• WisPolitics

Monday, November 30, 2015

 9:26 AM 

Gudex won't seek re-election next year

GOP state Sen. Rick Gudex, Dems' top target in 2016, announced today he will not seek re-election.

"It has been great working with various groups of individuals, building relationships, and addressing their needs and concerns," Gudex said in the announcement. "I am confident that the decisions made during my term in office have and will continue to keep the great State of Wisconsin moving forward."

Shortly after Gudex announced his decision, Dan Feyen, chair of the Fond du Lac County and 6th CD Republican parties, announced he will run for the seat.

Winnebago County Exec Mark Harris has already announced plans to run for the seat as a Dem.

Gudex won the seat in 2012 by 600 votes over then-Dem Sen. Jessica King. She took office in 2011 after beating GOP Sen. Randy Hopper in a recall election that was a rematch of their 2008 contest,  which he won by 163 votes.  

-- By JR Ross

Thursday, November 19, 2015

 12:50 PM 

Marquette: Feingold continues to lead Johnson, Carson jumps to front GOP presidential pack

Dem Russ Feingold continued to hold a double-digit lead over GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in the latest Marquette University Law School Poll released today.

Meanwhile, Ben Carson jumped to the front of the GOP presidential pack, while Hillary Clinton's lead over the Republican field has evaporated since the last survey in September.

The new poll found Feingold leading Johnson 49-38 compared to 50-36 in September. It also found Feingold's favorability rating tightening a little, while Johnson was upside down.

Forty-two percent of registered voters surveyed had a favorable view of Feingold, while 36 percent had an unfavorable one. Meanwhile, 27 percent had a favorable view of Johnson, while 38 percent had an unfavorable one and 35 percent couldn't give an opinion of him.

In the GOP presidential primary, Carson led the field at 22 percent, while Donald Trump and Marco Rubio were tied at 19 percent apiece. In September, Trump led at 20 percent with Carson at 16 percent and Rubio at 14 percent. Franklin said with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.6 percentage points among Republicans, the changes were not statistically significant.

On the Dem side, Clinton led Bernie Sanders 50 percent to 41 percent with Martin O'Malley at 2 percent.

Still, Sanders tended to do better in hypothetical head-to-head matchups against Republican candidates.

Carson was backed by 45 percent of respondents, compared to 44 percent for Clinton. Sanders edged Carson 47-41.

Rubio was also backed by 45 percent compared to 44 percent for Clinton; in September, Clinton was at 48 percent compared to 40 percent for the Florida senator.

Sanders edged Rubio 46-42.

Both led Trump, Clinton at 48-38 and Sanders at 52-35.

The poll of 803 registered voters was conducted Tuesday through Sunday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. The margin for Republicans was plus or minus 6.6 percentage points and for Dems it was 6.1 percentage points.

With leaners included, the sample was 47 percent Democratic, 41 percent Republican and 11 percent independents. The long-term average is 47-42-9.

-- By Staff

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

 7:46 AM 

Wisconsin Alliance for Reform going up with new TV ad knocking Feigold

The Wisconsin Alliance for Reform is going up with a new TV ad knocking Russ Feingold, this one showing the Dem trying to hypnotize voters into forgetting his record.

The spot features a shot of Feingold swinging a watch on a chain. The mouth on Feingold moves while someone else narrates the ad telling voters to forget “everything you know.” That includes Feingold voting to raise taxes 278 times, to “give amnesty to illegals” and against raises for the military 15 times. The narrator also says to forget “that I was the deciding vote on Obamacare.”

Then another narrator cuts in, “Wake up, Wisconsin. Tell Russ Feingold we can’t forget his 18-year liberal voting record.”

The group says the spot will air in Green Bay, Milwaukee and Wausau on TV. It will air statewide digitally with a buy the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform described as “well into six figures.”

-- By JR Ross

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

 12:11 AM 

Wisconsin Republicans largely praise Milwaukee debate, Dem chair calls it 'disappointing'

MILWAUKEE -- Wisconsin Republicans who attended the debate largely praised its content, while state Dem Chair Martha Laning called it “disappointing.”

