• WisPolitics

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

 12:10 PM 

Folk drops out of race for secretary of state

Bill Folk, chairman of the Racine County GOP, today announced he won't continue his bid for secretary of state.

Folk said in a statement that although he believes he has the best resume in the field and could defeat incumbent Doug LaFollette, he does not expect the Legislature to work with him to reform the office.

"We continue to see news related to the unelected and unaccountable Government Accountability Board that would indicate that the GAB is in major need of oversight," Folk said. "The Legislature continues to discuss alternatives but returning the duties to an elected officer does not seem to be one of them."

Folk finished in second in the state GOP convention's endorsement vote earlier this month, narrowly ahead of state Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay. RPW executive committee member Julian Bradley received the endorsement on the first ballot.

-- By Andy Szal

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

 12:59 PM 

Marquette poll finds Burke, Walker neck-and-neck

The latest Marquette University Law School poll has Gov. Scott Walker and Dem challenger Mary Burke neck-and-neck less than six months out from the general election.

The poll found Burke and Walker tied at 46 among registered voters, compared to a 48-41 lead for Walker in March and 47-41 in January.

Among likely voters, Walker edged Burke 48-45, which was inside the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Poll director Charles Franklin described the results as a "significant tightening of the race.”

The poll also measured the race for those likely to vote and described them as enthusiastic to do so. Walker led among those respondents 50-45.

Other findings in the poll include:

*49 percent of respondents approved of Walker's job performance, while 46 disapproved. That figure was 47-47 in March. His personal favorability rating was 47-48.
*Burke had a personal favorability rating of 27-22. Though 51 percent said they hadn't heard enough about her to form an opinion or didn't know, that's down from 59 percent in March and 70 percent in January.
*52 percent say the state is headed in the right direction; 42 percent said it's on the wrong track. In March, it was 54-42.
*48 percent say the state budget in better shape than a few years ago, while 22 percent said it's the same and 25 percent believes it's worse.
The poll also asked respondents about state Rep. Brett Hulsey of Madison, who has said he plans to run for guv. Seventy-eight percent of respondents hadn't heard enough about Hulsey to have an opinion of him, while 2 percent had a favorable view and 9 percent an unfavorable view.

Self-identified Dems and independents were asked if they planned to vote in the Dem primary come August. Those that said they did were given the option of the four Dems who have registered with the GAB to run this fall; 66 percent backed Burke, while 3 percent favored Hulsey. Eighteen percent were undecided and 6 percent didn't know.

In a head-to-head match up with Walker, Hulsey trailed 48-39.

The poll of 805 registered voters was conducted May 15-18 with 30 percent of respondents interviewed via cell phones. Thirty-two percent of respondents described themselves as Dems, 24 percent Republicans and 41 percent independents.

-- By JR Ross

Monday, May 19, 2014

 12:22 PM 

Republican Feldt drops out of treasurer's race, endorses Melchert

Deputy State Treasurer Scott Feldt today dropped out of the GOP primary for treasurer and endorsed conservative activist Randy Melchert.

Feldt said his message "that accountable, constitutional government is best" is larger than any one man and he must exit the race in favor of a stronger messenger.

Melchert is a lawyer and founding member of the Waukesha County Taxpayer Association. He said in his campaign announcement he supports an "accountable, elected state treasurer."

Melchert would face former leggie aide Matt Adamczyk for the GOP nomination. Both face a June 2 deadline to collected the needed signatures to qualify for the state ballot.

Feldt's decision to drop out follows a GOP state convention at which neither he nor Adamczyk received the needed support from 60 percent of delegates to win the party's formal backing in the race.

-- By JR Ross

Friday, May 9, 2014

 7:50 AM 

Dem AG candidates say communities should have more control over frac sand mining

The three Dem candidates for attorney general say they’d like to use the office as a bully pulpit to push for local control over frac sand mining.

The candidates stressed at a Madison forum on Thursday night the need to allow communities to balance the effects of mining with the economic benefits it could provide.

