• WisPolitics

Thursday, May 31, 2012

 10:19 PM 

Guv debate: Walker knocks Barrett on crime records while Barrett keeps focus on John Doe

Gov. Scott Walker pushed Tom Barrett Thursday to release records to detail the extent that violent crimes were misreported in the city of Milwaukee, while the mayor countered his GOP opponent should turn over emails to shed more light on the John Doe probe that has ensnared his former county exec aides.

Pressed by Barrett on the John Doe emails, Walker countered Milwaukee is withholding data from a newspaper seeking to detail the extent that violent crimes were not reported correctly to the FBI, leading to incorrect stats that suggested the violent crime rate was dropping in the city.

Walker said the release of those records could detail the extent of the problem. But the suggestion brought a sharp rebuke from Barrett over a TV ad Walker has been running on the misreported crimes that shows a pixelated picture of a child who later died because of abuse.

“You should be ashamed of that commercial, Scott Walker,” Barrett chided.

Walker countered Barrett has stressed through the campaign that his leadership on the crime issue was a reason to vote for him and now that a newspaper report shows otherwise, voters deserve to know the extent of the problem.

“Violent crime has not come down,” Walker said.

Mike Gousha, who moderated the second and final debate of the campaign, pressed Walker for an answer on a story that broke today suggesting Walker’s county exec administration “stonewalled” investigators.

Walker said that characterization was incorrect and that his administration was unable to obtain information about allegations of missing money for a veterans fund and his then-chief of staff went to the Milwaukee County DA’s office with their concerns, prompting the probe.

Barrett knocked Walker saying, “I have a police department that arrests felons. He has a practice of hiring them.” He also declared he’s been in public life for 28 years, but no one from his staff has ever been charged with a crime and he’s never had a criminal defense fund.

The two candidates also debated right-to-work legislation, the state's job numbers and collective bargaining.

See full coverage of the debate:


 9:24 PM 

In final debate, Moulton and Dexter spar over impact of state budgets they backed

EAU CLAIRE – Former state Rep. Kristen Dexter charged Thursday GOP state Sen. Terry Moulton and Republicans in control of state government have hurt working families, the elderly and poor through the budget approved about a year ago.

"The policies of Governor Walker and Terry Moulton stacked the deck against the middle class," Dexter said.

Moulton countered the GOP inherited a state left in fiscal crisis by Gov. Jim Doyle and other Democrats.

"We put the state of Wisconsin in the best financial state it's been in for 15 years," he said.

The two met Thursday in their final debate before a rematch of their 2008 race for the 68th AD. Dexter, who beat Moulton in that Assembly race only to lose her seat two years ago, is challenging Moulton in a recall election for the Eau Claire area's 23rd SD.

The pair took questions during Thursday's edition of the West Side, an hourlong Wisconsin Public Radio program broadcast from Eau Claire.

Moulton said the collective bargaining changes Republicans pushed through were a significant tool in helping put the state's fiscal house in order and were meant to help local governments. Teacher layoffs were lower than prior years and some schools are even giving out raises, he said, as long as they didn't cling to old union agreements.

"Those school districts that rushed to sign new contracts without using the tools we gave them, they had those layoffs," Moulton said. "K-12 is still the No. 1 priority and it will remain that way."

Dexter replied that when she was in the state Assembly between 2008 and 2010 during the Great Recession, Democrats did not shy away from cuts.

"I actually made cuts to education," she said. "The cuts that we made, though, were shared by everyone across the budget."

But she said Walker's budget made education take a bigger hit than other sectors.

And she said while making public employees pay for a share of benefits – as Walker did – is something she is supportive of, she opposes the cuts to public unions' collective bargaining abilities.

Dexter attacked Act 10 as poorly written, because it did not give local governments a direction for proceeding with employee contracts without the previous union negotiations.

"It left municipalities, school districts without a clear way forward," she said.

Moulton said he wants to keep the "reforms" on collective bargaining in place and went as far as saying government employee unions are "against the spirit of democracy." He argued the unions had power akin to making legislation while holding crucial public services in the balance.

In the vein of taxation policies, West Side host Rich Kremer brought up a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article that stated Gov. Walker's biggest campaign donor – billionaire Diane Hendricks of Beloit -- paid no state income taxes in 2010.

Moulton said he was unfamiliar with Hendricks' situation or the article, but defended the nation's rich, saying they pay about 40 percent of U.S. income taxes.

"The top 1 percent of people area paying the larger share of taxes," he said.

Dexter felt differently and said it's indicative of the disparity of the state's current tax code.

"I would make it imperative that the richest woman in Wisconsin paid her taxes," Dexter said.

Dexter pointed to cuts in the earned income tax credit, homestead tax credit and education cuts made under the current administration, which Dexter said specifically hurt the elderly, working families and poor.

"Taxes were raised on the average family and the working poor," she said.

The final question of the candidate forum was on the bitterness of political discourse in the state. Predictably, the answers got a little pointed.

Moulton argued that polarization is a reflection of what's going on in the culture and felt it would be better if legislators from both sides could be more congenial.

He then said that was made difficult by the absence of 14 Democratic senators who fled to Illinois during the heat of debate on the budget repair bill.

Dexter responded that the senators were only gone for two weeks, yet Moulton was elected 1½ years ago. She said that was ample opportunity to repair relationships, but he didn't make the effort.

"There are many things that could've been done in the past 1½ years to quell that divisiveness," she said.

Moulton argued that while they weren't public, he did try to improve relations in the halls of the Capitol.

"You weren't at the private conversations I had in the hallway," he said to Dexter. "You weren't there."

Dexter retorted that none of his constituents in the 23rd District were there to witness the alleged attempts at peacemaking because they don't live in Madison.

-- By Andrew Dowd
For WisPolitics.com


 6:44 PM 

DGA chief O'Malley revs up Dem volunteers in Madison

Maryland Gov. and head of the Democratic Governors Association Martin O'Malley told Democratic volunteers in Madison Thursday that Gov. Scott Walker's divisive attitude is unbecoming of a leader and that they need a strong ground game to oust him on June 5.

O'Malley, who also plans on hosting a debate watch party for Tom Barrett later tonight in Milwaukee, made several allusions to Packers coach Vince Lombardi to explain how to drive people forward. He said that Walker has taken the wrong approach to making progress in the state.

"You do it by building a team," O'Malley said. "You do it by telling everybody that they have within them a human dignity and greatness that is need. Not by vilifying women, not by vilifying workers' rights, not by rolling back voting rights."

He also told volunteers that the election can come down to a mere handful of votes, citing his run for state Senate where he lost by 23 votes. O'Malley said the ground game can swing the vote by five percentage points if there are enough people knocking on doors.

O'Malley told reporters afterward that he thought the election was about more than just collective bargaining, noting the cuts made to education and policies that some have seen as hostile to women. He also said that while the advertising in Wisconsin doesn't seem to be moving the needle for Walker, it was important that Barrett gets more parity on television to aid the turnout for Dems.

"Part of what were trying to do here, especially in the closing hours, is to make sure that our own people don't feel fatigued here or give up or feel like because they're seeing 2-to-1 ads for Scott Walker from his billionaire buddies that their taking the time to go and vote doesn't matter," O' Malley said.

-- By Jason Smathers


 1:28 PM 

Barrett poll: Walker 50, Barrett 48

 Tom Barrett's campaign today released numbers from a new poll it conducted that has the race about even.

The survey found 50 percent of respondents backed Gov. Scott Walker, compared to 48 percent who supported Barrett.

The survey of 821 votes was done Tuesday and Wednesday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, according to a release from the campaign.

The campaign said the findings include Barrett leading Walker 56 percent to 42 percent among those voters surveyed for the poll who did not vote in the 2010 election and 51-47 among those who are familiar with the John Doe probe that has ensnared some of Walker's aides from his days at Milwaukee County exec.

-- By JR Ross


 12:26 PM 

Dem source: Clinton to campaign for Barrett tomorrow in Milwaukee

Former President Bill Clinton will campaign for Tom Barrett tomorrow in Milwaukee, a Dem source said.

Barrett's campaign has been working to get Clinton into Wisconsin ahead of Tuesday's election, and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said during an appearance in Racine yesterday that the former president was trying to work out his schedule so he could make a stop here.

UPDATE, 1:09 P.M.: DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz just released this statement on Clinton's visit:

"I'm thrilled President Clinton will be traveling to Wisconsin tomorrow to campaign for the next Governor of the Badger State, Mayor Tom Barrett. President Clinton is a true public servant who has dedicated his career to helping middle class Americans and those trying to reach the middle class achieve the American Dream.

"Having just been in Wisconsin this week, I know how important the recall election is and how dedicated Democrats and Wisconsin's middle class families are to this effort. The choice facing hardworking folks in Wisconsin could not possibly be more clear. Mayor Barrett's record speaks for itself – he's dedicated his career to fighting for economic security and fairness for working families in Wisconsin. He has staunchly defended the core values that define us as Democrats: fighting for a strong middle class, standing up for women's health, protecting our environment, and pushing back on divisive attacks against the rights of our workers. In stark contrast, for the last year and a half Scott Walker has done nothing but divide Wisconsin and turn his back on the middle class. That's not the kind of leadership Wisconsin needs, and that's why Tom Barrett will be elected the next governor of Wisconsin. I'm proud that President Clinton is adding his voice to this important fight."

