• WisPolitics

Monday, April 30, 2012

 3:57 PM 

Walker raised more than $13 million

Gov. Scott Walker's campaign announced today he raised more than $13 million during the most recent reporting period pushing his overall haul to fend off a recall attempt at $25 million.

Walker's campaign said in a release he finished the pre-primary period, which covers through April 23, with $4.8 million in recall and general campaign funds.

Walker's campaign said he received 125,926 donations during the period with 96,292 of those $50 or less, representing 76.4 perecnt of the overall contributions.

Walker's fundraising overshadows what Dem rivals Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk said they raised during the period. Barrett's campaign announced Friday he raised $750,000 in a little more than three weeks after getting into the race March 30. Falk's campaign said she raised $1 million between mid-January and April 23.

-- By JR Ross


 12:27 PM 

WMC ad says Walker laid foundation for job growth, but some want state to slip

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce today released a TV ad saying Gov. Scott Walker has laid the foundation for job growth, but some want the state to "slip backward."

The spot features a sport utility vehicle at the base of a hill and shows it trying to climb up as the narrator says a monstrous debt left Wisconsin with a huge uphill climb.

"Scott Walker made tough choices and started that climb," the narrator says, adding there were "bumpy first steps."

"But some want to slip backward to higher taxes, reckless spending, fewer jobs and endlessly fighting old battles," the narrator says. "Wisconsin is finally getting some traction. We can’t afford to spin our wheels again."

-- By JR Ross


 12:19 PM 

Firefighters union begins TV ad promoting Dem lt. guv candidate Mitchell

A group associated with the International Association of Fire Fighters is starting a new TV ad promoting Dem Mahlon Mitchell for lt. guv.

The narrator opens the spot by saying Mitchell has put his life on the line to protect and serve the public during his 15 years as a firefighter.

"Now Mahlon Mitchell is answering the call again, running for lieutenant governor to restore integrity to Wisconsin’s government," the narrator says.

The narrator ads the state needs new leaders, "public servants with the courage to end corporate tax giveaways, invest in our schools and address the real needs of families.

“It’s time to get Wisconsin working again, and Mahlon Mitchell is a proven leader who can make things happen," the spot concludes as the narrator urges a vote for Mitchell.

The group Fire Fighters for Mitchell says the ad will run statewide until the May 8 primary. It also said it will be running ads, executing a social media campaign and coordinating efforts with other independent expenditure groups supporting Mitchell through direct mail and GOTV efforts through the June 5 general election.

-- By JR Ross


 10:43 AM 

Hovde releases new TV ad attacking Wall Street/D.C. connection

U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde is putting out his third television ad, which says that Wall Street and Washington D.C. are taking advantage of American taxpayers.

The 30-second television ad, entitled "Wall Street to Washington," shows Hovde in front of a map of the United State. He then circles Wall Street, saying their investors have given campaign contributions to D.C. as a form of "cheap insurance."

"Wall Street committed fraud, Washington turned a blind eye, and when it all fell apart, our taxpayer money bailed them out," Hovde says, while drawing a line between Wall Street and Washington D.C. "It's greed, it's corruption, and they're both taking us for a ride."

Hovde then ends by saying "politicians won't fix this mess, but you and I can." -- By Jason Smathers

Friday, April 27, 2012

 11:43 AM 

RSLC goes on the air in 23rd SD

The Republican State Leadership Committee -- which has already run ads ahead of upcoming recall elections for lt. governor and in the 29th Senate district -- today announced a TV ad criticizing former Rep. Kristen Dexter, D-Eau Claire.

The spot accuses Dexter, who's challenging Sen. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls, in the 23rd SD, of "giving your money away with both hands."

An announcer says Dexter "voted for $39 million in pork barrel spending" and "gave her approval to a government takeover of health care" -- which the spot says would cost $15 billion and provide "new government care even for illegal immigrants."

-- By Andy Szal


 11:27 AM 

Falk raised $1 million since January

Kathleen Falk's guv campaign announced today she raised $1 million in the pre-primary reporting period.

The campaign statement does not include a cash on hand number or other details of Falk's pre-primary report, which is due Monday and covers her fundraising since Jan. 1.

Dem rival Tom Barrett says he raised $750,000 in the 25 days after getting into the guv race March 30.

Falk reported in January, before getting into the guv's race, that she had $25,862 in her campaign account at the end of 2011. She announced her candidacy Jan. 18.

-- By JR Ross


 11:13 AM 

DPW: WMC to spend just under $1M on ads in gov. race

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin this morning charged that Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce is set to begin running a TV ad campaign of just under $1 million at the end of the month.

In a conference call with reporters, DPW Chairman Mike Tate said the state business group will run the ads in the Wausau, Green Bay, La Crosse/Eau Claire, Madison and Milwaukee markets. He said the party doesn't know the content of the ads, but charged they would be an effort to "hide Scott Walker's job loss economy."

"Scott Walker and WMC have turned Wisconsin into a laughingstock nationally when in comes to jobs," Tate said.

Tate said that despite a large gap in spending on Walker's behalf already, "this race is still by all measures very close, very competitive."

"From the beginning, we've known that we were going to be outspent tremendously," Tate said.

A WMC spokesman did not immediately return a call from WisPolitics.

-- By Andy Szal


 10:30 AM 

Barrett raised $750,000 in 25 days

Tom Barrett's campaign announced today the Dem guv hopeful raised $750,000 in 25 days.

Barrett's announcement did not include how much he spent during the period or a cash on hand number. It noted Barrett had nearly $500,000 in his warchest when he entered the guv's race March 30 and said 99 percent of his donations came from individual contributors.

Pre-primary reports are due Monday for recall candidates. They cover the period between Jan. 1 or the date of a candidate's last report and April 23. Barrett's fundraising total covers when he entered the race through the April 23 close of the pre-primary period.

Barrett's last filed campaign finance report was for the pre-election period in his mayoral re-election campaign. He had $453,008 in the bank on March 19, according to the report.

-- By JR Ross


Thursday, April 26, 2012

 2:02 PM 

Wisconsin for Falk says it's spending $1 million over final 11 days of primary

Wisconsin for Falk said today it is spending $1 million on paid media over the final 11 days of the primary to boost former Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk in her bid for the Dem guv nomination.

The buy includes broadcast, cable and online and runs tomorrow through May 7, the day before the primary. The markets include LaCrosse, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau, and Madison, the group said.

The group also announced a new TV ad "Passionate" in which Falk says she's passionate about running for guv and knocks Scott Walker.

-- By JR Ross


 1:51 PM 

Second appeals court in two days refuses to lift injunction against voter ID

For the second time in two days, an appeals court has rejected a DOJ request to lift a injunction holding up enforcement of the state's voter ID law.

Today's order from the 4th District Court of Appeals is a separate case from yesterday's decision in the 2nd District.

In today's case, Dane County Judge Richard Niess issued a permanent injunction against the voter ID law after finding it violated the Wisconsin Constitution. The 4th District originally asked the Supreme Court to take the case directly, but that request was denied.

In denying the DOJ request to lift Niess' injunction, the 4th District notes the Supreme Court's decision not to take the voter ID appeal directly means "as a practical matter, that there will be no definitive court ruling before the May 8 and June 5 recall elections" and there is "no realistic possibility that this court will issue an opinion before the June 5 election. And, even if we did, our decision would not take effect until at least 31 days after it was issued."

 -- By JR Ross

 1:39 PM 

La Follette releases second television ad

Secretary of State Doug La Follette has released a new television ad that primarily features his supporters and touts his role as a voice of the people.

The 30-second ad, entitled "Giving People a Voice," starts with various supporters standing in front of the camera with signs that read "Decency," "Fairness" and "Real Leadership."

"The powerful and the special interests have had their say for governor," a narrator says. "Now the people of Wisconsin need a voice."

The video then cuts back to supporters touting La Follete "for experience" and "a strong, steady hand" before cutting to footage of La Follete shaking the hands with residents.

"Let's make Wisconsin work again," La Follette says.

 -- By Jason Smathers


 1:31 PM 

Quirk with recall elections allows cross over voting in primaries

Normally, Wisconsin voters can only vote in one party’s primary on Election Day. But that won’t be the case for the May 8 recall primaries.

The GAB circulated a memo earlier this week giving an overview of the recall elections, including the ability for voters to cast ballots in a party primary for guv, for example, and then vote in another party’s primary for lt. guv. But there’s still some confusion about that quirk with the upcoming primary.

GAB spokesman Reid Magney said voters can cross over in the primaries because the six recalls -- four in the state Senate, one for guv and one for lt. guv -- are “technically separate elections that happen to be occurring on the same day.” Thus, it's different from, for example, the upcoming August primary, when voters will only be allowed to vote in one party's races from the U.S. Senate on down to Assembly districts.

Gov. Scott Walker has a challenger in the GOP primary, while four Dems -- Tom Barrett, Kathleen Falk, Doug La Follette and Kathleen Vinehout -- are running for their party’s nomination, while “fake” or “protest” candidate Gladys Huber is also on the ballot.

In the lt. guv race, incumbent Republican Rebecca Kleefisch has no opposition, but Dems Mahlon Mithcell and Ira Robbins are running. Protest candidate Isaac Weix is also on the ballot.

In the four Senate races, Republicans have put up fake candidates against all four Dem candidates in the primary as part of their effort to have all the recall general elections held in June.

Under recall election rules, all incumbents automatically appear on the general election ballot unless they draw a primary opponent. Walker is the only Republican to do so.

Republicans said they would not spend any money to support the protest candidates in the primary and did not plan to campaign for them. But Weix has now declared that he will actively campaign for the Dem nomination.

-- By JR Ross


 12:20 PM 

Senate Dems release polling numbers that give different picture on two races

Senate Dems today released poll numbers showing much tighter races in two districts than were found in surveys released last week.

The Public Policy Polling surveys done for the liberal blog Daily Kos and released last week found Republican Jerry Petrowski leading Dem Donna Seidel 51 percent to 37 percent and Republican Terry Moulton up on Dem Kristen Dexter 51-41.

The Senate Dems polling found Petrowski backed by 51 percent to 45 percent for Seidel, while Moulton and Dexter were about even at 49 percent for the Republican and 47 for the Dem.

The memo laying out the numbers singles out what the authors say were flaws with the PPP polling last week.

In the 21st SD, Senate Dems polling found a close race much like PPP. But the Senate Dems had the race at 51 percent for Dem John Lehman and 47 percent for Republican Van Wanggaard. PPP had it 48-46 Wanggaard.

Each of the surveys included 400 likely recall voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. The Moulton race survey was done March 20-22, the Wanggaard race April 3-5 and the 29th SD April 17-19.

 -- By JR Ross


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

 3:28 PM 

Appeals court denies request to lift injunction in one voter ID suit

The 2nd District Court of Appeals today declined the state's request to lift a temporary injunction holding up enforcement of the state's voter ID law. The court noted the lawsuit before Dane County Judge David Flanagan, who issued the temporary injunction, has gone to trial, and a final decision in the suit is spending. "Given this procedural posture, we decline to grant the petitioners' petition for leave to appeal and motion to stay," the court wrote. The suit is one of two that resulted in Dane County judges issuing injunctions barring enforcement of the law. Read the ruling: http://wispolitics.com/1006/120425_Appeals_Court.pdf

 12:03 PM 

RGA knocks Barrett in ad tying him to Capitol protests

The Republican Governors Association started a new TV ad today that charges Tom Barrett would take Wisconsin “backward to the same divisive problems” and links him to last year's protests around the state Capitol.

The spot opens with a clip of Barrett’s TV commercial in which he says, “Isn’t it time to end the civil war in Wisconsin?”

The narrator adds while that’s what Barrett’s commercials say, “his policies suggest the opposite.”

The narrator then says Wisconsin would “take Wisconsin backward to the same divisive problems,” as video of last year’s protests around the Capitol appear.

The spot then goes on to say Barrett raised taxes every year but one, overspent, lost jobs and under his leadership, “Milwaukee’s economy went backard.”

“Wisconsin needs to move forward. Don’t let Tom Barett take us back,” the spot concludes as it focuses on a picture of Barrett among the protesters.

-- By JR Ross


 11:00 AM 

Walker starts new TV ad knocking Barrett over Milwaukee issues

Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign began a new TV ad today that hits Dem rival Tom Barrett on Milwaukee’s poverty, unemployment rate and other problems.

The spot features a string of undated clips from newscasts reporting Milwaukee was fourth in the nation for poverty and third for unemployment, along with reports on a 2009 property tax hike of 10.1 percent.

After a newscaster says, “It is another hit for a struggling section of Milwaukee,” the spot cuts to an interview with Dr. Marc Levin of the UW-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development, who says, “We’re facing an economic crisis.”

The spot then cuts to black-and-white video of Barrett campaigning as the narrator says, “Tom Barrett has failed in Milwaukee for eight years. Don’t let him take Wisconsin backwards.”

Walker’s campaign had no immediate comment on the spot, which it said would be unveiled later today.

-- By JR Ross


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

 2:07 PM 

New Barrett TV ad targets Walker for 'war on women'

A new television ad from gubernatorial candidate and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett takes aim at Gov. Scott Walker for what he calls an "ideological war" that has targeted women.

The 30-second ad starts with Barrett delivering a speech while the screen displays a headline detailing the enactment of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act. The next screen displays a DailyKos headline from April 2012 saying "Walker's war on women escalates."

"Legislation that was on the books dealing with equal pay for equal work, to ensure that women would be treated fairly in the state," Barrett says. "Pow. He went after that."

The screen then displays another headline detailing an "all-out attack" on women, while Barrett describes the passage of a law regulating abortions that he claims would "make it more difficult for women to have the most intimate conversations with their health care providers."

"All part of this ideological war, a war against women, a war against working people, a war against Wisconsin values," he concludes as the screen displays Barrett's name with the slogan "A Governor who will fight for what's right."

-- By Jason Smathers


 9:34 AM 

New Hovde radio ad focuses on national debt

A new radio ad from Eric Hovde warns that the national debt will destroy the American way of life unless we "do something right now."

The 60-second spot, entitled "Consequences," says the $15.6 trillion dollar debt will do one of two things if unaddressed: cause America to default, dragging the global economy into depression, or allow the federal reserve to print more money, leading to inflation that would "squeeze every American and destroy our quality of life."

"In either case, the things we value -- education, social security, medicare, and even having a job -- will be damaged beyond repair," Hovde says. "In order to avoid a collapse of our economic system, we have to change course right now. It's time to be honest with Americans, before it's too late."

 -- By Jason Smathers

 9:10 AM 

Falk's new TV ad casts her as 'only one' to oppose Walker from start

Kathleen Falk’s new TV ad proclaims “only one” candidate opposed Scott Walker from the start and plays up her endorsements by unions and other groups.
The narrator in the ad says only one candidate took Walker to court when he “shut out everyday people and robbed workers of their basic rights.”

The narrator says one candidate has been there from the start of the recall movement and endorsed by Wisconsin’s workers, leading women’s groups, environmentalists and teachers. A scroll across the screen displays the logos of the various groups to endorse Falk.

“Only one will make history for all of Wisconsin,” the spot concludes. “On May 8, vote Kathleen Falk.”

-- By Staff


Monday, April 23, 2012

 12:18 PM 

GAB reminds voters: No voter ID; Walker can't avoid general election

The Government Accountability Board is letting voters know, in advance of the recall primary in two weeks, that voter ID is not and likely will not be in place for the elections and that early voting can begin today until May 4.

In an information release put out today, GAB officials also spiked a rumor circulating that Gov. Scott Walker could avoid a general election on June 5 if he won the Democratic nomination if he won a write-in campaign by two votes. Officials say a candidate cannot be a candidate in two primaries for the same office and that staff will not count write-in votes for Walker in the Democratic primary.

GAB officials are also reminding voters they can cross party lines in the recall primary. But they may only vote once per office. For example a voter could cast a ballot in the GOP guv primary and then vote in the Dem lt. guv primary. Republicans have put up "fake" or "protest" candidates in each of the Dem primaries, while Gov. Scott Walker is being challenged in the GOP primary by Madison protester Arthur Kohl-Riggs.

Voters are also being notified that 17 municipalities are split by Senate recall districts. The 2002 Senate district lines will be used for the recall elections, rather than the redistricting maps approved last year.

Absentee ballots must be requested from municipalities by May 3 in most cases. Military voters and those confined due to disability have until May 4. All absentee ballots must be postmarked by May 11 to be counted.

 -- By Jason Smathers

UPDATE: This post has been edited to clarify information about crossover voting in the primaries.

 8:15 AM 

GWPF slams Walker in new TV ad

The Greater Wisconsin Political Fund today started a new TV ad that charges Wisconsin was “dead last” in the country last year for jobs created under Gov. Scott Walker.

The new spot highlights Wisconsin’s job losses in 2011 and charges Walker raised taxes on working families, cut funding to train workers and “gave the big corporations billions in tax breaks.”

“The corporations took the money, but didn’t create the jobs,” the narrator says.

“We’re Wisconsin. If we’re dead last in the country, something is wrong,” the narrator says as the text on the screen reads “Under Scott Walker Wisconsin is dead last.”

“Scott Walker’s policies aren’t working.”

It’s the first TV ad of the recall campaign by a third party to solely go after Walker. Wisconsin for Falk has thrown barbs at the guv in its ads that also praise Kathleen Falk.

-- By Staff


Thursday, April 19, 2012

 3:02 PM 

DOJ to appeal redistricting decision

The state DOJ today appealed a three-judge panel’s ruling that GOP lawmakers violated the Civil Rights Act by failing to create a majority-minority Assembly district for Milwaukee’s Latino community.

The agency also appeared the panel’s decision on how to address its concerns over the makeup of the 8th and 9th Assembly districts on Milwaukee’s south side.

The court picked a map proposed by Voces de la Frontera and a group of Dem voters over two options proposed by DOJ.

“The redistricting laws were upheld in virtually all respects. However, we have appealed the one portion of the district court’s decision where the State did not prevail," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said in a statement. "While some view the adverse portion of the district court decision as being inconsequential, I disagree. Any time a federal court rejects a state redistricting statute, and decides to redraw or adjust a legislative district, it is a serious matter and appropriate for appellate review.”

-- By JR Ross

 9:46 AM 

FEC Reports: Baldwin has $2.76 mil on hand; Thompson has nearly $789k

Rep. Tammy Baldwin has nearly $2.76 million on hand in her bid for the U.S. Senate, having spent $1.06 million from January to the end of March, according to her complete Federal Election Commission report.

Baldwin raised just more than $2 million in the last quarter.

On the GOP side, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson reported having $789,705 in cash on hand at the end of the last quarter. During that same time frame, his campaign spent $402,172, Of that amount, $80,699 was spent on "media placement."

-- By Jason Smathers


 9:30 AM 

Barrett poll finds he has 14-point lead on Falk in Dem primary

Tom Barrett has a 14-point lead over Kathleen Falk in the Dem guv primary, according to a survey conducted for his campaign and obtained by WisPolitics.com.

Barrett was backed by 41 percent of respondents, compared to 27 percent who supported Falk. Seven percent supported Doug La Follette, while 4 percent backed Kathleen Vinehout and 21 percent of respondents were undecided.

The survey of 502 likely Dem primary voters was conducted April 16-17. The polling memo doesn't include a margin of error, but the results appear to be consistent with a public poll that came out earlier this week.

The polling memo from the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group says Barrett’s support is more firmly committed to him and that Barrett: leads among both men and women; has a 15-point lead among voters who signed a recall petition; and leads 44 percent to 31 percent among union members.

The memo also says Barrett leads Falk by more than 20 points in both the Milwaukee and Madison media markets, which comprise three-fifths of the expected primary vote.

The memo doesn't include the complete poll results or the questions asked.

-- By JR Ross


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

 9:30 AM 

FEC Reports: Hovde spends 145k on ads; Neumann has nearly 800k on hand

Federal Election Commission reports show that U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde spent $145,826 on advertisements in the first three weeks of his campaign.

In the early stages of the campaign, Hovde released 60-second radio spots billed as a "conservative wake-up call." He has since released two television ads, one 30-spot ad detailing the nation's debt and a more personally focused 60-second spot.

In all, Hovde's campaign spent $259,584 in the first three weeks of his campaign.

The report also showed that Hovde donated $1.5 million of his own money to the campaign. He also loaned the campaign $250,000.

On another note, Mark Neumann's FEC report shows the candidate with $796,908 in cash on hand at the end of the last quarter. He spent $409,656 and raised $654,541 in the last quarter.

-- By Jason Smathers


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

 4:42 PM 

Daily Kos polling has Republicans up double digits in three Senate races, Wanggaard, Lehman close

New surveys for the liberal blog Daily Kos show three of the four GOP Senate candidates in the recall elections with double-digit leads.

The surveys, conducted by the Dem firm Public Policy Polling, show only the 21st with the candidates about even. GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, was backed by 48 percent of respondents, compared to 46 percent who supported Dem John Lehman.

Sen. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls, was leading Dem challenger Kristen Dexter 51-41, while GOP Rep. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, was up on Dem Rep. Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, 51-37 for an open seat.

Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald led Dem Lori Compas 54-40.

The polls had margins of error of between plus and minus 3.5 to 3.9 percentage points.

-- By JR Ross


 2:56 PM 

Grigsby won't seek re-election

State Rep. Tamara Grigsby, who overcame a serious illness late last year to return to the Assembly floor last month, announced today she would not seek re-election to the 18th AD.

"Unfortunately, the incivility and lack of compassion that characterized the 2011-2012 Legislative Session affected my health," the Milwaukee Dem said in a statement. "After much soul-searching, I have decided that this is a good time for me to be of service in new ways."

Grigsby, 37, was hospitalized in critical condition in December, which the representative later attributed to a weakened immune system. She had also battled cancer since early in the session, but has said she is now cancer-free.

"I intend to fully regain my strength and return as an even more powerful voice for others," Grigsby said. "In the meantime, I will continue to champion causes that are important to me and my community."

Grigsby is in her fourth term in the Assembly, and is one of two Dem Assembly members serving on the Joint Finance Committee.

-- By Staff

 1:13 PM 

Hovde releases 60-second TV ad highlighting personality

Eric Hovde has released a new 60-second TV spot for his U.S. Senate bid where he highlights his Wisconsin upbringing and shows a more personal side.

The ad, entitled "American Dream", begins with photos of Hovde's family while he describes their arrival and success in America, despite having "not much of anything."

"It was through their hard work and perseverance and self-determination that they were going to make it in this country," Hovde says. "That's what this country was made on."

Hovde then details his upbringing in Wisconsin, graduation from the University of Wisconsin and creation of his company, Hovde Financial.

As the national debt is displayed, Hovde says the nation can overcome its challenges if there is "courage to do the right thing."

"I think by the shift to a sense of entitlement and dependence on government, we're losing a bit of our soul, to be honest," Hovde says. "We have to get back to self responsibility."

See the ad in AdWatch:
-- By Jason Smathers

 10:37 AM 

GAB rejects challenge to "fake" Dem candidates

The Government Accountability Board has unanimously rejected a challenge to the Republican-backed candidates who have filed to run in next month's Democratic recall primaries.

The challenge was filed by Dem attorney Jeremy Levinson, who argued the candidates committed fraud in filing registration statements, declarations of candidacy and nomination papers claiming to be Dems.

The GAB actions mean those candidates will appear on the primary ballot in the races for guv, lt. guv and four Senate districts.

-- By Staff

Monday, April 16, 2012

 1:51 PM 

PPP: Walker at 50 percent vs. Barrett, Falk; Barrett leads Dem primary

A new Public Policy Polling survey done for the liberal blog Daily Kos finds Gov. Scott Walker backed by 50 percent of respondents against Dems Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk.

The poll also found Barrett with a 14-point lead on Falk in the Dem primary.

When pitted against Barrett, Walker was favored by 50 percent of respondents, compared to 45 percent who supported the Milwaukee mayor. Walker led Falk 50-43, Doug La Follette 51-40 and Kathleen Vinehout 50-38.

Independent Hari Trivedi was included and was backed by between 2 and 5 percent of the respondents in the four matchups.

The poll, conducted Friday through Sunday, found an improvement in Walker's numbers from the last time the Dem firm PPP was in the field in February. Then, Barrett edged Walker 49-46 and he was about event with Falk, who was favored 48-47.

PPP's Tom Jensen said part of the difference may be because the firm used likely recall voters in the poll vs. registered voters, while independents have flipped to Walker compared to the last survey.

The poll of 1,136 votes had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

The subset for the Dem primary had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. It found 38 percent of respondents favored Barrett, compared to 24 for Falk, 9 for La Follette and 6 for Vinehout with 22 percent undecided. In February, Barrett led Falk 45-18 in a four-way match up.

The poll also found GOP Lt. Guv. Rebecca Kleefisch leading Dem challenger Mahlon Mitchell 46-40. Unlike in normal guv races, the guv and lt. guv candidates will run separately in this year's recall elections. They normally run as a ticket after the nominees are picked in their parties' primaries.

-- By JR Ross


 11:49 AM 

Supreme Court refuses to take voter ID suits

The state Supreme Court today refused to take up two lawsuits challenging the state's voter ID law.

The court of appeals had asked the justices to directly take the cases that resulted in two Dane County judges issuing injunctions preventing enforcement of the requirement that voters show a state-issued ID at the polls before casting ballots. In both cases, the Department of Justice has appealed those injunctions.

The justices offered no comment on their decision in the separate one-page orders issued today in the suits filed by the League of Women Voters and the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP.

The refusals mean the appeals court will now have to hear the cases first.

-- By JR Ross

 11:23 AM 

Seidel releases TV ad attacking Petrowski

Rep. Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, has released her first television ad of the state Senate campaign, targeting Rep. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, for votes on bills that affect women.

The 30-second ad, entitled "How Could You, Jerry Petrowski," features multiple women citing votes taken by Petrowski during his time in the Assembly that they argue hurt women. The ad cites votes taken to repeal the so-called "Equal Pay Enforcement Act" this session, as well as his vote on 2007 Assembly budget, which the ad claims "slashed funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings."

"Jerry, we expected more from you," says one woman at the end of the ad.

See the ad in AdWatch.

-- By Jason Smathers

 10:36 AM 

Pocan outraises Roys in 2nd CD Dem primary

State Rep. Mark Pocan paced the 2nd CD Dem field in fundraising during the first quarter of the year, disclosing $209,377 raised between January and March in his latest campaign finance report.

Fellow Madison Dem Rep. Kelda Roys reported $114,812 raised during the period, but slightly outspent Pocan during the quarter with $70,929 in disbursements to Pocan's $67,909.

Pocan, however, more than doubled Roys' cash on hand total, with $345,870 in the bank to $172,780 for Roys.

Dane Co. Treasurer Dave Worzala, who's also in the Dem field to replace U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, reported raising $135,207 in the period last week, but $100,000 of that total came from the candidate. He spent $45,817 and finished the quarter with $341,336 cash on hand.

Madison attorney Matt Silverman reported raising $8,320 and spending $2,185 in the quarter, with $10,397 cash on hand.

Mt. Horeb Republican Chad Lee announced he'd make another run at the 2nd CD in late February.

-- By Andy Szal

 10:21 AM 

GOP incumbents outraise Dem challengers in 7th, 8th CDs

U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble outraised their respective opponents in the first quarter of 2012 according to their latest campaign finance reports.

Duffy, R-Weston, reported raising $269,087 to Dem challenger Pat Kreitlow's $202,187 raised between January and March.

Duffy reported spending $161,712 in the quarter, also ahead of Kreitlow's $104,116.

Duffy had a much larger advantage in cash on hand, disclosing $960,857 to the $365,517 reported by the former state senator from Chippewa Falls.

Ribble, R-Sherwood, reported $241,615 raised to the $201,786 reported by Green Bay business consultant Jamie Wall.

Ribble spent $138,208 in the period and had $708,514 in the bank. Wall reported spending $44,438 and a warchest of $382,065.

-- By Andy Szal

Friday, April 13, 2012

 4:41 PM 

Fitzgerald raises $25k in first quarter

Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald raised $25,123 for his U.S. Senate campaign in the first quarter, far below the $74,000 spent last quarter.

The campaign has also spent $64,130 from January to the end of March, leaving him with $35,340 in cash on hand at the end of the period.

A spokeswoman for the campaign said the average contribution was $176.58.

Fitz's numbers follow Q1 announcements from Thompson, Neumann and Hovde. Thompson led the field with $660,000 raised in the first quarter, Neumann following with $650,000 and Hovde with $110,000 raised. Hovde, however, noted that the campaign also has $1.6 million on hand.

Correction: Due to a campaign error, this post erroneously cited last quarters numbers as the current fundraising numbers. The post has been changed to reflect that.
-- By Jason Smathers


 3:35 PM 

Barrett's latest TV ad features Erpenbach

Dem guv candidate Tom Barrett's latest TV ad features state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton.

The narrator opens the spot by saying when Scott Walker "began the war in Wisconsin, we stood up."

The ad then features video of last year's protests around the Capitol and video of Erpenbach addressing the crowd as the narrator says Erpenbach "helped lead the fight."

It then switches to Erpenbach standing next to a truck and expressing his support for Barrett in the guv's race.

"Tom will restore collective bargaining for teachers and public employees and he’ll stand up for our jobs, our schools and our families," Erpenbach says. "Tom Barrett will beat Scott Walker and bring Wisconsin together."

-- By JR Ross


 12:36 PM 

Hovde has $1.6 million cash on hand; raises $110k in first three weeks

U.S. Senate candidate will report $1.6 million in campaign cash on hand through the end of March, according to a spokesman for his campaign.

A little less than $110,000 of that amount was pulled in through fundraising, while the rest of those funds came from Hovde himself.

The campaign hailed the number as impressive for a political outsider.

“Eric's personal investment in the campaign stems from his profound concern for the direction our country is heading and his vision for the future,” said Hovde Campaign Manager Joe Fadness. “It is practically unheard of for a political outsider who has never run for office to raise more than $100,000 in just three weeks, and it proves that people are looking for someone with the experience and message that only Eric provides.”

-- By Jason Smathers


 10:04 AM 

Walker says things turning around in latest TV ad

Gov. Scott Walker says in his newest TV ad that the state is turning things around.

The spot opens with the a black screen and the narrator saying the state has "the best economic outlook in years" as the words appear on the screen in white type.

It then cuts to video of Walker speaking with half a dozen older people. He tells them Gov. Jim Doyle raised taxes on companies by 20 percent and the state lost 150,000 jobs. In contrast, he says, he lowered taxes and now more than 17,000 new jobs have been added in the first two months of the year, while the unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since 2008.

"We're turning things around," Walker says.

Yesterday, Walker released two ads going after Dems Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk.

-- By JR Ross


Thursday, April 12, 2012

 12:53 PM 

Dems challenge 'fake' candidates in recall primaries

Dem attorney Jeremy Levinson today filed a complaint against the state GOP and six "fake" Dems running in recall elections, alleging that their candidate filings with the GAB were fraudulent and should be tossed.

The GAB is scheduled to meet Tuesday to consider challenges to candidates on the recall election ballot.

-- By Staff

 10:16 AM 

Kohl-Riggs, Robins rehabilitate enough signatures to qualify for ballot

GOP guv candidate Arthur Kohl-Riggs and Dem lt. guv candidate Ira Robins have rehabilitated enough signatures to qualify for the recall elections, according to the GAB.

Kohl-Riggs, who frequently attends Capitol events to videotape them, originally fell short of the 2,000 signatures needed to qualify. But GAB spokesman Reid Magney said Kohl-Riggs filed affidavits fixing some language with his nomination papers. That pushed his total to 2,182 signatures.

Robins, a private investigator, had some missing dates on signatures that resulted in the GAB originally disqualifying some. But he also filed affidavits to fix those problems and now has 2,023 signatures.

Challenges to nomination papers are due tomorrow.

-- By Staff


 9:22 AM 

Walker releases TV ads going after Barrett, Falk

Gov. Scott Walker has new TV ads going after Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk.

The Falk spot opens with a narrator saying Falk wants to “take Wisconsin back. But back to what?”

The narrator says she raised property taxes every year, pushing them up 80 percent, while spending went up more than 70 percent and the unemployment rate tripled.

“Going back to Kathleen Falk’s way of doing things? That’s no way to move Wisconsin forward,” the narrator says.

In the Barrett ad, the narrator says the mayor has led Milwaukee backward for eight years: the city has one of the worst job creation records of any big city in the U.S., “Barrett’s city” has one of the worst graduation rates in the country, and the mayor raised taxes in seven of the last eight years.

“We can’t afford to let Tom Barrett take us back,” the spot closes.

-- By JR Ross


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

 10:21 PM 

Barrett, Falk knock each other's plans to restore collective bargaining

Kathleen Falk and Tom Barrett Wednesday criticized each other's plans to restore collective bargaining powers for public employees as unworkable.

Appearing at a forum sponsored by the Dane County Dem Party, Barrett reiterated his pledge to call a special session on collective bargaining if elected governor and said that holding up the budget to restore bargaining rights would be a mistake. The Milwaukee mayor said such a move would only allow a perpetual "Scott Walker budget" when the Legislature fails to pass a state budget on time.

"What we'd be doing is going to those Republicans and saying if you got everything you want in that budget, if you don't give me everything we want, we're going to make you keep everything you want," Barrett said to laughter. "Who are they going to blame? They're going to blame the governor for that. We can't play into their hands."

Barrett said that while Assembly members seem reluctant to agree to a bill that restores bargaining, after senators and the governor are recalled "they're not going to be as brave."

Falk vehemently disagreed with Barrett, saying relying on Assembly Republicans to change their minds and vote for a separate bill is the way "it can't happen."

"It's really important that we have the budget bill to restore collective bargaining and that we have a governor that's willing to have the courage to make that happen," said Falk, who's garnered a series of union endorsements.

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, said that she's already written a bill that would restore those rights and said that if she's elected, she'll "lift up the voices of people working in state government" but acknowledged that it’s a "very sticky question.”

Secretary of State Doug La Follette acknowledged the difficulty as well, saying they may not be able to restore collective bargaining unless they can turn over the Assembly and Senate to "progressive Republicans and Democrats."

Education was the other major theme of the night, with all the candidates highlighting its importance to job creation in the state. Falk made a pledge to restore funding for higher education and K-12 funding, while Vinehout said she'd implement a five-year phase in of State Superintendent Tony Evers’ plan to rework the state formula for K-12 funding. Barrett did not specify his plans, but noted that his wife Kris was laid off from her job as a teacher last year, making the issue a personal one for him.

"What struck me is this is the first time in my 21 years of marriage to my wife where I saw her shaken up by more than anything," Barrett said. "And she was shaken up because she felt violated. She felt this was an attack on her vocation."

The candidates were also asked about ways to encourage renewable energy, reducing prison spending and whether they would repeal Act 21, which gave the governor more power over the creation of administrative rules. All the candidates said they would work to repeal that law.

The county party conducted a straw poll of registered members before and during the debate. Falk won it with 118 votes to Barrett's 93. Vinehout garnered 46 votes while La Follette had two.

-- By Jason Smathers


 5:08 PM 

Federal judges pick plaintiffs' map for 8th, 9th ADs

A panel of three federal judges today adopted boundaries proposed by Voces de la Frontera and a group of Dems for two Assembly districts in Milwaukee that the panel previously declared unconstitutional.

The joint proposal from the plaintiffs includes a larger number of voting-age population Latinos in the new 8th AD than the map proposed by the Department of Justice, which defended the original redistricting lines passed by GOP lawmakers last summer.

The order from the panel said, in part, that "the plaintiffs’ joint proposal gives the Milwaukee Latino community an effective majority-minority Assembly District 8, while also balancing the traditional redistricting criteria of core retention, communities of interest, and minimal population deviation."

The court reiterated that the other district boundaries passed by lawmakers, with the exception of the 8th AD and neighboring 9th AD, remain in effect.

-- By Andy Szal

 9:30 AM 

Barrett's first TV ad says time to bring Wisconsin together

Dem guv candidate Tom Barrett declares in his first TV ad of the campaign that Wisconsin "can’t afford to have a governor who says it’s my way or the highway."

The spot opens with Barret asking, "Isn’t it time to end the civil war in Wisconsin?"

He says Scott Walker has divided the state "and while he’s pursued his ideological agenda, last year Wisconsin lost more jobs than any state in the country." The music that plays throughout the ad stops as Barrett delivers the line on jobs lost.

"As governor I’ll focus on jobs and education, and I’ll fight to restore collective bargaining rights for teachers and public employees," Barrett says. "I’m Tom Barrett and it’s time to bring Wisconsin together."

-- By JR Ross


 7:00 AM 

Baldwin raises more than $2 million in first quarter

Dem U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin raised more than $2 million during the first quarter, she announced to her Twitter followers this morning.

She tweeted that her campaign received donations from 24,260 people in the past three months.

Baldwin's campaign said in a release this morning she had just less than $2.8 million cash on hand.

-- By Staff


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

 1:30 PM 

La Follette files for gov race; submits 3,300 signatures

Secretary of State Doug La Follette submitted 3,300 signatures to get his name on the ballot in the gubernatorial recall election Tuesday.

La Follette, despite polling low when placed against the other declared Democratic candidates, said he believes he can win the election without "attack TV ads" and a large fundraising effort.

"I've shaken more hands than anybody but Bill Proxmire, probably," La Follette said. "And I've been doing it for years. People know me, I'm a known quantity. I've got nothing to prove except to get Wisconsin back on track again and bring us together."

-- By Jason Smathers


 12:25 PM 

Barrett gathers 7,000 signatures for recall candidacy

Supporters of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett submitted the maximum 4,000 signatures to put him on the ballot for the upcoming recall elections, though they arrived with 7,000 signatures.

Former Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton and Barrett's wife Kris submitted the signatures, with Lawton saying she was supporting the mayor because of his "statesmanship" and ability to calm the political rancor between Wisconsinites.

