in Antigo, Novak said. He planned to spend much of Tuesday in Vilas County’s Lac du Flambeau, she said.

-- By Robert Imrie
For WisPolitics.com

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 11:31 AM 

Red Racing Horses has 12th SD Holperin 51, Simac 49

A poll commissioned by the conservative Red Racing Horses blog has a much closer race in the 12th SD than a survey done for the liberal website Daily Koss.

The poll, done by the GOP consulting firm We Ask America, found 51 percent of those surveyed backed state Sen. Jim Holperin, D-Conover, while 49 percent backed Tea Party activist and small business owner Kim Simac.

The Daily Kos poll had Holperin up 55-41.

It also found 41 percent of those surveyed approved of the job President Obama has been doing, while 56 percent approved.

The blog post on the poll says the sample size was 1,384 and the survey was conducted over the weekend, but it does not include specifics on the date or whether participants were screened for likely voters. We've emailed the blog for the polling memo.

The blog post puts the margin of error at plus or minus 2.62 percentage points and says the break down of those surveyed was 28 percent Dems, 28 percent Republicans and 43 percent independents.

UPDATE: 2:53 p.m. -- The sample was likely voters, and the survey was conducted Saturday and Sunday. See the polling memo here.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:14 AM 

Daily Kos has Holperin, Wirch up double digits

The liberal website Daily Kos has Dem Sens. Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch up double digits ahead of tomorrow's recall elections in their districts.

In the 12th, the Dem firm Public Policy Polling found 55 percent of those surveyed backed Holperin compared to 41 percent who supported Tea Party activist and small business owner Kim Simac.

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed approved of Holperin's job performance, while 42 percent disapproved. Meanwhile, 40 percent had a favorable impression of Simac, while 54 percent had an unfavorable impression of her.

President Obama's job approval numbers were upside down at 44-49, while Gov. Scott Walker's were 45-53.

The poll of 1,387 likely voters was done Friday through Sunday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

In the 22nd, Wirch led GOP attorney Jonathan Steitz 55-42.

Wirch's job approval numbers were 55-42, while Steitz's favorability rating was 41-48.

Obama's job approval numbers were 41-51, while Walker's were 44-53.

The survey of 1,130 likely voters was done Friday through Sunday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:07 AM 

August 15 AM recall roundup - Headlines, commentary

HEADLINES
- Two Democratic recalls can't sway Wisconsin Senate
- Dems won't reclaim majority in state Senate
- Veteran lawmaker Wirch faces newcomer in Steitz
- Campaigns stepping up effort as Wirch-Steitz election nears
- Recall votes show state's 50-50 split: Job creation a top priority, says GOP representative
- Recalls let clerks test new Wisconsin voting rules: ID requirements go into effect next year
- Wisconsin is a 50/50 state once more
- 2 more to go in Summer of recalls
- Going into the recall election, Simac maintains job growth is key
- Recalls could give Senate moderates more power
- Recall Revisited: One Last Look at the Numbers in the 8th Senate District

COMMENTARY
- Scot Ross: Recalls restore accountability
- Steve Prestegard: Whom to vote for Aug. 16
- Aaron Rodriguez: Senator Robert Wirch versus Jonathan Steitz
- Emily Mills: What's next after the dust settles, part one
- Michael Leon: Wisconsin Dems 8-4 going into final two recall elections
- Bill Kraus: Review session
- Joel McNally: So goes the nation
- Christina Beam: Third parties took over campaign
- James Fitzhenry: The rise and fall of Randy Hopper
- Greg Sargent: Wisconsin recall fight ends where it began: With a Big Lie
- Brett Hulsey: The GOP priority: Their job, not yours
- Kevin Binversie: Is there a better way to recall? Yes
- J. Gravelle: Wirch campaign eradicates the “u” word

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

 8:40 AM 

12th District race falls in importance, but voters still engaged

ANTIGO -- Anne Pregler of Antigo intends to vote in Tuesday’s historic recall of a northern Wisconsin state senator -- if her job doesn’t take her from town too long. The 47-year-old traveling merchandiser said Friday she was still unsure how she would vote, but senses plenty of excitement around town and plenty of advocacy.

“We have phone calls at 9 at night wanting to know who you are voting for,” Pregler said as she filled up her car with $3.59-a-gallon gasoline. “It gets a little annoying. I still get three calls a day. There’s a lot of pressure, or enthusiasm.”

What could have been a dramatic election in District 12 for majority control of the state Senate has evaporated into a summertime referendum on Sen. Jim Holperin, a 60-year-old Democrat with a long resume in government and politics, and whether voters want him replaced with political newcomer Kim Simac, a 52-year-old tea party activist who organized the recall against him.

No matter the outcome of Holperin’s race, Republicans will keep control of the Senate, after GOP incumbents won four of six recalls last Tuesday and one Democrat was re-elected earlier. Republicans have pick-up opportunities both in Holperin’s district and the 22nd in southeastern Wisconsin. But most view the Northwoods race as the only truly competitive one.