State GOP Chairman Brad Courtney praised what he described as an issue-focused debate that didn’t feature “any food fights between the candidates.” He also predicted a long primary battle, saying “This is not a coronation.”

Courtney, a long time friend of the guv’s, sat next to Scott Walker and noted he received a warm reception.

“It was kind of bittersweet,” Courtney said. “I still think he would make a great president, but that’s for another conversation.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said the “race is still wide open” and he didn’t see a clear winner.

“I think Wisconsin saw some pretty capable individuals capable of leading this nation,” Johnson said. “Right now America is hungry for leadership. I think we saw a number of individuals up there that would fit that bill.”

On immigration, Johnson said the crowd was on the side of “realism.”

Johnson said America has to secure its borders and deport criminals and those “feeding off the welfare system.”

“We’re also a compassionate nation and we realize it’s just not practical to identify and ship out 11 to 12 million people,” he said.

State Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R- Brookfield, had praise for Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul and Ben Carson.

Still, he didn’t feel Carson has a “huge command” of all of this issues, though Kooyenga believed he is someone who knows how to ask the right questions and could assemble a strong team. The Joint Finance Committee member, who doesn’t plan to endorse in the primary, also questioned Marco Rubio’s tax plan. Still, he "would be proud to support anyone up there probably with the exception of Donald Trump."

“I’m really focused on policy and so I made a conscious decision I’m not going to get into the race this time and endorse anybody,” he said.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester and co-chair of Rubio’s state campaign, said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the standout candidate during the undercard debate, calling the governor articulate and passionate.

Ahead of the main debate, Vos said he expected Rubio would be “head and shoulders above the other candidates.”

“I have no doubt that he’s going to shine,” Vos said.

Laning said Wisconsin voters heard from a GOP field that doesn’t care a whole lot about making their lives better.

Laning also said Wisconsinites have already seen many of the policies proposed last night in action in their state.

“We have seen the Republican plan in play,” Laning said. “Here in Wisconsin, Republicans have had total control. It clearly is not working. All of the things they’ve talked about, giving tax breaks, well, Republicans have given tax breaks and we haven’t seen the increase in jobs that’s supposed to be happening.”

-- By Samantha Nash and David Wise

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

 8:31 PM 

Few Wisconsin mentions during first debate

Candidates stuck largely national themes with few Wisconsin-specific references during the first debate.

But Rick Santorum pointed to Wisconsin and job losses at GE while saying he supports reviving the Export-Import Bank.

“Want to talk about communicating to workers here in Wisconsin?” Santorum said. “Ask them why we are tying one hand behind our back and not trying to compete.”

Prior to that, Santorum said he is an example of a conservative that can win in states like Wisconsin that have voted for Democrats in recent presidential elections.

Before the debate, RNC Chair Reince Priebus introduced Wisconsin officials in attendance and called Wisconsin the “epicenter of the political universe.”

-- By David Wise

 8:19 PM 

Large group of protesters gathers during first debate

What was a small group of protesters before the debate grew to at least several hundred representing a variety of causes, including Black Lives Matter, increasing the minimum wage to $15, immigration reform and legalizing marijuana.

A small group of activists protesting federal prosecutors’ decision not to issue charges in the police shooting death of Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee argued with police over an American flag officers confiscated. The protester said he had been stepping on the flag. Police offered the man a receipt for the flag, but the man repeatedly demanded the flag back, instead, before police left the area.

But not everyone was outside to protest. One man wore a Captain America costume with s sign declaring Donald Trump “our superhero” and asking for debate tickets.

By the start of the second debate, the protesters had left the area.

-- By David Wise

 4:47 PM 

Handful of protesters gather outside GOP debate hall

“No justice, no Christmas,” Craig Stingley chanted over a megaphone outside the Milwaukee Theatre on today, referencing a boycott of holiday spending led by the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Milwaukee man said his son's murder in 2012 led to his support of the movement and his protest outside the GOP debate.