"All of us in Wisconsin have a deep longing for restoration of calmness and dignity to politics and our government," Lawton said. "This has been a long story unfolding and I am confident that Tom is the person today who is perfectly positioned to do that."

When asked why Tom Barrett was not present, Kris Barrett joked "I get to do something" and said that they need to "divide and conquer" to get Barrett's message out in the short time frame before the primary election. She also said that she was not deterred by the attacks from AFSCME on Barrett.

"I think that there's a lot of people who see Tom as a leader and they know that he supports their rights and the right to collectively bargain and he will represent them," Barrett said.

-- By Jason Smathers


 11:04 AM 

Vinehout files 3,300 signatures

Dem Sen. Kathleen Vinehout's guv campaign says she filed about 3,300 signatures with the GAB this morning.

Vinehout, D-Alma, delivered the nomination papers in a box and said that box contained the hopes and dreams of a fresh start in Wisconsin.

Vinehout said in an interview she is the candidate for anyone who "doesn't like money in politics and doesn't like being told who to vote for."

She said people who focus on Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk in the Dem primary are making the mistake of assuming this will be a conventional campaign. She said it's not and pointed to comments she's heard on the campaign trail from voters who are demanding details on how the candidates would fix the state's schools, for example, not just a pledge to improve education.

"This is not the year for politicians to talk in sound bites," she said. "They want details. They want depth. They want to know you’ve done the homework. This is a very different year."

-- By JR Ross


 10:08 AM 

Falk turns in 4,000 signatures

Former Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk was the first Dem guv recall candidate to turn in nomination papers today, filing 4,000 nomination with the GAB.

Falk said her campaign was “flooded with people sending nomination signatures from all across the state” over the past 10 days, which she said reflects the “big tent” of interests that support her candidacy in the recall election against Gov. Scott Walker.

“I’ve earned the endorsement of every single organization that has endorsed against Scott Walker,” Falk said. “I’m very inspired and honored by that.”

To get on the ballot for the recall, guv candidates must submit at least 2,000 valid signatures and no more than 4,000 by 5 p.m. today.

Recently, some Republicans have suggested they would rather face Falk than Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the general election and would vote for Falk in the open Democratic primary. However, Falk said polls show that she is even with Barrett and Walker and that she is confident she can win over the remaining undecided voters, many of whom are women, in the coming weeks.

“They’re not worried I’m the weaker one. They’re worried I’m the stronger one,” Falk said of the GOP.

-- By Adam Wollner


 9:49 AM 

Hovde releases new radio ad slamming Occupy movement, Wall Street

Eric Hovde has released a new radio ad that slams Occupy Wall Street and Wall Street itself for both asking for "handouts."

The 60-second radio ad, entitled "Occupy Wall Street," starts by comparing both groups and saying they both "want the exact same thing."

"Wall Street demanded a bailout when they got caught flat-footed with their corrupt investment schemes," Hovde says. "And Occupy Wall Streeters simply want a free ride."

He goes on to describe Occupy Wall Street as a group of "self-described anarchists" who want handouts "in the form of high-paying jobs regardless of merit."

See the ad in AdWatch.

-- By Jason Smathers


 9:30 AM 

Neumann endorsed by Citizens United PAC

U.S. Senate candidate Mark Neumann was endorsed this morning by the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, which has donated $10,000 to his campaign.

"Mark Neumann’s bold plan to balance the budget in five-years and bring America’s crushing $15 trillion debt to zero in thirty-years is visionary,” said David N. Bossie, President of Citizens United. “Washington is broken and America cannot afford more careless spending and irresponsible budgeting by President Obama and Democrats in Congress. Mark Neumann will be an experienced voice of reason in the United States Senate, and will help put the brakes on Big Government. The Senate needs a leader like Mark Neumann and his smart conservative policies to get our budget under control and get America working again.”

-- By Staff


 9:23 AM 

Neumann raises $650,000 in first quarter

Mark Neumann's U.S. Senate campaign says it's raised $650,000 in the first quarter of the year.

The numbers to be reported are a jump from his previous report, which showed he raised $518,000 during the final three months of 2011. He’s now raised almost $1.5 million, and Neumann’s campaign says none of that has come from the candidate.

The campaign says it's received 17,000 donations with 85 percent of those in donations of $100 or less.

Campaign finance reports covering the first quarter are due later this month.

-- By Jason Smathers


Monday, April 9, 2012

 12:17 PM 

Falk releases first television ad

Kathleen Falk today released her first TV ad, which depicts her as a candidate who'll govern the state in the "Wisconsin way."

The 30-second TV spot, entitled "Wisconsin Way," begins with photos of Falk in her early years, while the former Dane Co. exec notes that she grew up in Waukesha and Milwaukee on "Wisconsin values."

"Today our leaders have lost sight of that," Falk says, sitting at a table with a coffee cup. "They made decisions in secret and shut people out. They didn't trust us with the truth."

Falk then says that she helped add more jobs than "any other area" and "held taxes down," while the ad shows her meeting with different Wisconsinites.

"That's the Wisconsin way and that's the governor I'll be," Falk says.

The advertisement is the first of her campaign, though the third-party group Wisconsin for Falk has been running ads promoting her for weeks.

-- By Staff


 9:40 AM 

Obey slams union attack on Barrett

Former Dem U.S. Rep. Dave Obey this morning slammed an AFSCME attack on Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett that suggested he supported Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining changes, saying it was "just incredibly off the wall unfair."

AFSCME Council 24 posted a statement over the weekend acknowledging an Internet video it passed around to members "went over the top" in its criticism of Barrett and said it used poor judgment in sending it out. But the union leadership also continued to question Barrett's relationship with public employees while praising rival Dem Kathleen Falk, who the unions have endorsed in the guv's race.

Obey, who endorsed Barrett this morning, said he was pleased the rank-and-file's push back over the video prompted the apology and said the union continues to conduct a misleading attack on Barrett.

The unions have criticized him for utilizing the collective bargaining changes Walker pushed through the Legislature to help balance the city budget.

"I would simply say blaming Tom Barett for actions in the Milwaukee budget that were forced by Governor Walker is like blaming surgeon who does surgery on a patient after he is hit by a truck," Obey said.

Obey also implored Dems to hold themselves to a higher standard in this race and not "stoop to Governor Walker's tactics."

"If our criticism of Walker is to be credible," Obey said. "We have to demonstrate a higher degree of accountability and fairness in our dealings with each other in our primary."

UPDATE -- Council 24 executive director Marty Beil declined comment on the posting and Obey's remarks.

-- By JR Ross


Thursday, April 5, 2012

 11:38 PM 

Barrett pledges special session on collective bargaining, Falk says not enough

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett vowed Thursday to call a special session of the Legislature to restore collective rights for public employees if he’s elected guv.

But former Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk countered at a forum hosted by unions and progressive groups that such a move was not enough and again pledged to use the budget to restore those powers.

“You’ve got to be serious about restoring it, and it’s not enough to introduce a bill. It’s not enough to call a special session because the Legislature doesn’t have to come,” said Falk, who has been endorsed by several public employee unions. “There is only one bill that has to pass, and that’s the budget bill, and that’s the way to do it, and that’s what I’m committed to doing.”

Thursday’s forum in Serb Hall was hosted by 41 unions and progressive groups and was the first give-and-take between the four Dem guv candidates since Barrett announced Friday he was getting into the race. All four also spoke to a group of Milwaukee-area Dems on Saturday in separate speeches.

The forum was also held as some public employee unions have started ramping up their attacks on Barrett, charging he has not been a strong enough advocate against Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining changes.

Barrett said emphatically that he “will work and fight to restore collective bargaining in this state.”

“I am prepared, as the next governor of this state, to call a special session to restore collective bargaining rights for public employees in the state of Wisconsin,” Barrett said. “I would be honored to do that, and we would get that bill passed through the Senate, I know we would, and we would put so much pressure on the Assembly that they’d be quaking in their boots and they would have to pass that legislation. That’s not a lie.”

The candidates were asked to give brief opening and closing comments and to respond to a series of questions by audience members.

The forum was largely a polite one, with candidates focusing their criticism on Walker and not debating each other.

All of the candidates said they’d support restore funding to education, public transit, infrastructure repairs and Badger Care. They all said they supported benefits for domestic partners and allowing at least some undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition.

Barrett and state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, said immigrants who have attended high school in Wisconsin should qualify for in-state tuition.

All said they'd raise taxes on the wealthiest citizens to help pay for the programs they support.

“When I was in Congress, we raised the tax rate on the wealthiest people in this country,” Barrett said. “We did so and that led to the largest economic expansion in the history of this country. That’s what happened under Bill Clinton. We had a balanced budget for the only time in a generation. We made the wealthy pay.”

Barrett said Walker will instead lower the taxes on the wealthiest people of the state if he gets the opportunity.

Secretary of State Doug La Follette suggested, “Tax the 1 percent a lot more, get the money and then you invest that in public structures. Our infrastructure is falling apart, whether it’s bridges or schools or water treatment plants. And we might even build a train between Milwaukee and Madison.”

Falk and Barrett differed somewhat when asked by a single mother if they would enact a statewide paid sick day policy.

“I’m eager to learn more about a paid sick day policy,” Falk said. “I can tell you what I’ve done as a county executive. When I was elected 14 years ago, I made sure we passed an ordinance to require we paid a living wage.”

But Barrett said a sick day policy would only work at the national level.

“Then you can start bringing it to the state level and then you can ensure that you don’t have companies that leave,” Barrett said. “I’ve got to be honest with you, when we had that debate at the local level, I had employers call me and say, 'This will cause us to move jobs out of this city.' ”

Barrett opposed a city paid sick leave ordinance voters approved via referendum, arguing it put Milwaukee at a competitive disadvantage and should be handled on a state or federal level. The ordinance was eventually overturned by the courts.