Fred Berner, editor of the Antigo Daily Journal, said Tuesday’s results have taken “maybe some of the glow” from the Holperin recall, but interest remains high because of so much advertising in a district that’s very divided politically and because both candidates made personal stops to court voters.

“Despite the fact it won’t make a difference in Madison, it will make a difference in who represents us up in the Northwoods,” he said. “People are fiercely interested in what happens here.”

Talking to voters in the sprawling District 12 that covers all or parts of 11 mostly rural counties with small towns stretching from near Wausau to Marinette to Eagle River provides ample evidence that people remain interested in having a say in the political turmoil that has rocked the state.

Tammy Welch of Merrill says she’s coming off the political sidelines because of the recall. She didn’t vote the last time the Senate seat came up in November 2008, when Holperin narrowly won.

She promises to vote Tuesday.

“The only way we are going to make a difference is by voting, whether it is summertime, wintertime or whatever,” said Welch, a 47-year-old tax professional and school bus driver. “We got to make a difference somehow.”

A Simac campaign sign sprouted from her front lawn along a busy Merrill street, but Welch said she was just being kind in letting Republican supporters put it up.

Welch called herself an independent and hadn’t decided yet who to back on Tuesday.

Sure, she said, she hears a deluge of television commercials for both sides but doesn’t want to rely on them to make her decision.

“I probably won’t know until I get there,” the grandmother said, referring to the voting booth.

Jamie Packard, a 34-year-old lumber inspector from Antigo, said he was excited about the special election and the opportunity to vote for Simac.

“I am going to vote for somebody who doesn’t leave the state, somebody who stands up for people,” Packard said. “It is time for our government to start doing things the right way. If I ran away from my job, I would get fired.”

Holperin and 13 other Democratic senators fled to Illinois in February for three weeks to thwart passage of Walker’s anti-union budget repair bill, a move that ultimately failed to block passage of the legislation.

Holperin contends the move was responsible and gave the people of Wisconsin more time to consider Walker’s sweeping, anti-union changes.

Emmit Winchell, a 67-year-old retired janitor in Merrill, will vote Tuesday and wants Holperin to win even though Democrats can’t gain complete power in the Senate.

“They ain’t going to take over. I know that,” Winchell said. “But at least even it out somewhat. At least we can have a fighting chance.”

A barrage of TV commercials, many from special interest groups, portray Simac as a too extreme, irresponsible small business owner who hasn’t paid state income taxes in some years and Holperin as a budget-busting, tax-loving spender who’s responsible for the state’s economic woes.

“I am so tired of getting stuff in the mail that I just throw it in the garbage,” said Diana Downing, 49, of Antigo.

Paul Wagner, a 50-year-old engineer from Merrill, said last Tuesday’s recall results could dampen some enthusiasm in District 12, but not his. He doesn’t want one of the candidates, whom he wouldn’t name, to win.

“I want to make my opinion known,” he said before teeing off with three out-of-town friends for a round of golf at Merrill Country Club on Friday. “You can’t complain if you don’t vote.”

Don Heinzen, 82, of the tiny village of Phlox outside of Antigo, said people in District 12 were energized to vote before last Tuesday’s six recalls were settled and he expects that to hold through the special election.

He will vote for Simac, he said, but believes the attack ads on TV against her will hurt her chances of winning.

“People tend to believe what they hear,” he said. “They made her look bad with that tax situation and that book in China.”

He referred to hundreds of thousands of dollars in TV ads that portray Simac as paying no state income taxes in some recent years and for having a book printed in China.

“It’s too bad,” Heinzen said. “It seems like money is the thing that puts them in office, rather than their qualifications.”

Mike Turney, owner of Langlade Abstract and Title, allowed a sign supporting Holperin outside the title company alongside a busy Antigo street.

Turney said he will vote Tuesday to cast what he calls an anti-recall vote. No one should be recalled over policy issues, he said.

“I haven’t agreed with everything Mr. Holperin has done, but I hope he wins,” Turney said. “People I have talked to are just tired of the whole thing.”

-- By Robert Imrie
For WisPolitics.com

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 8:30 AM 

UpFront: Collective bargaining a hot spot in Wirch/Steitz appearance

Dem state Sen. Bob Wirch and GOP challenger Jonathan Steitz sparred during their taping of “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” jostling over the guv’s collective bargaining changes and the recalls of nine state lawmakers.

Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie, called the collective bargaining changes the “worst attack on working people in the history of the state of Wisconsin.”

“With his mindset we would have been turning our back on people who are suffering, I’m not that type of politician,” Wirch said of his challenger.

Steitz ripped Wirch’s description of the changes to union powers.

“This was not the worst attack on working families; the worst attack on working families is the overspending and the continual tax increases Bob Wirch has been advocating for,” he said.