State Rep. Jon Richards of Milwaukee said communities in the western portion of the state are seeing a loss of local control in relation to frac sand mining. He called the decision to take away that control “wrongheaded” and said he would like to use the attorney general’s powers to challenge the move based on environmental laws.

Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne and Jefferson County DA Susan Happ agreed, arguing locals need more control because they’re in the best position to weigh the costs and benefits of things like frac sand mining, not the state government.

“I don’t think that job creation has to come at the direct expense of communities in which they are living,” Happ said. “(Communities) are in best position to see if harm to environment is worth the profit and job growth that will come out of it.”

The three Dems also tried to set themselves apart as the August primary draws nearer.

Happ led the forum off by emphasizing she is the only woman in the field and a Dem district attorney in a heavily Republican county who could win not only Democratic votes but also those from Republicans and swing voters.

“I carry a purse and ride my own Harley,” Happ said. “I have a proven track record of doing what is best for all Wisconsin citizens. I don’t play political games.”

She used public service as her main theme while listing off her qualifications that stretched from her upbringing in a home headed by two public school teachers to her work prosecuting cases as a district attorney.

Ozanne structured his remarks around his ability to be a strong leader as someone with close to 14 years of prosecuting experience and the only candidate to have major state department administrative experience in the Department of Corrections.

“The issues I will have to deal with are not theory for me,” Ozanne said. “These are things that I am working against on a day-to-day basis.”

Richards hasn't served as a front-line prosecutor, but emphasized his time in the state Legislature, where he has worked on legislation involving environmental and gun rights as well as equal treatment of women and workers. He framed himself as someone who would “be aggressive and lead with ideas.”

The questions in the forum varied widely from the effects of legalizing marijuana in the state to fighting for a higher minimum wage as well as the candidate’s taking their own stances on child safety in the Internet age and the best way to combat the greater role of money in politics.

While each candidate varied slightly with his or her answers, most responses struck the same chords of needing to increase the rights of middle class citizens and trying to change what they characterized as Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's ineffective tenure.

The forum, sponsored by the Dane County Progressive Neighborhood Teams, never got heated and stayed generally respectful. The winner of the Aug. 12 primary is expected to face Waukesha County DA Brad Schimel, the only Republican registered to run for the office.

- By Jack Casey
For WisPolitics.com

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

 11:54 AM 

Nass to run for open Senate seat

Longtime GOP state Rep. Steve Nass will run for the open 11th Senate District, an aide tells WisPolitics.com.

Nass is jumping into the race for the 11th SD after Sen. Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn, announced yesterday he would not seek re-election to the heavily GOP seat in southern Wisconsin. 

Nass, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1990, is expected to formally announce his bid this afternoon, aide Mike Mikalsen said. 

He will become the 22nd member of the Assembly to announce plans to retire rather than seeking re-election, breaking the record that was set in 1983, according to data from the Legislative Reference Bureau that goes back to 1963. Another three members left the chamber last year for other jobs and were replaced in special elections.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

 1:08 PM 

Kedzie to retire

GOP state Sen. Neal Kedzie announced today he will not seek re-election, saying he wants to spend more time with his family and "pursue other opportunities outside of state government."

Kedize's announcement comes just four weeks before nomination papers are due for those hoping to run for the Legislature this fall, meaning Republicans may have to scramble to find a candidate for the heavily GOP seat.

Kedzie was elected to the Senate in 2002 after three terms in the Assembly. He joins Dems Tim Cullen, Bob Jauch and John Lehman and fellow Republicans Mike Ellis, Joe Leibham and Dale Schultz in leaving the Senate at the end of this session.

"I will not only miss and hold dear the Wisconsin Legislature, I will miss the men and women who served both by my side and across the aisle," Kedzie said. "While we may have differing ideas and vision for this great state, I know each member of the Legislature, Republicans and Democrats, wishes only the best for Wisconsin, and to leave it in a better place than when they first arrived. I value the friendships I have made over the years with members of both parties and have a sincere respect and admiration for each one
of them."

-- By JR Ross

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