• WisPolitics

Monday, March 25, 2013

 9:59 PM 

Evers outraises Pridemore almost 6-to-1

State Superintendent Tony Evers outraised challenger Don Pridemore almost 6-to-1 in the latest reporting period.

Evers raised $129,265 between Feb. 5 and March 18, spent $186,696 and finished the period with $42,849 cash on hand, according to his report. He also reported $24,000 in loans.

Pridemore raised $21,823 in the pre-election period, spent $53,904 and had $1,348 cash on hand, according to his report. He listed $68,456 in loans. 

-- By JR Ross

 2:26 PM 

Roggensack outraises Fallone in pre-election period

Justice Pat Roggensack raised $295,973 in the pre-election reporting period, topping the $233,967 challenger Ed Fallone pulled in.

Roggensack also reported spending $351,367 between Feb 5 and March 18. She had $163,759 cash on hand at the close of the period.

Fallone spent $172,305 and had $125,375 cash on hand, according to his report.

-- By JR Ross

Friday, March 22, 2013

 8:53 PM 

Roggensack pledges action on court altercation; Fallone slams her for recusal

Justice Pat Roggensack said Friday she will urge the Supreme Court to address a physical altercation between two of her colleagues once her re-election campaign is over, saying the court needs to address the damage done to its reputation.

Roggensack made the pledge following criticism from challenger Ed Fallone for recusing herself from the discipline case filed against Justice David Prosser after the altercation with Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. The decision by Roggensack and other justices to step off the case has left it without a resolution.

Fallone, a Marquette Law School professor, slammed Roggensack during a debate at the Wisconsin State Bar for Prosser’s discipline case remaining unresolved. He pledged if elected that he would seek to get the case back on track.

“That’s when people begin to question, is there a different rule for Supreme Court justices, or is everyone accountable for their actions in the state of Wisconsin?” Fallone asked.

Roggensack shot back that Fallone is “a bit confused about the process,” saying she saw the altercation between her colleagues and as a material witness, she cannot participate in the case.

What’s more, she said she physically separated the two and “held onto Justice Bradley until she calmed down.”

“I am not an unbiased judge,” Roggensack said in reference to the case. “I perhaps hold myself to a higher standard than he would.”

Still, Roggensack said the justices need to address the issue and the injury it caused to the court’s reputation. She said she started the process last summer, but ran out of time between the court’s workload and her re-election campaign. Roggensack has previously urged her colleagues to collectively apologize for the incident and condemn the behavior as inappropriate.

The two then bickered over the standards for recusal in a judicial discipline case. Roggensack said it made no sense for her to participate in a decision whether to refer the Judicial Commission charges against Prosser to a three-judge panel to recommend what punishment -- if any -- he should face, because the case would only come back to the Supreme Court for a final decision. Enough judges have recused themselves from the case to leave the seven-member court without a quorum to issue a final decision, meaning it could not act on any recommendation from the panel.

“I will not do that to anyone,” she said of sitting on the Prosser case because of her personal connection to it. “Everyone deserves a fair and impartial judge.”

Fallone countered, “Everyone deserves the same procedures to apply to everyone.”

The We The People/Wisconsin debate played out like most of the joint appearances for the two candidates. Fallone repeatedly charged the court is dysfunctional, with bickering factions that have hampered its ability to work together and its productivity. Roggensack insisted the race was about experience and dismissed Fallone’s characterization of the court, saying she wouldn’t be running for another 10-year term if it was as bad as he made it out to be.

Fallone insisted his time as a law professor gave him a breadth of experience that was needed on the court and argued the presence of a new justice could help soothe the tensions that have plagued it.

“We need to address the dysfunction. We need to move the court forward,” he said.

Roggensack countered the court is not up for re-election, she is. She also argued Fallone’s continued attacks on the court only inflict further injury to its reputation and accused him of running a negative campaign.

The two also traded barbs over a Supreme Court rule on campaign contributions and recusals from cases over the donations.

Fallone said a court rule Roggensack supported changed the standard so acceptance of a campaign contribution was not enough to force a judge off a case, regardless of its size.

He said when someone loses a case and finds out afterward that a party on the other side had donated to a judge, it shakes their faith that they were treated fairly. He pledged to support returning to the prior standard.

“It was never a question of a $5 contribution,” he said. “It was a question of what about the $5,000 contribution.”

Roggensack countered Fallone has a misperception of the rule and that simply receiving a lawful contribution by itself was not sufficient grounds to force a judge from a case. She also said she has taken great pains in this campaign to track donations and note every party and lawyer that has been before the court.