See UpFront viewing times in state markets here:
http://www.wisn.com/upfront/

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Friday, August 12, 2011

 5:12 PM 

August 12 recall roundup: New ads, headlines, PRs and commentary

AD WATCH
- Tea Party Express: 12th SD 30-second TV ad
- Tea Party Express: 22nd SD 30-second TV ad
- RSLC: "One Choice" 30-second TV ad

PRESS RELEASES
- Alliance for a Better Wisconsin: Steitz alleges mudslinging, willfully ignores the actions of his extreme and dangerous backers
- Steitz Campaign: Steitz victorious in first debate
- We Are Wisconsin: Steitz noticeably silent about his decision to rent to sex offender after Kenosha police open investigation on the issue
- Wisconsin Professional Police Association: Endorses Jim Holperin for re-election
- WisDems: Chicago lawyer Jonathan Steitz mocks Wisconsin fish fries
- WisDems: False attack ads against Bob Wirch must be removed from airwaves immediately
- WisDems: Kim Simac violates yet another campaign law
- WisDems: The irrelevancy of Jonathan Steitz

HEADLINES
- Holperin, Simac debate 12th District issues at forum
- Money still flows in North Woods state Senate race
- Holperin, Simac compete in recalls to represent North Woods
- Wirch and Steitz battling to the finish during JT online forum
- Wisc. results suggest recall of governor would be close
- Recall votes show state's 50-50 split
- For UW-L, Shilling win means loss of clout
- Vos wants to recall the recalls
- Recall changes not needed

COMMENTARY
- Charles Krauthammer: System works, from Wisconsin to Washington
- Mark Pocan: Scott Walker's ludicrous claim of victory
- Esther Cepeda: Wisconsin delivers message to big labor
- Tom Foley: Robin Vos clears the way for Mike Gableman recall
- Zach Wisniewski: Simac can't name a single piece of state legislation she supports or opposes
- Jud Lounsbury: Reality check: Republicans have had just as many recall efforts as Democrats and won ... zero, zip, nada
- Scott Wittkopf: Recall action ... Defend Holperin, Wirch -- then forward to Walker
- Tony Palmeri: The conservative case for recalling Governor Scott Walker
- Cory Liebmann: Defeat zealots on Aug. 16 ballot
- Lisa Mux: Kim Simac is Wisconsin’s own Sarah Palin, but she may win next Tuesday

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 8:05 AM 

Recall previews: SD 12 and SD 22

With the first seven recalls out of the way, attention now turns to the two Democratic senators facing elections next week.

In northern Wisconsin's 12th District, Democratic Sen. Jim Holperin is facing a challenge from Republican Kim Simac, who led the effort to collect signatures against him. And in southeast Wisconsin's 22nd District, Democratic Sen. Robert Wirch is facing political newcomer Jonathan Steitz.

Click below to read recent WisPolitics coverage and background on the two races:

SENATE DISTRICT 12

Aug. 9: Holperin and Simac meet for SD 12 debate

Aug. 8: Holperin defends departure from state as Simac looks to overcome inexperience, negative ads

July 29: District profile: Recall mixes political talk into Northwoods summertime conversation

July 18: Primary preview: Lussow playing catch-up to Holperin recall organizer Simac

SENATE DISTRICT 22

Aug. 8: Incumbent Wirch faces challenge from newcomer Steitz
- Wirch interview
- Steitz interview
- Steitz follow-up

Aug. 8: On the issues: Wirch and Steitz

July 18: Primary preview: GOP primary to find Wirch foe pits former sheriff vs. attorney in first race

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

 10:29 PM 

August 11 PM recall roundup - Ad watch and press releases

AD WATCH
* Simac Campaign: "We Decide" 30-second TV ad

PRESS RELEASES
* Emerge America and Emerge Wisconsin: Congratulate Emerge alumna Senator elect Jessica King
* Hansen Campaign: Government Accountability Board rejects opponent’s election complaint
* Media Trackers: Southeast Wisconsin trial lawyers finance Holperin, Holperin votes to protect trial lawyers
* One Wisconsin Now: In her own extreme words: Some of the worst "Stuff Simac Says"
* Rep. Ballweg: Statement on election results
* Rep. Barca: Statement on Rep. Vos’ recall bill
* Simac Campaign: Kim Simac releases new TV ad
* We Are Wisconsin: Kim Simac campaign illegally coordinates with California Tea Party extremists
* WisGOP: Dems in disarray: State Democratic Party breaks down amidst huge losses
* WisGOP: Recall worries for Holperin and Wirch?

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 11:08 AM 

August 11 AM recall roundup: Headlines, commentary

HEADLINES
- Walker ready to move past recalls
- Walker says focus moves back to jobs, economy after latest recall elections
- Walker says he'll focus on bipartisanship, jobs
- Democrats: Recall election wins show Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is vulnerable
- Expect a Walker recall election to happen, and expect it to be really close
- Walker recall expected to proceed
- For Wisconsin Democrats, recall of Gov. Scott Walker would be tall order
- Unions look for silver lining in Wisconsin recalls
- Activists, Dems still set sights on Walker recall effort
- With 2 more recall elections next week, both sides find positives
- Recall results could usher in rise of moderate Republicans
- Final two recall elections could lead to state’s first tea party senator
- Recall aftermath: Now what?
- The importance of being Schultz
- Republicans fend off Dem challenge to tough anti-union rules
- Candidates react to victories and defeats
- GOP keeps Senate majority as Democrats gain two seats
- Vos: ‘recall the recall elections’
- Vos proposes stricter recall rules
- SD 8: Democrats Remove Vote Tampering Allegations in Recall Election
- SD 10: Harsdorf overcomes recall attempt: some vote analysis
- SD 12: Holperin, Simac pledge to continue recall campaign fight
- SD 14: Healthy turnout: Olsen-Clark race drew 58% of county voters
- SD 18: King's election marks first Democrat win in Senate district in decades

