• WisPolitics

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


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