• WisPolitics

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

 8:38 PM 

Trump predicts Wisconsin win as he makes pitch to minority voters, slams Clinton

WAUKESHA -- GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump declared Wednesday he is going to win Wisconsin, made a pitch to minority voters and took a series of shots at Dem nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump praised Tommy Thompson, who was among those who introduced him, and recounted a conversation earlier this year in which the former governor told Trump he would have trouble winning Wisconsin and should focus elsewhere. But he said Thompson told him he would call if the situation changed. 

"I get a call two weeks ago: 'Don, time to come back'" Trump said. "I'm back, and we're going to win Wisconsin."

No Republican has won Wisconsin’s electoral votes since Ronald Reagan in 1984, and polls of state voters have consistently shown Clinton ahead. Still, the last Marquette University Law School Poll, conducted in mid-September, showed Clinton’s edge among likely voters down to 2 points in a head-to-head match up with Trump. It was 3 points in a four-way race. 

Trump, making his first stop in the state since Aug. 16, said Clinton has been "a disaster" for African Americans and Hispanics, adding she is using them and will do nothing for them after the election.

"They know they're being used," he said. 

Trump said his agenda will help all Americans, but particularly African Americans and Hispanics living in high-crime areas. He predicted people in Milwaukee are going to “love Donald Trump” because they’ll be safe.

"Vote for me. I will fix it," Trump said to chants of U.S.A. "I will fight for you harder than anyone has fought for you ever before."

Ahead of the rally, Dems called on Trump to come clean over his taxes and condemned his comments toward women and minorities.

"Right now more than ever we need someone who is prepared to lead. That is not Donald Trump," said state Rep. Mandela Barnes, D-Milwaukee. "In these meltdown moments, we saw how he managed to double down on the worst parts of his rhetoric."

Trump, who ripped Clinton for calling some of his supporters deplorable, also criticized her use of a private email server while she was secretary of State. He said her use of the server made information vulnerable to attack, she destroyed emails following a subpoena and lied to Congress. 

To loud applause and chants of "lock her up," he said people have had their lives destroyed for less.

"The American people have had it with years and decades of Clinton scandals and their total corruption," Trump said. "This year is going to be the year the American people say 'enough is enough.'" 

Trump was introduced by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Thompson and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. Some top state Republicans weren't at the rally, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, who were in Washington, D.C., with Congress in session.

Giuliani said Clinton and Democrats were "locking people into poverty."

He said Trump wants to give the poor "the ladder to success" by ensuring people can live in a safe community and get a good education and a job. 

Giuliani knocked Clinton, saying she disgraced the State Department and accused her of pay-to-play in her role as secretary and that she "sold her oath of office."

He also bashed her use of a private server while secretary to chants of “lock her up.”

"I cannot understand why she is not being prosecuted," he said. "We have a situation where the Clinton's are too big to be prosecuted."

Thompson urged attendees to "get on the Trump train."

"Get on the train," Thompson said. "We are moving America forward."

Clarke described Trump's candidacy as "a movement unlike we've seen since 1980."

"I really believe something is happening here," Clarke said. 

He said there are three main issues in the campaign: radical Islamic terrorism, rising violent crime rates and the economy.

Trump, Clarke said, was made for this movement of turmoil in the United States.

Before the speech, two protesters were escorted out of the venue. One held a sign that read "we are all animals," while the other's sign said "it's not food, it's violence."

During the speech another woman held a sign and yelled "animal liberation now" before being walked out.
-- By David Wise

 6:32 PM 

Speakers warm up crowd as attendees wait for Trump

Among those addressing the crowd in advance of Trump's speech was former U.S. Sen. Bob Kasten, Natural Resource Secretary Cathy Stepp and Waukesha Co. Exec. Paul Farrow.

Kasten noted before the 1980 election he and Ronald Reagan were behind in Wisconsin, but went on to win their races.

"We can do it again, he said.

Farrow called on attendees to help get out the vote and turn Wisconsin into a red state for the first time since Reagan carried the state.

Stepp said she was tired of being lectured by women's groups to vote for Clinton because she is a woman.

"The strong, smart women that I know vote for somebody based on policy, not anatomy," she said to applause.

Stepp also criticized Clinton's handling of email as secretary of state, to which the crowd responded with chants of "lock her up."

