• WisPolitics

Monday, October 31, 2016

 4:55 PM 

NRA TV ad says Feingold 'no friend' of gun owners

The NRA is running a TV ad in La Crosse that says Dem Russ Feingold “is no friend” of gun owners.

WisPolitics.com reported this morning FEC records show the group spent $96,672 on TV ads and $18,900 on production costs for a buy. A spokeswoman said there is an additional digital component to the buy.

The spot features a series of people delivering lines straight to the camera. Those featured say Feingold voted to ban “common rifles,” Johnson “supports your right to defend yourself and your family” and they are all “voting freedom first.”

“That’s why we are standing with Ron Johnson,” one woman says.

Another concludes the spot, “Defend freedom. Defeat Feingold.”
-- By JR Ross

 1:10 PM 

Senate Majority PAC, LCV Victory Fund ad says Johnson took 'shady $10 million corporate payout'

The Senate Majority PAC and LCV Victory Fund teamed up for a new $2 million ad campaign that says U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson took a “shady $10 million corporate payout.”

A narrator opens the spot saying Johnson had made worse an “economy rigged for the wealthy.”

“Johnson took a shady $10 million corporate payout, then went to Washington and voted to protect corporate tax loopholes for companies shipping Wisconsin jobs overseas,” the narrator says.

The narrator then adds Johnson supported privatizing Social Security, “which would hand billions to Wall Street,” and wants to eliminate the federal minimum wage.

“Senator Johnson works for Wall Street, not us,” the narrator says to close the spot.

The Senate Majority PAC on Friday announced the buy. A Senate Majority PAC spokeswoman said some of the ads running in Wisconsin will carry a disclaimer that they were paid for by the PAC. Others will carry the disclaimer from the LCV Victory Fund, which is an arm of the League of Conservation Voters.

-- By JR Ross

 1:00 PM 

Grothman's latest TV ad says he wants to 'change welfare to encourage work'

U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman is up with a new TV ad in which he says he wants to make changes to welfare to encourage work.

In the ad, a narrator says "we have an out-of-control welfare system that pays people not to work," as the text "welfare out of control" appears on screen.

The ad also touches on border security and the national debt.

The narrator says "presidents of both parties stood by while dangerous people and drugs streamed across our borders." 

And while "free college" appears on the screen, the narrator says the nation is $19 trillion in debt "and politicians keep dreaming up new ways to spend money." 

The music in the ad then shifts tone while the narrator says Grothman is fighting back and video alternates between Grothman in a factory and talking with women.

"I want to get America back on track," Grothman says, "change welfare to encourage work."

-- By David Wise

 7:59 AM 

Let America Work ad positions Johnson as check on possible Clinton White House

The super PAC backing Johnson is out with the first TV ad of the Senate race making an overt pitch of the Oshkosh Republican as a check on a possible Clinton White House.

Let America Work said the ad is a six-figure buy that will run through the election.

The spot opens showing a cow as the narrator asks, “Are you sick of all the political BS in this election?”

The cow then defecates as the narrator says, “Enough of the crap” and goes on to say when Dems “controlled everything in Washington, it was, well, you know …”

The narrator says “career politician” Feingold was there, voting the party line.

“That’s why we need Ron Johnson, to cut the crap and keep Hillary Clinton and the Washington politicians from running wild,” the narrator says to close the spot.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

 4:52 PM 

Trump to campaign in Eau Claire Tuesday

Donald Trump will return to Wisconsin on Tuesday with a stop in Eau Claire, his campaign said.

Details of the visit, Trump's first since Oct. 17, were not immediately available. 

This will be Trump's first stop in western Wisconsin of the general election.

-- By JR Ross

Friday, October 28, 2016

 5:04 PM 

U.S. Chamber coming back to Wisconsin with TV ad hitting Feingold

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which last ran ads in Wisconsin's Senate race this spring, announced Friday it was returning to the state with a spot hitting Dem Russ Feingold on Obamacare.

Chamber spokeswoman Erica Flint wrote in an email it was a six-figure buy that will run on broadcast and cable TV in the Green Bay and Milwaukee markets. 

The narrator says Feingold cast the deciding vote for Obamacare, saying it would be "great for the country," lower insurance rates 14 to 20 percent and that "we could keep our doctors and our plans."

The narrator says that was rated the lie of the year and Wisconsin's health care is now in crisis with costs skyrocketing and major insurers leaving the state.

"Russ Feingold was the deciding vote for Obamacare. That's all we need to know to cast ours," the narrator says to close the spot.

The spot is paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and done in conjunction with Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

-- By JR Ross

Editor's note: This post has been updated with a spokeswoman saying it is a six-figure buy.

 10:28 AM 

Clinton campaign going up on TV in Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee

Hillary Clinton's campaign is going up on TV in Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee with what it says is a six-figure buy.

It is the first TV Clinton has run in Wisconsin since the April primary and comes after a string of polls that show her leading in the state over Donald Trump. The buy is part of an effort to help Russ Feingold in his Senate race and "Democrats up and down the ballot to help her make a real difference for families in Wisconsin," said state director Jake Hajdu.

Pete Meachum, the Wisconsin state director for Trump, said the ads are a sign a state once thought "of as a lock for Hillary Clinton has now tightened. She’s struggling to connect with voters and Democrats are hitting the panic button on Russ Feingold and Hillary Clinton."

The Clinton campaign said three ads will run in Wisconsin as part of the buy.

One shows young girls looking in mirrors as the spot plays comments Trump has made about women, including when asked in an interview if he treats women with respect.

"I can't say that, either," Trump says. 

Another features a former nuclear missile launch officer who says "the thought of Donald Trump with nuclear weapons scares me to death. It should scare everyone."

The third features the mother of an autistic boy who identifies herself as a Republican and said the nominee mocking a reporter with a disability "was completely disqualifying."

"My son Max can't live in Trump world," she says.

-- By JR Ross

 10:01 AM 

Spokesman: Ryan won't debate Dem challenger ahead of Nov. 8 election

House Speaker Paul Ryan will not debate his general election opponent ahead of the Nov. 8 election as he continues to travel the country to help fellow Republicans in the closing days of the campaign.

Ryan, R-Janesville, has regularly debated his general election opponents, even as he has been heavily favored to win his southeastern Wisconsin district. 

He did not debate his opponent in 2012 while on the GOP ticket as the vice presidential nominee, but told WisPolitics.com in a September interview that he planned to debate Dem Ryan Solen. Since then, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's performance at the top of the ticket has ramped up concerns about possible Republican losses in the House and Senate. 

“Voters in the 1st Congressional District know who Paul is and they know what he stands for,” Ryan campaign spokesman Zack Roday wrote in an email. “They see him in their communities and know that he is always working on their behalf. Paul will be campaigning in the 1st District in the final week of the election season but he will not be participating in a debate."

Ryan has been traveling the country in recent weeks raising money for fellow Republicans as they seek to hold onto their majorities in the House and Senate. That includes events in the 8th CD with GOP candidate Mike Gallagher last week, and he plans to stump with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and other Republicans across Wisconsin in the final four days of the race.

Lauren Young, Solen’s chief of staff, said the campaign is disappointed Ryan declined to debate his Dem challenger or respond directly to their numerous requests for one.

“We were hoping to share our views and learn more about his views, which he hasn’t been sharing with the constituents of the first Congressional district,” Young said. “He hasn’t been in Wisconsin very much and is campaigning out of state for other Republicans and seems to be coasting on name recognition.”

-- By JR Ross

Thursday, October 27, 2016

 1:49 PM 

TV ad says Nelson "crossed the line" by questioning Gallagher's moral courage

A TV ad from 8th CD candidate Mike Gallagher says Dem opponent Tom Nelson "crossed the line" by questioning the Republican's moral courage.

The Nelson campaign, meanwhile, is using the ad in a fundraising appeal, saying the Gallagher campaign used "doctored" footage in the spot.

In the ad, a narrator says, "Career politicians will say almost anything to get elected, but some lines should never be crossed.”

While "Tom Nelson crossed the line" appears on the screen, the narrator says, "Like Tom Nelson accusing Marine Mike Gallagher of lacking courage."

The ad then uses a clip of Nelson during a debate, where the Dem questioned Gallagher's moral courage for not opposing GOP nominee Donald Trump. The clip is truncated, however, and the ad does not mention the Trump angle.

"That question is about moral courage," Nelson says in the clip. "Whether or not the candidate for this office has the moral courage or not."

The video then shows several images of Gallagher while he served in the Marines.

The narrator says Gallagher joined the Marines when he got out of college and served two combat tours, "yet Nelson questions Gallagher's courage."

The ad then repeats a portion of the Nelson clip before the narrator says, "That's cowardice; choose courage."

In a fundraising appeal, the Nelson campaign said the ad is "constructing a false narrative that Tom Nelson questioned his opponent's military service." The appeal highlights Nelson's support for those who serve and asks for funds to "help us bolster our campaign and set the story straight."

-- By David Wise

 12:39 PM 

Gallagher's mother, grandmother featured in 8th CD campaign ads

A set of TV ads from 8th CD GOP candidate Mike Gallagher features his mother and grandmother.

In one of the ads, "Resolve" Gallagher's mother describes her feelings when Gallagher was deployed to Iraq with the Marines. She said she saw the same resolve and determination in him when he told her of his decision to run for Congress.

"When Michael told me he was going to run for Congress, I heard in his voice the same resolve, the same determination to serve his country, to give back in any way that he could," she says.

The other ad, "Pendant," shows Gallagher sitting next to his grandmother. Gallagher says she gave him a pendant of Saint Michael to offer him protection when he was deployed.

"And it worked," she says.

Gallagher then says seniors depend on Social Security and that he will protect it.

"In Congress, I'll always protect Social Security," he says, looking to his grandmother, "to be there for her, because she's always been there for me."

-- By David Wise

 10:48 AM 

Latest Johnson TV ad hits Feingold on Progressives United

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s latest TV ad hits Russ Feingold on the Progressives United PAC he created after leaving the Senate, saying it shows the Dem is “in it for himself.”

The ad opens with text saying Feingold set up his own PAC in 2011 and “It was supposed to support candidates.”

It then shows a clip of Feingold saying, “Obviously, we’re going to try to support candidates directly.”

The screen then reads, “But that’s not what he did.”

The ad then cites media accounts of Progressives United with headlines such as “Russ Feingold’s PAC funded fees, salaries for former staffers, himself” and “Top beneficiary of Progressives United might be Russ Feingold himself.” While the headlines change on the screen, audio is played of a question Feingold was asked about the PAC.

The ad then switches to the final piece of the question, “only 5 percent of the money went to federal candidates. A lot of it went to pay salaries. How do you explain that?”

As the screen shows Feingold, the words “How do you explain that?” appears on one side as text across the bottom reads, “Russ Feingold, in it for himself, not you.”

-- By JR Ross

 8:25 AM 

Wisconsin's congressional Dems ask U.S. Justice Department to help oversee elections

The Dem members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation are asking the U.S. Justice Department to help oversee state elections, citing the voter ID law's "contentious nature and poor implementation."

They also wrote in their request Wednesday the political environment is "becoming increasingly intimidating."

In the letter, they recounted the concerns raised by U.S. Judge James Peterson over the law and the appeal process for voters who lack the documents to get an ID. They also wrote the state had provided misinformation to some seeking to enter the appeal process and raised concerns about the potential for voter intimidation.

They asked the agency to provide "any resources or assistance it can in order to help our state navigate these unsettling circumstances."

Read the letter:

 12:05 PM 

Latest Feingold TV ad says Johnson hurting Wisconsin families

Russ Feingold’s latest TV ad says U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is hurting Wisconsin families, knocking the Oshkosh Republican on Social Security, student loans and trade.

The stop opens with video of Johnson shown on a tablet saying, “Social Security is a legal Ponzi scheme.”

The woman holding the tablet looks up and says, “Ron Johnson is attacking Social Security.” The spot then shows a man sitting on steps saying, “He wants to let Wall Street risk it in the stock market.”

The spot shows another clip of Johnson on a tablet, this time saying, “Free money. Young people don’t really necessarily understand finance.”

A man in a Wisconsin Badgers sweatshirt holding the tablet looks up and says, “Ron Johnson voted to raise the cost of student loans.”

A woman next to him adds, “He just doesn’t get it.”

Then a man holding a tablet says, “He says he’s for jobs, but Ron Johnson supports trade deals that hurt Wisconsin.”

The narrator then closes the spot saying, “Attacking Social Security, raising the cost of college, jobs lost overseas. Sen Ron. Johnson, he’s hurting Wisconsin families.”

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

 2:08 PM 

DCCC ties Gallagher to Trump in new TV ad

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ties 8th CD GOP candidate Mike Gallagher to GOP nominee Donald Trump in a new TV ad.

The ad features alternating images of Gallagher and Trump, and links their position on corporate taxes and the minimum wage.

"But it gets worse; offensive insults, lewd statements" the narrator says.

As the narrator speaks, the ad shows Trump mocking a disabled reporter and a clip from the recently released 2005 video of Trump making lewd comments about women.

"On supporting Trump, Mike Gallagher still says," the narrator continues as a clip of Gallagher finishes the sentence with "we have to."

The ad then flashes several images of Trump before ending on Gallagher while the narrator says, "Enough."

"Just say no to Mike Gallagher."


-- By David Wise

 1:56 PM 

Congressional Leadership Fund ad targets Nelson over tax and fee increases, pay raise

A Congressional Leadership Fund TV spot says 8th CD Dem candidate Tom Nelson “taxes and spends a lot” and accuses him of helping create the largest budget deficit in state history.

The ad, which features images and video of Nelson while text pops up on the screen, lists a series of taxes and fees it said Nelson increased while he also accepted a pay raise as a state lawmaker. Nelson has said he donated the raise to charity.

“Higher pay for him, higher taxes for us,” the narrator says. “Taxin’ Tom Nelson, he’s cost us too much.”

 1:48 PM 

Midwest Growth PAC dubs Nelson a "career politician"

-- A new TV ad from Midwest Growth PAC paints 8th CD Democratic candidate Tom Nelson as a career politician.

The ad, “Badger Tank,” is styled after the TV program “Shark Tank,” in which entrepreneurs make pitches before a panel of investors.    

A man in the ad introduces himself as “career politician Tom Nelson” before the panel, saying he’s “spent over a decade in politics spending other people’s money.”

A skeptical panelist quizzes the stand-in about his other experience, to which he replies “nothing--none of that real world stuff--I’ve made my career all about politics.”

After a bit more grilling from panelists, despite the Nelson stand-in’s pleas, they all declare “You’re out, Tom Nelson.”

--By David Wise

 9:07 AM 

Reform America Fund launches new TV ad hitting Feingold on Iran deal

The super PAC Reform America Fund launched a new TV ad today hitting Dem Senate candidate Russ Feingold on the Iran nuclear deal.

The group declined to say how much it was putting behind the new ad, which it said will run statewide along with a similar radio spot. 

The TV ad opens with children counting down from 10 in different languages. After the last one says, “One,” a nuclear explosion is shown.

“A nuclear Iran is a threat to the world,” the screen reads as the mushroom cloud develops.

The text then reads “Russ Feingold supports the Iran nuclear deal” with “#votenoruss” across the bottom. The text in the spot goes on to say billions could fund terrorism while showing people in black uniforms and masks standing behind men in orange jumpsuits kneeling.

“And put our enemy on a path toward nuclear weapons,” the screen then reads.

The spot then goes back to the image of the mushroom cloud as the spot closes with the text, “Russ Feingold 30 years of being radical. Russ Feingold 30 years of being wrong.”

-- By JR Ross

 8:42 AM 

Judge OKs public awareness campaign for voter ID petition process

A federal judge has signed off on a public awareness campaign aimed at reaching people who struggle to meet the state's voter ID requirement.

U.S. Judge James Peterson approved the measures that the state and the groups suing it had agreed on. That includes the distribution of one-page palm cards explaining the ID petition process and a meeting between the Elections Commission and several groups to discuss further outreach.

Peterson also approved secret check-ups at DMVs to make sure its employees fully understand the process, as well as additional training for DMV employees, though he moved up the timeline for the second course.

The plaintiffs, which include the liberal One Wisconsin Institute, had called for several other changes that the state deemed "either infeasible or inappropriate."

Peterson wrote he'll take the plaintiffs' proposals "under advisement" and will issue a follow-up order on their proposals "in a few days."

The plaintiffs' requests included establishing mobile DMVs, running radio and TV ads on the ID petition process, putting up billboards and sending mailings to people who are registered to vote but don't appear to have an ID.

Both sides outlined their points of agreement and disagreement in a court filing on Friday.

See the court filing:

Sunday, October 23, 2016

 9:07 PM 

Feingold finished September with $4.8 million in bank, less than Johnson's $5.4 million

Dem Russ Feingold finished September with $4.8 million in the bank, less than the $5.4 million that U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s campaign says he had in his war chest.

Feingold announced in early October he raised $5.2 million between July 1 and Sept. 30, but did not release how much cash he had at the end of the period. His latest report was posted to the FEC site over the weekend, showing he raised almost $5.2 million between July 1 and Sept. 30 and spent almost $7.6 million over the three months.

Johnson’s report covering third quarter activity had yet to be posted to the FEC site as of Sunday night. 

Feingold’s campaign says he raised another $1.6 million between Oct. 1 and Oct. 19. Those reports, covering the pre-election period, are due Thursday.

Johnson’s campaign has not yet released his fundraising total for the pre-election period.

-- By JR Ross

Friday, October 21, 2016

 12:39 PM 

Feingold fires back at Johnson on Social Security in new TV ad

Russ Feingold’s latest TV ad hits back at U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson over Social Security, accusing the Oshkosh Republican of wanting to privatize the program and raise the retirement age.

Johnson earlier this week started a TV ad hitting Feingold for voting to raise taxes on Social Security income.

The Feingold spot opens with the narrator saying, “Keep them working. That’s Sen. Ron Johnson’s plan for seniors.”

The narrator goes on to say Johnson supports privatizing the program and wants to raise the retirement age to 70. The narrator adds Johnson “also has a plan for Medicare,” supporting turning it into a voucher program and adding means testing “so seniors pay more out of pocket or are left without coverage altogether.

“But Wisconsin seniors know that in Washington, Ron Johnson isn’t working for them,” the narrator says to close the spot.

The Feingold campaign said the aid will air statewide. It also released an accompanying 60-second radio ad.

-- By JR Ross

 11:12 AM 

Nelson ad targets Gallagher over Trump

A new ad from Democrat Tom Nelson targets his 8th CD Republican opponent Mike Gallagher over his support for GOP nominee Donald Trump.

The 30-second spot, "Real," features Nelson highlighting differences between him and Gallagher on taxes, the minimum wage and Social Security.

Nelson then ties Gallagher to Trump.

"And one more thing. Mike Gallagher supports Donald Trump," Nelson says. "I approve this message because Donald Trump is dangerous, and we can't let him become President."

 8:31 AM 

Appeal asks court to suspend voter ID until state 'gets its act together'

Those looking to overturn Wisconsin's voter ID law argue in a new filing the state shouldn't be able to implement the law until it "gets its act together."

One Wisconsin Institute and other plaintiffs wrote in a filing to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that the state has had "three strikes" to implement Act 23 -- two emergency rules it's issued and its response to a federal court order last week.

Those two emergency rules, the plaintiffs wrote, didn't "repair grievous flaws in its voter ID regime," and the court order last week likely isn't enough, either.

"It is ludicrous to keep conducting Wisconsin elections under 'emergency' conditions over and over again," they wrote. "There was no emergency. Act 23 is the emergency."

The filing is much broader than voter ID, focusing on several other election law changes Republicans have passed since 2011.

In a ruling this summer, U.S. Judge James Peterson struck several of those changes down, including limits to in-person absentee voting and increasing residency requirements. But Peterson kept in place the voter ID law and decided to do so again last week but with changes ordered on how the law is implemented and communicated.

One Wisconsin is asking the appeals court to uphold the portions of Peterson's ruling striking those changes down, but to reverse his ruling on parts Peterson disagreed with them on, including voter ID.

See the brief:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

 4:31 PM 

Feingold raised $1.6 million in 19 days

Dem Russ Feingold’s U.S. Senate campaign says he raised $1.6 million over the 19-day pre-election reporting period.

Feingold’s campaign said the average contribution for the period was $40.12 and he now has more than 115,000 Wisconsin contributions since the campaign launched.

The pre-general finance reports cover activity between Oct. 1 and Oct. 19. The filing deadline is Oct. 27.

The complete reports for Feingold and Johnson covering the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, have yet to be posted to the FEC’s site. 

Johnson’s campaign said he raised $4 million during that period and finished September with $5.2 million in the bank. 

Feingold’s campaign said he raised $5.2 million for the period, but it has not yet said how much he had for cash on hand.

-- By JR Ross

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

 4:50 PM 

Two polls show Clinton, Feingold leading by at least six points

A pair of polls out today have Hillary Clinton and Russ Feingold up in their races.

Monmouth University found Russ Feingold has an 8-point lead in the U.S. Senate rate, though that's narrowed from two months ago. 

The poll also found Clinton with a 7-point edge over GOP nominee Donald Trump, up slightly from a 5-point lead during Monmouth's last Wisconsin poll in August. 

The poll found 47 percent of likely voters back Clinton, while 40 percent support Trump, 6 percent favor Libertarian Gary Johnson, 1 percent back Green Party nominee Jill Stein and 2 percent said they support another candidate. In August, Clinton's edge over Trump was 43-38 in the four-way contest. 

In the Senate race, the poll found Feingold has a 52-44 lead over Johnson, with 2 percent backing Libertarian Phil Anderson. Feingold's advantage was cut down from a 54-to-41 lead in August. 

The poll of 403 likely voters was conducted Sunday through Tuesday by live landline and cell phone calls. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percent. 

Meanwhile, a poll conducted by the Dem firm Public Policy Polling on behalf of End Citizens United found a bigger gap in the presidential race and a smaller one in the Senate campaign. 

That poll found 50 percent of likely voters backed Clinton, while 38 supported Trump in a head-to-head contest. It did not ask about third-party candidates. 

It also found Feingold up on Johnson 47-41. 

The poll of 804 likely voters was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Eighty percent of respondents were reached over the phone, while 20 percent were contacted online. 

See the End Citizens United release: 

See the End Citizens United polling memo: 

 1:29 PM 

Gallagher ad targets Nelson over public safety

A new ad from 8th CD GOP candidate Mike Gallagher targets his Dem opponent Tom Nelson over public safety.

The ad features two seniors discussing concerns about safety, before cutting to Kewaunee Sheriff Matt Joski, who says law enforcement looks for an ally and "sense of support."

The ad then hits Nelson over his support while he served in the Assembly for an early prisoner release program, which was targeted to non-violent offenders.

The ad shows a black-and-white picture of Nelson followed by images of security camera footage, a crime scene and a Department of Corrections memo.

The narrator says Nelson voted for the early release program.

"Felons convicted of battery, burglary, even homicide," the narrator says while the text "reckless homicide" appears on the screen. "One was released despite warnings of the great danger he posed."

The ad ends with an image of Nelson while the narrator says, "Tom Nelson, too much risk."

 12:28 PM 

Johnson's latest TV ad hits Feingold on Social Security

Ron Johnson released a new TV ad today accusing Dem rival Russ Feingold of saying one thing but doing another when it comes to Social Security.

It’s Johnson’s fifth new TV ad in the last eight days.

The spot features five people talking about Social Security and Feingold. Three of them were featured in a spot Johnson released last week hitting the Middleton Dem on the Affordable Care Act.

A woman sitting next to a man opens the ad saying Social Security is half of their income and a “very important part of our life.”

The narrator then says Feingold claims to be for seniors, “but he voted to increase taxes on Social Security benefits.”

“That’s surprising because Feingold tells everybody he’s helping seniors,” one man says before another says that’s “the message he’s selling, but that’s not what he’s delivering.”

“He’s taking money away from me,” another man adds.

The narrator then says Feingold “says one thing. His record says something else.”

“Doesn’t surprise me at all. That’s Russ,” one man says to close the spot.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

 10:05 PM 

Feingold, Johnson clash on minimum wage, campaign finance in second debate

MILWAUKEE -- Dem Russ Feingold on Tuesday knocked U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson for taking a $700,000 salary from his former plastics company, but voting against efforts to raise the minimum wage.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, fired back that Feingold seems to have a problem with growing a successful business and said the Middleton Dem’s support of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would eliminate 6 million to 7 million jobs.

“That’s a nice little euphemism for a family not having a job to provide for his family,” Johnson said. He also said during the debate he would be open to looking at indexing for inflation future increases in the minimum wage.

Feingold said it was hard to believe a senator representing Wisconsin would have a record of voting against the minimum wage, saying people he has talked to across the state have called for an increase.

“You have voted consistently against raising it at all,” Feingold said. “That’s the record. That’s the fact. That’s what the people of Wisconsin need to know.”

The two clashed on college affordability, foreign policy and the confirmation of justices to the U.S. Supreme Court in their 90-minute debate at the Marquette University Law School that was hosted by Mike Gousha and organized by WISN-TV.

On the Supreme Court: Feingold charged Johnson is failing to meet his constitutional obligation by refusing to have a hearing and vote on President Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick.

But Johnson fired back, saying Republicans in the Senate have done their duty by advising Obama not to send them a nomination and withholding their consent. 

Feingold said Republicans have broken the "all-time record" for the length of time a nominee went without a hearing. He also accused Johnson of playing politics with the nomination process, saying his GOP rival has said the situation might be different had Mitt Romney won the 2012 election. 

"What he's pretending is it's somehow about the next election. But the Constitution doesn't create a three-year term for the president, it's a four-year term," Feingold said. 

Johnson said the court is functioning properly and that if justices deadlock 4-4 on a decision it shows partisanship on the court. When the court can’t muster a majority, the appeals court decision stands, Johnson said, dismissing the suggestion the court is facing a constitutional crisis.

Johnson said he would have voted against Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, "because I know he is hostile to Second Amendment rights."

Feingold warned that future justices could also be upheld.

"What's going to happen is Democrats will do it, too," Feingold said. "And you'll destroy the Supreme Court."

Johnson called the notion "absurd" and refuted Feingold's charge that he would block Hillary Clinton's nominees if she wins the election. 

"It's a totally different situation at that point in time," Johnson said. "The American people have spoken."

Johnson said judges the next president would nominate will impact First and Second amendment rights, which he said are "under assault."

He said while Feingold was in the Senate he voted for justices who voted against upholding an individual right to keep and bear arms. He said liberals "can't wait" to overturn that decision. 

Johnson said he won't vote for "superlegislators," while Feingold will "be voting for them all of the time."

Feingold shot back, saying he voted against one of President George W. Bush's nominations, but supported Bush nominee Chief Justice John Roberts.

Roberts voted to uphold the Second Amendment as an individual right, a position Feingold said he supported. 

On campaign donations: Johnson knocked his Dem rival for the creation of a political action committee after Feingold left office. Johnson called Progressives United “a little money making machine” that largely benefited his Dem rival while donating little to other candidates.

Johnson also accused Feingold of breaking a 1992 pledge to raise most of his money from Wisconsin donors, saying the majority of the support for his current campaign has come from outside the state.

Feingold defended the group, accusing Johnson of saying things he “knows not to be true.”

He said while Progressives United gave money to other candidates, its main purpose was to encourage backers to send donations directly to candidates. It also rallied supporters on issues like Social Security and net neutrality.

Feingold said Johnson hasn’t “lifted a finger to change the campaign finance system because he loves the way it is.” Feingold said he has more support from Wisconsinites than Johnson with 50,000 contributors making more than 110,000 contributions. Feingold said Johnson has touted 80,000 contributions from Wisconsin donors. Meanwhile, Feingold said outside groups have spent between $11 million and $12 million attacking him and supporting Johnson.

“The people of this state deserve to know where all this money supporting Sen. Johnson is coming from,” Feingold said. “It wouldn’t be pretty.”

Johnson also took aim at the campaign finance law dubbed McCain-Feingold, which he said was a “high-profile spectacular failure.” He charged Feingold used Progressives United to create a donor list he then used to raise money from outside Wisconsin.

"I think he’s got a lot of plans, but they simple don’t work,” Johnson said.

On the presidential nominees: As in their first debate on Friday, the two again clashed on their respective presidential nominees. 

Since that meeting, the GOP nominee has ramped up his claims the election is rigged against him, and Johnson was asked about those comments. He said there are legitimate questions about voter fraud. 

“I think with the bias of the media, the deck is certainly stacked against him,” Johnson said, accusing the media of largely ignoring Clinton’s problems to focus on Trump’s. “But I don’t think the election is rigged.”

Feingold called Johnson an “excellent businessman,” but said there was no way he would have hired Trump to run his former plastics company because the GOP nominee is irresponsible and a “person you can’t deal with.”

While again saying Clinton has been trustworthy in his past dealings with her while in the Senate and working for the State Department, Feingold said he also has disagreed with Clinton on a number of issues. That includes the decision to invade Iraq and at times on campaign finance reform.

Feingold also said Clinton has regrets on how she handled some things such as her use of private email while secretary of State.

“She’s not perfect,” Feingold said. “But she’s so much better than Donald Trump, who frankly I think would destabilize the world.”

Johnson questioned how Feingold could support Clinton considering her past controversies, such as the Americans killed in the Benghazi attack. He also said those looking to maintain the status quo should support his Dem rival and Clinton.

“I think the American people are looking for change,” Johnson said. “Our nominee is a change agent. I’m a change agent.”

On student loan debt: Johnson called Feingold “exhibit A” on why college is so expensive, saying he was paid almost $8,000 per lecture at Stanford University. He said the federal government poured money into colleges, and that had the unintended consequence of making secondary education less affordable as a spending boom ensued.

He called for using technology to move away from a “19th century model,” utilizing things like online classes and a certification approach to education rather than one based on obtaining a degree.

Feingold seized on that to bring up past Johnson comments that he said show the GOP incumbent wants to do away with professors and have students learn about the Civil War through Ken Burns’ documentary.

Johnson shot back there wasn’t enough time to “refute all the falsehoods” Feingold was offering up.

Feingold, meanwhile, said Johnson was purposely refusing to acknowledge the Middleton Dem also taught at Marquette and accused his GOP rival of demeaning the work professors did. He also said Johnson was playing a game by distorting how he was paid.

“That’s what I was doing, teaching,” Feingold said. “Sen. Johnson demeans higher education. He demeans the professors. He’s pretending what they do isn’t real work, and I think he should be ashamed.”

On opioid abuse: Feingold said Johnson voted against a bipartisan amendment that would have provided $622 million toward fighting addiction to opioids.

"He voted it down and said 'we can't just throw money at the problem,'" Feingold said.

Johnson said funding was provided in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which he supported.

"This is actually one of the more disgusting, false attacks that Senator Feingold has lodged against me in his negative campaign," Johnson said, noting his nephew died of Fentanyl abuse in January.

He said his committee has held multiple hearings and round tables on the subject.

"I've been active; I understand what an enormous challenge this is," Johnson said.

Watch the debate:

-- By David Wise

Editor's note: This story has been updated with more details from the debate.

Photo by Mike Gryniewicz, Marquette Law School 

 11:00 AM 

Johnson's daughters call him right person to clean up Washington in latest TV ad

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson today released his fourth new TV ad in the past seven days, this one featuring his wife and daughters, who call him the right person to “clean up the mess in Washington.”

The three women are in a kitchen with his wife Jane holding one of her grandchildren. She tells her daughters she didn’t want Johnson to run for a second term. The daughters then lament politics as “pretty disgusting” and “vicious” with “all the false attacks.”

Jenna calls into another room asking Johnson if he needs help. The spot then shows him changing his grandson’s diaper. He says, “No, I’ve got this covered” as what appears to be a fake stream of urine pops up.

The daughters note now that they have kids, they’re even more concerned about the future.

“Just like dad helps out with the kids,” Jenna says before Carey adds, “He’s exactly the guy we need to clean up the mess in Washington.”

Johnson then tosses the dirty diaper across the kitchen island and into the garbage can before he delivers the required disclaimer that he approves the message.

“Nice shot,” Carey tells him.

“It was pretty good,” Johnson says.

-- By JR Ross

 9:10 AM 

NRCC ad hits Nelson over pay raise, dubs him "Tax Man Tom Nelson"

The National Republican Congressional Committee is out with a new ad targeting 8th CD Democrat Tom Nelson over accepting a pay raise while in office and dubbing him "Tax Man Tom Nelson."

This is the final ad the NRCC booked in the district. The group pulled its buys that had been planned for the weeks of Oct. 25 and Nov. 1.

The ad shows an image of Nelson wearing a green cape above a wall of cash while the narrator says, "Life is good for Tax Man Tom Nelson."

The narrator says Nelson raised taxes and took "taxpayer funded pay raises for himself, even during the financial crisis" while related text appears on the screen.

The ad cuts to an image of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi standing beside an armored truck with "Wisconsin taxpayers" written on the side as money flows from the truck into a wheelbarrow Nelson is holding. The text "higher taxes on us" then appears on the screen.

The narrator says Nelson "put his interests ahead of ours.

"That’s why Nancy Pelosi is spending big for Taxman Tom, because she knows he’ll support her tax and spend agenda."

The ad shows Nelson in front of Washington, D.C., landmarks still wearing the green cape and holding the wheelbarrow full of cash, while the narrator says, "We can’t afford Tom Nelson in Washington."

The narrator then says "whenever Taxman Tom Nelson comes around, Wisconsin pays the price" while the image shifts to Nelson in front of Lambeau Field, cash raining down as he flies away.

-- By David Wise

 6:00 AM 

Feingold hits back at Johnson on healthcare in new TV ad

Russ Feingold is firing back at U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson over health care after a pair of TV ads his GOP rival started last week knocking the Middleton Dem on Obamacare.

The narrator opens the spot saying Feingold will work with both parties to “lower premiums and cut health care taxes.”

Feingold then says, “I want to do the hard work of improving the system so it works for middle-class families.”

The narrator then says in Washington, Johnson “sides with big insurance, voting to make Medicare a voucher program, forcing seniors to pay more for prescription drugs and letting insurance companies deny coverage to cancer patients.”

The narrator then closes the spot, “Senator Johnson hurting Wisconsin families.”

-- By JR Ross

 5:00 AM 

Ryan's first TV ad of general election promises to get country working, clean up tax code

In his first general election TV ad, Speaker Paul Ryan promises to implement reforms that will show the country what it takes to get working again, “clean up” the tax code and replace Obamacare.

The TV ad shows Ryan addressing a group, meeting people and walking in a parade, among other things.

Ryan’s remarks carry through the spot as it switches to various scenes. He says 70 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction, America should be an energy producer and the government is “hyper regulating businesses.”

After pledging to replace Obamacare, Ryan says the welfare system should be one that “gets people from welfare to work.”

“We’re also worried about our national security, making sure that our military has what they need, and that’s precisely what we’re going to be doing in the House,” Ryan says to close the ad.

-- By JR Ross

Monday, October 17, 2016

 9:45 PM 

Trailing in the polls, Trump proclaims he will win Wisconsin during Green Bay rally

GREEN BAY -- