• WisPolitics

Sunday, July 31, 2016

 8:16 AM 

Feingold outraised Johnson in pre-primary period

Dem Russ Feingold continued to outpace GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson on the fundraising front during the pre-primary period, according to numbers posted at the FEC site.

Feingold raised $785,617 during the 20-day period that ended July 20. He spent $923,420 spent and had almost $7.1 million in the bank.

Johnson, meanwhile, raised $424,726, spent $980,590 and had almost $5.8 million cash on hand.

Feingold has outraised Johnson in each fundraising period since getting into the race last spring.

Their next fundraising reports are due in October.

-- By JR Ross

Friday, July 29, 2016

 6:09 PM 

Federal judge strikes down several GOP-backed election measures

A federal judge today struck down several GOP-authored election measures, including a 2013 law limiting the times for in-person absentee voting.

Judge James Peterson did not grant plaintiff One Wisconsin Institute’s request to overturn the dozen GOP-backed laws, including voter ID. But he said many elements of those measures are unconstitutional.

His ruling today does not affect the Aug. 9th primaries but is intended to apply to the Nov. 8 general election.

State Department of Justice spokesman Johnny Koremenos said the agency still is reviewing Peterson’s ruling.

“Based on our initial reading of the decision,” Koremenos said in an email, “we plan to appeal it to the Seventh Circuit.”

Peterson, in the 119-page decision, took several shots at the GOP election measures, including his calling the ID petition process the state has set up a “wretched failure.” He declined to throw out the entire voter ID law because a “targeted remedy can cure the constitutional flaws” of that process.

He also cited a previous challenge to Wisconsin’s voter ID law and how a federal court ruled it was similar “in all ways that matter” to Indiana’s law. That law withstood a challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court.

But Peterson wrote there’s “utterly no evidence” that voter fraud is a problem.

“The Wisconsin experience demonstrates that a preoccupation with mostly phantom election fraud leads to real incidents of disenfranchisement, which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections, particularly in minority communities,” he wrote. “To put it bluntly, Wisconsin’s strict version of voter ID law is a cure worse than the disease.”

Peterson overturned limits on early voting such as the elimination of weekend voting, finding that they’ve had a “disparate effect on African Americans and Latinos.”

“I am persuaded that this law was specifically targeted to curtail voting in Milwaukee without any other legitimate purpose,” he wrote. “The legislature’s immediate goal was to achieve a partisan objective, but the means of achieving that objective was to suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee’s African Americans.”

One Wisconsin Institute, which filed the lawsuit, hailed Peterson’s ruling. Executive Director Scot Ross said the group “could not be more proud of this victory.”

“We argued Gov. Walker made it harder for Democrats to vote and easier for Republicans to cheat, and the judge agreed,” he said.

But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the laws “protected the integrity of our elections and people’s right to vote.”

“This is a liberal judge’s attempt to undermine our elections less than four months out. It’s also an obvious attempt to usurp the power of the legislature,” he said. “I’m confident that the laws will be reinstated upon appeal.”

Other provisions Peterson struck down included:

*the requirement that dorm lists used as proof of residence include citizenship information;

*the increase of the durational residency requirement from 10 to 28 days;

*the prohibition on distributing absentee ballots by fax or email;

*and the prohibition on using expired, but otherwise qualifying, student IDs.-- 

By Polo Rocha

 1:24 PM 

WisPolitics.com's Aug. 9 Primary Page features interviews in key races

WisPolitics.com has selected more than a dozen legislative primaries to highlight ahead of the Aug. 9 election.

Several of the contests feature Dem incumbents who are being challenged for their safe seats.

Others include the open 3rd AD in northeastern Wisconsin and the 83rd in the southeastern corner of the state. GOP Rep. Al Ott is retiring, while fellow Republican Rep. Dave Craig is running for the state Senate. In both cases, the winners of the GOP primaries will be expected to become some of the newest members of the state Legislature come January, particularly with no Dem on the ballot in the 83rd.

Interviews with candidates in more than a half-dozen key races have been posted to the WisPolitics.com Aug. 9 Primary Page, and additional interviews will be added after they run in our subscriber products.

The page also includes links to election information and candidates' websites.

Visit the WisPolitics.com Aug. 9th Primary Page:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

 10:56 PM 

Pence stands firm with Trump in Waukesha speech

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, in his first solo speech as Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate, pushed repealing the 1954 Johnson Amendment.

That amendment prevents tax-exempt organizations, primarily religious, from supporting or opposing political candidates.

"I want to commend Reince Priebus because repealing the Johnson amendment is in the Republican party platform," Pence said.  "Donald Trump says we need to change this law. Donald Trump will restore freedom of speech to people of faith across this country."

Pence, during the speech in Waukesha, linked Democrats to world unrest, saying, "History teaches us that weakness arouses evil."

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in Waukesha

Referencing the killing of a Catholic priest by ISIS and the recent attempted coup in Turkey, Pence said, "I believe that Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's foreign policy of leading from behind, moving red lines, feigning resets with Russia and the rise, rule and reign of ISIS is a testament to this truth of history."

Pence spoke to a lukewarm crowd at the Waukesha County Expo Center on Wednesday night, drawing only smatterings of applause. He got the most applause and cheers when he expressed support for law enforcement and the military, but even then, many members of the crowd kept their hands in their pockets or their arms crossed instead of clapping or waving signs.

Local GOP officials put the crowd at around 800.

But various accounts from media and conservative commentators estimated much lower numbers of attendees.

Pence tried hard to appeal to Wisconsinites, telling them Gov. Scott Walker "is the best governor in the U.S." and saying he's proud to be "a Scott Walker Republican."

He gave a shout-out to U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, all of whom took the stage earlier to promote the Trump-Pence ticket.

"This is a great,” Pence said, “great state Legislature that has put Wisconsin on the map with the great leadership of Scott Walker and I appreciate the folks that are here."

Pence painted Trump as a strong leader, adding, "What's been most missing in Washington, D.C., is leadership."

He repeated many of the same phrases from his July 20 speech at the Republican National Convention, such as "Donald Trump gets it" and "He's the genuine article."

Pence said he respects Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine, of Virginia, but said the "contrast is pretty dramatic."

Pence said Kaine imposed tax increases in Virginia, whereas Pence said he enacted tax relief in Indiana.

"Kaine took a run at getting funding for roads and bridges but never quite got that done,” he said. “But as governor of the state of Indiana, we have invested more than $2.5 billion in roads and bridges."

Pence did not speak to reporters afterward; nor did Gov. Scott Walker, who introduced Pence as one of the "most honorable" people he knows in politics and said he'd long "admired him from afar."

Walker mostly recounted his own successes when he took the stage, reminding attendees that "Conservative reforms work."

Walker called Pence a "Reagan conservative" but bragged that "as brave as (Pence) is," New York Sen. Charles Schumer once tweeted that Pence was a "Scott Walker Republican."

"Mike Pence is one of us," Walker said. "He is a proud, full-spectrum conservative."

But like earlier speakers in the night -- including Sensenbrenner, Fitzgerald and Vos -- Walker instead emphasized the need to stop Hillary Clinton from becoming president.

"My conscience says I'm not going to let Hillary Clinton dominate the Supreme Court for the next 20 or 30 years," said Walker, adding when people ask him how he can trust Trump to choose future justices from a conservative list, he responds, "Look at his first pick (for vice president).

Earlier speakers also said little about Pence, focusing their remarks on Democrats and Clinton.

 "Americans have had enough," said RNC Chair Reince Priebus.

"We know that Donald Trump and Mike Pence will get ISIS under control, Priebus said, adding "Kill them before they kill us."

Priebus tried to stir some of the same fervor that Walker had enjoyed at the same Expo Center site when he announced his presidential run last summer to thousands of boisterous supporters who filled the hall to overflowing,

"In Wisconsin, you have done it time and time again," said Priebus. But when introducing Walker, Priebus faltered.  He started to say, "We don't have a better governor" then hesitated, remembering the night's key speaker, and added, "Although we've got two great governors -- I have to careful about this introduction."

-- By Kay Nolan

 7:28 PM 

State GOP leaders prep crowd for Pence in Waukesha

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner opened the Pence event in Waukesha by praising him for his right-to-life stance, especially when he served in Congress from 2001 to 2013.

Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, noted Pence was "an integral part of passing the partial birth abortion ban bill" and called him a family man, Christian and conservative.

State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald got the crowd to chant "Trump, Trump, Trump, Pence, Pence," likening the chant to the sound of a train.

"This is what the Trump train sounds like when it's coming down the tracks," said Fitzgerald, who then mentioned Hillary Clinton, prompting the crowd to chant, "Lock her up, lock her up."

Fitzgerald said almost nothing about Pence except to call him a "wonderful governor, who as we know as Midwesterners, is a different type of governor."

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he's "not going to do the Trump train chant,” but added, "I'm definitely on the Trump train." The Rochester Republican said Wisconsin has been the epicenter of conservative politics, and he implored the crowd to "make sure we have candidates for president and vice president who are going to shake up Washington."

Vos praised Pence for eliminating Common Core in Indiana and embracing school choice.

"Hillary Clinton can never occupy the White House," he said.
  -- By Kay Nolan

 7:22 PM 

Crowd preps for Pence speech

At 6 p.m., an hour before a Mike Pence rally was to begin at the Waukesha County Expo Center, barely 100 supporters had trickled in.

They stood quietly around the stage, as music blared, including the Rolling Stones' “You Can't Always Get What You Want."

Those interviewed said Trump had not been their first choice for president, but that they were now ready to support him.

Jim and Debbie Gorichanaz, of Greenfield, said they both had voted for Ted Cruz in Wisconsin's GOP primary this spring.

"We're here to see what Mike Pence has to say,” said Jim Gorichanaz, who works in sales. "I will vote for Trump because we have to stop Hillary Clinton, period."

Debbie Gorichanaz said she remains a big Scott Walker fan and also likes Paul Ryan and has noticed Ryan "speaks very highly of Pence." She said she is most put off by Clinton's "email scandals."

Asked if she was troubled by Walker's own email allegations, she replied, "No, because that was not a real email scandal."

Susan Ziegler, a Waukesha small-business owner, said she's alarmed at the trend of U.S. manufacturers moving jobs overseas.

"We manufacture wheels for the construction, over-the-road, military and mining industry," said Ziegler of her business, Wheels Now Inc. "Manufacturing in the U.S. has gone down tremendously and support for us has gone down tremendously. All my suppliers have gone out of the U.S. to manufacture their products and the products are a little inferior."

Ziegler, who said she is a Republican but is keeping an open mind and paying attention to the Democratic National Convention, said she thinks Hillary Clinton owes support "to a generation that would like to be the first in history to have a woman as a president, but they're not looking at the issues or what's going on."

"We would like a business owner in there," she said of Trump.

Originally hoping for Gov. Scott Walker to be nominated for president, Ziegler said she and her husband took a step back to re-evaluate the remaining candidates.

Brad Wilkins, of Waukesha, says he's been a Trump supporter for 20, 30 years.

"We need somebody who can manage money," he said.

But Wilkins said he soured on Trump during the debates after witnessing what he called "childish comments" by the Republican nominee.

"You know, how ugly your wife is and 'little Rubio' and 'crooked Hillary,'" Wilkins said. "He didn't win the debates on substance, he won on rhetoric. We don't want to hear that."

Wilkins voted for Cruz in Wisconsin's primary, but said he believes all Republicans need to come together to support Trump -- even Cruz, whose wife Trump had criticized.

"Absolutely, he should have endorsed Trump,” Wilkins said. “They all made a promise."

-- By Kay Nolan

 4:32 PM 

America Speaks PAC to spend up to $75,000 on anti-Ryan ads before primary

The America Speaks PAC expects to spend between $60,000 and $75,000 on ads opposing House Speaker Paul Ryan leading up to the Aug. 9 primary.

The PAC’s treasurer, Bill Cooley, said two TV ads that ran earlier this month cost a little more than $10,000 each. The first 30-second ad, which ran through July 4 in the 1st CD, says Ryan, R-Janesville, “won’t even slow down Muslim immigration and enables Obama’s agenda every chance he gets.” The spot then calls challenger Paul Nehlen the “conservative change we need now.”

The second 30-second TV spot, which Cooley said ran during the Republican National Convention last week, hits Ryan for opposing “a temporary Muslim ban and a border wall, how Ryan’s always supported illegal alien amnesty and has given Obama everything he wanted.”

A narrator in the ad, which also ran in the 1st CD, says, “Now it gets even worse. When cops are being shot down in the streets, Ryan talks about healing instead of stopping the Obama policies causing these murders.”

The ad closes calling for Nehlen for Congress, “For the people, not the DC crowd.”

Cooley said America Speaks also spent about $7,000 on a radio spot earlier this month. In that 60-second ad, a narrator again hits Ryan for supporting “open borders and illegal alien amnesty, but not Trump’s border wall or his temporary ban on Muslims.”

The narrator also calls out Ryan for supporting “bad trade deals, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will destroy even more Wisconsin jobs.”

“Now Ryan’s announced he won’t support Donald Trump,” the narrator says. “Just whose side is Ryan on? Paul Ryan’s been in Congress nearly 20 years, and he’s lost touch. Ryan needs a wake-up call.”

The narrator then talks about Nehlen as a “conservative businessman who will stop bad trade deals, build the wall, fight amnesty and cut spending now.” It closes with the slogan: “Paul Nehlen for Congress. He’s on our side.”

Cooley said there are no America Speaks ads running now, but the PAC is developing more.

Filings so far with the FEC show the PAC spent $24,987 since late May on radio and TV opposing Ryan.

-- By Chris Thompson

 8:28 AM 

Nehlen targets Ryan over immigration in new ad

A new ad from 1st CD candidate Paul Nehlen slams House Speaker Paul Ryan for not being tough enough on immigration.

The ad, titled “Lost Son,” was shot outside a fence surrounding Ryan’s home and features Julie Golvach, whose son was killed by an undocumented immigrant who’d been deported four times. She’s one of the “angel moms” who have endorsed Nehlen’s GOP primary bid against Ryan, R-Janesville.

Golvach talks about her 25-year-old son Spencer for much of the one-minute spot, saying she “deserved to have him at the end of my life sitting next to me.”

She said “Paul Ryan and other politicians” haven’t protected the U.S. border and that she hopes other parents “don’t have the same experience.”

“Paul Ryan’s home behind me has a fence,” she says. “He has security, he has everything to make sure that his three children are safe. I deserve the same thing. I deserved the same thing and so do all of you. This should not happen.”

See the spot in AdWatch:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

 12:00 AM 

New Ryan TV ad calls him man of integrity

House Speaker Paul Ryan is out with a new TV ad today in which a Janesville resident calls the GOP lawmaker a man of integrity.

The ad features Richard Clarke, whom the Ryan campaign identified as a Janesville retiree and longtime supporter. The spot features Clarke speaking into the camera, interspersed with shots of Ryan speaking with others in a fair setting and praying.

“We want a man who’s got integrity,” Clarke says in the ad. “We want someone who’s going to back the causes that integrity brings: truth, honesty, the rarest thing in Washington.”

Clarke goes on to call Ryan a “unifying leader,” who is going to do the right thing, while being cautious and careful with decisions.

He then calls Ryan, “Somebody I know, somebody I trust, a local family man, a good man of God. That’s the guy I want to vote for, a man of integrity.”

Ryan’s campaign said the spot will run on Milwaukee and Madison network and cable TV through Aug. 2. The buy is $192,000 with another $25,000 going toward a radio ad featuring similar themes.

-- By JR Ross

Monday, July 25, 2016

 7:35 PM 

Source: Pence to campaign in Waukesha Wednesday

Vice presidential nominee Mike Pence will campaign in the Republican stronghold of Waukesha on Wednesday, according to a GOP source with knowledge of the plans.

The event is planned to the Waukesha County Expo Center, the same place where Gov. Scott Walker launched his presidential bid last year. The source said the expected start time is 7 p.m.

-- By JR Ross

 4:36 PM 

New Gallagher TV ad urges voters to 'shake things up'

Republican Mike Gallagher released a new TV ad today urging voters to “shake things up” and send him to Congress.

Gallagher faces state Sen. Frank Lasee, of De Pere, and Terry McNulty in the GOP primary Aug. 9 for the open 8th CD.

The narrator opens the spot saying career politicians “milk the system” year after year, funding “grade A perks” while “leaving us behind.” The ad shows a dairy operation in the opening scenes.

The narrator then describes Gallagher as a “Marine, not a politician. A conservative, not a spender.” The narrator says Gallagher wants to “trim the fat, cut the waste, balance the budget.”

“Career politicians have spent too much money for way too long,” Gallagher says to close the spot. “I’m Mike Gallagher, and I approve this message because it’s time to stop the spending.”

Gallagher’s campaign said the spot is running on local cable.
-- By JR Ross

 9:04 AM 

LCV, EDF start $1 million buy targeting Johnson

The LCV Victory Fund and EDF Action launched a $1 million TV and digital buy today targeting U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, on climate change.

The League of Conservation Voters last month named Johnson to its “Dirty Dozen” list. The spot opens with the narrator saying NASA, the Department of Defense and 97 percent of scientists agree climate change is real.

“So where can you find climate change science deniers? At oil companies and Sen. Ron Johnson’s office,” the narrator says.

The spot then plays a clip of Johnson saying, “I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is proven." 

The narrator then says oil companies gave Johnson more than $300,000 in contributions.

“Johnson supports their agenda,” the narrator says to close the spot. “We pay the price.”

-- By JR Ross

Friday, July 22, 2016

 5:25 PM 

State DOJ appeals voter ID decision

The state DOJ today appealed a federal judge's decision allowing those without an ID and have trouble getting one to cast ballots at the polls by filling out an affidavit attesting to their identify.

The state Department of Justice also filed a motion seeking to say the order and expedite a decision on that request.

See the motions.

-- By JR Ross

 8:26 AM 

Walker’s Our American Revival filing shows Q2 spending 10 times higher than amount raised

Scott Walker's 527 organization spent 10 times more money in the second quarter of 2016 than it brought in, according to the group's latest filing.

The group has steadily been spending more money than it's been taking in over the past year, according to a check of past reports.

The latest Our American Revival filing, which covers April 1 through June 30, shows it raised $24,305 and spent $265,363. The report, filed with the IRS, does not detail how much money the group has in the bank. But a check of past filings shows it has raised almost $7.5 million since its creation last year while Walker was making moves toward a presidential bid. It has now spent almost $7.36 million.

The group listed two donors during the most recent reporting period. John Rood, chairman of the Vestcor Companies Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., contributed $20,000. Meanwhile George Gialamas, director of the Gialamas Co. Inc., Madison, made in-kind donations totaling $4,305.

The group's spending included $52,000 on fundraising consulting, more than twice what it took in for the period.

There were also $29,629 in travel expenses listed, not including one charge for $4,672 listed as travel and office supplies and another for $15,732 for media consulting and travel.

Walker created OAR early last year as he was laying the foundation for his presidential bid. Several staffers who went on to work for his presidential campaign started with the organization, which had a mission of communicating a vision of "a more free and prosperous America by restoring power to the states." It also helped cover the travel and security costs Walker racked up last year while traveling the country.

See the filing:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

 10:32 AM 

Walker continues whittling down presidential debt

Gov. Scott Walker continued last month to whittle away at the remaining debt from his failed presidential bid, though he still owed $734,676 at the end of June, according to his latest filing with the FEC.