 6:08 PM 

Protesters gather outside Trump rally, overflow crowd to see GOP nominee

A crowd of a few dozen protesters gathered along the road outside of the parking lot at the Waukesha County Expo Center where GOP nominee Donald Trump was slated to speak at 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, a line of people waiting to get in stretched for several blocks. Adjacent to the line were multiple booths selling t-shirts, hats, buttons and stickers with messages in favor of Trump and mocking Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. 

Inside, attendees packed the arena and balcony area at the rear. An announcer told attendees protests were confined to outside, and that if someone were to protest during the event to not touch them and alert authorities by holding a campaign sign up and chant "Trump."
The venue was filled to capacity, and many gathered outside in an impromptu overflow area.

The protesters engaged in various chants, among them, "no Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA."  

Among the signs protesters carried were ones that read "show us your tax returns," "stop hate, dump Trump" and "Trump, divider in chief."

Waukesha Trump Rally

Carl Lock, of Veterans for Peace, was holding a sign that read "Trump, pants on fire" that had a pair of children's pants with simulated flames on it. 

Lock pointed to fact checks of Trump statements rated false or "pants on fire."

"We can't trust him," Lock said. 

Shana Harvey of Voces de la Frontera and WISDOM, criticized Trump over his immigration position.

"I don't want to live in a country where my friends and neighbors are subject to mass deportations," she said. 

Community activist Bernie Gonzalez said the group wants to send the message that "not everybody in Waukesha is a Republican."

Gonzalez said it would be "terrible for this country" if Trump became commander-in-chief.

"Trump is dangerous," he said. "He does not belong in the White House." 

 7:15 AM 

New super PAC TV ad hits Feingold as 'radical politician' on abortion

A new super PAC called the Reform Wisconsin Fund released a TV ad today hitting Russ Feingold as a “radical politician” who supported abortions as late as the ninth month of pregnancy.

Reform Wisconsin Fund spokesman Chris Martin said the buy is $365,000 for the first week and the spot will air in the Milwaukee, Green Bay and Eau Claire/La Crosse markets. 

The spot opens showing a baby with the sound of a heart monitor in the background. The narrator describes a late-term abortion in which “the baby’s legs, body and arms are delivered. Then, while the head is still inside the mother and its heart is still beating, its life is ended.”

The narrator then says Feingold voted eight times to allow "partial-birth abortions" as late as the ninth month, adding it was “unimaginable.”

“That’s Russ Feingold. Thirty years of being a radical politician,” the narrator says to close the spot.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

 3:21 PM 

Reform America Fund ad slams Clinton for private email system

A new ad from the Reform America Fund super PAC charges Hillary Clinton repeatedly lied over her use of a private email system while secretary of state.

It’s part of the existing $1.2 million ad buy that the group is running on TV, radio and digital platforms across the state. The ad starts with a clip of CBS anchor Scott Pelley asking Clinton whether she’s always told the truth, to which Clinton responds she’s “always tried.” The clip plays as the words “C is for Cover-up" show up on the screen.

The ad then shows Clinton saying she “never sent, nor received any information that was classified” but cuts to FBI Director James Comey saying at a congressional hearing, “That’s not true. There was classified material emailed.”

The ad also includes a clip of Clinton saying she “used one device” for her emails, though it then shows Comey saying Clinton “used multiple devices” during her four-year tenure at the State Department. And it again uses Comey to rebut Clinton’s comments that she had turned over all her work-related emails to the State Department.

It closes with a clip of Clinton saying “I have no idea” and directs people to visit the website CisforClinton.com.

-- By Staff

 9:32 AM 

NRCC TV ad charges Nelson took pay raise during state financial crisis

The House GOP’s campaign arm is hitting 8th CD Dem Tom Nelson in a new TV ad as a career politician who took a taxpayer funded raise while the state faced a financial crisis and “our neighbors were losing their jobs.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee ad uses a clip of Nelson talking in his latest TV spot. The clip is projected on a billboard, farm silos, a garage door and other places as the narrator speaks.

The narrator says Nelson was “fattening his bottom line on our dime” while raising taxes and fees by taking a taxpayer funded pay raise. The narrator goes on to say Nelson “even padded his pockets” when Wisconsin faced a $5.7 billion deficit and “our neighbors were losing their jobs.”

The narrator closes the spot, “Career politician Tom Nelson, raising our taxes, fattening his pockets, putting his interests ahead of ours.”