Vinehout said she has put together an alternative state budget that finds a way to pay health care, education and other causes without requiring more tax revenue. She called Walker’s budget “fishy.”

“He’s got $2 billion in new money and he says we’re broke. We’re not broke,” Vinehout said. “What he did was cut funds to local government, which means local government can’t fix the sewer and the roads. The problem with the budget is not that there isn't enough money, it's that they're spending it in the wrong places."

La Follette drew the biggest laughs of the night when he gave a personal example of why he supported Planned Parenthood, which provides services such as birth control and STD screenings for women.

"Planned Parenthood, I'm a strong supporter of that, I have been for years. My health insurance funded my vasectomy," he said. He started to say, "and they should fund...," but his sentence was drowned by peals of laughter and applause. "Hey, we let it all hang out here," he said to more laughter.

The four Dems also were also joined in the forum by Michael Mangan, who said he plans to run for governor as a “Lincoln Republican.” Mangan, who described himself as a certified energy engineer, a former teamster, former school board member and former school employee in the Kiel School District, insisted he is not a fake Republican, but rather a liberal Republican in the tradition of Abraham Lincoln.

Mangan supported nearly all of the Democrats’ stands on issues. But he said he has mixed views toward unions, based on his experience as a teamster member. He said his union disappointed him by protecting "deadwood" instead of younger, hard-working employees.

-- By Kay Nolan


 3:59 PM 

Hovde releases first TV ad

U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde has released his first television ad, which focuses on the rising national debt he says is "destroying our children's future."

The 30-second spot, entitled "Debt Crisis," shows Hovde climbing a set of stairs fashioned out of a graph of the country's national debt from 1940 to 2012.

"You know our government borrows 38 cents on every dollar it spends?' Hovde says. "We have more debt to our economy than all but three European countries. This is not just an economic crisis, it’s a moral crisis."

Hovde then urges viewers to "stop this insanity, while we still can."

The ad is only the second television spot to air in the state U.S. Senate campaign, though the campaign claims says it is the first "to make a major statewide TV ad buy." Tommy Thompson had the first TV ad of the campaign, though the spots aired mostly in the Milwaukee market.

See the spot in Adwatch:

--By Staff


 9:29 AM 

Barrett rips online video of budget repair bill remarks; unions stand by criticism

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett Wednesday renewed his call for the other candidates in the Dem guv primary to sign a clean campaign pledge.

In a press conference outside the Capitol building, Barrett noted an "anonymous, third-party video" posted to YouTube knocking the mayor's previous comments on last spring's budget repair bill shows why the pledge is so important.

"That is not the type of campaign anyone should be running," Barrett said, warning that a circular firing squad would be "the biggest mistake we can make as Democrats." Kathleen Falk, backed by WEAC and AFSCME, has declined to accept the pledge.

The video includes audio of Barrett at an event with Milwaukee conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes in which he says, in part, "(T)he bill would pass. And the bill should pass."

The full audio, however, shows Barrett was referencing a proposal to require public employees to pay more toward their health care and pensions, and that he supported their right to organize and to bargain.

Barrett said Thursday he'd "restore collective bargaining rights in this state" as governor, and defended his actions during debate over the budget repair bill.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, added Barrett was in frequent contact with Senate Dems as they stalled a vote on the bill in Illinois. He said what Barrett was advocating -- splitting up the collective bargaining and fiscal elements of the bill -- was shared by many of his Senate colleagues.

Erpenbach announced his endorsement of Barrett earlier this week.

AFSCME union leaders, however, aren’t backing down from the email they sent out earlier this week featuring the video, taking a new swipe at Barrett in the process.

“Ask yourself this: Why don’t I remember Tom Barrett’s role during those crucial weeks and why is there controversy about it 14 months after the fact?” the email read. “Because Tom Barrett was nowhere to be found when the chips were down, unless you were listening to Charlie Sykes.”

The email says the unions didn't produce the video posted on Friday. But union leaders wrote some media reports about the video lack context and “allowed Barrett and his operatives to manipulate Barrett’s hypothetical statement about a non-existent option -- more than a year after the fact -- to suggest he stood up to Walker. He didn’t.”

They wrote the election is about choosing a leader who can best stand up to Walker and “boldly” articulate a vision that could “heal the unprecedented wounds Walker has inflicted on our state.”

“Not a muddied record of tepid support for our movement or lukewarm opposition to Walker’s agenda -- but a true champion for Wisconsin’s workers and Wisconsin values,” reads the email signed by the leaders of AFSCME councils 24, 40 and 48.

-- By Staff

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

 4:15 PM 

The WisPolitics.com post-election Stock Report

--A collection of insider opinion--


Mitt Romney: A month ago, it appeared Rick Santorum had the opportunity to win Wisconsin and counter those calling for him to get out of the race and fall in line behind the former Massachusetts guv. Instead, Romney turns the tables, delivers a seven-point win and now has many national pundits declaring the race for the GOP nomination all but over. Wisconsin Republicans chalk up Romney’s win here to a number of factors. For one, his campaign ran a more professional operation here and used superior financial resources to hammer away at Santorum. What’s more, Wisconsin’s GOP establishment largely fell in behind his campaign, and the endorsements from U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson helped shore up conservative support. Santorum was expected to do well -- and did -- with rural voters in northern and western Wisconsin, where there was a more receptive crowd to his message on cultural issues. But southeastern Wisconsin drives the train in GOP primary races, and Romney took more than half of the vote in the state’s most populated area. Those voters, insiders say, are driven more by economics than social issues, and Romney’s message was right in their wheelhouse.

Spencer Coggs: The Milwaukee Dem edges fellow state Sen. Tim Carpenter in their race for Milwaukee treasurer, a nice redemption after fighting back against charges early in the campaign that he used a Capitol staffer to work on his 2010 lt. guv bid. Insiders say Coggs won because he had a good political name in Milwaukee and the backing of labor. Some also saw the race as a north side vs. south side contest. There were more competitive races driving turnout in Milwaukee’s African-American community than there were in Carpenter’s Senate district, some say. There is also some question over the whole fallout from the mining bill and whether that hurt Carpenter’s chances. The step up for Coggs comes with a raise and a seat almost as safe as his Senate district. Coggs says he’ll serve out the rest of his term to maintain -- at least until the June recall elections -- the 16-16 split between Dems and Republicans. But he won't run for re-election this fall to his Senate seat and will donate his state salary to charity to avoid double dipping.

David Cullen: The longtime Milwaukee Dem lawmaker faced an uphill battle -- at best -- to keep a seat in the state Assembly. But he finds new political life after winning a spot on the Milwaukee County Board. Republicans overhauled Cullen’s Milwaukee-based district to take it straight west into strong GOP territory, pairing him with freshman Rep. Dale Kooyenga. Faced with that prospect -- or possibly trying to find another district to run in -- Cullen filed for an open seat on the board. It helped that he represented much of the county board district for years while in the state Assembly, building up his name ID with voters, insiders say.

Mary Burke: The former Commerce secretary wins a spot on Madison School Board, pumping her own personal wealth into the race to help gain victory with more than 60 percent of the vote. The former Trek Bicycle exec, known for her work with the Boys & Girls Club as well as her time in Jim Doyle’s administration, was able to put forward a much more vibrant campaign than firefighter Michael Flores. She also had the endorsements of folks like Doyle and former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. Burke supported the opening of Madison Preparatory Academy, a charter school proposed for low-income minority students, while Flores, who was backed by the teachers union, opposed it.


Tom Barrett: The Milwaukee mayor was expected to have little trouble in his re-election campaign, and he easily wins another term with 70 percent of the vote. But all attention had already turned to the guv’s race even before Tuesday, and the sledding will get much tougher for him here on out. Barrett issued a clean campaign pledge in the Dem guv primary, inviting his fellow candidates to promise to pay a financial penalty if they or any of the groups supporting them goes after a fellow Dem. But rival Kathleen Falk declined the invitation. It’s no mystery why, insiders say. Falk is likely the one who will benefit most by outside help from unions, and Wisconsin for Falk has been airing ads boosting her name ID. It’s not too hard for some insiders to imagine those same groups turning their sites on Barrett if needed. Union forces have already begun circulating a video that takes out of context Barrett’s comments on collective bargaining in an attempt to cast him in a negative light with core Dem primary voters. To some, the underlying theme is there even if the attack was off -- Barrett is no match for Falk when it comes to being a friend to public employee unions. Dems debate whether the primary will turn nasty, with some believing it’s inevitable that whoever is trailing heading into the home stretch will have to go negative to pull out a primary win. Others argue Scott Walker is the ultimate prize, and hope Dems will keep their attacks focused on him. But policing that is another matter, giving Republicans hope the primary winner will emerge battered and broke.


Peg Lautenschlager: The former Dem AG and lawmaker comes up short in her bid for the Fond du Lac School Board. Lautenschlager finished third in a four-way race for two at-large districts on the board. Opponents used her drunken driving arrest from her time as AG against her, and Lautenschlager says it didn't help that she's a well-known Dem associated with the recall effort and last year's Captiol protests who ran in a district where conservative turnout was boosted by the GOP prez primary. Insiders were somewhat surprised that a former statewide official would run for a local office. But Lautenschlager said she was offended by some of the remarks being made about teachers, especially since both of her parents worked in the profession, and was inspired to get in and defend them.

Walker judicial appointees: Three of Scott Walker's circuit court appointees lose Tuesday in their bids to retain their seats, and in two races the incumbent's association with the guv becomes a major issue. To some, it's no surprise that Walker would play such a pivotal role in the races in Milwaukee and Dane counties considering their heavy Dem tilt, particularly after the collective bargaining fight. Some bemoan that Walker becomes an issue in the races, saying it wasn't necessarily fair to the appointees. Dane County Judge Roger Allen had support from across the political spectrum in current and former Madison mayors Paul Soglin and Dave Cieslewicz, but the link between the former police officer and assistant Madison city attorney to Walker is hugely unpopular in Dane County. Walker also appointed former assistant Attorney General Frank Remington to the Dane County bench, but he didn't draw an opponent as he sought to retain the seat, possibly because of his work for DOJ and the fact his father was a well-respected law professor and the namesake of the Frank J. Remington Center at the UW Law School. Still, public defender Ellen Berz links Allen to Walker and wins with more than 55 percent of the vote. In Milwaukee County, DWD Administrative Judge Carolina Stark beats Walker appointee Nelson Wesley Phillips after pointedly noting his connection to Walker. That tactic generated criticism, but others pointed to GOP efforts to help Phillips retain the seat as evidence it was a spot-on move.

Robocalls: Campaigns love them as an inexpensive way to directly contact voters and help their GOTV efforts in the days leading up to an election. But many voters find them excruciatingly annoying, especially when half a dozen or more are coming in each day. The run-up to the GOP presidential primary was particularly painful for some with Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, the super PACs supporting them and others bombarding voters. Some of the robocalls even acknowledge the number of calls coming in, but go on with how important their call is. GOP state Rep. Andre Jacque pledges to reintroduce legislation to add them to state's "Do Not Call" list. But insiders don't expect it to go far. There's a reason the bill didn't get a hearing this session and why lawmakers exempted them from the no-call list when they originally approved the bill. They would be loath to cut off an easy -- and cheap -- way to reach voters.

Kathy Nickolaus: The Waukesha County clerk continues to bumble her way through elections, driving the media and politicos alike up the wall. In the latest incident, Nickolaus' plans to post timely results online and then periodically update them fails. That left staff to scramble and manually input vote totals for candidates in all races and all municipalities by hand, proofing them and then posting them online. Because of that, it was some six hours after the polls closed before some results were posted. It also left reporters and vote-counters trying to tabulate results from long strips of paper that were hung around the office, a sight that had insiders rolling their eyes. Conservative critics took to Twitter with a fury last night as they searched in vain for results from Waukesha County -- one of the most important in GOP primary contests. Nickolaus' performance didn't do anything to rehab her reputation after last year's gaffe in the Supreme Court race and smaller problems with reporting recall election results last summer. At least one candidate has already declared her intentions to run against Nickolaus this fall with others likely to at least give the race a look. Some Madison observers also wonder if county party activists will try to force her out for the good of the party.

-- By Staff


 12:28 PM 

Coggs won't run for Senate re-election

State Sen. and Milwaukee Treasurer-elect Spencer Coggs will serve out the rest of his term as state senator to maintain 16-16 balance in Senate, but will not run for re-election this year.

The senator will also donate his Senate salary to charity while serving in both positions.

Coggs said that he doesn't know who might run to replace him, but that he isn't worried as his district "may be one of the most heavily Democratic districts in the state."

The 6th district senator ran unopposed for the Senate seat in 2008. While conservatives attempted to recall him last year, the push received barely any traction.

-- By Jason Smathers


 12:11 PM 

Voters approve most school referendums

Voters in 20 school districts across the state approved more than $140 million in supplemental school spending in referendums Tuesday, including the three largest initiatives on the spring election ballot.

The largest referendum on the ballot, a $70 million measure in Beloit, passed by 345 votes out of more than 5,400 cast.

A referendum for $17.5 million in Bloomer narrowly passed 981-954, while voters in Oshkosh passed a referendum of nearly $13 million by a margin of more than two-to-one.

Other districts to pass large referendums Tuesday included Hudson ($8.25 million), Watertown ($6.2 million) and Fall Creek ($5.1 million).

The largest referendum to fail on the spring ballot took place in Mukwonago, where voters shot down an $11.2 million measure by nearly 1,900 votes out of the 8,565 cast.

Seven other referendums also failed Tuesday, totaling nearly $30 million, including measures in the Parkview School District ($5 million), Barron Area ($3.95 million) and Altoona ($3.6 million).

-- By Andy Szal

 11:04 AM 

Report: Wis. primary turnout falls short of projections

The Associated Press reports just over 1 million voters participated in Tuesday's presidential primary election, good for about 23 percent turnout.

Though about 2 percent of precincts had yet to report and the totals did not factor in any voters who may have skipped the primaries in favor of local races, that total would be well short of the 35 percent turnout projected by the Government Accountability Board late last month.

GAB officials said they projected that total based on the turnout for the state's hotly contested Dem presidential primary in February 2008.

Of the total presidential primary votes, preliminary returns this morning showed just under 720,000 were cast in the GOP primary.

-- By Staff

 1:31 AM 

Coggs edges Carpenter

Spencer Coggs has edged fellow Dem state Sen. Tim Carpenter for Milwaukee treasurer.

According to unofficial returns, Coggs had 35,096 votes to Carpenter's 34,293.

-- By Staff


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

 10:58 PM 

Rep. Cullen wins race for Milwaukee County Board

With 91 percent reporting, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has called the race for Milwaukee County Board, Dist. 15, for Democratic Rep. Dave Cullen.

Cullen leads challenger Dan Cody by about 15 percentage points, with Cullen landing 4,555 votes to Cody's 3,398 votes.

-- By Jason Smathers


 10:16 PM 

Coggs widens lead in Milw. Treasurer race

With nearly two-thirds of precincts reporting, Sen. Spencer Coggs is leading fellow Sen. Tim Carpenter in the race for Milwaukee Treasurer.

With 65 percent of precincts reporting, Coggs has 24,363 votes to Carpenter's 21,729 votes, giving Coggs a lead of nearly 6 percentage points.

UPDATE:With three-fourths of the results in, Coggs' lead has shrunk to 2 percentage points. Coggs has 27,566 votes to Carpenter's 26,455.

-- By Jason Smathers


 10:15 PM 

Romney strategist: Obama 'obsessed' with Romney

Romney chief strategist Stuart Stevens told reporters that President Obama "is obsessed with Mitt Romney" to the point of ignoring his focus on jobs.

"If you counted up the number of times the Obama campaign has sent out press releases which have Mitt Romney's name versus 'jobs,' you'd see an overwhelming propensity for obsessing with Mitt Romney rather than obsessing with trying to get people back to work," Stevens told reporters.

Asked how Romney would strive to win the blue-collar vote in Wisconsin, Stevens said, "I think we did well with blue-collar workers. If you lost your job in the last three years or someone in your family did, you voted for Mitt Romney pretty decisively."

Stevens said people who voted for Rick Santorum in various state primaries can still be won over.

"We're doing a lot better against Barack Obama than Bill Clinton had against Bush at this stage and Reagan had against Carter," Stevens said.

-- By Kay Nolan


 9:49 PM 

Another lead change in Milwaukee Treasurer race

What was a small lead for Sen. Tim Carpenter is now a slight lead for Sen. Spencer Coggs in the race for Milwaukee Treasurer.

With 36 percent of precincts reporting, Coggs leads with 14,289 votes to Carpenter's 12,876 votes, or 52.6 percent to 47.4 percent.

-- By Jason Smathers


 9:47 PM 

Lautenschlager comes up short in Fond du Lac School Board race

Former Dem Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager came up short in her bid for the Fond du Lac School Board.

Incumbents Eric Everson and Susan Jones won new three-year terms to the board in a four-person race for the two spots, according to local media reports.

Everson received 5,792 votes, followed by Jones (4,939), Lautenschlager (4,714) and Will Jewson (3,212).

Lautenschlager said in an interview she was disappointed in the results, but said they weren't necessarily a surprise. The district has a heavy GOP tilt, and the Republican presidential primary helped drive turnout. She also said a number of personal attacks have been lobbed at her, particularly on the Internet, including her drunk driving arrest eight years ago while attorney general.

"Despite my urging to get people to recognize that the school boards really aren’t partisan position, I think my association with the Democratic Party, the recall movement operated to my disadvantage," she said.

Asked if she planned any future runs for public office, Lautenschlager said, "No. I didn’t think I did before this."

She said she ran because she was unhappy with the way some on the board were characterizing teachers, suggesting they needed to work more and older teachers were not energetic and should be replaced by younger teachers. Both of her parents were teachers.

-- By JR Ross


 9:43 PM 

Dane Co. Walker appointee concedes race

The Isthmus is reporting that Dane Co. Circuit Court Judge Roger Allen has conceded the race to challenger and State Public Defender's attorney Ellen Berz.

Allen's appointment as Circuit Court Judge for the 11th bench by Gov. Scott Walker worked heavily against him in the race.

-- By Jason Smathers


 9:35 PM 

Walker appointee headed toward loss in Dane County

With about two-thirds of the precincts reporting in Dane County, incumbent Circuit Court Judge Roger Allen looks like he'll lose his seat to challenger Ellen Berz.

Berz currently has 33,147 votes to Allen's 26,051, which gives Berz a lead of about 12 percentage points.

In the race for Milwaukee Circuit Court, Branch 17, DWD Administrative Judge Carolina Stark has increased her lead over Walker appointee and incumbent circuit court judge Nelson Wesley Phillips to 17 percentage points with 17 percent of precincts reporting.

UPDATE: Stark now holds a nearly 22 percentage point lead on Phillips with 31 percent of precincts reporting.

-- By Jason Smathers


 9:29 PM 

Carpenter has small lead on Coggs in Treasurer race

While Sen. Spencer Coggs started off with a wide lead in the Milwaukee Treasurer race, new numbers have Sen. Tim Carpenter leading with a razor-thin margin.