Walker collected $147,896 during the month and spent $97,849. Of that, $80,898 went to paying off debts and $6,475 was returned to donors.

The bulk of Walker's receipts came through the $96,107 he received from Granite Lists, a New Hampshire firm that rents fundraising lists. Walker also reported $16,285 in receipts from Connectivist Media in Milwaukee for the sale of equipment and $35,504 in receipts from individuals.

The guv finished the period with $78,952 in the bank.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

 3:40 PM 

DOJ weighing options after judge orders affidavit option for voters without photo ID

The state Department of Justice is weighing its options after a federal judge ruled today those who do not have an ID and have trouble getting one must be allowed to vote in November by filling out an affidavit swearing to their identity.

Sean Young, an attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, meanwhile, hailed the decision.

“Wisconsin’s voter ID law has been a mistake from day one,” Young said. “This ruling is a strong rebuke of the state’s efforts to limit access to the ballot box. It means that a failsafe will be in place in November for voters who have had difficulty obtaining ID.”

Judge Lynn Adelman’s order will not apply to the Aug. 9 primary. But he ordered the state to have the process in place for the Nov. 8 general election.

“We are disappointed with the court's decision,” AG Brad Schimel said. “We will decide the next course of action after Wisconsin Department of Justice attorneys have had time to fully review and analyze the court's decision.”

Read the decision.

-- By JR Ross

 9:39 AM 

Bowen amends campaign finance report to add more donations spurred by Sanders appeal

State Rep. David Bowen has amended his campaign finance report to add more donations spurred by an appeal from Bernie Sanders that were left off his original report.

Bowen, D-Milwaukee, said his campaign had a problem when uploading the information and some donations were left off.

His new numbers show $76,497 raised, $3,520 spent and $75,398 cash on hand.

Bowen, the only Wisconsin superdelegate to back Sanders, benefited from an appeal the Dem presidential candidate sent out in May on behalf of eight legislative candidates around the country.

Bowen's original report listed 14,216 individual donations with an average contribution of just less than $4.50. The new report now lists 16,858 individual donations, though the size of the average contribution was largely unchanged.
-- By JR Ross

 7:54 AM 

Nelson plays up ties to 8th CD in his first TV ad

Dem Tom Nelson today released the first TV ad of his bid for the 8th CD, stressing his connections to the northeastern Wisconsin district.

Potential GOP rivals Mike Gallagher and Frank Lasee have both been hit with questions about how deep their ties are to the area. Gallagher grew up in California, spent his summers in Green Bay and then moved back to Wisconsin last year to work for Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential campaign. Lasee, a state lawmaker, has faced questions about whether he lives full-time in the district, where he has an apartment, or in Racine, where his wife has a house.

Nelson narrates the ad, which opens with a picture of the church in Combined Locks his father founded, where the Outagamie County exec says he still worships.

It then shows the mill in Kaukauna where he worked to help pay for college and the home “where Maria and I are raising our children.” 

The spot then switches to the outside of the Outagamie County government building.

“This is where I lead our county, doing what government is supposed to do: Work together, protect seniors, balance our budget,” Nelson says.

He closes the spot by adding, “We need leaders with experience bringing people together, being effective, governing with Wisconsin commonsense.”

-- By JR Ross

 7:37 AM 

Ryan says not enough to talk about national security in first TV ad of re-election campaign

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, released the first TV ad of his re-election campaign this morning, saying it’s not enough to talk about national security.

Ryan says “Americans are right to be worried about ISIS plotting more attacks” following Orlando, Fla., and San Bernardino, Calif. Ryan adds he’s passed legislation to “stop radical Islamic terrorists from entering the U.S.” and is working with national security experts to “change practices so we can prevent future attacks.”

The ad switches from Ryan speaking directly into the camera to scenes from memorials at the sites of attacks as well as men in head scarves carrying guns.

“Just talking about national security is not enough. We need new laws and action by the administration to protect Americans,” Ryan says as a bell dings and a “Vote August 9” red, white and blue logo pops up on the screen.

-- By JR Ross

 4:30 AM 

In new TV ad, Johnson calls Feingold 'too dangerous' for fourth term

GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is out with a new TV ad today in which he calls Dem rival Russ Feingold “too dangerous” for a fourth term in the Senate.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, originally planned to air the ad late last week. But he sought to pull it back after the attack in Nice, France, though some stations aired it briefly. The spot was revised to have Johnson read the script rather than a narrator.

The spot features news footage from attacks in Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, San Bernardino, Calif., Orlando, Fla., and Nice. After reading off the place of each attack, Johnson says, “Islamic terrorists slaughtering innocents.”

Johnson then says Feingold was the only senator to vote no when “Congress gave law enforcement the tools to help stop international terror” and he voted against “authorizing our military” 11 times.

“Now, he’s asking you for a fourth term. The world is simply too dangerous for that,” Johnson says to close the spot.

The campaign said the TV and digital spot is part of a seven-figure buy running statewide.

-- By JR Ross

Monday, July 18, 2016

 8:00 AM 

Feingold lays out national security plan in new TV ad

Dem Russ Feingold is going up with a new TV ad today that says “we need to be strategic and tough” to defeat ISIS.

The spot comes on the heels of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, last week pulling back an ad that featured news footage from attacks in the U.S. and abroad while slamming Feingold as "too dangerous" for a fourth term in the Senate. Johnson intended to hold off on airing the ad following the attack in France, but several stations aired it briefly.

Feingold walks through a military museum in his spot, saying his plan is to “cut off their oil, arms supplies and cash.” He adds the use of special forces and targeted military strikes, along with better human intelligence is needed. 

He also calls for more resources “here at home” to track down and break up terrorist cells and for the U.S. to put pressure on Middle Eastern nations to “confront jihadist extremists.

“That’s what it takes to combat terrorism and protect America,” Feingold says to close the spot.

-- By JR Ross

Saturday, July 16, 2016

 2:05 PM 

Bowen raises $64.5k in first half of year, most from Sanders fundraising pitch

State Rep. David Bowen raised $64,581 in the first half of 2016, a dramatic uptick in his fundraising that was spurred by an appeal from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Bowen, the only Wisconsin superdelegate who backed Sanders, told WisPolitics.com he estimates $61,000 of his fundraising total was a result of the pitch the Vermont senator made to his backers in late May. In that appeal, Sanders urged backers to support eight candidates running for seats in state legislatures around the country. The others were in South Carolina, South Dakota, Illinois, California, Colorado and Vermont.

A check of Bowen's fundraising report shows 14,216 individual donations with an average contribution of just less than $4.50.

"I've never seen that level of reach before that email request and email solicitation," Bowen said. "That was huge."

Bowen, D-Milwaukee, raised $2,246 in all of 2015 and $29,242 in 2014, when he won a four-way primary for his Assembly seat. Bowen is unopposed this fall and said he will use the money to support candidates who believe in Sanders' platform and to help turn out progressive voters this fall.

"They donated to us because they believe in Bernie's message," Bowen said of the influx of donations.

-- By JR Ross

 1:31 PM 

Gallagher tops Lasee in 8th CD 2Q fundraising, both trail Nelson

Mike Gallagher raised $402,108 in the second quarter of 2016, topping GOP rival Frank Lasee, who pulled in $149,100.

Both trailed Dem Tom Nelson, though it was the Outagamie County exec's first quarter raising money in the race for the open seat in northeastern Wisconsin.

Gallagher, who raised $922,440 since getting into the race, spent $363,964 between April 1 and June 30 and finished the period with $545,425 cash on hand.

Lasee has now raised $310,473 overall after pulling in $149,100 this period. He spent $65,592 over the second quarter and had $237,700 in the bank at the end of June.

Terry McNulty, the third Republican in the race, reported $3,847 raised in the second quarter and a negative balance of $2,108.

Dem Tom Nelson raised $530,767, spent $60,779 and had $469,987 in the bank at the end of June.

-- By JR Ross

Friday, July 15, 2016

 2:21 PM 

Walker raised $1.1 million through state account, spent most of it

Gov. Scott Walker raised $1.1 million during the first six months of the year, but spent the majority of that money, according to his campaign finance report.

Walker reported spending $970,195 between Jan. 1 and June 30 and had $160,807 in the bank, according to his filing.

-- By Staff

 5:00 AM 

Ryan raised $15.6 million in second quarter through joint fundraising committee

House Speaker Paul Ryan raised nearly $15.6 million in the second quarter of 2016 through his joint fundraising committee dubbed “Team Ryan.”

The operation has now raised $37.9 million since Ryan became speaker Oct. 29, according to the campaign.

The joint fundraising committee includes Ryan for Congress, the National Republican Congressional Committee and Ryan’s leadership PAC, Prosperity Action PAC Inc.

Ryan’s campaign said he:

*has transferred $25 million to the NRCC since becoming speaker, including $5.4 million in June. That transfer is the second largest by a GOP speaker, trailing only the $6.3 million he sent the NRCC in March.

*sent 83 checks to members of Congress during the second quarter totaling $425,000. He’s now given out more than $735,000 since becoming speaker through 147 donations to members.

-- By JR Ross

Thursday, July 14, 2016

 7:27 AM 

Ryan, Walker, Duffy, Clarke all to address RNC

House Speaker Paul Ryan, Gov. Scott Walker, U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke will address next week's Republican National Convention, according to a partial list of speakers released this morning.

The release did not include details on when the four would speak during the convention.

Along with GOP elected officials such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- both reportedly on Donald Trump's short list for the vice presidential nomination -- the list included some sports figures. That includes Dana White, president of the mixed martial arts organization Ultimate Fighting Championship, and professional golfer Natalie Gulbis.

-- By JR Ross

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

 4:00 PM 

Ryan raised $5.5 million during second quarter, had $9.75 million in bank

House Speaker Paul Ryan raised $5.5 million during the second quarter of 2016 and had $9.75 million in the bank for his re-election to the 1st CD, his campaign tells WisPolitics.com.