-- By JR Ross

 7:00 AM 

New Feingold TV ad accuses Johnson of helping companies ship jobs overseas

Dem Russ Feingold is going up with a TV ad that accuses U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of helping companies ship jobs overseas while again targeting the $10 million in deferred compensation he was paid by his old plastics company before joining the U.S. Senate.

The spot opens with a woman saying, “He campaigned as a job creator.”

A man then says Johnson helped companies ship jobs overseas and “good manufacturing jobs just disappeared.”

Another man says, “CEOs and giant corporations get richer” as text on the screen reads, “CEO Ron Johnson paid himself 10M.”

Another man adds, “Guys with families and guys like me, it just gets harder and harder to get ahead.”

A man says, “We need an economy that works for people like me.”

Then three others featured in the ad repeat the line “people like me” before Feingold closes the spot saying he approves the message because, “Wisconsin’s middle class and working families should come first.”

Feingold’s campaign said the spot will air statewide.

-- By JR Ross

Monday, September 26, 2016

 12:27 PM 

Pence Waukesha visit postponed

Mike Pence's Tuesday visit to Waukesha has been postponed, according to the campaign website.

Donald Trump's campaign site did not give a reason why Pence's planned visit to Weldall Manufacturing Inc. was postponed.

Trump's Wednesday rally at the Waukesha County Expo Center is still listed on the campaign website.

-- By JR Ross

Sunday, September 25, 2016

 1:23 PM 

Pence to campaign in Waukesha on Tuesday

Vice presidential nominee Mike Pence will campaign in Waukesha Tuesday, the first of back-to-back stops in the Republican stronghold for the GOP ticket.

Pence will campaign at Weldall Manufacturing Inc. The next day, Donald Trump will be at the Waukesha County Expo Center.

-- By JR Ross

Friday, September 23, 2016

 4:03 PM 

ADCC announces $180,00 TV buys in Madison, Eau Claire markets

The Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee today announced $180,000 in TV buys in the Madison and Eau Claire markets.

The caucus did not say which districts the buy would target. But the Madison market, where the ADCC is spending $100,000, includes the districts of GOP Reps. Ed Brooks, of Reedsburg, and Todd Novak, of Dodgeville. The Eau Claire market, where the caucus is spending $80,000, includes the districts of GOP Rep. Kathy Bernier, of Chippewa Falls, and the open 67th AD.

All four are top seats are top Dem targets this fall, and the caucus said it expects to spend "significantly more" backing its candidates in the coming weeks.

“This is just the beginning of the ADCC’s financial commitment to candidates,” said Executive Director George Aldrich.

-- By JR Ross

 12:05 PM 

Trump heading to Waukesha on Wednesday

GOP nominee Donald Trump is coming back to Wisconsin on Wednesday to hold a rally at the Waukesha County Expo Center.

The event will start at 6 p.m., according to the campaign’s events page.

 8:34 AM 

State updates federal court on voter ID education efforts

The state's "Bring it to the Ballot" campaign to remind most voters they need a photo ID at the polls this fall will be seen "tens of millions of times" ahead of the election, according to a new filing in federal court. 

The filing also outlined the additional steps the state has taken to ensure those who lack the required documents to get an ID enter an appeal process that provides them with a receipt they can use at the polls so they can vote in the November election. 

The details are included in an update U.S. Judge James Peterson ordered on the state's efforts to educate the public on the requirements to vote this fall. It touts the DMV's efforts to ensure that anyone who enters the appeal process obtains an ID. That includes sending IDs by overnight mail during the week before and the week of the election. 

The filing also gave an overview of the $250,000 "Bring it to the Ballot" campaign that includes paid ads through radio, TV, online, bus interiors and movie theaters: 

*online display ads, expected to reach almost 11.8 million people; 

*online videos, expected to reach almost 3.5 million; 

*YouTube ads, expected to reach almost 5.6 million; 

*And the Facebook in-feed ads, to reach almost 3.3 million. 

Wisconsin's voting age population is about 4.4 million, according to the Elections Commission. That works out to more than five ads online alone for every voting age adult in Wisconsin. 

The effort also includes public service announcements, pre-movie ads in theaters, and ads on all transit buses in Milwaukee, Madison and 12 other cities. 

Read the filing: http://wispolitics.com/1006/160922Report.pdf 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

 8:28 AM 

Emerson College poll show Clinton up 7 in Wis., Feingold up 10

A new poll out today from Emerson College has Hillary Clinton up on Donald Trump in Wisconsin by 7 points among likely voters and Dem Russ Feingold with a 10-point lead on U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

Both margins are larger than the spreads in the latest Marquette Law poll, which had Clinton up 3 points among likely voters in a four-way race and Feingold up 6.

The Emerson poll had Clinton at 45 percent with Trump at 38 percent, Libertarian Gary Johnson at 11 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 2 percent.

It also found Feingold leading 52-42.

The poll of 700 likely voters was conducted Monday and Tuesday. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.6 percentage points, and the data was weighted by 2012 election results for gender, age, political affiliation and region.

See more:

 8:26 AM 

Walker disapproval rating ticks up in Marquette poll, approval rating flat

The latest Marquette University Law School Poll found Gov. Scott Walker’s job approval rating staying flat, though those who disapprove of his work ticked up.

Forty-three percent of registered voters approved of the job Walker is doing, while 52 percent disapproved. That split was 43-49 in late August.

The poll also found an improvement in President Obama’s job approval rating. Fifty-four percent approved of his job performance, while 41 percent did not. In late August, his split was 49-45.

Thirty-eight percent had a favorable rating of U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, while 32 percent had an unfavorable one and 30 percent expressed no opinion. When last asked in June, that split was 37-33 with 31 percent expressing no opinion.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s favorable rating split was 47-32, compared to 54-33 in early August.

See more from the poll in the Election Blog:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

 1:12 PM 

Marquette poll: Pres. race largely unchanged, Feingold lead higher

The dynamic in the presidential race has not changed dramatically in Wisconsin over the past three weeks, according to the latest Marquette University Law School Poll.

Meanwhile, Russ Feingold’s edge on U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson was slightly higher compared to late August.

Among likely voters, 44 percent backed Hillary Clinton, while 42 percent supported Donald Trump, compared to a 45-42 spread for the Dem nominee at the end of August.

Among registered voters, the margin remained unchanged. Forty-three percent backed Clinton, while 38 percent supported Trump, compared to 42-37 three weeks earlier.

In a four-way race, Clinton’s 3-point edge from late August among likely voters was unchanged, while she was up 4 points among registered voters after being up 5 three weeks earlier.

Poll director Charles Franklin noted the poll was conducted after Clinton referred to half of Trump’s supporters being in a basket of “deplorables” and her bout with pneumonia. Most of the surveys also were conducted after Trump, who has questioned the authenticity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate, declared the president was born in the U.S.

“You really shouldn’t think this tells us much about the race tightening or not,” he said. “It’s a very small Clinton advantage, but one that’s well within the margin of error.”

In the Senate race, 47 percent of likely voters backed Feingold, while 41 percent supported Johnson. In late August, it was a 48-45 spread for Feingold.

For registered voters, it was 46-40 for Feingold, compared to a 46-42 for the Middleton Dem three weeks earlier.

With Libertarian Phil Anderson added in, it was 44-39 for Feingold among likely voters with 7 percent backing the third-party candidate. For registered voters, it was a 7-point Feingold lead with 8 percent supporting Anderson.

The survey of 802 registered voters was conducted Thursday through Sunday with half of the interviews conducted over cell phones and the other half via landlines. That included 642 likely voters. The margin of error for the full sample was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, while it was plus or minus 4.8 percentage points for likely voters.

-- By JR Ross

 7:30 AM 

Nelson says in TV ad corporations control Congress, 'not you'

8th CD Dem Tom Nelson is going up with a new TV ad saying he’s running to change the fact Congress is “completely controlled by the big corporations, not you.”

Nelson, sitting on a front porch, says he supports raising the minimum wage and ending tax breaks for “big corporations” while vowing he won’t cut Social Security. He then turns his attention to GOP rival Mike Gallagher.

“That’s where Mike Gallagher and I disagree,” Nelson says. “Mike opposes raising the minimum wage. He wants more tax breaks for big corporations, and Mike wants to cut Social Security benefits to the poverty line.”

Nelson closes the ad, which will run in the Green Bay market, saying, “I approve this message because it’s up to you.”