“This is a violation of my First Amendment rights,” Stingley said after police asked him to move away from an area cordoned off for media.

He was one of a handful of protesters gathered a few hours ahead of the GOP presidential debate. Others held signs reading “don’t trust the liberal media” and “In God we trust.”

There was scant evidence of protests of individual candidates, or of the event itself, though a crowd was already gathering near the entrance two hours before of the debate.

-- By Samantha Nash

 1:10 PM 

Paul praises voucher schools during Milwaukee stop ahead of debate

MILWAUKEE -- U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., praised Wisconsin's expansion of the school voucher program today during  a stop here. 

Joining several members of the community on the panel, including Jim Bender of School Choice Wisconsin, Paul said he supports raising and eventually removing income caps from the program. Still, he said a focus on helping lower income families has helped the program gain support.

“It’s not the government’s money, it’s your money,” Paul said. “We’ve been leaving, for generations, people on the sidelines who can be of great benefit to society.”

While Paul expressed approval of using tax dollars to lower the cost of private primary education, he did not express support for similar changes to the nation’s higher education system. Touting the potential for cost savings offered by online education, Paul questioned why online and in-person classes are similarly priced within the University of Wisconsin system.

When questioned about tonight’s debate, where Paul will participate in the undercard event, he said he hopes candidates offer longer answers. He blamed both Democrats and Republicans for high national debt and continued borrowing, calling it the “biggest threat to the country.”

-- By Samantha Nash

 11:45 AM 

Walker says voters want a reformer for president, says super PACs not 'be all, end all'

MILWAUKEE -- Gov. Scott Walker told an audience at a Wall Street Journal panel discussion this morning voters are frustrated with Washington, D.C., and in the end, are looking for a candidate who will be able to deliver on the promises made.

Most voters want to see the size of government reduced, he said, but they want what is left to be effective. He encouraged candidates to “show that the 'R' next to their name doesn’t just stand for Republican -- it stands for reformer.”

Walker said that while a Super PAC is likely something a candidate cannot get by without in the current environment, it's not the “be all, end all.” Without naming anyone, Walker noted other candidates have had larger Super PACs than he did and are still struggling.

“The number one thing that wins elections is whether or not you can connect with voters,” Walker said.

“If you make that connection, then a Super PAC can help you amplify that connection. But a Super PAC can't make that for you.”

Walker has regularly rebuffed questions from state reporters about his presidential campaign, referring them to his comments at a Sept. 21 news conference when he dropped out of the race.

Walker told the breakfast he decided to suspend his presidential campaign when he could no longer see a clear path to the nomination.

“We just looked at all these things together, looked at where we were headed, and said unfortunately we didn't see a path to get to the nomination and said its better off if the voters have a more narrow field to look at,” Walker said.

-- By David Wise

 8:38 AM 

New NRSC TV ad says Feingold 'didn't age well in Washington'

The NRSC is hitting Dem Russ Feingold in a new TV ad, saying he “didn’t age well in Washington.”

The narrator says Feingold “lost touch with Wisconsin” and whereas he once wanted to get money out of politics, “now he’s profiting from that same dark money.”

"The promising senator we once knew, reduced to a man of Washington, not Wisconsin,” the narrator says to close the spot. “Senator Russ Feingold. He’s changed.”

The NRSC said the spot will run on Fox Business Network during tonight’s GOP presidential debate. Combined with a digital component, it will air in Milwaukee and Green Bay.

-- By Staff

Monday, November 9, 2015

 5:04 PM 

Walker joins Bush at event highlighting school choice

WAUKESHA -- Gov. Scott Walker joined GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush at an event here Monday afternoon highlighting Wisconsin’s school choice program.

The former Florida governor compared changes instituted during his tenure to the current expansion of the voucher program in Wisconsin, crediting the changes with improving graduation rates in his state and predicting a similar outcome here.

Bush also compared Walker’s work on education to his own and offered praise.

“Eighty thousand students are going to private schools because I took on very powerful interests, just as Scott Walker has done to expand the voucher program statewide in this state,” Bush said.