Roggensack accused Fallone of changing his position on donations to justices, quoting an interview he did with WisconsinEye.

Fallone said he believed the question was about whether justices themselves should make decisions on their own recusals and his answer pertained to the court’s position that other justices could not force a colleague off a case.

Roggensack read a transcript of the exchange in which the question was directly related to contributions and recusal, suggesting Fallone’s position was one of political expediency.

“I do think his position is a bit different tonight,” she said.

We The People/Wisconsin is a multi-media partnership that includes the Wisconsin State Journal, WISC-TV, WisPolitics.com and Wood Communications. The debate will air on TV on Sunday.

-- By JR Ross

 8:05 PM 

Evers, Pridemore debate impact of competition on public ed

State Rep. Don Pridemore said in a Wisconsin Public Television debate today that competition would help improve public education in the state, adding that private school choice could eventually expand to all students in Wisconsin.

"That would be the ultimate free market solution to giving kids a choice," the Hartford Republican and state superintendent candidate said during the taping of "Here and Now."

Incumbent DPI Superintendent Tony Evers countered that while the rhetoric of competition evoked a positive image, nearly two decades and $1.5 billion of investment in the Milwaukee choice program hasn't shown "any discernible difference" in student performance.

"In public education, I just don't believe it is what it's cracked up to be," Evers said.

Pridemore said public education has effectively been run as a "monopoly" by teachers unions and was thus slow to change, saying, "All you have to do is go into a choice school and see the difference in how they teach.”

“Teachers are there not because they're looking for a big salary or benefit package," Pridemore said.

Evers took exception to that characterization, challenging those who shared that view to visit public classrooms.

"Kids are engaged in their learning; they own their learning," Evers said.

Pridemore responded that he applauds the "many great teachers in the public school system." He later said his measure of achievement in the voucher schools is to ask parents, saying the proposed expansion in the governor's budget wouldn't be on the table without demand from parents.

Evers questioned why proponents of the expansion favor grading public schools “based on a test,” but that with choice schools “we can't just use test scores; we have to use something in addition to that."

The two candidates also sparred over funding for K-12 education in the governor's budget.

Evers said the proposal had prioritized, in addition to voucher schools, transportation funding and an income tax cut that he said would average to about $7 per month for a family of four.

“I’m suggesting the priorities be changed,” Evers said, saying schools are still reeling from cuts to K-12 education in the previous budget.

Pridemore said the alternatives -- taking funding from other programs or raising taxes -- would not be palatable in the current Legislature, arguing that provisions in Act 10 saved districts more than the cut from the state.

Evers fired back that benefit concessions had already been agreed to by unions and that "Act 10 was about deunionizing public schools, and I understand Rep. Pridemore's happiness with that."

"I have nothing against unions, but unions do what unions do," Pridemore responded.

Pridemore also defended the additional funding for high-performing schools in the governor's budget, arguing that would also be "part of free market system."

Evers said state should only give additional resources to those districts to identify best practices, "not to reward them for being wealthy."

See the broadcast schedule for the debate

-- By Andy Szal

Thursday, March 21, 2013

 5:05 PM 

Ads heating up in Dane County judicial race

Dane County Circuit Court challenger Rhonda Lanford has a new TV ad that knocks Judge Rebecca St. John as “chosen by Scott Walker.”

St. John has a spot of her own in which she raises questions about Lanford’s “temperament” for the bench.”

Lanford’s spot opens with the narrator saying St. John was chosen by Walker and believes “the Legislature should limit the power of our courts, opening the door to special interests in our courtroom.”

The spot then features state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, praising Lanford’s “strong progressive values” and promising she’ll stand up to special interests.
Pocan closes the spot saying, “She shares my values and the values of Dane County.”

St. John’s ad, one of four she’s released, features her looking directly into the camera and saying being a judge “requires fairness, integrity and a passion for the truth.

“But my opponent in this race has waged a campaign that raises questions about her temperament for the bench.”

She goes on to add she’s spent her career advocating for women and children, is backed by more than 30 of her judicial colleagues, and has been endorsed by Sheriff Dave Mahoney and Mayor Paul Soglin.

Her other spots feature backers such as Mahoney, Soglin, Appeals Court Judge Brian Blanchard, former AG Peg Lautenschlager and former Judge Sarah O’Brien, to whose seat Walker appointed St. John.

See the spots in AdWatch.

-- By JR Ross

 3:56 PM 

WMC TV ad says Roggensack protected children

A new Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce TV ad says Justice Pat Roggensack voted to “close a loophole that would have let a sexual predator back on the street.”