Barrett's campaign has also posted an invite to the event on its webpage.

UPDATE, 3:16 P.M.: Barrett's campaign has issued a release indicating Clinton will appear with the mayor at an early vote rally at 10 a.m in Pere Marquette Park.

-- By JR Ross


 10:43 AM 

Barrett questions Walker's honesty in two new TV ads

Tom Barrett is now running two new TV ad that question Scott Walker’s honesty.

One opens with the narrator asking, “Do you believe Scott Walker?”

It shows video of the guv saying, “Our reforms are working” before the narrator asks, “What about the middle class?”

The narrator goes on to say while Walker “waged a civil war,” Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state, Walker raised taxes on seniors, he cut education the most in state history and increased fees for college “all while giving billions in tax breaks to corporations and the super rich.”

The spot then shows the clip of Walker saying the reforms are working before the spot closes with the narrator saying, “But not for the middle class. It’s time to say no to Scott Walker.”

The second ad knocks Walker on the John Doe, showing video of Walker saying, “I’m a straight shooter” before the narrator says Walker has spent over $200,000 on criminal defense lawyers and admits his lawyers have been given all of his emails “but won’t show them to us.”

After showing Walker saying “I’m a straight shooter” again, the narrator says there have been six indictments, 15 felony charges, two guilty pleas and the “discovery of a secret, illegal email network.”

The narrator add “Scott Walker still says” before the spot cuts to the “straight shooter” video again.

“C’mon, it’s time to tell the truth,” the narrator says to conclude the spot.

-- By JR Ross


 9:58 AM 

Walker hits Barrett again on crime stats in new TV ad

Gov. Scott Walker's campaign released a new TV ad today taking a second shot at Tom Barrett over missreported crime stats by the Milwaukee Police Department.

The narrator in the spot says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found "Barrett failed to report as many as 1,300 violent crimes in his city.

The narrator goes onto say FBI cime experts "confirm Barrett wasn’t being truthful when he claimed that violent crime was falling in Milwaukee" and a criminologist said it "raises the question of whether the crimes were deliberately misreported."

"If Tom Barrett is willing to cover up hundreds of violent crimes in Milwaukee, what else is he hiding?" the narrator says to conclude the spot.

Walker's campaign released its first ad on the crime stats earlier this week.

-- By JR Ross


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

 10:33 PM 

Planned Parenthood ad says "it's time to stop Governor Walker"

A new TV ad highlights Wisconsin residents aided by Planned Parenthood while accusing Gov. Scott Walker of eliminating state funding for the organization.

The 30-second ad, titled "It's Time to Stop Governor Walker," begins with a photo montage of several Wisconsin residents served by Planned Parenthood.

"Planned Parenthood is a lifeline for Wisconsin women and families," the narrator says as the camera pans out over photos of different women. "But Governor Walker eliminated funding for Planned Parenthood's preventative services, including cancer screens and birth control."

The ad also says Walker worked to end insurance coverage for birth control. The narrator then says that health care "shouldn't be political, it's personal."

"Women can't wait, it's time to stop Gov. Walker," the narrator ends. In every version of the ad, the screen urges people to vote for Tom Barrett on June 5. In some versions of the ad, Barrett is paired with Kristen Dexter and Donna Seidel.


 7:08 PM 

Barrett views verified job numbers with suspicion

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Wednesday evening that he's waiting until the official release of numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to respond to claims that the feds have verified the Walker administration's 2011 job estimates.

"There's no reason to believe what he's saying until it's finally confirmed because of all the suspicion and the way he's released these," the Dem guv candidate told reporters following a rally in downtown Madison. "So I'm waiting for the official confirmation. ... If he's going to start releasing his emails, that's long overdue."

A spokesman for the Department of Workforce Development said BLS made only a slight change in the numbers released by the DWD earlier this month. The numbers show the state gained 23,608 jobs rather than the 23,321 initially reported by the administration.

During the rally at the Majestic Theater, Barrett told supporters that even if those DWD estimates were accepted, the state would still be "at the bottom of the Big Ten" in jobs created last year.

Barrett vowed to focus on Wisconsin jobs and ensure any tax credits for businesses are tied to job creation.

He also accused the governor of putting his political interests ahead of the state, again calling on Walker to turn over emails related to the John Doe investigation in Milwaukee.

"We are going to make sure we have a governor that tells the truth to the people of this state," Barrett said.

The mayor again appeared with former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, who has joined Barrett on the campaign trail this week. Feingold called Walker's decision not to disclose John Doe documents "cynical" since voters cannot recall him again in his first term.

"If we do not prevail ... Scott Walker will have committed the perfect political crime," Feingold said.

-- By Andy Szal


 5:37 PM 

DWD: Feds have signed off on state's revised 2011 jobs numbers

A Department of Workforce Development spokesman says the Bureau of Labor Statistics has signed off on the 2011 job numbers the state sent earlier this month.

John Dipko said the BLS made a slight change in the numbers, finding 23,608 jobs created in 2011 rather than the 23,321 the state initially reported.

Dipko said the final breakdown of county-by-county numbers will be posted at the DWD website on Friday. The initial numbers the state sent to the feds included a loss of 992 jobs in Milwaukee County in 2011.

Gov. Scott Walker has touted the revised numbers to rebut Dem charges that Wisconsin lost jobs in 2011, while Dems have questioned the significant difference between the more than 23,000 jobs gained that the state reported to the feds and the almost 34,000 jobs lost in 2011 based off surveys that had been previously released.

 5:34 PM 

DNC chair sees Dem recall wins as "downfall of Tea Party politics"

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Dem victories in the recall elections next week would signal the "beginning of the downfall of the Tea Party politics that Americans have been rejecting."

Wasserman Schultz joined Dem state Chair Mike Tate and former state Sen. John Lehman at Lehman's campaign headquarters in Racine today.

She criticized Gov. Scott Walker's policies, saying they "are not what the voters of Wisconsin signed up for when they elected him governor."

"Scott Walker apparently is living in the Paleozoic Era and believes that we should take the women of this state back to that time," Wasserman Schultz said, referencing the repeal of pay equity legislation.

Tate downplayed the national significance of next Tuesday's election, saying the results would be "over-analyzed and over-interpreted" for their national implications.

He added that the national Democratic Party has been supportive of the recall effort, despite reports that some Dems were frustrated with the level of support.

"I know that some people have sort of gotten hopped up on this because Scott Walker likes to pal around with all the right-wing rockstars that he can bring in. Tom Barrett is running a Wisconsin campaign, he's out there talking to people from Wisconsin," Tate said.

Wasserman Schultz noted that the DNC had put "over a million and a half dollars into this state."

"There hasn't been anything that we've asked for that they haven't done," Tate said.

Wasserman Schultz attended a fundraiser with Tom Barrett at the Italian Community Center this morning. Tate estimated there were 250 people in attendance, but said he didn’t know how much was raised.

-- By Arthur Thomas


 2:55 PM 

Coalition for American Values starts TV ad urging end to 'recall madness'

The Coalition for American Values Committee is now running a TV ad that urges viewers to “end the recall madness.”

The spot opens with several people saying they didn’t vote for Scott Walker before one ads “but I’m definitely against this recall.”

Another who says she didn’t vote for Walker adds, “There’s a right way. There’s a wrong way, and I think this I the wrong way.”

A man says, “I elected him to do his job” before another adds, “Let him serve it out.”

"I didn’t vote for Scott Walker, but I’m again the recall,” a man says before the narrator closes the spot, “End the recall madness. Vote for Scott walker June 5.”

The group, based in Arlington, Va., says on its website it's dedicated to protecting the values of "God, family, freedom, democracy and free market capitalism." The group, which says it is registered with the Federal Election Commission as an independent expenditure committee, did not return a call seeking details on the buy. CMAG captured the spot for WisPolitics.com.

-- By JR Ross


 1:28 PM 

Marquette Law poll: Walker 52, Barrett 45

The latest Marquette University Law School poll found Scott Walker up on Tom Barrett with 52 percent of respondents backing the guv compared to 45 percent who supported the mayor.

The survey also found Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch supported by 46 percent of respondents, compared to 41 percent who backed Mahlon Mitchell.

The Marquette release said Walker's lead "falls slightly short of statistical significance," while Kleefisch's edge "is not statistically significant."

The telephone poll of 600 likely voters was conducted May 23-26 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Most of the interviews were conducted before Friday's guv debate, according to the release.

The results were "statistically unchanged" in the guv's race from a 50-44 edge for Walker two weeks ago, according to the release.

The survey also found Walker's job approval rating at 51-45 and his favorable-unfavorable split at 51-46. Barrett's favorable-unfavorable split was upside down at 41-46.

In the presidential race, 51 percent of likely voters backed President Obama, while 43 percent supported Mitt Romney. Two weeks ago, that race was tied at 46.

The president's job approval rating was 52-43, while his favorable-unfavorable split was 55-41. Romney's favorable-unfavorable rating was 40-47.