COMMENTARY
- Tom Still: After the recalls: Time to get back to business on Wisconsin's economy
- Howard Dean: This is what a 50 state strategy looks like
- E.J. Dionne Jr.: In Wisconsin, conservatives win, liberals gain
- Steve Prestegard: The recall election hangover blog
- Dominique Paul Noth: Recall failures delude GOP into inflating numbers
- David Blaska: R.I.P. to the stillborn Walker recall
- Bill Christofferson: Dan Bice: Disappointing
- Tom Foley: Congratulations Wisconsin Governor Dale Schultz
- Elizabeth DiNovella: Recalling the morning after
- Alan Borsuk: Wisconsin's angry message for America
- Jack Craver: Recall elections once again show Wisconsin's purple pedigree
- Abe Sauer: No closure for Wisconsin after recall elections fail
- John Nichols: Scott Walker throws Kapanke and Hopper under the bus
- Kevin Binversie: Unions go all in, lose big
- Ed Garvey: Another look
- Nate Silver: Wisconsin results suggest recall of governor would be close
- Jim Rosenberg: Spinning aside, the GOP lost
- Steve Eggleston: Recall mania – Round 3 post-mortem
- Peter Patau: Now more than ever, don't give up!
- Zach Wisniewski: My thoughts on the recall elections
- Owen Robinson: Post-election wrap-up

See more commentary at www.wisopinion.com

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

 5:12 PM 

Vos prepping amendment to change recall rules

Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, says he's drafting a constitutional amendment that would require future recall petitions to include a reason for recall related to the elected representative's official responsibilities.

Vos told WisPolitics this afternoon he's looking to pattern the amendment after other states that list specific reasons for recall, potentially including convictions for felonies or misdemeanors and ethics violations.

He said the Dem senators who left the state to prevent a quorum could be considered within the scope of the amendment since they were determined to be in contempt of the Senate, but that he's more concerned with working with Dems to ensure that a single vote wouldn't be enough to trigger a recall in the future.

"This is not about the recalls that have already happened," Vos said.

Vos said that requirement is currently in place for recalls at the local government level, and that the amendment would simply make the standard uniform for state officials as well. He said he intends to make it the first bipartisan legislation passed during the fall floor session.

Constitutional amendments must pass both chambers of the Legislature in consecutive sessions and a statewide referendum to become law.

See the press release

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 5:10 PM 

August 10 PM recall roundup: Still plenty of press releases

PRESS RELEASES
American Federation for Children: School Choice supporters hold seats in Wisconsin Senate; education reform majority upheld
Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama: Wisconsin Democrat Senator facing recall to feel heat from TV & radio ad campaign
CERS: Sen. Fitzgerald statement on election results
Citizen Action of Wisconsin: Last night's recall elections a step toward restoring economic opportunity
Dane Co. GOP: Wisconsin defeats big labor...again
Darling Campaign: Darling wins for taxpayers of Wisconsin
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee: Historic
Democratic Party of Wisconsin: On GOP turf, Dems expose vulnerability of Walker, Republicans
GOPAC: GOP election wins show fiscal responsibility is needed
Gov. Walker: Statement on election results
Harsdorf Campaign: Western Wisconsin stands with Sheila
NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin: Statement on special election results
Pasch Campaign: The fight will continue
People for the American Way: Celebrates victory of Wisconsin voters over corporate special intersts
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin: Two new pro-choice women in the Wisconsin Senate, Chris Taylor headed to Capitol
Rep. Fitzgerald: Statement on recall election results
Rep. Hulsey: Points to hyper-partisan, unpopular actions in response to GOP recall posturing
Rep. Vos: It's time to recall the recall elections
Republican Party of Wisconsin: Embarrassing defeat for Democrats, labor bosses
Republican State Leadership Committee: Statement on Wisconsin recall elections
Sen. Larson: People of Wisconsin take historic steps to reclaim democracy, recall 2 Republican senators
Simac Campaign: Kim Simac embarks on district wide "truck stop" tour
Simac Campaign: Kim Simac's statement on Republican recall races
Tea Party Express: Celebrates resounding WI Senate victories
Two pro-worker, pro-family wins in recall elections
U.S. Sen. Johnson: Statement regarding Wisconsin recall elections
We Are Wisconsin: Statement on tonight's recall elections
Wisconsin AFL-CIO: Middle class Wisconsin fights back
Wisconsin Education Association Council: Statement on recall elections
Wisconsin Family Action: Recall election results good for Wisconsin's families
Wisconsin GrandSons of Liberty: Patriot groups grassroots victory
Wisconsin Right to Life: Victory at the polls
WisDems: Jonathan Steitz sex offender rental violates Kenosha ordinance
WisDems: Statement from the Democratic leader Mark Miller on tonight's election results
WisDems: Tuesday's results
WisDems: Waukesha County tampering
WisGOP: Statement on recall election results

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 12:12 PM 

Walker expects recall effort against him to continue, Tate wants to start ASAP

Gov. Scott Walker says he still expects opponents to try to recall him despite Dems falling short in their quest to take control of the state Senate.