The spot opens with laughing children as a narrator says “for all those giggles, laughs and smiles, none should ever have to face a predator who should have been behind bars.”

The ad then shows a man in a jail cell as the bars close. The narrator ads Roggensack protected Wisconsin children by voting to close the loophole.

“Praised by prosecutors, Pat Roggensack saw the risk and put children’s safety above all else,” the narrator says.

The spot closes with the narrator urging viewers to call Roggensack and urge her to continue “being touch on dangerous criminals.”

-- By JR Ross


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

 4:43 PM 

Protasiewicz links Bradley to Walker in new TV ad

Milwaukee County assistant DA Janet Protasiewicz is out with a new TV ad linking Judge Rebecca Bradley to Gov. Scott Walker.

A narrator opens the spot by saying “politics always seems to come first” for Bradley, who Walker appointed to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court bench. The narrator goes on to say Bradley was handpicked by Walker after making large donations to his campaign.

“She even worked with extreme right-wing groups that make it harder to vote in Milwaukee County,” the narrator says before praising Protasiewicz for being strong, independent and having 25 years experience “making our streets safe.”

Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm then praises her for prosecuting “some of the most dangerous criminals in Milwaukee County.”

Protasiewicz closes the spot by saying, “When I look in the face of a victim, politics never matters. Keeping this community safe is the No. 1 priority.” 

-- By JR Ross

 2:24 PM 

Zerban announces exploratory committee for second run against Ryan

Dem Rob Zerban announced today he is forming an exploratory committee to look at a second run against U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville.

Zerban timed his announcement as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on  Ryan's budget. The Kenosha Dem said in a statement he's heard from people all over the district since the election urging him to run again.

"I've been listening to people from Janesville to Racine talk about their need for jobs and economic security, good schools and fair pay, and a strong social safety net for the hardships life sometimes throws our way," Zerban said. "The formation of this exploratory committee is simply a formalizing of that process of listening to my friends and neighbors."

Zerban gave Ryan the closest race of the Janesville Republican's congressional career. But Ryan still won the southeastern Wisconsin district with 55 percent of the vote. Ryan outspent Zerban $6.4 million to $2.3 million.

Zerban finished the year with $15,619 in his campaign account, according to his report posted at the FEC site.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Joe Fadness dismissed Zerban's announcement, saying it signaled an attempt at "another desperate negative campaign" against Ryan.

"Zerban’s 2012 campaign was light on substance and heavy on misleading falsehoods," Fadness said in a statement. "If elected, he would be nothing more than a rubber stamp [for] the destructive policies of President Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi’s that have left this nation with record debt, high unemployment and ruinous spending."

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

 2:44 PM 

WEAC TV ad says Evers sees children, schools as 'investment in our future'

WEAC, the state's largest teachers union, is up with a new TV ad that praises state Superintendent Tony Evers for seeing "children and our schools an an investment in our future."

The spot features a series of people talking about how rewarding it is to teach before one says, "Our future is built on education" and another later adds, "Tony Evers understands that."

A man says Everswill work with parents, teachers and "all community members."

"Tony Evers knows the best educator," a man says.

"And the best courses," a woman says

"There's nothing beyond their reach," a woman says to close the spot.

The WEAC symbol appears on a white background with "Tony Evers for state superintendent" below in blue type.

-- By JR Ross

 9:05 AM 

Fallone going up on TV

Candidate Ed Fallone says in the first TV ad of his campaign that the Supreme Court as descended into dysfunction over the last three years. 

A narrator then says Justice Pat Roggensack “refused to hold David Prosser accountable for choking another justice.

“She even risked the integrity of the court, creating the Roggensack rule, letting special interests donate to justices when they have cases in front of the court.” 

As the narrator speaks, newspaper headlines appear across the bottom of the screen, including one “Roggensack Rule: ‘Legalized Bribery’” and another “Pat Roggensack … astounding disregard for legal ethics.”

Fallone, a Marquette Law prof, then says people want a justice with the “courage to follow the law and to stand up for the working families of Wisconsin.” 

"Ed Fallone for Supreme Court," the narrator says.
“That's the kind of justice I will be," Fallone says to close the spot.

-- By Staff

Monday, March 18, 2013

 4:53 PM 

Evers to begin first TV ad of campaign Tuesday

State Superintendent Tony Evers says in the TV ad of his re-election campaign that the last couple of years have been really difficult with a budget that was “balanced on the backs of kids.”

A narrator then says Evers fought against efforts to “slash $1.6 billion from our classrooms and developed a plan that reinvests in schools without raising property taxes.”