The poll's toplines showed 36 percent of those surveyed considered themselves independents, 33 percent Dems and 28 percent Republicans. When "leaners" were included in that count, it was 48 percent Dems, 43 percent Republicans and 8 percent independents or neither.

 -- By JR Ross


 12:43 PM 

New RGA TV ad touts Journal Sentinel endorsement of Walker

The RGA’s Right Direction Wisconsin PAC is out with a new TV ad that touts the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s endorsement of Scott Walker.

The spot opens with the narrator asking where Tom Barrett’s hometown newspaper stands on the recall. It then quotes passages from the paper's editorial like “as a leader, the mayor can be timid and slow to act” and “Tom Barrett has been slow to articulate a vision for economic development.”

It then pivots to the paper’s praise of Walker such as “To his credit, Walker has helped right the state’s finances and shore up the state’s economic development efforts” and “We’ve had our differences with the governor, but he deserves a chance to complete his term.

“The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: We urge voters to support walker,” the spot concludes.

-- By JR Ross


 11:15 AM 

Greater Wisconsin poll: Barrett 49, Walker 49

The liberal-leaning Greater Wisconsin Political Fund released a new poll today that had Tom Barrett and Scott Walker tied.

The survey found 49 percent of respondents backed the mayor, while 49 percent supported the guv.

A memo on the poll said Barrett led Walker among independents 49-44.

According to the toplines Greater Wisconsin released 50 percent of respondents backed Barack Obama in this fall's election, while 47 percent supported Mitt Romney.

Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said the voted for Obama in 2008, while 44 percent said they supported John McCain; the president won the state by 14 percentage points.

The sample also included 43 percent who identified themselves as Dems, 43 percent who said they were Republicans, and 13 percent who said they were independents or other.

The automated phone survey of 600 likely voters was conducted May 24-28 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

 -- By JR Ross


 11:06 AM 

Priebus says Walker should be rewarded, GOP win would make it tougher for Obama in November

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said today Gov. Scott Walker followed through on his promises and should be rewarded for his efforts in Tuesday's election.

“We need more people like Scott Walker around the country. That’s why the RNC is all in with Wisconsin," Priebus, a former state GOP chair, said on a conference call with reporters.

Although polls show a consistently close race between Walker and Barrett, Priebus is confident in a Republican win. He said that this puts more pressure on voter turnout.

“We’ve got an electorate that, earlier than normal, is making up its mind,” he said, adding that means Republicans must “keep their foot on the gas” all the way through Tuesday.

Priebus said a win in Wisconsin would have an impact on the presidential election in November.

“If Walker wins next Tuesday, Obama is going to have a much tougher road in the fall,” Priebus said.

-- By Hannah Shepard


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

 6:46 PM 

Barrett raised $3.1 million

Tom Barrett’s campaign says he raised more than $3.1 million in the most recent reporting period and had nearly $1.5 million cash on hand.

Barrett’s campaign said he pulled in 26,826 new donors over the last two months and now has 38,090, while 71 percent of his support came from people who live in Wisconsin.

Barrett, who got into the race March 30, has now raised about $3.9 million for the campaign through May 21, the end of the pre-election reporting period. That includes the money he transferred from his mayoral account to his guv fund.

Since May 22, he has collected at least $261,735 in donations of $500 or more, according to filings with the GAB. That pushes him past the $4 million mark.

By comparison, Gov. Scott Walker raised $20.9 million between Jan. 1 and May 21, collected more than $800,000 in late contributions and has pulled in north of $31 million since the beginning of 2011.

-- By JR Ross


 4:24 PM 

Walker raises $5.2 million in latest period, pushes past $30 million mark

Gov. Scott Walker raised almost $5.2 million in the latest fundraising period, pushing his overall haul since January 2011 past the $30 million mark.

Walker also reported spending $8.4 million in the pre-election period of April 24 to May 21 and had $1.6 million cash on hand.

The campaign said it collected 54,112 contributions during the almost four-week period; 39,813 of those contributions were $50 or less.

His fundraising shows little signs of slowing down ahead of next week's recall election. He has already reported raising more than $800,000 since May 22 in donations of $500 or more.
Tom Barrett's campaign had not yet released his fundraising total for the pre-election period, and his report had not yet been posted to the GAB site this afternoon.
-- By JR Ross


 3:33 PM 

GAB predicts near-presidential turnout next week

The GAB today predicted near-presidential turnout for next week’s recall elections.

The agency projected a turnout of between 60 percent and 65 percent, roughly 2.6 million to 2.8 million people.

The GAB noted at least 130,391 absentee ballots had been cast by noon today.

GAB Director Kevin Kennedy said turnout is expected to be significantly higher than the 49.7 percent to voted in the 2010 general election, but short of the 69.2 percent who cast ballots in the 2008 general election.

-- By JR Ross


 2:24 PM 

New GWPF ad rips Walker over education cuts, John Doe

The Greater Wisconsin Political Fund today announced a new TV ad criticizing Gov. Scott Walker over education cuts, collective bargaining changes and the ongoing John Doe investigation.

"Wisconsin needs honest leadership," an announcer says to open the ad. "Scott Walker said there was no money for schools but gave a billion dollars to big corporations."

The announcer then says Walker "concealed his plan to destroy workers’ rights" and "won’t come clean about his role in the corruption scandal."

"Top aides accused of crimes feet from his office," the ad closes. "Corruption trials, deception and division. Unless we replace Scott Walker, nothing will change. Vote."

-- By Andy Szal


 1:59 PM 

Wanggaard, Lehman spar over job creation

GOP state Sen. Van Wanggaard charged on “UpFront with Mike Gousha” that his Dem challenger John Lehman does not have a plan to create jobs and was the “architect” of the Dem budget in 2009 that hiked taxes and fees.

Lehman, who lost to Wanggaard in 2010 and is now challenging him in a recall election, countered the incumbent and Gov. Scott Walker’s understanding of how jobs are created could fit in a tea cup while they’re “pretending they have a bath tub of ideas.”

“The Republicans have done nothing about jobs,” Lehman said on Sunday’s show, which is produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com. “But they’ve taken that jobs issue and used it as a smokescreen to cover that other agenda, that ALEC-kind of agenda, that right-wing agenda that they’ve been working on.”

Wanggaard, R-Racine, said he has done exactly what he was elected to do, and that includes eliminating the deficit he says Lehman and former Gov. Jim Doyle left behind without raising taxes, while working to create jobs.

“I feel pretty confident with my record, and it’s pretty positive,” Wanggaard said.

Wanggaard acknowledged he did not campaign in 2010 on largely eliminating collective bargaining powers for most public employees. Still, he said he made the law better by insisting that the guv’s proposal be changed to include protections for discipline and the grievance process, along with unfair termination.

He also said it was no secret that Walker was looking at changing collective bargaining, pointing to a comparison piece from a public employee union that warned as much and the fact opponents had a domain name for recalling Walking registered even before the 2010 election was held.

“This is just smoke,” Wanggaard said.

But Lehman countered Republicans pushed through the changes in what he said was an “aberration to the normal process” as Republicans embarked on “a radical agenda, which people weren’t prepared for.”

Wanggaard, however, said Dems last session pushed through a more than $1 billion tax hike in 24 hours with Lehman serving on the Joint Finance Committee. By comparison, he said there was significant debate on the collective bargaining legislation in the Assembly, but a conversation couldn’t be held in the Senate because Dems fled the state in an effort to hold up a vote. He said Lehman has indicated he would have joined the 14 Dems if he were in the body.

“How can you have a conversation when you don’t sit at the table, you don’t do your job?”

Lehman defended the Senate Dems, saying they were trying to slow down the process so a conversation could be had on the changes rather than allowing Republicans to ram it through quickly.

“Van’s in a little bit of a bubble about what they did. This was a very radical approach, something we hadn’t seen in Wisconsin history,” Lehman said. “Hopefully, we won’t see it again.”

-- By JR Ross


 12:38 PM 

Walker dismisses questions about emails

MILWAUKEE -- Gov. Scott Walker dismissed questions today about alleged bid rigging during his time as Milwaukee County exec because "no one won the bid" in the end.

Walker's appearance at HUSCO International in Waukesha came on the heels of a report that the ongoing John Doe probe is looking an emails exchange between Walker while county exec and longtime associate John Hiller on a proposed real estate contract in which Hiller was involved.

"For all the hype about emails and all this other discussion, the fact of the matter is, nobody won the bid," Walker told reporters. "It's pretty clear, if that's the hype, nobody won the bid. The only people that won were the taxpayers.”

Walker's county administration considered moving the Aging Department out of its then home in 2010, but rejected the bids and eventually moved the agency into a county building.

"The county, under my administration, opted not to take any of the bids that were offered and instead consolidated space at county facilities and saved the taxpayers money," Walker said. "That is a true and factual statement that goes beyond what was being reviewed."

Walker declined to answer whether a secret email system -- previously discovered to have existed as part of an ongoing John Doe investigation -- was used to discuss bids for leased space for the county's Department of Aging offices.

"I can't talk about the particulars because I'm following those rules," Walker said, repeating his stance that he was told by the Milwaukee County DA not to discuss the probe.