But he told WisPolitics.com in an interview today that his sense is the public has “just had it” with campaigns and attack ads.

“The last thing people want to see is tens of millions of dollars come into Wisconsin again and drive up these negative ads,” Walker said. “They’ve had it with year-round campaigning, and they’re ready to move on.”

Meanwhile, state Dem Party Chairman Mike Tate this morning said he wants to attempt a recall of Walker "as soon as is feasible" and that he was encouraged by last night's results in recall elections despite Republicans maintaining a Senate majority.

"I believe that if last night's election were a statewide election that Scott Walker would have been recalled from office," Tate said in a conference call with reporters.

See more from the interview with Walker and the Tate conference call in today's WisPolitics.com PM Update.

-- By JR Ross and Andy Szal

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 11:26 AM 

August 10 AM recall roundup - Headlines and commentary from the day after

HEADLINES
- Republicans take 4 of 6 in recall elections, hold Senate
- Wis. GOP holds off Democrats in recall elections
- Republicans hold off Dems in recalls, win enough seats to keep majority in Senate
- GOP holds on to Senate, but Walker recall hopes still strong, opponents say
- Democrats mull recall of Gov. Walker
- Republicans keep Senate majority
- Wisconsin GOP holds on to Senate
- GOP keeps control of Wisc. state Senate
- Republicans keep slim majority in Wisconsin state Senate
- GOP holds on to Wis. Senate in recall elections: video
- In Wisconsin recall, voters vent anger at Washington-style politics
- Will Wisconsin recall clip Gov. Scott Walker's power? Three scenarios.
- Wisconsin Republicans hold on to state Senate
- Wisconsin Republicans Hold On to State Senate
- Republicans Hold On to Wisconsin Senate After Recall Vote
- Wisconsin Democrats fail to take back state Senate
- GOP maintains hold of WI Senate
- Voters hold strong views as they go to the polls for state recall elections

SD 2
- Cowles hangs on to District 2 seat in recall election

SD 8
- Darling claims victory over Pasch in costly race
- Darling defeats Pasch, holds District 8 seat
- Pasch concedes after long night
- Democrats retract accusations of tampering by Waukesha County Clerk Nickolaus

SD 10
- [58-42] Harsdorf holds off Moore, says win affirms voters' beliefs
- Harsdorf claims victory, wins by 9,849 votes


SD 12
- State Senate candidates provide answers to senior-related questions
- GAB dismisses GOP complaint against Holperin

SD 14
- [54-46] Olsen fends off Clark
- Sen. Luther Olsen survives recall challenge

SD 18
- King upsets Republican incumbent Hopper

SD 22
- Democrat Wirch outraises GOP challenger

SD 32
- [55-45] Shilling ousts Kapanke


COMMENTARY
- Josh Marshall: Was it worth it?
- Erick Erickson: Looking for big themes in Wisconsin
- Gregory Humphrey: Wisconsin Democrats should have danced with the one that 'brung ya'
- John Torinus: Wisconsin GOP agenda intact after recall
- Jeff Simpson: Recall election thoughts
- Christian Schneider: In spite of all that cash, unions came up short
- Chris Walker: Recall fallout -- Moderate Sen. Dale Schultz wins
- Jonathan Krause: Well, THAT was worth it
- Scott Wittkopf: Recall perspectives – bigger than Kathy Nickolaus and Alberta Darling
- Charlie Sykes: The recall flaw
- Chris Liebenthal: We haven't hit rock bottom yet?!
- John Nichols: Defeating two Republican senators on Republican turf adds up to recall success
- Steve Hanson: A long day in Fitzwalkerstan
- Peter Patau: Remember -- not matter how they spin it, the election was not a victory for the Republicans
- Rebecca Kemble: What we desperately need now
- Cindy Kilkenny: Recall round one: post mortem
- Daniel Bice: Winners and losers in Tuesday's election

See more commentary at www.wisopinion.com

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 8:30 AM 

On to the next one: Holperin and Simac meet for SD 12 debate

With the six Republican recalls out of the way, attention now turns to the two Democratic senators facing recalls next week. Sens. Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch face challenges from Kim Simac and Jonathan Steitz, respectively.

Holperin and Simac debated education funding in their first and only debate Tuesday evening.

Holperin, D-Conover, said the level of state cuts to K-12 education in the latest biennial budget could lead to consolidation or even elimination of some Northwoods school districts.

Simac, R-Eagle River, said the focus should be on using education funding to the best of local districts' abilities.

In the debate -- broadcast on WRJO-FM radio in Eagle River -- Holperin said school aid cuts combined with required property tax reductions in many communities "are going to be very troublesome for some of these school districts."

Simac countered that if $12 billion in K-12 funding needs to be the bottom line, "we will be successful." Simac said she had confidence in local district administrators and noted "report after report" that districts throughout the state had been resolving their budget shortfalls without laying off teachers.