The haul continues a dramatic uptick for the Janesville Republican's fundraising since becoming speaker.

He has long been one of the best fundraisers in the Wisconsin House delegation, pulling in almost $8 million during the two-year 2014 election cycle.

He collected $680,517 in the three-month period that ended in September last year. He was elected to lead the GOP caucus at the end of October and saw his fundraising for the final three months of 2015 jump to $1.8 million.

Ryan then collected $4.6 million during the first three months of 2016 and had $7.7 million in the bank to finish March.

-- By JR Ross

 12:57 PM 

Clinton, Feingold still lead in latest Marquette University Law School Poll

Hillary Clinton continued to lead Donald Trump among Wisconsin voters in the latest Marquette University Law School Poll.

Still, the margin among those who say they will turn out this fall was cut in half compared to last month in a head-to-head match-up.

Dem Russ Feingold also continued to lead U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh.

The latest poll found 43 percent of registered voters backed Clinton, compared to 37 who supported Trump. In June, that spread was 42-35.

Among likely voters, it was 45-41 for Clinton, compared to 46-37 last month.

Typically, Republican candidates do better among polls of likely voters compared to registered voters. But Clinton’s bigger lead among likely voters in June was seen as a sign GOP voters were not as enthused about voting for Trump as Dems for their presumptive nominee.

Still, a measure of enthusiasm changed slightly in the latest poll. In June, 78 percent of Republicans said they were sure to vote in November, while 80 percent said the same this month.

Among Dems, 84 percent said in June they were sure to vote in November, while 78 percent said the same in July.

Poll director Charles Franklin noted the survey went into the field two days after the FBI announced while Clinton had been extremely reckless with her use of private email during her time as secretary of state, she would not be charged.

Still, Franklin also pointed out opinions seem to be largely baked in for the two candidates. Twenty percent of registered voters said this month “honest” describes Clinton, while 68 percent said it did not. That’s the same margin as in June. For Trump, it was 32-62 in July and 33-61 the month before.

The poll also added in Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green candidate Jill Stein to the presidential race, though the margins didn’t change much.

Among registered voters, Clinton was at 40 percent, Trump 33, Johnson 10 and Stein 4. 

Among likely voters, Clinton was at 43, Trump 37, Johnson 8 and Stein 2.

In the Senate race, 48 percent of registered voters backed Feingold this month, compared to 41 percent for Johnson. In June, that was 45-41.

Among likely voters, the margin was 49-44 for Feingold this month, compared to 51-42 in June.

The poll was in the field Thursday through Sunday with interviews split evenly between cellphones and land lines. The sample of 801 registered voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. It included 665 likely voters, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

 9:35 AM 

Lasee's first TV ad in 8th CD race touts his work for conservative movement in Wisconsin

GOP state Sen. Frank Lasee touts his work for the conservative movement in Wisconsin as part of his first TV ad in his bid for the 8th CD.

In the spot, Lasee, R-De Pere, says as “your state senator,” he voted for more than $4 billion in tax cuts, advocated for tougher immigration reform and “led the fight” to pass voter ID laws.

“But the journey is not over yet,” Lasee says to close the spot. “I’m Frank Lasee, and I approve this message so the conservative revolution we began in Wisconsin can reach all the way to Washington so our state and our nation can keep moving forward.”

Lasee’s campaign says the spot will run on broadcast and cable stations in the Green Bay market, which covers the 8th CD in northeastern Wisconsin.

-- By JR Ross

 8:00 AM 

Johnson's campaign raises $2.8 million in second quarter

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s campaign says he pulled in $2.8 million during the second quarter of 2016 as the Oshkosh Republican again was outraised by Dem rival Russ Feingold.

Feingold’s campaign says he raised $4.1 million between April 1 and June 30, the latest reporting period, up from $3.3 million in the first three months of the year.

Johnson also saw his fundraising pick up, pulling in about $700,000 more than the nearly $2.1 million he raised during the first three months of the year. Like Feingold, the second quarter was Johnson’s best fundraising period of this cycle.

But he has consistently been outraised by Feingold since the Middleton Dem got into the race last year. At the same time, Johnson has been among the top fundraisers among Senate Republicans. Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania, raised $3.1 million during the latest reporting period, while Rob Portman, of Ohio, pulled in $2.9 million, according to national media reports. After Johnson, Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire, was next among Senate Republicans with $2.5 million.

Johnson’s campaign said he finished the second quarter with $6.3 million cash on hand. Feingold’s campaign hasn’t said how much he had in the bank at the close of June. He finished the previous quarter with $6.4 million, according to his filing with the FEC.

Monday, July 11, 2016

 8:44 AM 

Feingold hits Johnson on student loans in new TV ad

Russ Feingold is hitting GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson on student loans in a new TV ad the Middleton Dem released today.

The ad shows Feingold walking among what he says are college students busy studying.

“But Sen. Ron Johnson says kids go to college just to have fun,” Feingold says.

“Fun?” one woman says.