-- By Kay Nolan


 11:51 AM 

Barrett, Walker ratchet up rhetoric in radio ads

Guv candidates Tom Barrett and Scott Walker sharpened their attacks on each other over a John Doe probe and violent crime in Milwaukee in dueling radio ads now airing.

The Walker spot hits Barrett on reports that the Milwaukee Police Department misreported hundreds of violent crimes.

The narrator says a 2-year-old spent six days in intensive care after being nearly beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend, but "Tom Barrett's police department didn't report it as a violent crime."

The narrator then says Antonio Hoskins went to his mother's house in a rage and began choking his pregnant girlfriend.

"Hoskins punched her in the head and face, yelling, 'I’m going to kill you, and I’m going to kill that baby, too," the narrator says. "Barrett’s police department didn’t consider that a violent crime, either."

The narrator then says Barrett claims violent crime is falling in Milwaukee, but a newspaper found 1,300 beatings, stabbings and child abuse cases that weren't counted and a review by FBI crime experts "found Barrett wasn't telling the truth."

"If Tom Barrett is covering up hundreds of violent crimes in Milwaukee, what else is he hiding?" the spot concludes.

The Barrett spot, which began airing Friday as did the new Walker ad, focuses on former Walker aide Tim Russell and his role in the John Doe probe.

The narrator says Russell was Walker's deputy chief of staff and Walker put him in charge of a charity named Operation Freedom designed to help the families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The narrator says Russell stole $20,000 from the charity and used it to take trips to Hawaii and the Caribbean.

"And while the prosecutors were investigating the veterans’ scandal, they uncovered a secret email network set up by Walker’s aides -- a network that used taxpayer money for Walker’s campaign," the narrator says.

The narrator ads prosecutors say thousands of illegal emails went back and forth" and "that’s the story of how the John Doe scandal began."

"Now we need Scott Walker’s emails to see where it ends," the spot concludes. "Because we deserve to know the truth before the election."

 -- By JR Ross


 10:56 AM 

Ex-prosecutors: Walker can be more forthcoming with John Doe information

Three former prosecutors today argued that Gov. Scott Walker is not prohibited from releasing emails and other information related to an ongoing John Doe investigation in Milwaukee County, charging that it's likely Walker's attorneys that are advising him to keep quiet about the probe.

"You certainly have a right to go out and defend your own reputation," former Kenosha Co. DA Bob Jambois told reporters in a conference call organized by the state Democratic Party.

Jambois said he would tell the governor to pursue the same course if he was representing him, but that "it's unlikely to me that the district attorney is advising Scott Walker not to say anything."

Frank Tuerkheimer, an emeritus law professor at the University of Wisconsin and former member of the Watergate prosecution staff, said reports today about the John Doe looking into potential bid rigging in Milwaukee County means the investigation has taken a turn of "an even more serious magnitude."

Former AG Peg Lautenschlager added that the latest fact to come out of the county investigation is beginning to paint a picture of the overall problems under Walker in Milwaukee County, and that voters need to "piece things together as best we can prior to the election."

"The governor must have had involvement in these ongoing allegations," Lautenschlager said.

-- By Andy Szal


 10:18 AM 

Walker hits Barrett on crime in new TV ad

Scott Walker's campaign released a new TV ad today that says Dem rival Tom Barrett isn't telling the truth about violent crime in Milwaukee.

The ad begins with a shot of a police report and a pixelated picture of a child paper clipped to it. The narrator says the 2-year-old spent six days in intensive care after being severely beaten.

"But Tom Barrett’s police department didn’t consider it a violent crime," the narrator says.

The spot then shows video of Barrett saying violent crime is down 15.5 percent before the narrator says a newspaper found "that hundreds of beatings, stabbings and child abuse cases were never even counted."

"Violent crime in Milwaukee is up, and Tom Barrett isn’t telling the truth," the spot concludes.

-- By JR Ross


Friday, May 25, 2012

 9:46 PM 

Guv debate: Barrett goes after Walker on dividing state; Walker calls attacks 'desperate'

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett accused Gov. Scott Walker on Friday of seeking to divide the state, being more concerned about his national reputation than Wisconsin jobs, and failing to be up front with voters about what he knew about allegations of criminal activity in his old county exec office.

But the guv shrugged off his Dem rival's attacks, saying the Milwaukee mayor was trying to rehash old battles that have already been settled and accused him of lobbing desperate attacks at his campaign because the mayor doesn't want to acknowledge that Walker's collective bargaining reforms have saved taxpayers millions of dollars.

He also chided Barrett for a record as mayor that includes rising unemployment and poverty in Milwaukee.

"They want to distract attention because they're desperate," Walker said in the first of two debates ahead of the June 5 recall election. "The things that this election are supposed to be about, the reforms, are things they don't talk about because they're working."

Barrett said Walker has successfully carried out his missions to "drop the bomb" on Wisconsin and to "divide and conquer" the state, saying great leaders seek to bring people together in times of crisis rather than trying to tear them apart.

"They wanted an opportunity to get a governor who would put this state first, a governor who would focus on creating jobs in this state and not traveling around this country trying to enhance his national image," Barrett said.

See more: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=270935


 4:43 PM 

State files appeal in voter ID lawsuit

The state Department of Justice filed a brief with the District IV Court of Appeals late this afternoon appealing one of two decisions keeping the state's voter ID law on hold.

Dane Co. Judge Richard Niess had previously ruled that the law was unconstitutional -- after the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit challenging the act -- and placed a permanent injunction on its enforcement.

Attorneys for the state, however, argued in today's filing that the League -- and the group's president, Melanie Ramey, in particular -- does not have standing in the case and that the law does not violate the state constitution under Article III.

"Nowhere in the language of the Wisconsin Constitution is a limitation placed upon the Legislature’s ability to craft requirements that qualified electors prove their identities prior to voting," the brief reads. "The Legislature has always possessed that power, and voters have always been required to establish their identity in order to vote. The photo identification requirement of Act 23 is merely the most recent exercise of that power."

Another Dane Co. judge, David Flanagan, placed a temporary injunction on the law in a separate lawsuit. He is not scheduled to rule on that case until the conclusion of the briefing schedule next month.

-- By Andy Szal

 3:19 PM 

WMC starts new TV ad

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is running a new TV ad that sings Gov. Scott Walker's praises on the state budget and the economy.

The spot features snippets of people saying things such as the "budget was a complete mess" and "Scott Walker has made a huge difference."

The people in the ad say Walker made tough choices, eliminated the deficit, balanced the budget and added jobs.

"We’re hiring people on a weekly basis," one man says.

"Sounds pretty good to me," another says to close the spot.

-- By JR Ross


 1:54 PM 

Group criticizes Walker over veterans' issues

The group Veterans Against Walker criticized the guv today for a variety of issues they said demonstrate Gov. Scott Walker's lack of concern for veterans.

Retired Lt. Col. Mike Gourlie detailed his efforts to get the governor and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to either veto or oppose the repeal of Wisconsin's Equal Pay Act. Gouile contends the new law severely limits the ability of veterans to address employment discrimination.

"The secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs refused to address this issue when contacted," Gourlie said. "And Secretary Scocos himself has a pending lawsuit for employment discrimination when he was fired by the Board on Veterans Affairs for cause a couple of years back. You would think if anyone should understand the importance of having good employment discrimination laws in place for veterans it would be John Scocos."

Gourlie said when he attempted to contact Walker about vetoing the bill he did not get a response until after the bill had been signed.

"And the governor's response stuck to the obviously preconceived talking points of denying the impact this has on veterans," Gourlie said.

Gourlie was part of a group of about 15 veterans assembled in Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee this morning. Among them were current and former public officials who had served in the military.

Milwaukee Co. Supv. John Weishan Jr., a former Marine, said Walker had underfunded veterans services and the Milwaukee County War Memorial during his time as Milwaukee County executive.

Former Milwaukee Co. Supv. Roger Quindel, who served in Vietnam, said the guv has not provided leadership on a variety of issues.

"The most important thing for a soldier is to have good leadership," Quindel said. "And then when you think about good leadership, I want you to think about what kind of leader we have in Walker."

Quindel also pointed to aspects of the ongoing John Doe investigation, noting former Walker aides have been accused of embezzling from a veterans event.

"And he [Walker] thinks it's OK, he's not responsible," Quindel said. "We all know a good leader says I'm responsible for what happens behind me and any leader who hired people like this doesn't deserve to be in office."

The group was scheduled to hold another press conference in Green Bay this afternoon.


 1:47 PM 

Barrett poll: Walker 49.89, Barrett 48.62

Tom Barrett's campaign circulated new polling numbers to reporters today that showed a nip-and-tuck race.

Pushing back against a series of public polls that have shown Walker up around 5 points and regularly at 50 percent, the Barrett campaign said its latest numbers show 49.89 percent of those surveyed supported the guv, compared to 48.62 percent who supported Barrett.

The numbers were released the same day as a DGA polling memo that had the split at 49-46 for Walker, within the margin of error.

Barrett's campaign released an overview of the numbers that said the internal tracking poll was conducted Tuesday through Thursday. It was comprised of 935 interviews and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, the campaign said.

The campaign also said those who had heard about the John Doe investigation that has ensnared former Walker aides from his time as Milwaukee County exec preferred Barrett 52-46. It also argued the awareness of the investigation was increasing. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they had heard "a lot" about the investigation Wednesday night; that number jumped to 37 perecent Thursday night.