-- By JR Ross

 5:00 AM 

Johnson starts another positive bio spot

GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is going up on TV with another positive bio spot, this time focusing on his work with a program that seeks to connect those in inner-city Milwaukee with jobs.

Johnson, who has struggled with name ID in polling, previously aired a spot that touted his work helping a Wisconsin couple complete the adoption of a child from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Prior to the two bio ads, he ran a spot that mirrored an ad from his successful 2010 campaign and touted his status as the only manufacturer in the U.S. Senate.

Johnson opens the new ad saying there are 80,000 to 100,000 unfilled jobs in Wisconsin, yet there is high levels of unemployment in inner-city Milwaukee. He says the Joseph Project aims to “make those connections.”

The ad features Pastor Jerome Smith, who adds, “The Joseph Project is breaking cycles of all kind of poverty. Because without a good-paying job, you can’t put food on the table.”

Johnson says the jobs are good-paying and “careers” before the ad cuts to Joseph Project participant Michael Bradley.

“We have Ron Johnson giving back to the community, and giving back to the people of Milwaukee,” Bradley says. “I don’t see nobody else doing that.”

The campaign released 30- and 60-second versions of the spot. The longer ad includes more comments from program participants.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

 8:00 AM 

Feingold touts Badger Innovation Plan in new TV ad

Dem Russ Feingold has a new TV ad touting what he calls the Badger Innovation Plan.

Feingold opens the spot saying he has traveled more than 50,000 miles across Wisconsin listening to people and “hearing their stories.” He says that includes business owners and entrepreneurs who tell him “how hard it is to grow a business in today’s economy.”

Feingold says he created the Badger Innovation Plan with them. It calls for helping business grow through expanded access to high-speed broadband, better job training and “fair trade. Because we need to export Wisconsin products, not Wisconsin jobs.”

-- By JR Ross

Monday, September 19, 2016

 5:04 PM 

Gallagher jogs through newest TV ad

Republican Mike Gallagher is up with a new TV ad that says he's running for the 8th CD, a "place that taught me to help those who struggle," and for the country to keep it "safe and strong."

The ad shows Gallagher jogging in a U.S. Marines T-shirt. He passes a building with a stone identifying it as Gallagher Restaurant and commemorating a 1998 renovation. He also runs past a memorial honoring all Brown County vets. 

Gallagher was born in Green Bay, but lived much of his life outside of Wisconsin, and GOP primary opponent Frank Lasee tried to raise questions about his ties to the district in their race. 

In the spot, Gallagher says he was raised "on these Wisconsin values" of hard work, service and doing your part. 

"And I learned to live them in the Marines," he says. 

After saying he's running for "this community" and "this country," Gallagher closes the ad by saying, "Because after seven years in the Marines, two tours in Iraq, I can't sit on the sidelines. I'm Mike Gallagher and I'm running for Congress." 

-- By JR Ross

 6:00 AM 

Super PAC hits Clinton on Wisconsin TV over classified emails, concussion, cough

The super PAC Reform America Fund is going up with a new $1.2 million ad buy in Wisconsin hitting Hillary Clinton on her classified emails, concussion and cough.

The spot, which will run statewide on TV, radio and digital platforms, is the first significant ad of the general election in Wisconsin targeting either presidential nominee.

The ad is a rhyme that starts “C is for Clinton,” with the narrator saying her campaign is sliding, the letter also is for the classified email she’s hiding and for concussion, “a bump in December.

“And C is for can’t, as in ‘I can’t remember,’” the narrator says, adding it’s also for closet, where email servers were hid.

“And C is for cough that’s affecting her bid,” the narrator says to close the spot as Clinton is shown coughing. “C is for cash, as in pay to play. Don’t you see she is lying in so many ways?”

-- By JR Ross

Saturday, September 17, 2016

 9:13 PM 

Fighting Bob Fest speakers heap praise on Feingold, knock Walker

Wisconsin progressives heaped praise on Dem Russ Feingold at Saturday's Fighting Bob Fest, with more than one speaker urging voters to send him back to the U.S. Senate.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and the Tea Party received frequent criticism throughout the event, though the day’s biggest target was Gov. Scott Walker. 

“We know he doesn’t represent Midwestern values,” U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, told the crowd. “But this week we sure did learn he represents those illegal donors and the lead paint industry’s values.” 