Walker echoed Bush’s link between school choice expansion and improved graduation rates, which he said have gone up every year he’s served as governor. He said we would like to extend the program to families who currently exceed the income cap.

The guv said the school choice program complements the existing public school system.

“It’s not just about expanding charter schools or choice schools, it’s about expanding the quality education choices for every family,” Walker said.

-- By Samantha Nash

 4:16 PM 

Dems slam GOP presidential contenders ahead of debate

MILWAUKEE -- Just more than a dozen state Democrats met in Milwaukee's City Hall to denounce the views of GOP presidential candidates ahead of Tuesday's debate here.

They often compared the remaining contenders to Gov. Scott Walker, who suspended his presidential bid in September.

"It's fitting that this Republican debate is held here, in Gov. Walker's backyard," state Democratic Party Chairwoman Martha Laning said. "There probably isn't another state better than Wisconsin that knows what happens when the Republicans' agenda is rolled out."

She said cuts to education funding and more restrictive voter ID laws have harmed Wisconsinites since Republicans took control of state government. And, Laning said, she fears Republicans would implement similar plans on the national stage if one makes it to the White House.

Also speaking were state Reps. Chris Taylor, of Madison, and Mandela Barnes, of Milwaukee. He criticized the GOP candidates' stances on issues such as immigration laws, women's issues and funding for higher education.

"What you see is a set of candidates hellbent on ruining our country," Barnes said.

-- By Jordyn Noennig

 4:01 PM 

Rubio vows to rebuild military, fire VA employees who aren't doing jobs

PEWAUKEE -- GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio today vowed to rebuild the military and fire employees of the Veterans Administration "who just aren't doing their jobs."

The 44-year-old senator from Florida also called for ripping up the nuclear deal the Obama administration negotiated with Iran.

"As our world grows more dangerous, Barack Obama has weakened our military," Rubio said during a rally at the Country Springs Hotel in Pewaukee.

Rubio sought to cast himself as decisive on foreign affairs, saying the U.S. needs a foreign policy of "moral clarity." But he said Obama has left "our allies feeling betrayed and our adversaries feeling emboldened."

To underscore that, Rubio cited the Middle East, where he said there is only one "pro-American free enterprise democracy -- the state of Israel."

"We have a president who treats the prime minister of Israel with less respect than what he gives the ayatollah of Iran," Rubio said. "That's why on my first day in office, I will cancel this reckless deal with Iran."

Rubio said Iran is going to receive $150 billion after sanctions are lifted under the nuclear deal, and he predicted the country "will use it to sponsor terrorists that kill Jews and kill Americans" and eventually will buy or build a nuclear warhead.

Rubio did not take questions from the media, but he spent 20 minutes posing for photos and shaking hands with supporters, about 300 of whom packed the hotel's grand ballroom.

-- By Kay Nolan

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

 7:58 AM 

Wisconsin Alliance for Reform hits Feingold in new TV ad

A conservative group called Wisconsin Alliance for Reform is going up with a new TV ad today knocking Dem Russ Feingold for tax hikes and voting against pay raises for the military.

The ad features a “Jeopardy”-style game show with categories that include “Broken Promises,” “Lunatic Left” and “Siding With Obama.”

The contestants answer questions from the “Liberals” category.

The clues include “This U.S. Senator voted to raise taxes 278 times,” “He voted against pay raises for the military 15 times” and “This senator voted to give illegal immigrants amnesty, allowing them to collect Social Security, welfare and healthcare benefits.”

The contestants answer “Who is Russ Feingold?” each time before the narrator closes the spot by saying, “Tell Russ Feingold we’re tired of paying for liberal games.”

A spokesman for the group said the buy is “well into the six figures,” but declined to add specifics. The TV ads will run on broadcast and cable in Green Bay, Milwaukee and Wausau, while the digital component will help cover the rest of the state.

The group says it’s “a coalition of concerned citizens and community leaders dedicated to promoting economic growth and opportunity for Wisconsin families.”

-- By JR Ross

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