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Thursday, March 27, 2014

 10:07 AM 

Stroebel to make decision on challenging Petri by April 7

State Rep. Duey Stroebel says he will make a decision no later than April 7 on whether to challenge U.S. Rep. Tom Petri in a GOP primary.

Stroebel, who was elected to the Assembly in 2010, said in a statement he has been approached by constituents who believe he has the qualifications to represent the district as a "conservative Republican."

Petri, who has held the seat since 1979, was under fire earlier this year for his advocacy on behalf of a company in his district in which he owns stock.

"The 6th Congressional District needs strong, dynamic, common sense conservative leadership that is firmly rooted in the community," Stroebel, R-Saukville, wrote in an email. "I believe I can provide that leadership, and know regardless of my final decision that we need more Wisconsin ideas in Washington."

-- By JR Ross


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

 1:29 PM 

Marquette Law poll: Walker 48, Burke 41

The latest poll from the Marquette University Law School found Gov. Scott Walker leading Dem challenger Mary Burke 48 percent to 41 percent.

That's largely unchanged from the last survey in January, which had Walker leading 47-41.

Since that January survey, the Republican Governors Association has begun a more than $1 million ad buy targeting Burke, while both Burke and Walker have hit the airwaves as well.

The new poll also found 47 percent of respondents approved of Walker's job performance, while 47 percent disapproved. In January, that split was 51-42.

It also found 19 percent of respondents had a favorable impression of Burke, while 22 percent had an unfavorable impression, and 59 percent either had not heard of her or didn't have an opinion. In January, 70 percent of respondents didn't have an impression of Burke, who had a 12-18 favorable-unfavorable split at the time.

Walker's personal favorability rating was 49-47.

The live phone surveys of 801 registered voters was conducted March 20-23. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, while 30 percent of respondents were interviewed on their cell phones.

-- By JR Ross


Monday, March 24, 2014

 11:32 AM 

Kramer will not seek re-election

State Rep. Bill Kramer, who was dumped as majority leader after he was accused of sexually harassing two women, will not seek re-election this fall.

The GAB received a notice of noncandidacy today from the Waukesha Republican.

Kramer was accused of sexually harassing a lobbyist and groping a legislative staffer during a fundraising trip last month to Washington, D.C. He entered treatment soon after the allegations surfaced, and the Assembly GOP caucus voted unanimously days later to remove him from the No. 2 post in the chamber.

GOP leaders did not call for Kramer to resign from the Assembly following the allegations. But Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Kramer should not seek re-election.

Kramer's office said today he remains in treatment, and he did not immediately return a message left on his cell phone.

He is the 13th member of the Assembly to announce they will not run for re-election to the chamber this fall; six of those are running for another office.

-- By JR Ross


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

 7:55 AM 

Ozanne, Happ offer different reasons they should be AG

Ismael Ozanne and Susan Happ offered different reasons why each should be the Democratic nominee for attorney general, with Ozanne touting his experience and Happ emphasizing her electability.

The two Dems spoke at a Wisconsin Business Alliance forum Tuesday. The third Democratic candidate, Rep. Jon Richards of Milwaukee, was unable to attend because he was on the Assembly floor.

Ozanne and Happ, the district attorneys for Dane County and Jefferson County, respectively, agreed on various issues from early voting to gay marriage. They both said the attorney general should be a district attorney, unlike Richards, who has stressed that the position is more than the state's "top cop." The three meet in an August primary to decide who will go up against the likely GOP nominee, Waukesha Co. DA Brad Schimel, in the race to replace Republican J.B. Van Hollen.

Ozanne, who was previously the deputy secretary of the Department of Corrections, said his experience helping run a state agency was critical because he would be able to lead the Department of Justice on his first day in office.

"We need to make sure that when we take back this office, we hit the ground running, and experience matters," Ozanne said.

Happ countered she runs her DA's office while being in court most days. She emphasized throughout the forum that she should be the Dem nominee because she has been re-elected in a rural Republican district and would get independents' support.
"We really don't have a lot of disagreements on the issues that matter to progressives, and quite frankly, the issues that matter, I think, to most Wisconsin voters," she said of the three Dem candidates. "I think what we have to look at ... is who has the best chance of winning in November? And I think I'm that candidate."