Pocan was referencing previously sealed documents that were published this week by The Guardian showing the owner of a lead smelting company gave $750,000 to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which played a major role in the recall elections advocating for Republicans. The donations came in as the guv and GOP lawmakers were changing tort laws following a state Supreme Court decision that opened the door to lawsuits against lead paint manufacturers. 

“Do you want to elect a new governor in 2018?” Pocan asked the crowd, garnering one of the biggest cheers of his speech. 

Named for Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, who served as governor and in the U.S. Senate in the early 20th century, the festival celebrated its 15th year this weekend. Put on by The Progressive magazine and The Capitol Times, presenters ranged from state legislators to political commentators. 

When not jabbing Walker or other Republicans, the speeches focused on inequality, corporate power and union rights. Those who spoke included U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, Feingold and keynote speaker Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota. Several called for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 2010 Citizens United decision or for a constitutional amendment to reverse the decision that allowed corporations and unions to make independent expenditures in elections. 

Many speakers invoked U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bid for the Democratic presidential nomination as a source of hope for modern progressives. 

Sanders’ campaign and its success wasn’t an accident, Ellison said, repeating throughout his speech that “we are in a progressive moment right now.”

Feingold, who is running for his former Senate seat against U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, this November, took the stage last. The crowd, many of them holding “Russ” signs and wearing his campaign shirt, greeted him with a standing ovation and cheers. 

Feingold reiterated points others had made about corporate wealth and power, saying the Koch brothers, wealthy businessmen famous for their support of Republican campaigns, “have achieved an unfriendly takeover of Wisconsin."

“This is the gilded age on steroids,” Feingold said, referencing Citizens United. “The progressives beat them back 100 years ago. They defeated them. They protected the people. We will raise again with a progressive movement starting on November 8 that will do the same.”

-- By Madeline Sweitzer

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

 5:00 AM 

New Johnson TV ad touts his work helping family complete adoption

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is going up with a new TV ad that praises him as a “strong player” in helping complete the adoptions of children from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The ad features Green Bay’s Craig family, who adopted a daughter from Congo; Nicole narrates the spot.

She opens the ad saying 25 children from the African country died waiting to come home after their adoptions were completed, and there weren’t clear reasons why they couldn’t leave.

She says they had to go to Washington and “needed someone to be a voice for these kids.” She calls Johnson a strong player, saying she knew “it was as important to him for her to come home” as it was for their family.

“I mean, I can’t even tell you how that felt,” she says, her voice cracking slightly. “He was going to do whatever he could to get these kids home.”

The Johnson campaign said it is running 30- and 60-second versions of the spot on TV and online. The longer version includes Nicole reading a handwritten note from Johnson.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

 8:40 AM 

Federal judge requests update on state's voter ID efforts

A federal judge is giving the state until Sept. 22 for an update on efforts to tell those who lack required documents to get a photo ID of the process that would allow them to vote in November.

Judge James Peterson has ordered the state to overhaul the process that allows those voters to apply for an ID through an appeal process. They then receive a temporary receipt that would allow them to vote. Still, he put the order to overhaul the process on hold until after the November election.

Peterson wrote in yesterday’s order the availability of the receipts was “critical” to his decision to stay the order to reform the process.

Read the order:

 7:22 AM 

Gallagher TV ad hits back at Nelson on Social Security

Republican Mike Gallagher’s campaign has a new TV ad refuting Dem rival Tom Nelson’s attack over Social Security.

Nelson aired a TV ad accusing Gallagher of seeking to reduce “Social Security benefits to the poverty line.”

Gallagher’s new ad opens with him saying he approves the message because, “I’ll always protect Social Security for our seniors.”

The narrator says Nelson is desperate and has been called out by independent fact checkers for “falsely attacking Marine Mike Gallagher.” The truth, the narrator adds, is Nelson backed higher taxes on Social Security, which cost Wisconsin seniors $95 million, “but took taxpayer-funded pay raises for himself.”

“We lose, Nelson wins, and he’ll say anything to keep it that way,” the narrator says to close the spot. “Tom Nelson, just another career politician.”

-- By JR Ross

Monday, September 12, 2016

 8:00 AM 

New Feingold ad hits Johnson for calling Social Security 'legal Ponzi scheme'

Dem Russ Feingold is out with a new TV ad hitting Johnson for calling Social Security a “legal Ponzi scheme.”