Feingold then says more than 500,000 Wisconsinites have student loans, but Johnson “doesn’t believe there should be federal student loans.”

“What? I couldn’t afford college,” another woman says.

Feingold adds Johnson voted to keep interest rates high.

“College only for the rich? Great,” a third woman says.

Feingold closes the spot, “Let’s make it so kids graduate with less debt and more job opportunities. Right?”

“Right,” the students answer back.

Feingold’s campaign said the spot is running statewide except for the Madison market.

-- By JR Ross

 8:35 AM 

Ryan to address GOP convention on House Republican agenda

House Speaker Paul Ryan will address the Republican National Convention, an aide confirmed.

The aide also confirmed Politico's report that Ryan will focus on the House GOP agenda and the need for conservatives to rally around Republican candidates.

Ryan, the convention chair, joins Gov. Scott Walker as a second high-profile Wisconsin Republican who will have a speaking slot at the convention.

Presumptive nominee Donald Trump was expected to release the list of convention speakers late last week, but has yet to detail who will address party activists. 

-- By Staff

Thursday, July 7, 2016

 2:30 PM 

Nelson raised $530,000 in second quarter for 8th CD bid

Dem Tom Nelson's campaign said today he raised $530,000 during the second quarter for his 8th CD bid.

Nelson's final fundraising number isn't due to the FEC until later this month. It would top the $520,332 Republican Mike Gallagher reported raising during the first three months of 2016. At the time, Gallagher's campaign said it was the best first-quarter fundraising haul for a first-time House candidate in Wisconsin.

Nelson's campaign said he will report $470,000 cash on hand at the close of the reporting period, which was June 30.

-- By JR Ross

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

 7:00 AM 

Feingold raises $4.1 million during second quarter

Dem Russ Feingold pulled in $4.1 million during the three-month period that ended Friday, his campaign said this morning.

It was Feingold’s best quarter to date in his expected rematch with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh. He raised $3.3 million during the first quarter of 2016, and the Middleton Dem has raised more money each quarter than the one before since joining the race last spring.

Feingold’s campaign did not release a cash-on-hand number this morning. He finished March with $6.4 million in the bank.

Feingold’s campaign said the average contribution for the quarter was less than $45 and more than 96 percent of the donations were $100 or less.

Campaign finance reports are due to the FEC July 15. Johnson raised $2.1 million during the first three months of 2016 and had $5.5 million in the bank at the end of March.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

 8:00 AM 

New Feingold TV ad calls Johnson 'all Washington'

Dem Russ Feingold has a new TV ad hitting U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson for the $10 million deferred compensation package the Oshkosh Republican received from PACUR, the plastics company he helped found, before joining the Senate in early 2011.

The narrator in the spot says Johnson “sold us a bill of goods” six years ago, showing a clip from a 2010 TV ad in which the Oshkosh Republican said, “I’m not a politician.”

“But then Sen. Johnson gave himself a $10 million corporate payout, went to Washington and never looked back,” the narrator says.

The narrator then says Johnson voted for “tax loopholes,” supported “bad trade deals that helped companies ship Wisconsin jobs overseas” and “tried to weaken protections against Wall Street abuse.”

The graphic on the screen says Johnson is not for families, seniors, women, students and finally Wisconsin.

“Sen. Johnson says he’s Wisconsin, but he’s all Washington,” the narrator says to close the spot.

Feingold’s campaign said the spot is starting statewide today. It declined to say how much the campaign is spending on the ad.

-- By JR Ross

Friday, July 1, 2016

 8:23 AM 

Republicans swap out half-dozen alternates, delegates for national convention

Republicans have swapped out a half-dozen alternates and delegates for the national convention, including Rep. Jim Steineke, who announced this spring he was dropping out with Donald Trump on the verge of becoming the GOP nominee.

The replacements include Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who has urged Republicans to support Trump to help GOP candidates down ballot.

The party originally announced in April its list of at-large delegates and alternates. The original list included Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Mike Grebe, who has spent the past 14 years as CEO of the conservative Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, among the at-large delegates.

Kleefisch campaign manager Charles Nichols said the lt. guv had to pull out as a member of the delegation due to scheduling conflicts. Nichols said Kleefisch will attend the first three days of the convention before returning to Wisconsin for official events. While in Cleveland, she will participate and host events as part of her role as the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association chair.

Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and longtime GOP activist Don Taylor are replacing Kleefisch and Grebe as delegates. 

“Due to these other responsibilities, the Lt. Governor felt that she would not be able to adequately focus the full amount of time and attention she believes is necessary to being a delegate,” he said.

The party did not have information on why the original at-large delegates and alternates are no longer attending the convention in Cleveland. 

All 18 at-large delegates are pledged to Ted Cruz after the Texas senator won the state’s primary.

The alternates who have dropped out include: Steineke, former Gov. Scott McCallum, former U.S. Rep. Mark Green and David Karst.

Their replacements are: Van Mobley, a Trump supporter; Sue Lynch; David Anderson; and Jennie Frederick.
-- By JR Ross

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