Holperin charged that Simac has been "nothing but contentious" in her references to public education during her leadership of a local Tea Party group.

"I'm glad that now, as a candidate, you're talking highly of public education," Holperin said.

The candidates also sparred over the budget repair bill, with Simac charging that if Holperin had no problem voting for higher taxes in Gov. Jim Doyle's last budget that he "should have stayed and just voted no'' earlier this year.

Holperin noted he was one of only three Dems to vote for the fiscal elements of the repair bill after Senate Dems returned from Illinois, and said he had a problem with a number of policy items in the original bill -- including provisions to restrict public employee collective bargaining.

Holperin also said he sensed that voters were ready to move beyond "a bumper sticker platitude like, 'He left, and I won't.'"

The senator and challenger did agree on a number of issues, from increasing private sector development of high-speed Internet to strengthening investment in tourism to permitting mining in an environmentally responsible manner.

Simac repeatedly advocated for rolling back regulations that she believes make it more difficult to thrive in the Northwoods. She accused Holperin of being detached from the issues he helped create in Madison.

Holperin said he'll continue to stress to lawmakers from other parts of the state that Northwoods residents must be able to both protect and utilize the surrounding environment, saying people in Madison tend to view the area as "a large park up here that ought to be preserved."

He also said he'll push for bills currently working through the Legislature that would create additional economic enterprise zones, a tax credit for the hospitality industry and a sales tax compact on Internet retailers. Simac confessed she was "stumped" on current legislation in circulation, saying, "I can't name you a single one right now."

Both candidates decried the high levels of spending in the race, with Holperin saying ads from unregulated outside groups "do poison the well to a certain extent."

Simac charged that Holperin's campaign committee has been behind the negative ads along with outside groups, saying allegations about her tax record show "how out of touch Jim Holperin is with the issues facing his own constituents."

Holperin said his ads have done little more than reveal public records about his opponent.

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 1:15 AM 

GOP, Dems react to results

Both sides are reacting to Tuesday's results, with Republicans saying voters validated the first months of the Walker administration and Dems saying it's just the beginning.

"Voters made a clear choice to continue down the path of economic progress that Wisconsin has been on for the past seven months," said state GOP Executive Director Stephan Thompson. "The assault that was unleashed on our state by national unions and special interest groups has been defeated by the will of the taxpayers to move our state forward, and put the needs of Wisconsin families above union demands."

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said his caucus will "continue doing what we promised the people of Wisconsin."

"It looks like the special interests were able to defeat senators Hopper and Kapanke, two exceptional senators," Fitzgerald said. "They took a bullet for the taxpayers, and the people of Wisconsin owe them a debt of gratitude for putting the interests of the state before their own."

Senate Dem Leader Mark Miller of Monona said that while his party didn't win the majority "we have not lost."

"We pushed the Republicans and their special interest allies to the limit in strongly Republican districts," Miller said. "The middle class and working families stood up to the special interests and the right-wing extremists and won."

State Dem Party Chairman Mike Tate said his party has "begun the work of stopping the Scott Walker agenda" on GOP turf.

"On Tuesday night, Wisconsin spoke loud and clear with the recall of two entrenched Republicans," Tate said. "This is an accomplishment of historic proportions that I do not wish to be overshadowed by statements regarding results in the 8th Senate District."

Tate said the party would not pursue questions of irregularities in the 8th, where Republican Sen. Alberta Darling fended off a challenge from Dem Rep. Sandy Pasch.

Meanwhile, Gov. Scott Walker said that while voters sought fiscal responsibility and a focus on jobs last year, they "also want us to work together to grow jobs and improve our state."

"With that in mind, earlier this evening I reached out to the leadership of both the Republicans and Democrats in the Assembly and State Senate," Walker said. "I shared with them that I believe we can work together to grow jobs and improve our state."

-- By Andy Szal

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 1:01 AM 

Pasch party ends in confusion

Rep. Sandy Pasch's campaign gathering in Brown Deer ended in confusion after an upbeat atmosphere earlier in the night.

Shortly before 11:30 p.m., Pasch made a brief two-minute statement to her supporters. She asked them to remain at the election night party and enjoy themselves.

Before Pasch's speech, Graeme Zielinski of the state Democratic Party gave a statement to reporters alleging votes in Waukesha Co. had been "tampered" with and he said County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus was "sitting on votes."

After Pasch's speech, the situation at the party became confusing. The candidate was not seen or heard from after the brief speech and she left the party without giving a concession speech.

Representatives from her campaign said at first there would be no more statements from the Pasch campaign.

Those representatives said the campaign was reviewing numbers, particularly those from Waukesha County. At the time there appeared to be no intention by the campaign to concede this evening.

However, WisPolitics has confirmed Pasch did call Sen. Alberta Darling to concede and the campaign later released a statement from Pasch saying the campaign "fell short" of its desired result.

-- By Arthur W. Thomas

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 12:56 AM 

Darling: 'We did what you wanted us to do'


"We did it!" Alberta Darling exclaimed at 12:21 a.m.