Richards' campaign, meanwhile, said the veteran Democratic lawmaker is the most experienced and the most electable candidate. Andy Suchorski, Richards' political director, said after the forum that Richards has focused on public safety in the Legislature, authoring a bill requiring background checks for purchasing firearms, for example.
Suchorski said Richards is the "strongest candidate in this race to keep Wisconsin families safe and protect middle class families."

Ozanne and Happ agreed on numerous issues, both criticizing the voter ID law and a Republican proposal to limit early voting. They also wouldn't defend the state's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage because they think it's unconstitutional.

"In a sense, it is state sanctioned discrimination. I guess it's not too long [ago] in our country's history that my marriage would have been considered illegal, and why would I do that to anyone else?" said Ozanne, who is African American.

On drunken driving, Happ said she was most concerned with repeat offenders, calling it the "number one problem" in Wisconsin, while Ozanne said first-time offenders should be charged with a crime, rather than a civil violation.

Ozanne said that change in law would need to come with additional funding for prosecutors. And Happ said since that funding doesn't currently exist, the focus should be on curbing repeat offenses with measures like treatment courts, which they both said is the most effective method to prevent further offenses.

Some conservatives have already knocked Happ for her handling of a drunk driving case involving a former spokesman for the state Dem Party.

"Repeat drunk driving is our number one problem in our state," Happ said. "These repeat drunk drivers who get behind the wheel time and time again pose a significant risk to our communities, and first offense drivers do too. But in terms of the resources we're talking about, we just don't have them yet."

And while Happ said sobriety checkpoints are "certainly something worth looking into," Ozanne questioned their effectiveness.

While they noted there could be benefits to legalizing marijuana, both candidates raised concerns over the idea. The concerns included issues like banks not accepting money from legal marijuana stores, which could lead to safety concerns since that money can be stolen. They said they need to track what is happening in the states that legalize it.

"We're focusing on heroin," Happ said. "Heroin is really an epidemic that we're seeing the lethality, that were seeing the countless lives impacted by heroin abuse. And that's something I've focused very heavily on, and I know that is most certainly a problem that I would want to continue to address and target as attorney general."

Ozanne also said heroin abuse is a major concern for the state, noting his work in Dane County on diversion programs. He said in order for there to be a real impact in crime numbers, the state needs to work on stopping child abuse and neglect.

"If we allow a child to grow up without empathy, we are creating our worst nightmare when that person becomes an adult," Ozanne said.

-- By Polo Rocha



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

 1:59 PM 

La Follette to run for re-election as secretary of state

Dem Secretary of State Doug La Follette announced today he will run for re-election to the office he has held for most of the past four decades.

La Follette said he will campaign on restoring business-related responsibilities to the secretary of state’s office, including notary commission functions, trademarks and trade names, and Uniform Commercial Code and corporation matters. 

On the GOP side, those registered to run include: Julian Bradley of La Crosse, Jay Schroeder of Neenah and Bill Folk of Racine. Outgoing state Rep. Garey Bies of Sister Bay has said he's considering a bid. 

Also, Libertarian Andrew Craig of Milwaukee and the Constitution Party's Jerry Broitzman of Milwaukee have filed to run for the office. 

-- By JR Ross


 9:35 AM 

EMILY's List endorses Happ in AG race

EMILY's List today endorsed Dem Susan Happ for attorney general, calling her "an effective prosecutor who has delivered justice for countless women and families."

The group, which backs female candidates who support abortion rights, says the Jefferson County DA is the fourth AG candidate it has endorsed this cycle. 

The backing of EMILY's List can typically be a fundraising boost for candidates who prove their viability. The group has endorsed Dem Mary Burke in this fall's guv's race and supported Tammy Baldwin for the U.S. Senate in 2012.

Happ said in a statement she is thrilled with the endorsement.

"I’m honored that EMILY’s List has recognized my campaign as one of the top opportunities in the country to help elect a woman to a constitutional office," Happ said.