The spot opens with the narrator telling viewers to listen to Johnson on Social Security before playing a clip of a 2014 town hall in Superior. He calls the program a “legal Ponzi scheme.”

The narrator then says Johnson has been “working to turn it into one” as a senator, wanting to privatize the program, “putting benefits at risk.” The narrator also says Johnson “attacks Medicare” and would turn it into a voucher program, “costing seniors thousands out of pocket.”

The narrator says, “Don’t let Ron Johnson turn Social Security into a ...” before the ad cuts back to Johnson saying, “legal Ponzi scheme.”

“Sen. Johnson: not for seniors, not for Wisconsin,” the narrator says the close the spot.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

 5:00 AM 

Johnson goes back to whiteboard for first TV ad in two weeks

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is going back on broadcast TV for the first time in two weeks with a spot that mirrors one of his most praised ads from the 2010 race.

Like that ad six years ago, the new spot shows Johnson standing in front of a whiteboard with a marker. He notes in 2010 there were “57 lawyers, zero manufacturers and way too many career politicians in the United States Senate.

He writes on the board there are now 54 lawyers, one manufacturer, “that’d be me” with “still way too many career politicians, and now Senator Feingold wants to add another one -- himself.

“Fixing this broken system will take the perspective of someone who has actually solved problems,” Johnson says to close the spot. “Thirty-one years of manufacturing taught me how.”

The ad is Johnson’s first since he parted ways with consultant Brad Todd, who did Johnson’s 2010 race and had been working on the Oshkosh Republican's media strategy and polling.

-- By JR Ross

Thursday, September 1, 2016

 8:51 PM 

Libertarian Johnson makes appeal to those dissatisfied with Clinton, Trump

MILWAUKEE -- Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson positioned himself as the alternative for those dissatisfied with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump before an animated crowd gathered Thursday night at Serb Hall on the city's south side.

Johnson, a former New Mexico governor, said divisiveness would increase if Clinton or Trump were elected. 

"If either one of them get elected, does anybody think that polarity in this country is gonna get any better?" he said. "No. It's gonna get worse that ever. They want to kill each other. That's all they want to do."

Johnson told the crowd that packed the 880-person capacity room during a pre-season Packers game that between Trump and Clinton is a "big six-lane highway down the middle."

"And the big six-lane highway down the middle is reflective of what most people in this country believe," he said. "Fiscally conservative, small government, socially inclusive. I think we're all questioning our military interventions."

Johnson's campaign is targeting Wisconsin as he hopes to qualify for the upcoming presidential debates. He started running radio in the state ahead of the campaign stop, and he was at 11 percent in the latest Marquette University Law School among registered Wisconsin voters.

Johnson told the crowd he believes he has a good chance of crossing the 15 percent threshold in national polls needed to qualify for the debates. Still, he assured the crowd "the clock will keep on ticking" even if he doesn't.

"So if it isn't the first presidential debate, I want you to know that this is a growing movement -- a significantly growing movement," Johnson said.

He said at this point, more than 70 percent of people do not know him or his running mate, but that if he makes the debates, 100 percent of America will.

"And that portends running the table on this whole thing," he said to applause. "We would not be doing this if there wasn't that opportunity."

Speaking with reporters before the speech, Johnson praised Gov. Scott Walker's agenda of reducing the size of government, but said he differs with him on social issues. 

"My understanding is that he's done a really good job, that in fact he really has been about smaller government, and I'm impressed with what he has done," Johnson said.

But when it comes to social conservatism, he said that "maybe he steps over the line a little bit when wanting to put that on others. 

"I would be different than Scott Walker when it comes to social issues," Johnson said. "Be whoever you want, but don't try and tell me how to live my life."

Johnson also highlighted his connection to the state, telling reporters he is a Packers fan -- calling quarterback Aaron Rodgers "about as good as it gets" -- and noting he has often vacationed in Wisconsin.

Addressing the recent unrest in Milwaukee over an African-American man being shot and killed by a police officer, Johnson told reporters black people are six times more likely than whites to be shot and four times more likely than whites to be jailed if charged with a drug crime.

"I think we've had our heads in the sand on this issue," he said, including himself among those who have done so. "We will deal with this, but it starts with awareness and I think we're dramatically becoming aware of this."