-- By JR Ross


 1:20 PM 

DGA poll: Walker 49, Barrett 46

The Democratic Governors Association released new poll numbers today that show Scott Walker edging Tom Barrett, but within the margin of error.

The survey found 49 percent backed Walker, compared to 46 percent for Barrett.

A memo from the Mellman Group describing the survey said the gap has tightened since a poll it did last week that found Walker up 51-44.

The memo says Barrett has cut in half Walker’s lead with independents, though it does not give head-to-head numbers. It also says Barrett is backed by 88 percent of Dems compared to 92 percent of Republicans who supported Walker, and says the number of respondents who say Walker shares their values has worsened by 7 points.

By 52-43, voters in the survey said Walker had divided Wisconsin too much and by a 6-point margin, respondents said Walker had allowed corruption in his county exec office. The memo does not include the full numbers on that second question.

The telephone survey of 600 likely voters was conducted Tuesday through Thursday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

-- By JR Ross


 1:14 PM 

New Walker ad rips Barrett over Milwaukee crime stats

The Walker Campaign issued a new TV ad today accusing Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett of "cooking the books" after reports this week showed improper reporting by police of some violent crimes in the city.

The spot, which clocks in at 51 seconds on the campaign's YouTube page, opens with a screenshot reading, "Is Tom Barrett's Police Department 'Cooking the Books'?"

The ad then shows local news reports on the story, broken up by repeated shots of the mayor saying, "cooking the books."

The end of the ad shows Barrett at a press conference saying that "the statistics tell a lot, but if you look even deeper in these statistics, they tell you, I think, an even more striking story."

-- By Andy Szal


 12:06 PM 

GOP state senators push Barrett for answers on crime stats

GOP state Sens. Alberta Darling and Rich Zipperer today continued to press Mayor Tom Barrett for answers on the city police department misreporting violent crimes in Milwaukee.

Zipperer, highlighting his concern that Barrett is “downplaying the importance of the data” says that the misrepresented data reflects poorly on the guv candidate.

“This is an issue of leadership. The mayor has clearly failed to provide the leadership required,” Zipperer. R-Pewaukee, said in a conference call organized by Scott Walker’s campaign.

The lawmakers sent Barrett a letter today asking for answers, and Darling, R-River Hills, says that she is concerned that Barrett knew about the misreported violent crimes, but chose not to release the information.

“He knew about this, and he still let the impression persist that crime has gone down,” she said.

-- By Hannah Shepard


Thursday, May 24, 2012

 11:55 AM 

Barrett poll has race almost even

Tom Barrett's campaign released a polling memo today that details its latest survey, which has the race within the margin of error.

The memo, compiled by Garin Hart Yang Research Group, says the campaign's latest poll, which was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, found 50 percent of respondents backed Scott Walker, while 48 percent supported Barrett.

It argues the ads against Walker are starting to penetrate with his negatives climbing to 46 percent, compared to a 48 percent positive rating, while Barrett leads by 6 percentage points on being honest and trustworthy after trailing by 3 points two weeks ago.

The memo says it was based on a survey of 635 likely Wisconsin voters conducted Tuesday and Wednesday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

-- By JR Ross


 10:39 AM 

Libertarian think tank poll: Walker 50, Barrett 42

A new poll from a libertarian think tank that promotes free market principles has Scott Walker up on Tom Barrett.

The Reason Foundation survey found 50 percent of likely voters surveyed backed Walker, while 42 percent supported Barrett.

Among all adults surveyed, President Obama led Mitt Romney 46-36 with Libertarian Gary Johnson backed by 6 percent of respondents.

The landline and cell phone survey of 708 adults was conducted May 14-18 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. The margin of error for the 609 likely voters in the guv's race question was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

-- By JR Ross


 9:49 AM 

Mitchell highlights "common sense solutions" in first TV ad

Lt. gov. candidate Mahlon Mitchell released his first television ad Thursday, which depicts him as a family man that looks for solutions "beyond political fighting."

The 30-second ad, which is entitled "Problem Solver," begins with Mitchell's two children fighting with each other over electronics while his daughter calls for him. He urges them to share. The ad then pans over to the daughter calling her dad to save a cat in a tree, followed by the daughter calling her dad's attention to two people fighting over a mailbox that has been struck by a van.

"Here in my neighborhood, solving problems is simple," Mitchell says as he comes to mediate the mailbox dispute. "It's all about respecting each other."

Mitchell then says as a firefighter, he gets the job done if someone needs help. He then says that the current lt. gov. would rather "score political points" than solve problems.

"I'm Mahlon Mitchell, and I'll get us back on track to create jobs and get our economy moving again," Mitchell says.

The ad starts running May 28, starting in the Milwaukee market.

 -- By Jason Smathers


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

 9:37 PM 

Compas, Fitzgerald square off on ethics, job creation

JEFFERSON -- Dem Senate candidate Lori Compas took aim at Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald Wednesday for restrictions on collective bargaining and his role in redistricting, while Fitzgerald defended his job creation record and said the Legislature could come back before November to pass mining and venture capital bills.

In front of a crowd largely composed of Compas supporters, the Dem candidate said Fitzgerald was pitting "neighbor against neighbor" by supporting limitations on public employee collective bargaining. She also accused Fitzgerald of a string of other ethical and legal lapses.

"What we're seeing here is a pattern of abuse of power and betrayal of trust," Compas said. "The senator broke the open meetings law, he forced his fellow legislators to sign secrecy pledges, and he didn't campaign on these major policies he imposed on our society. He didn't tell us he wanted to 'divide and conquer' us."

Fitzgerald stood by the outcome of the collective bargaining debate, saying Act 10 was necessary because public employee unions have been shielded from the economic downturns while others have suffered. He also said he did not violate open meetings law and that the redistricting confidentiality agreements were necessary for a proper discussion of the maps.

"It's like any other proposal that you might see," Fitzgerald said. "You have to have a period of time in which there is a creative process, people give and take. That is exactly what happened with everything that was a part of redistricting. The idea that it was done any different from how it was done 10 years ago by Democrats, or 20 years ago before that, is ridiculous."

Fitzgerald touted a series of tax credits passed by the Legislature to aid job creation and stood by figures the Walker administration released last week showing the state gained more than 23,000 jobs in 2011.

Compas said she did not believe the state had created jobs and that restoring education funding for tech colleges and the university system was a better path to economic development.

Fitzgerald also said he hoped the Legislature would return to pass mining and venture capital legislation before the November elections. He once again blamed the failure of the mining bill on Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee.

Compas said she was not opposed to mining, but that if a mining company wants to set up business in Wisconsin, it can follow current laws in place. She also said there was no reason that the mining company should have helped write the legislation.

Fitzgerald responded by saying that individual legislators don't have the expertise in the nuances of mining law that Gogebic Taconite possessed. That answer received a chorus of boos from the audience.

The two candidates shared some agreement that more scrutiny was needed for a company found to have spread excessive human waste over fields in Jefferson County. Compas said the rules were clear and the company got off easy. She also said that the DNR secretary should be appointed by the Natural Resources Board.

"I think this is just an example of politics getting in the way of enforcement," Compas said.

Fitzgerald said he agreed the company should be punished and that their waste spreading permit needs to be reviewed.

"Not only should the corporation pay to have those [water] wells tested, but I think once again, they should do a full review on why this company is permitted, and if they are in violation of the spreading regulations ... that permit should be revoked," Fitzgerald said.

The debate was interrupted multiple times by applause and boos from the crowd. One attendee was removed by police after he shouted at Fitzgerald to explain an interview he gave on Fox News. A Fitzgerald supporter also interrupted Compas when she was discussing collective bargaining, but she was not escorted out.

-- By Jason Smathers


 9:18 PM 

Petrowski, Seidel bicker over bipartisanship, women's issues, mining

State Reps. Jerry Petrowski and Donna Seidel harshly criticized each others' bipartisan credentials during a debate Wednesday evening at UW-Marathon County.

The candidates in the 29th Senate District's recall election next month each vowed to work across party lines and find solutions for the district and touted their experience in that capacity during their respective Assembly careers.

But Seidel, D-Wausau, said Petrowski had enabled a "divide and conquer" agenda by the Walker administration and GOP leaders.

Petrowski, R-Marathon, fired back at what he described as the overly negative tone of Seidel's campaign.

Seidel said she had a proven record on jobs issues from her time in Assembly leadership in the 2009-10 session and said Dems went to the newly elected Gov. Scott Walker early this session with proposals to help the state create jobs.

"Jerry, 'Mr. Bipartisanship,' did nothing to convince his colleagues to consider any one of those bills," Seidel charged.

Petrowski, R-Marathon, said just one Dem jobs bill went across his desk as chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee and that he took up the bill and moved it forward.

Although that measure ultimately failed to pass, Petrowski said, "I listen to the other side; if they have good ideas, I incorporate them into the bill."

Petrowski also charged back that "Donna's idea of working together is slam someone on TV to the tune of $100,000."