"Listen to this. The taxpayers, the voters, said 'Do something different' in November; they said in April, 'Come on, we're with you' and this election they said, 'We're with you,' so let's have an end to this division in Wisconsin. Let's grow jobs and this economy."

"It was about my leadership to work for the people of this state. I'm very proud to say we stood up against the special interest groups, we stood up against the unions and we said, the voters count."

"I'm so excited, because this is a microcosm of the whole nation," Darling continued. "We did what you wanted us to do. We got control of the spending and the debt and the deficit ... without raising taxes on you. We stood up for you! We're going to keep doing that. We're going to grow jobs. We're going to make this state vital. We're going to have prosperity and opportunity for all."

Darling called up John Yingling, her campaign strategist since 1990, for a thank-you hug at the podium.

Afterward, Yingling said Darling's victory was a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker's budget and showed that voters believe it's working.

He also said the events of the past week, during which the United States saw its credit rating downgraded and the stock market plunged 600 points in one day, might have swayed voters at the last minute. "It convinced people we've got to get spending under control," said Yingling.

"On, Wisconsin!" Darling exclaimed.

-- By Kay Nolan

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 12:48 AM 

Pasch: 'We fell short'

Dem Rep. Sandy Pasch issued a statement saying she fell short of her desired result, but called Tuesday "a victory nonetheless."

"Against the longest odds, on Republican turf and facing on onslaught of special-interest cash, a coalition of grassroots voters stood an entrenched Republican to a virtual tie," Pasch said.

"All around the state, Wisconsin voters have stood up to the Scott Walker agenda that put our children, our working families, and our most vulnerable at risk."

-- By Staff

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 12:44 AM 

King says voters knew her, Hopper better than in '08

Dem Jess King came up 163 votes short against Republican Randy Hopper in their 2008 race. On Tuesday, she bested him by 1,251.

She said the difference is voters got to know them better over the past three years.

“It has to do with constituents really getting in touch with their public servants,” she said. “I think the grassroots effort of 23,000 constituents in the district was saying we want to exercise our constitutional rights to elect a representative who will truly represent us in the democratic process.”

The district is home to the highest concentration of public employees outside Dane County, and Hopper, R-Fond du Lac, was considered vulnerable heading into Tuesday's election in part because of his vote for the guv's collective bargaining changes that outraged public employees.

Some of the results Tuesday may reflect that, particularly in Waupun, home to one of the state’s prisons.

The southern half of the city is in Dodge County, and Hopper won that portion of the district by 322 votes three years ago. On Tuesday, King won it by 164 votes.

Hopper also saw his margin drop off dramatically in Fond du Lac County, where he won by 1,865 votes Tuesday compared to 4,094 votes in 2008 with turnout somewhat lower than three years ago.

King’s margin in Winnebago County was also down from 2008, but not nearly the drop off that Hopper saw in Fond du Lac County. She won in Winnebago County by 2,952 votes Tuesday compared to 4,253 votes in 2008.

Still, King said her win was due to more than just public employees.

“Individuals who were independents, who self-identified as Republicans, Democrats, people who never got engaged, they really saw an extreme agenda,” she said.

-- By JR Ross

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 12:38 AM 

Darling declares victory in 8th SD

GOP Sen. Alberta Darling declared victory early this morning, calling her win a victory for the taxpayers of Wisconsin.

Darling's campaign said Dem opponent Rep. Sandy Pasch called to concede the race, and a Dem spokeswoman confirmed the call. Pasch was expected to release a statement later today.

"This is a victory for the taxpayers of Wisconsin. They sent a strong message to the special interests – Wisconsin is not for sale," Darling said.

Darling's win secures the majority in the state Senate for Republicans at 17-16 with two Dem senators facing recall elections in one week.

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 12:01 AM 

Shilling calls win repudiation of GOP majority, talks of working with GOP Sen. Schultz

Dem Rep. Jen Shilling says GOP Sen. Dan Kapanke used to enjoy support from across the political spectrum because of his moderate image. But the GOP agenda this year changed that.

“This was a resounding rejection of the hard-right turn that his state has taken and the overreach over Governor Walker and his extreme agenda that he pushed through with very little citizen input and transparency and openness in Wisconsin,” Shilling said.

With 97 percent of the vote in, Shilling had 31,868 votes, or 55 percent, to 25,902 votes, or 45 percent, according to unofficial returns.

With Republicans holding a 17-16 majority after today’s results, Shilling called the GOP majority “tenuous” and talked of working with GOP Sen. Dale Schultz of Richland Center to find compromise in the split chamber. Schultz voted against the collective bargaining changes, and Shilling predicted he will become an important factor in the chamber.

Two Dem lawmakers face recall elections next week that could impact the size of the GOP majority.

“I think he has tried to distance himself from the Republicans and Governor Walker and that there may be some areas of common ground, common interest that the Democrats would work with him,” Shilling said.

-- By JR Ross

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

 11:58 PM 

Pasch campaign shuts down for the night

A representative of the Pasch campaign just told WisPolitics the campaign is currently reviewing the numbers and "that's where we're going to leave it for the night."