-- By JR Ross


Monday, March 17, 2014

 9:14 AM 

New RGA ad accuses Burke of trying to hide 'failed record on jobs'

The Republican Governors Association released a new TV ad this morning accusing Dem guv hopeful Mary Burke of falsely attacking Gov. Scott Walker to "hide her failed record on jobs."

The spot opens with the narrator saying Burke's attacks on Walker has been called "'false and ridiculous' by non-partisan fact checkers."

The spot later shows a segment from a newscast in which the anchor says some have criticized Burke for not explaining how she would create jobs, adding "What exactly her plan is to create jobs is still unclear.”

"What is clear is that in Madison, Burke wasted millions of tax dollars and promised jobs didn’t materialize," the narrator says to close the spot. "Mary Burke. Dishonest attacks to hide her failure on jobs."

-- By JR Ross


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Friday, March 7, 2014

 8:17 AM 

Walker campaign releases first ad of '14 campaign

Gov. Scott Walker's first TV ad of his re-election campaign charges Dem rival Mary Burke lied when she said unemployment was up under his watch.

The spot repeats the line from Burke's TV ad that unemployment is up before the narrator cuts in, "Quite the contrary, Mary."

The narrator goes on to say unemployment was 7.8 percent when Walker took office and is now 6.3 percent, the lowest it's been since 2008. The narrator adds there are over 100,000 more jobs.

"So why would you start your campaign out with a lie?" the narrator asks. "The facts: Unemployment is going down under Walker, and we can't trust Mary Burke."

UPDATE: Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki wrote in an email, "Unemployment was lower, and more people were working when Mary Burke was Commerce secretary than under Scott Walker as governor. Those facts may be inconvenient for career politician Scott Walker – but that doesn’t make them untrue."


-- By JR Ross

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

 10:06 AM 

Burke releases first TV, which says 'better way'

Dem Mary Burke’s first TV ad says the Republican Governors Association is attacking her because “there’s a better way.”

Her campaign this morning released the ad, which opens with a narrator saying 930 people work at Trek “the great Wisconsin company she helped build.”

The spot goes on to say there were 72,000 more jobs when she was Commerce secretary than the state has today and the RGA is “spending a million dollars attacking her” because unemployment is up under Walker.

The spot shows figures spinning from 4.8 percent, the highest unemployment was during her tenure as Commerce secretary, to 6.2 percent. The narrator adds jobs prospects are down to 45th in the nation and layoffs continue.

Three headlines appear on screen detailing layoffs at S.C. Johnson, Caterpillar and American TV & Appliance.

“There's a better way,” the narrator says to close the ad. “A strong economy starts with a strong middle class, and that's what Mary Burke's working on every day.”

UPDATE: Walker took issue today with the assertion that unemployment has gone up under his watch.

In the documentation for the spot, Burke’s campaign notes the state’s unemployment rate was never higher than 4.8 percent during her time as Commerce secretary. The spot does not include that quantifying statement, simply stating “Under Walker, unemployment's up.”

Walker said today the state's unemployment is down significantly compared to Gov. Jim Doyle's second term.

"I think when people measure that up -- when they measure the facts up -- they'll see that we're definitely moving this state forward after many years of it going backwards," Walker said.
-- By JR Ross



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Monday, March 3, 2014

 9:24 AM 

New RGA ad knocks Burke for 'the Washington Way'

A new TV ad from the Republican Governors Association knocks Mary Burke for "the Washington Way," accusing her of debt, mismanagement and waste.

Like the RGA's first spot going after the Dem guv candidate, this one seeks to tie Burke to former Gov. Jim Doyle, for whom she served as Commerce secretary.

The narrator says an investigation into "Burke's department" uncovered "'major shortcomings,' millions of taxpayer dollars being wasted, and promised jobs never materializing."

"The Doyle-Burke Wisconsin? 130,000 fewer jobs and a $3 billion budget shortfall," the narrator says before closing the spot. "Mary Burke would take Wisconsin backward."

-- By JR Ross


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