Petrowski said the Seidel campaign's ads "trying to tear me apart" on women's health issues were inaccurate. He said Seidel, in fact, voted to cut funding for well woman screenings in the 2009 state budget.

"That's what's wrong with politics today," Petrowski said.

Seidel declared that she had long championed the program, and that the 2009 vote was part of an across-the-board cut in light of a budget shortfall.

She blasted Petrowski over a provision cutting state funding for Planned Parenthood, including for the group's cancer screening services, arguing it showed "a lack of interest or concern for the health care of so many women in this state."

Seidel also called the fiscal policies enacted by Republicans last year "really misguided decisions, and we have see the result of those decisions,” referring to statistics showing the state ranking No. 50 nationally in job creation.

She said public employees should have their collective bargaining rights restored -- with the concessions she said were agreed to during last winter's protests over the budget repair bill -- and education should not have been "first place to cut."

Petrowski said those decisions enabled the state to get on an "even keel" financially, and said a number of economic factors, from unemployment to revenue projections, "shows you that we are going in the right direction."

He did say, however, that he would vote against so-called "right to work" legislation after video surfaced of Walker discussing that issue with a donor last year.

"I don't believe there is a plan to do that," Petrowski said. "I would vote no, and I don't believe there is support to do it."

Seidel responded that, in light of Petrowski's vote for public sector collective bargaining restrictions, "I find it pretty hard to imagine that that is honest."

She reiterated that public employee unions had indicated they would accept higher pension and health care contributions as debate on the repair bill raged, telling Petrowski, "You could not accept 'yes' for an answer."

The candidates also went at it over mining legislation

Seidel defended her opposition to "the most extreme mining bill," saying she wanted to be sure that air and water quality in the state's northern frontier would be protected.

"When I can get those assurances, then absolutely I will be committed 100 percent to creating those good paying jobs," Seidel said.

Petrowski said the proposed iron mine amounted to "running a big shovel" through the mining site, and that it would not be an air quality issue.

Instead, Petrowski said that the only reason the bill failed was Dems "did not want to see Scott Walker have a win on the mining issue."

-- By Andy Szal


 3:59 PM 

St. Norbert/WPR: Walker 50, Barrett 45

A new poll from St. Norbert College and Wisconsin Public Radio has Scott Walker up on Tom Barrett.

The survey found 50 percent of respondents backed the guv, while 45 percent favored Barrett.

The landline and cell telephone survey of 406 likely voters was conducted May 17-22 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Walker’s job approval rating was 52 percent with 48 percent disapproving. President Obama’s job approval rating split was 54-45.

-- By JR Ross


 11:07 AM 

Barrett knocks Walker on John Doe probe in new TV ad

Tom Barrett’s campaign began a new TV ad today to continue hitting Scott Walker over the John Doe probe that’s ensnared his former aides from the guv's time as Milwaukee County exec.

The spot opens with the narrator saying only one email has been released so far from Walker to his “soon to be indicted aide discussing criminal activity in Walker’s office.” The ad shows a mug shot for former Walker aide Tim Russell, who’s been charged in the probe, next to a head shot of Walker.

The narrator goes on to add prosecutors say there are more than a thousand olther emails, but Walker won’t release them and has hired criminal lawyers that he’s already paid more than $100,000.

The spot then switches to a news anchor asking, “The question remains: What did Governor Walker know and when?”

The narrator closes the spot, “If Scott Walker doesn’t trust us to see the emails, why should we trust him on Election Day?”

-- By JR Ross


 10:09 AM 

NRA spot: Don't let Barrett 'recall' gun rights

The NRA is running a TV ad that plays off the old “this is your brain on drugs” public service announcements to slam Tom Barrett’s record on guns.

The spot opens with a shot of a black frying pan as the narrator says, “This is Wisconsin politics.” An image of protests around the Capitol last year appears in the bottom of the frying pan. A hand holding an egg appears and the narrator says, “This is your brain” before the egg is cracked into the frying pan and the narrator adds, “This is your brain after the politicians scream nonstop for two years.”

The spot then switches to video of a hunter holding a rifle as the narrator says, “This is your freedom.” The rifle then disappears as the narrator says, “This is your freedom if Tom Barrett gets the chance to recall your gun rights. Any questions?”

The narrator says Barrett has an “F” rating from the NRA as the spot concludes, “Don’t let Tom Barrett recall your gun rights.”

An NRA spokesman says the ad is running statewide on cable through June 4.

-- By JR Ross


 9:56 AM 

RGA unveils new TV ad on 'facts'

The Republican Governors Association unveiled a new TV ad giving “just the facts” on Scott Walker and Tom Barrett’s records.

The spot opens with the narrator saying, “We interrupt this regularly scheduled political commercial to provide something different: facts. No opinions. Just the facts.”

The narrator then says it’s “fact” Wisconsin has gained over 30,000 jobs since Walker became governor, while Milwaukee’s unemployment has gone up 28 percent under Barrett.

“Scott Walker balanced the budget without raising taxes. Fact. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office. Fact,” the narrator says to close the spot. “No opinions. Just the facts.”

-- By JR Ross


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

 3:28 PM 

We Are Wisconsin poll has Walker 50, Barrett 47

The union-affiliated We Are Wisconsin is pushing back on the perception that Gov. Scott Walker is building a lead in the guv’s race, releasing a memo on a survey that has the race within the margin of error.

memo from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research describes a poll conducted Friday and Monday that had 50 percent of respondents backing Walker and 47 percent supporting Tom Barrett.

The memo says Barrett led among Dems 93-7 and independents 50-44, while Walker led with Republicans 96-3.

The survey of 472 likely general election voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

It found Barrett’s favorable-unfavorable split at 47-32, while Walker’s was 50-46. The memo says Walker was upside down with independents 43-52, while Barrett’s split with them was 50-24.

*Read the polling memo

*Read a companion memo on other recent polls

-- By JR Ross


 11:10 AM 

WMC hits Barrett for 'mismanaging' economy in latest TV ad

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce has started running a new TV ad that says state families want an economy that produces jobs, “not one that turns back the clock like Mayor Tom Barrett’s way of mismanaging an economy.”

The narrator says unemployment is up a “depressing” 27 percent under Barrett, property taxes have gone up a “troubling” seven out of eight years, and Barrett has no plans for growing jobs or “holding officials accountable.”

“Tell Mayor Barrett you support economic policies that move Wisconsin forward, not back in time,” the spot concludes.

-- By JR Ross


Monday, May 21, 2012

 3:32 PM 

Barrett, Walker bicker over John Doe

Tom Barrett called on Scott Walker today to release thousands of emails from his days as Milwaukee County exec and answer more questions about the John Doe probe that has ensnared several former aides.

Walker shot back it was a “desperate attack from a desperate campaign” looking to talk about anything but the positive job news that has emerged over the past week.

Just more than two weeks out from the June 5, Barrett ramped up questions about the John Doe probe. Dems went on the offensive over the probe this weekend, and Barrett’s campaign released a new TV ad on the investigation.

Today, he called for the release of thousands of emails from the secret email system that Walker’s aides used in his county exec office.

“If he’s not a target like he says, there’s no reason not to release them,” Barrett told reporters in Milwaukee. “You can't have it both ways. If Scott Walker has said he has turned those records over to the prosecutor, there's no reason why he shouldn't reveal those records to the public.”

In Madison, Walker told reporters Barrett doesn’t want to talk about jobs, collective bargaining or the budget because the guv’s reforms are working.

"They keep moving to anything else except what this recall was supposedly about in the first place because our reforms are working,” Walker said.

-- By JR Ross and Kay Nolan


 3:18 PM 

Greater Wisconsin ad criticizes Walker on job numbers

A new ad from the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund says Gov. Scott Walker is trying to create numbers because he can't explain recent job figures showing a loss of jobs over the last year.

The 30-second television ad, entitled "Vote", starts by claiming Wisconsin is "dead last" in the nation when it comes to job creation, while showing a Journal Sentinel headline with the claim. It then switches to two citizens making the same claim, before another headline is paired with a narrator saying that the state is still losing jobs.

"Those are the facts confirmed by independent sources," the narrator says, as the ad displays the logos of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Labor Department and the Department of Workforce Development. "Take a look: Walker can't defend his failed record, so he's decided to produce his own job numbers."

The ad then says Walker cut public education to fund corporate tax breaks. The ad shifts to one "man on the street"  who says Walker's "theory just isn't working" and another asks "Where are the jobs?"

"We're still dead last," the narrator says. "Now, we have to vote to change that."

-- By Jason Smathers


 12:46 PM 

Third-party groups and Lehman send raft of mailers in recall Senate race

Mailers sent out to Racine-area voters in advance of the recall election between Sen. Van Wanggaard and former Sen. John Lehman have focused on both candidates economic positions and Wanggaard's votes on women's issues.

Three mailers were sent by independent groups:

  • A mailer from Americans for Prosperity warned that Lehman "supported a gas tax that would have increased the cost of gas by $270 million." 
  • Another advertisement from school-choice supporters American Federation for Children said Lehman would take Wisconsin backwards, saying that Lehman voted for 4.7 billion in increased taxes and $37 million in 'wasteful pork barrel spending."
  • A Planned Parenthood mailer focuses on Wanggaard and Walker's support for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, claiming the two stopped funding for "essential health care like lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control and health exams for 12,000 Wisconsin women."