With 24 percent of the precincts reporting, Carpenter has 7,526 or 50.2 percent of the vote to Coggs' 7,474 votes or 49.8 percent. That's a separation of only 52 votes between the two state senators.

-- By Jason Smathers


 9:29 PM 

Barrett has big lead in early returns

Tom Barrett, who announced Friday he's running for guv, has a big lead in early returns for his re-election bid for the Milwaukee mayor's post.

With 19 percent of the vote in, Barrett had just more than 68 percent of the vote, compared to just less than 32 percent for Edward McDonald, according to unofficial returns.

-- By Staff


 9:03 PM 

Romney accuses Obama of trying to create a government-centric society

MILWAUKEE -- Mitt Romney Tuesday accused Barack Obama of trying to create a government-centric society in which the government has to do more because the economy does less and tax increases are not just a necessity, but a desired tool for social justice.

Fresh off projections that he would win the Wisconsin primary, Romney lit into Obama for overseeing more job losses than any president since the Great Depression. He also accused him of making mistakes that have made the nation’s economy worse.

“I don’t want to transform America,” Romney said. “I want to restore to America the economic values of freedom and opportunity and limited government that made us the powerhouse of the world.”

Romney, often accused by his critics of being out of touch, lobbed the same charge at Obama, saying the president thinks he’s doing a great job. Actually, Romney went on, Obama thinks he’s doing a historic job, “And, no, he didn’t say that on 'Saturday night Live.'”

“It's enough to make you think that years of flying around on Air Force One, surrounded by an adoring staff of true believers telling you that you're great and you're doing a great job, it’s enough to make you think you might be a little out of touch after that,” Romney said.

Romney did not mention by name former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, his chief rival for the GOP nomination. But he issued a call to the “good people of Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island to join me” in the journey to Nov. 6, the day of the November election, when “we can give a sigh of relief and know that the promise of America has been kept.”

“The dreamers can dream a little bigger, the help wanted signs can be dusted off and put in the front yard, and we can start again, and this time we’re going to get it right,” Romney said.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, introduced Romney, telling the crowd "Obama can't run on his record" and would use distraction to divide voters.

"We don't need a campaigner-in-chief," Ryan said. "We need a commander-in-chief."

Ryan thanked Wisconsin GOP politicians who were present, including U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, state Sen. Alberta Darling and former state Sen. Ted Kanavas.

"Tonight, Wisconsinites have spoken," Ryan said. "It's not late to get our country back on a path of prosperity. Guess what? We have a leader who can do that."

-- By Kay Nolan


 8:47 PM 

Walker appointees still lagging; collective bargaining gets support in Dane Co.

While it's still early in the night, two Walker appointees to circuit court benches, one in Dane and another in Milwaukee, are lagging behind their challengers.

Ellen Berz, an attorney for the public defenders office, is leading the race for Dane County Circuit Court with 13,189 votes to incumbent Circuit Court Judge Roger Allen's 11,719, or 52.8 percent to 46.9 percent. About one quarter of all precincts are reporting in Dane Co.

In Milwaukee, only 1 percent of precincts are reporting, but Carolina Stark has a slight lead on Walker appointee Nelson Wesley Phillips for the 17th branch of the Milwaukee Circuit Court. Stark, an administrative law judge with the Department of Workforce Development, has 944 votes to Phillips' 782.

As a side note, Dane County voters look as if they're on their way to making their voice heard on the state's collective bargaining debate.

The county is holding an advisory referendum with the following language: "Should all Wisconsin workers have the right to seek safe working conditions and fair pay through collective bargaining?"

Right now, about 60 percent of voters have answered yes, compared to less than 40 percent voting no.

-- By Jason Smathers


 8:34 PM 

Romney supporters celebrate projected win

The crowd at Mitt Romney's Election Night party cheered and supporters snapped photos of a TV screen after Fox News projected the former Massachusetts guv would win Wisconsin.

Hundreds of people jammed into a room at the Historic Grain Exchange in Milwaukee. There were no tables or chairs, and supporters were standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the room.

Dale Stearman of Kenosha brought his family to the party, including teen sons Nathan, 17, and Cameron, 15.

"Romney has business experience and as a business consultant. That's what I look for," he said. "The problem I have with politicians is they take our money and make plans and regulations, but don't see it through."

Not long after the polls closed, Romney's campaign released some of his prepared remarks.

Romney plans to tick off a series of negatives about the economy.

"And when you drive home tonight and stop at a gas station, just take a look at the prices and ask yourself, 'Four more years?'" Romney planned to say.

"It's enough to make you think that years of flying around on Air Force One, surrounded by an adoring staff of true believers telling you what a great job you are doing, well, that might be enough to make you a little out of touch."

-- By Kay Nolan


 8:16 PM 

Walker appointee in Dane Co. lagging in early results

With early results coming in, incumbent Dane County Circuit Judge Roger Allen, is trailing opponent Ellen Berz by about 5 percentage points in the race for the 11th branch Circuit Court seat.

With 21 precincts reporting, Berz, an attorney with the state public defender's office, currently has 3,843 votes to Allen's 3,436 votes. That gives Berz about 52.6 percent of the vote to Allen's 47 percent.

Allen has been dogged by his appointment to the bench by Gov. Scott Walker, which some take issue with in left-leaning Dane County.
-- By Jason Smathers

 3:57 PM 

Dems file complaint over Romney's Waukesha event

The state Dem Party filed a complaint today with the Government Accountability Board against Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, alleging that they illegally provided sandwiches from a Waukesha Counsins Subs in exchange for votes.

The party included video of Romney and Ryan Ryan handing out sandwiches in its complaint. The video also showed Romney speaking at the event, thanking supporters for voting and saying, "If you want another sandwich there are more back there."

DPW Research Director Melissa Baldauff wrote in the complaint that a "reasonable person" would interpret that the sandwiches had been offered by the campaign to individuals who were going to vote or had already voted in the GOP primary -- in violation of state law prohibiting giving things of value in exchange for voting.

State GOP spokesman Ben Sparks responded that "it looks like the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has met its frivolous lawsuit quota for the week."

-- By Andy Szal

 1:21 PM 

Few problems reported so far

GAB Director Kevin Kennedy said election officials are seeing a few hiccups around the state, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

Kennedy said he’s heard complaints that some poll workers have been asking for voters’ drivers licenses before allowing people to vote even though the voter ID law was put on hold by two Dane County judges in separate lawsuits.

The state has appealed those decisions.

“Where those questions come up, you get back to the clerk and say tell your poll workers to stop it,” Kennedy said.

The agency has also fielded complaints that GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney offered free subs to people who vote.

Romney stopped at a Cousins Subs in Waukesha today and was behind the counter handing out sandwiches.

A WisPolitics.com reporter who covered the event did not hear Romney make such an offer, but also was not within earshot the entire time the former guv was behind the counter. It is illegal in Wisconsin to offer anything of value in exchange for someone voting.

In Milwaukee, about 10 to 12 voters were mistakenly removed from the poll books after postcards mailed to their homes came back undeliverable, said Sue Edman, executive director of the Election Commission.

Edman said the commission went more than 150,000 notifications to voters that their voting sites had moved. Those that came back undeliverable were pulled from the rolls.

“We found out some of these people actually still live there,” she said.

Edman said she planned to follow up with the U.S. Post Office to find out why those cards came back undeliverable.

“The biggest problem we’re seeing today is people are voting in the presidential preference contest and voting for a Republican and a Democrat,” she said. “That’s causing some confusion at polling sites. We’re getting the word out at sites that they can only vote for one in this contest, not both a Republican and a Democrat.”

Election workers also had to reconstruct some absentee ballots because of formatting problems. Election officials discovered the problems earlier and had absentee ballots reprinted. The old ones that come back and do not work with vote counting machines are being reconstructed by poll workers before being fed to the machines. Edman said the process is being done in the open with observers in place to watch.

-- By JR Ross


 12:14 PM 

Romney serves up subs, slams on Obama

WAUKESHA -- Making his last scheduled campaign stop of the Wisconsin primary, Mitt Romney accused the president of failing to take responsibility for rising gas prices.

Romney stopped at a Cousin’s Subs in Waukesha, where he served subs to supporters.

“The president put an ad out yesterday, talking about gas prices, and how high they are. And guess who he blamed? Me,” Romney said, drawing laughter from the audience.

Romney said that the president shouldn’t get credit for increases in oil production. Instead the former Massachusetts governor said the policies of the Bush administration are the reason production has increased.

Romney went after Obama for shutting down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska. He also said suggested that the Keystone XL pipeline would be built if he became president.

Romney also criticized the president for the pace of the economic recovery. At an event on Saturday, Romney had said the recovery had been the weakest “since Hoover.” Today, he took it further, saying the recovery was the slowest ever.

“This president is unwilling to take responsibility for his mistakes,” Romney said.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, who endorsed Romney last week, told the crowd he has been feeling pretty good about his picks lately. He said he picked the right national champion in the NCAA tournament and “when I filled out my ballot for Wisconsin, I picked who I think it is going to be the next president of the United States, I picked Mitt Romney.”

Romney planned an Election Night party in Milwaukee, while the other presidential contenders will not be in the state today.

-- By Arthur Thomas


 10:27 AM 

Rasmussen: 52 percent support recalling Walker, 47 percent opposed

A new poll from Rasmussen Reports finds 52 percent of likely voters support recalling Gov. Scott Walker.

If the recall were held today, 47 percent said they would vote against recalling him.

Rasmussen found a month ago that 54 percent opposed recalling Walker.

The latest poll, conducted March 27, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Dems generally dismiss Rasmussen polls as biased toward Republicans.

-- By Staff


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