He added there would be no more statements from the campaign.

UPDATE, 12:19 AM: A tweet from the Pasch campaign says "Neither Sandy or the Democratic Party will issues [sic] any statements tonight. Thank you very much for your support tonight."

-- By Arthur W. Thomas

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 11:55 PM 

Darling: 'I'm waiting for a call from my opponent'

At 11:40 p.m., a jubilant Darling announced, "I'm waiting for a call from my opponent."

She introduced her campaign staff. "This is Team Darling," she said.

Darling complained again about "having to be escorted by police" at the state Capitol during protests in February and March. "These people had to deal with day in and day out intimidation and just plain meanness," she said of her staff. "You didn't hear about the bullying."

The remaining crowd, still well over 100 people, chanted, "Alberta. Alberta. Alberta."

-- By Kay Nolan

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 11:51 PM 

Harsdorf says win reaffirms GOP agenda

State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, called her win in the 10th SD a reaffirmation of the GOP agenda in Madison.

“I think what we saw today in the 10th Senate District is people stood with us as we made the tough decisions and recognize that we’re heading in the right direction,” Harsdorf said.

With all precincts reporting, Harsdorf had 37,099 votes, or 58 percent, to 27,250 votes, or 42 percent, according to unofficial returns.

Moore, a River Falls teacher, ripped “millions in outside money” that she said made outlandish claims about her. She said the odds were against her from the start as she took on an incumbent who she accused of not being interested in running an issues-oriented campaign.

“What I hope she hears is 27,000 people turned out in the summer to say they were dissatisfied with her work and she needs to listen, not just to her friends,” Moore said.

Harsdorf said it’s clear that you don’t please everyone in an election. But the results to her clearly show voters are seeing the reforms Republicans passed this year to change the way government operates are working.

With Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, expected to win her race, Republicans are looking at coming back to the Senate with a 17-16 majority, depending on what happens in the recall elections of two Dem senators in one week. She said she expected the focus of the caucus to remain the same.

“I think we’re going to keep the focus on growing our economy and creating an environment in which we see job growth,” she said.

-- By JR Ross

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 11:47 PM 

Taylor wins Madison-area Assembly seat

In a far less publicized race this evening, Planned Parenthood activist Chris Taylor won her uncontested race to replace Dane Co. Exec. Joe Parisi in the 48th Assembly District.

Taylor won a crowded Dem primary in the Madison-area district last month. The Dane County Clerk's election results website was unavailable this evening, but reports show Taylor received 5,459 votes, with 591 write-in votes for others.

-- By Andy Szal


 11:41 PM 

Pasch crowd thins out

Since Sandy Pasch asked her supporters to "stay and have fun," the crowd his thinned substantially.

The crowds around both TVs are smaller and the temperature in the room seems to have dropped.
The mood seems to remain somewhat lighthearted as supporters are still talking and enjoying themselves.

There was a small spattering of boos from the area around one of the TVs.

-- By Arthur W. Thomas

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 11:40 PM 

Tate: 'Dark cloud' hangs over Waukesha Co. results

State Dem Party Chairman Mike Tate accused Waukesha Co. Clerk Kathy Nickolaus of vote tampering in her 8th SD wards in a statement released by the party.

"The race to determine control of the Wisconsin Senate has fallen in the hands of the Waukesha County clerk, who has already distinguished herself as incompetent, if not worse," Tate said. "She is once more tampering with the results of a consequential election and in the next hours we will determine our next course of action. For now, Wisconsin should know that a dark cloud hangs over these important results."

-- By Andy Szal

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 11:30 PM 

Pasch makes first appearance at her party

Sandy Pasch just made her first appearance of the night at her campaign party.

She walked in to chants of "Sandy, Sandy, Sandy." She then thanked all her volunteers.

"The whole world is looking at us, so thanks for everything you've done."

Pasch then gave a "shout-out," to fellow Democrats Jen Shilling and Jessica King, who both won in their recall attempts.

She said her race is too close to call as results are still coming in.

Pasch concluded her remarks by asking supporters to stay and have fun.

"We're going to have a good time tonight," she said.

-- By Arthur W. Thomas

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 11:18 PM 

Dems pack Madison theater for election night party

Madison's Majestic Theater usually plays host to concerts and DJ dance parties, but Tuesday's recall election night saw the venue packed to capacity for a different reason as election results rolled in and leaders of the state Democratic Party took the stage.

The atmosphere was celebratory, occasionally tense. Upon hearing news of Jessica King's win against Republican incumbent Randy Hopper, the Majestic crowd exploded with cheers, pumped fists in the air and hugged each other.

For Paula Volpiansky, the win was the culmination of weeks of hard work at the King phone bank.

"It's what I've been doing all my waking hours when I'm not working full-time as a state employee," said Volpiansky, adding that after making calls all day, the King victory "made me feel all the work was worth it."

When faced with the more sobering prospect of a potential GOP victory in the Alberta Darling-Sandy Pasch race, Majestic party-goers were more cautious.

"It's hard to tell," said Jacob Miller, who had been at the theater since polls closed. "It probably won't be decided tonight."

-- By Alison Bauter

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