Meanwhile, Lehman's campaign has sent three mailers criticizing Wanggaard for his votes to repeal the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, defunding Planned Parenthood and give tax breaks to corporations. One of the ads then juxtaposes Wanggaard's votes with Lehman's co-authorship of a 2009 act that required the state executive branch to purchase services from U.S.-based contractors.

 -- By Jason Smathers


 11:26 AM 

Seidel hits at Petrowski in third TV ad

A new television ad from Dem Rep. Donna Seidel criticizes opponent Rep. Jerry Petrowski for votes to cut education funding and give corporations tax breaks.

The 30-second ad, entitled "The Wisconsin Way," begins with Seidel saying that "working class families are struggling like never before." While she narrates, the ad shows footage of her meeting with Wisconsin residents. She then says that tax breaks for corporations are not appropriate.

"It's wrong when Jerry Petrowski says, 'We don't have to worry about you paying your fair share,' the wealthiest special interests, the biggest corporations," Seidel says as the screen displays claims that Petrowski voted to "strip education funding ... while giving $2.3 billion in corporate tax breaks."

Seidel says that the "Wisconsin Way" is that everyone puts in their "fair share."

"Let's work together and move this state forward," Seidel closes.

-- By Jason Smathers


 9:38 AM 

New Hovde radio ad praises Walker

U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde's newest radio ad notes his support for Gov. Scott Walker and decries the recall meant to remove him from office.

Hovde starts by saying that when Walker took over as governor, he "inherited a mess" created over the last two decades because of increased spending and "special deals" with government unions.

"Scott Walker had a plan and the courage to get our state's fiscal house in order," Hovde says. "He did what he said he would do and stood strong in the face of enormous opposition. What did he get in return? Nonstop personal attacks and a recall."

Hovde then says he is proud of Walker's stand and that it is time for the "silent majority" of the state to re-elect Walker.

-- By Jason Smathers

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Friday, May 18, 2012

 1:42 PM 

Barrett, Dems, Walker admin official spar over year-to-date job loss figures

Democrats and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett used the numbers released Thursday showing a year-to-date job loss to say that Gov. Scott Walker is failing residents and trying to change the conversation with his own numbers. The Walker administration hit back saying they're simply trying to paint an accurate picture of the state's job situation.

Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Wisconsin lost 21,400 jobs from April 2011 to April 2012. That is in sharp contrast to numbers released by the Department of Workforce Development on Wednesday that showed the state gained more than 23,000 jobs over the course of 2011.

Barrett's communications director Phil Walzak released a statement Friday saying the "non-partisan" numbers clearly fly in the face of Walker's job claims.

"With official news yesterday that Wisconsin under Walker's failed leadership lost 6,000 jobs in April, and lost 21,400 jobs over the past 12 months, it's obvious why Walker was so eager to distribute a different set of unverified figures from his own Administration: he is desperate to change the subject," Walzak said. "Walker may not like the numbers, but he can't spin the numbers. And he can't expect Wisconsin to just take his word for it."

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate echoed that sentiment.

"Now we know why Scott Walker created his magical math that was rolled out so suspiciously this week — because he has been caught red-handed once again making up facts," Tate said in a statement. "Sadly for Wisconsin, this is just another example of Scott Walker's campaign and administration being one of the most dishonest we've ever seen. Walker has been a one-man wrecking crew for jobs in Wisconsin and these new figures show it."

DWD Secretary Reggie Newson said they are just providing accurate numbers, which is why they stand behind the release of Wednesday's job numbers.

“We have a responsibility to correct the record for job seekers and employers who want to be part of a growing economy and want to know the big picture. The bottom line is Wisconsin added jobs in 2011 and is headed in the right direction. More Wisconsinites are working as of April 2012 over the prior year, and fewer Wisconsinites are unemployed. Our unemployment rate is at its lowest point since 2008. You can’t have an expanding workforce with more people working, fewer people unemployed, a declining unemployment rate, and a steep loss of jobs at the same time."

-- By Jason Smathers


Thursday, May 17, 2012

 5:20 PM 

Dem polling memo: Barrett in good position against Walker

Dems today circulated a polling memo from Tom Barrett’s campaign that argues the Milwaukee mayor is in a good position against Gov. Scott Walker in spite of polls this week showing the incumbent with a narrow lead.

The memo, which WisPolitics.com obtained from a Dem operative, touts campaign polling numbers that the document argues show momentum for Barrett. But it does not include any head-to-head results with Walker.

The memo, prepared by the Gain Hart Yang Research Group, says that Barrett’s polling from Monday and Tuesday “shows the Barrett campaign has stabilized and the gubernatorial match-up has tightened considerably.” It argues Barrett has cut Walker’s lead by more than half in the Milwaukee media market, the largest in the state, and Walker’s job rating there dropped 8 percent from the weekend. The memo also argues the race will be won or lost on the ground and there is “no doubt that the Democratic base is organized and energized.”

The campaign is aggressively targeting 400,000 people who voted in the 2008 presidential race, but didn’t turn out in 2010. It says Barrett leads 57 percent to 37 percent with those voters.

“If the Barrett campaign and its allies can turnout just a fraction of these ‘drop off’ voters on June 5th, then Wisconsinites will finish the job they started last year and defeat Scott Walker,” the memo concludes.

-- By JR Ross


 4:30 PM 

'Divide and conquer' filmmaker offers sneak peek from his full movie

Brad Lichtenstein, the filmmaker who last week released video of Gov. Scott Walker's "divide and conquer" comment, says he had an inkling of what was to come when "people in labor circles" became interested in what he had shot.

He said he screened it at a labor historian conference and at college campuses such as UW-Whitewater and Beloit College before a reporter contacted him about the video.

On Wednesday night, Lichtenstein screened extended clips from his new film "As Goes Janesville" to a packed theater in Milwaukee.

The film follows the stories of three laid off General Motors employees and Sen. Tim Cullen, including the Janesville Dem's stay in Illinois last year as Democrats tried to put off a vote on Walker's collective bargaining changes.

Audience member Ron Taylor, an independent filmmaker, expressed concern over a lack of union voice in the clips. Taylor said he wished Lichtenstein would have spent more time on General Motors and shown less of Walker.

Lichtenstein replied that the film does include instances of the unions coming to the aid of the three former GM employees. Lichtenstein also added he wanted the film to be accessible to people from various political backgrounds.

Although Lichtenstein describes himself as a "small d democrat," he reiterated to his audience his goal to remain nonpartisan. According to the Government Accountability Board's database, he donated $100 to Tom Barrett's 2010 guv campaign.

Lichtenstein said his professional goal of "getting people involved with serious issues like labor and economic justice" came from his time working for Congressman John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement.

A high school guidance counselor who saw that Lichtenstein was miserable in a private, conservative high school environment introduced him to Lewis' campaign staff.

At 15, Lichtenstein met the man he claims had more impact on his life than anyone else.

During Lewis' congressional campaign, Lichtenstein would follow Lewis around to "24-hour grocery stores, laundromats ... and John would tell stories about the civil rights movement."

Lichtenstein and Lewis are currently working together to make a film about race in America. Lichtenstein said the Trayvon Martin case and Milwaukee instances of racial profiling may all be included in the film.

-- By Maggie Schleicher
For WisPolitics.com


 11:23 AM 

WMC starts new TV ad touting revised job figures

WMC is running a new ad that it’s calling a “Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Fact Check” and touts new figures that show the state has gained 30,000 jobs since January 2011.

The narrator in the spot says, “Some politicians claim” and then the spot cuts to video of Tom Barrett saying, “This state lost jobs.”

“Wrong,” the narrator answers before saying the corrected numbers show large job gains since the passage of Scott Walker’s reforms.

“Thanks to Scott Walker, Wisconsin gained jobs last year and is gaining more in 2012,” the narrator says to close the spot. “Let’s keep growing jobs.”

-- By JR Ross


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

 2:16 PM 

Walker already up with TV ad touting new job numbers

Gov. Scott Walker is already up with a TV ad touting new job figures his administration released this morning showing Wisconsin gained jobs during his first year in office.

In the spot, Walker says he has some bad news for Tom Barrett, “but good news for Wisconsin.”

Walker says “the government” just released new job numbers that show Wisconsin gained more than 20,000 jobs in his first term. Walker’s administration this morning put out figures it gathered from state employers that are being sent to the federal government for review.

Walker says once jobs created this year are added it, it’s more than 30,000 new jobs since he took office.

“Mayor Barrett, he said this election is about jobs. I couldn’t agree more,” Walker says. “Our reforms are working, and we’re moving Wisconsin forward.”

Dems planned a conference call this afternoon to question the timing of the ad. Walker said the Department of Workforce Development, which released the figures, had not shared them with him ahead of their release. Dems are questioning how the guv got a TV ad up by the noon news shows if that's true.

-- By JR Ross


 12:58 PM 

Marquette poll: Walker 50, Barrett 44

The latest poll from the Marquette University Law School has Gov. Scott Walker leading Tom Barrett 50 percent to 44 percent among likely voters.

At the end of April, the school's polling had the race about even with 48 percent backing Walker and 47 percent for Barrett.

In the lt. guv's race, incumbent Rebecca Kleefisch was up on Dem Mahlon Mitchell 47-41.

Walker's job approval rating was 50 percent, while 46 percent disapproved. In April, Walker was upside down at 47-51.

The poll also had the presidential race even at 46 percent for Barack Obama and 46 percent for Mitt Romney.

The poll surveyed 704 registered voters by landline and cell phone May 9-12. The sample included 600 likely voters, and the margin of error for that subset was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

-- By JR Ross


 10:48 AM 

New Barrett TV ad calls Walker a 'rock star'

Tom Barrett’s campaign has started running a new TV ad today that charges Gov. Scott Walker is “all about Scott Walker.”

The spot opens with a guitar playing as the narrator says “Scott Walker. He thinks he’s a rock star” and then follows with video of Walker saying “rock star.”

The narrator says Walker has been traveling week after week across the country, cuts in with Walker saying “rock star” and then calls him a Tea Party super star “who’s raised tens of millions of dollars from out of state right-wing donors” and while he’s played gigs in Phoenix, Texas and “everywhere,” Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state.

The screen shows cities scrolling by for the “Scott Walker Divide & Conquer Tour” and the spot then shows Walker thanking a crowd to which he addressed and saying “It’s been a great night.”

“He’s all about Scot Walker and not looking out for us,” the narrator says to close the ad.

The ad was captured for WisPolitics.com by CMAG, which tracks political ads that run on broadcast TV. It first ran Tuesday night in the Milwaukee market, according to the tracking.

-- By JR Ross


 10:06 AM 

RGA unveils new TV ad linking Barrett, Doyle

The Republican Governors Association unveiled a new TV ad today that compares Tom Barrett to Jim Doyle.

The spot opens with the narrator asking viewers if they would go back to 2010 and Doyle’s administration if they had a time machine.

“I didn’t think so,” the narrator says, adding unemployment went up 37 percent under Doyle and taxes increased $1.6 billion.

“That’s exactly what would happen if one made Tom Barrett governor,” the narrator adds.

The spot then says Barrett raised taxes in Milwaukee every year but one, unemployment was up 28 percent and government spending increased $300 million.

“Tom Barrett, he’d take Wisconsin back,” the spot concludes.

-- By JR Ross


 9:20 AM 

Abele muses about running for mayor

In chats with his friends, Milwaukee County Exec Chris Abele has raised the possibility of running for mayor of Milwaukee and retaining his seat as Milwaukee Co exec – if Mayor Tom Barrett defeats Gov. Scott Walker in next month’s recall election.

Abele's office says he’s “not actively considering it but not ruling it out."

Adam Stephens, the assistant city attorney for Milwaukee that deals with elections issues, says he’s not been asked to formulate an opinion on the matter and a cursory check of statutes and legal opinions give no definitive answer.

“Nothing in the statute jumps out at me saying he couldn’t do it,” said Stephens. “But the first thing that came to mind for me is ‘compatibility of office.’”

In other words, would holding one office present a conflict of office when holding the other office simultaneously?

When state Rep. David Cullen recently ran for Milwaukee County supervisor and won, he said he intended to hold both offices. State Sen. Spencer Coggs recently won his bid for Milwaukee city treasurer and said he would hold both offices until the end of his Senate term. They saw no conflict in holding both.

The League of Wisconsin Municipalities has issued a legal opinion that someone could serve as an alderman and a county supervisor.

“But this would be an interesting dynamic,” Stephens said.

Abele’s motives, according to one friend, are pure. He sees it as a way to reduce redundancies and save money. He has made efforts to do that during his first year in office.

But another pointed out that he declined to veto a resolution of the County Board that reduced the number of county supervisors from 17 to 16, despite calls for more radical cuts.

-- By Marie Rohde
For WisPolitics.com

WisPolitics Platinum subscribers can see more on a potential Milwaukee mayoral election in last week's WED PM Update: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=269438

 9:13 AM 

PPP poll shows Walker 4 points ahead of Barrett

A new Public Policy Polling poll released today shows Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett trailing Gov. Scott Walker by four percentage points.

The survey of 851 registered voters done this past weekend shows Walker beating Barrett, 49 to 45. Two percent said they'd vote for independent candidate Hari Trivedi, while three percent were undecided. Democratic lt. gubernatorial candidate Mahlon Mitchell also trails current Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, 46 percent to 43. The poll had a 3.4 percent margin of error.

Of those polled, 49 percent approved of Walker's job performance, while 47 percent disapproved. Only 43 percent had a favorable opinion of Tom Barrett, compared to 46 percent who had an unfavorable opinion.

The poll also showed each of the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate besting Rep. Tammy Baldwin in a general election.

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson led Baldwin 47 percent to 42, former Congressman Mark Neumann led her 46 percent to 42 and hedge fund manager Eric Hovde led her 45 to 41. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald was not included in the poll questions.

The poll also had President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney in a near dead heat, with Obama leading Romney only slightly, 47 percent to 46 percent.

See the full poll


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

 2:19 PM 

Greater Wisconsin Committee launches ad against Sen. Wanggaard

The Greater Wisconsin Committee has put a new television ad out attacking Sen. Van Wanggaard for supporting tax breaks for corporations while cutting school funding.

The 30-second television ad starts out with a narrator saying "Van Wanggaard has a big problem," as the word big drops next to an animated version of the Racine senator.

"You see Sen. Wanggaard spends a lot of his time helping the big guys," the narrator says as the animated Wanggaard is positioned next to bankers and skyscrapers to illustrate their point. "Big corporations, big banks, big donors. Wanggard gives them big tax breaks while giving Wisconsin families the big brush off."

The ad then highlights the $1.6 billion cut to education with an animation of a crack running through a school building. The narrator says students get bigger class sizes as fewer quality teachers a result, while "Wanggaard's buddies" get billions in tax breaks.

"On June 5, its time to give Van Wanggaard the big heave-ho," the narrator ends, as the animated Wanggaard is yanked off screen by a cane.

-- By Jason Smathers


 1:27 PM 

Dates to watch ahead of June 5 election

With three weeks to go until an unprecedented statewide recall election, campaign season is ramping up dramatically -- starting tomorrow with a debate in the Eau Claire-area 23rd Senate District.

Here's a look at some critical dates ahead of the June 5 election:

*May 16: Sen. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls, and former Rep. Kristen Dexter, D-Eau Claire, will participate in a candidate forum hosted by the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce.

*May 17: The April state jobs report -- the final monthly numbers released before the recall election -- is due from the Department of Workforce Development.

*May 21: End of the pre-election campaign finance reporting period.

*May 23: State Reps. Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, and Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, are set to debate at UW-Marathon County in Wausau ahead of their showdown in the 29th SD.

*May 25: Gov. Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett participate in a debate sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

*May 29: Pre-election campaign finance reports are due for recall campaigns. The report covers financial activity between April 24 and May 21.

*May 31: Applications for absentee ballots must be received by local election officials by 5 p.m.

*May 31: Sen. Moulton and former Rep. Dexter have agreed to a tentative second debate on Wisconsin Public Radio in Eau Claire.

*May 31: WISN-TV and its network affiliates, Marquette Law School and WisPolitics.com host the second gubernatorial debate.

*June 1: Deadline for in-person absentee voting.

*June 5: General recall election for governor, lt. governor and four state Senate districts.

Did we miss any? Send a note to info@wispolitics.com if you have any dates to add


Monday, May 14, 2012

 11:27 AM 

Poll: Walker 52, Barrett 43

A new poll from a subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association has Scott Walker up on Tom Barrett 52 percent to 43 percent in the guv's race.

The poll found 5 percent of likely voters surveyed were undecided.

The automated survey of 1,219 likely voters was conducted Sunday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.81 percentage points.

A blog post at the website of We Ask America says the guv led among self-described independents 47.6 percent to 44.6 percent and "the underlying numbers seem fluid." But the post provides no cross tabs on the results or other figures from the survey other than 95 percent of those called said they planned to vote in the June 5 election.

-- By JR Ross


Friday, May 11, 2012

 1:56 PM 

Rasmussen poll: Thompson leads Baldwin in Senate race; other matchups close

A new poll from Rasmussen Reports shows former Gov. Tommy Thompson leading U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin in a hypothetical U.S. Senate matchup, while contests between Baldwin and two other GOP candidates were within the margin of error.

Respondents favored Thompson 50-38 over Baldwin, D-Madison, with 5 percent supporting another candidate and 7 percent undecided.

Baldwin trailed former GOP U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann 44-42, according to the same poll, but led Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, 45-41. Both those questions showed 4 percent supporting another candidate and 9 percent undecided.

The poll included 500 likely voters surveyed May 9 by an automated telephone system. The margin of error was plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.

The survey did not include Madison businessman Eric Hovde, who announced his bid for the GOP nomination in March and has been up on TV since early April. The poll also did not seek a preference in the upcoming primary between the GOP candidates.

Rasmussen also released the results of polling in the presidential race in Wisconsin, showing Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 49-45. That survey also included 500 likely voters on May 9, and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.

Dems generally dismiss Rasmussen polling as favoring Republicans.

-- By Andy Szal

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