Speech audio (Sound cuts for 45 seconds near beginning due to campaign audio system problem):

Press availability audio:

-- By David Wise

 2:41 PM 

Gallagher, Nelson up with first TV ads of 8th CD general election

8th CD candidates Mike Gallagher and Tom Nelson have launched their first TV ads of the general election, and both touch on Social Security.

Gallagher, a Republican, talks up “common sense” in his ad, saying it would go a long way toward solving Washington’s problems.

“Keep your promises, like making sure Social Security is actually there for seniors, or don’t make taxes on small businesses so high that they can’t afford to hire more people,” Gallagher says.

He closes the spot saying he approves the message to bring “some Wisconsin common sense and Marine Corps fighting spirit to Congress.”

The Nelson spot knocks Gallagher, charging he would break the promise of Social Security.

“Mike Gallagher supports a plan to reduce Social Security benefits to the poverty line,” the narrator says.

The spot then plays a clip of Gallagher at a forum saying, “a flat universal payment to everyone at the poverty line.”

The narrator adds Gallagher’s “plan” would cut benefits for two-thirds of seniors.

“Tom Nelson says Mike Gallagher is wrong,” the narrator says. “In Congress, Tom Nelson will work to strengthen Social Security, not cut it.”

-- By JR Ross

 8:31 AM 

Feingold unlikely to face legal trouble over GOP's Hatch Act complaint

In part because he's no longer an employee of the federal government, it appears unlikely Feingold will face legal ramifications from a complaint the state GOP filed accusing him of violating the federal Hatch Act. 

The state GOP filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel accusing Feingold of violating the law by laying the foundation for his Senate bid while still working for the State Department. 

An Office of Special Counsel spokesman said the agency does not generally comment on individual complaints or even confirm they've been received. Still, Nick Schwellenbach said the agency has jurisdiction only over current federal executive branch employees. 

Feingold left the State Department early last year before launching his Senate bid. 

"As a policy matter, OSC does not investigate Hatch Act complaints when our agency has no jurisdiction, such as when individuals are no longer federal executive branch employees," Schwellenbach said. 

The GOP complaint cites media reports that suggest Feingold was soliciting support for his eventual Senate bid before leaving the State Department. That includes meeting with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Jon Tester, D-Montana. 

The Hatch Act bars federal employees from certain political activities such as becoming a candidate for partisan office while still employed by the executive branch. That prohibition "extends not merely to the formal announcement of candidacy but also to the preliminaries leading to such announcement and to canvassing or soliciting support or doing or permitting to be done any act in furtherance of candidacy," according to an advisory opinion OSC released in 2009. 

According to OSC, violations of those provisions are typically employment-related in nature. The penalties would range from reprimands to termination. 

The 2009 opinion also advises federal employees are not prohibited from discussing their intentions to run for partisan office "with family and close friends." 

The Feingold campaign issued a statement from attorney Marc Elias that, "The Hatch Act does not restrict private conversations between employees and their family, friends, and colleagues. The Republicans' suggestion to the contrary is unfounded." 

The state GOP stood by an earlier statement demanding Feingold "explain these allegations," saying it is "not only a question of judgement, but ethics, honesty and accountability to the people of Wisconsin." 

 8:02 AM 

Pro-Johnson super PAC calls Feingold 'Senator Tough Guy' in new TV ad

A new TV ad from the super PAC backing U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson calls Dem Russ Feingold “Senator Tough Guy” and slams him on national security.

The Let America Work spot opens with the narrator saying Feingold spent 34 years in politics, including 18 years in Washington, where he “voted to weaken the military. But now Feingold wants us to think he’s a tough guy.”

The ad then plays a clip from a recent Feingold spot in which he lays out his plans on national security and says, “We need to be strategic and tough.”

“Really?” the narrator says. “Feingold voted against authorizing our military 11 separate times.”

The spot then goes back to another Feingold clip from the ad in which he calls for “better human intelligence.”

“What?” the narrator says to close the spot. “Feingold voted against creating the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security. Senator Tough Guy will make America weaker. He already has.”

The spot will air for 10 days beginning tomorrow, and Let America Work says it is backed by “half a million dollars” as it runs statewide.

Two Dem sources tell WisPolitics.com the initial buy is actually about $392,000 with the bulk of the spending in Milwaukee and Green Bay. The other three targeted markets in Wisconsin have just small cable buys, according to the sources. 

A LAW spokeswoman said the PAC is still adding to the buy.

-- By JR Ross

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