“That’s what I believe my job is, to reach common ground, but never sacrifice your principles,” Evers says. “Keeping kids in the front of our decision-making process, that’s what 36 years of experience will bring to this job.”

The spot features a mix of Evers talking in different settings, including some with children. He closes the spot by saying, “Students need to be our top priority in the state of Wisconsin, and that’s why I’m running for state superintendent.”

A campaign spokeswoman said the spot begins tomorrow in Green Bay and Milwaukee, but declined to provide other details.

-- By JR Ross

 10:53 AM 

Walker: 'I'm not looking for any other job'

Gov. Scott Walker said today he'll continue to be governor "as long as the people of Wisconsin want me to be governor."

"I love being governor. I'm not looking for any other job," Walker said following an address to the Governor's Conference on Tourism this morning.

Walker told a reporter late last week that he would possibly be interested in a White House bid and did not pledge to serve an entire second term as governor if elected next year.

"I guess the only thing I’d say is I’m not ruling it out," the governor said during a visit to Washington, D.C., where he spoke at CPAC 2013.

Today, Walker said he's repeatedly responded to questions about his national ambitions that he's not looking for other jobs, noting he worked "extremely hard to be elected twice in the last two years."

"Copy editors created headlines creating different things than what I said," Walker said of the weekend reports.

-- By Andy Szal

Thursday, March 7, 2013

 10:27 PM 

Fallone says court dysfunctional, Roggensack says opponent attacking court

Supreme Court candidate Ed Fallone accused incumbent Justice Patience Roggensack of downplaying the "the dysfunction on the court" in her campaign during a debate taped Thursday for Wisconsin Public TV’s “Here and Now.”

Roggensack fired back that the Marquette Law professor is running an entirely negative campaign and that she takes exception what she called his insulting of the entire court.

"You're attacking the court. The court is not up for re-election," Roggensack said during the debate, which is set to air Friday night.

She questioned how Fallone could "call the court names" throughout the state, then hope to work with the other six justices should he win the April 2 election.

Fallone, who participated from Milwaukee while Roggensack was in WPT’s Madison studio, countered that he is the lone candidate in the race taking the issue seriously following a physical altercation between Justices David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley in 2011.

"It seems as if you're trying to sweep under the rug a serious situation on the court," Fallone said.

Roggensack said the court was not dysfunctional -- arguing, "We’re doing a good job on the cases that we have" -- and that the justices have not seen an inappropriate confrontation since the Prosser-Bradley incident.

She did concede, however, that she is concerned about the public's perception of the court, defending a letter she drafted in the aftermath of the 2011 incident as a potential start to the healing process.

"We have a lot of repair work to do for the court as an institution, and that's what I was trying to get started," Roggensack said.

She said the letter would have showed the public that the justices acknowledge the "totally inappropriate" nature of the altercation, and that the justices had to take the issue upon themselves after recusals stalled a Wisconsin Judicial Commission complaint on the incident filed against Prosser.

Roggensack vowed that if re-elected, she would seek to start the process again after the spring election.

Fallone said that Roggensack did not have to recuse herself from the discipline case and that the recusals overall undermined the Judicial Commission process.

He called the letter "a poor second-best," saying it would not have assigned responsibility for the altercation.

"There's not accountability, and we're stuck in limbo,” Fallone said of the high court recusals in the case.

Roggensack defended her decision not to participate, saying that her role in the incident was "upsetting" and that she would not have been "a fair and unbiased decision maker."

"I hold myself more accountable than perhaps you would like to," Roggensack said.

In addition to agreeing that public perception of the court needed work, the candidates each said they'd recuse themselves in cases that involved campaign contributions that could create the perception of unfairness.

But the candidates sparred over the recusal process itself, with Fallone saying Roggensack helped change recusal standards to open the door "wider than ever to special interest money."

Roggensack said that decision simply clarified previous court policy established in a case presided over by then-Justice Louis Butler.

"The court decided as a whole that accepting a lawful contribution, if there was nothing else … was no reason for him to get off the case," Roggensack said.

See more information on "Here and Now" broadcast.
-- By Andy Szal

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

 9:34 AM 

New Glarus' Carey rather 'boiled in oil' than run for guv

New Glarus Brewery founder and President Deb Carey says there’s no truth to rumors she’s considering a run for guv in 2014.

“I’d rather be boiled in oil because it’s a quicker and less painful death,” Carey told WisPolitics.com.

Carey has had a rising profile politically over the last few months, including a trip to Washington, D.C., in November for a meeting between small business owners and the president. She also was a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama for the State of the Union address.

Carey said she suspects the rumor was started by her competition in the brewing industry. 

-- By JR Ross

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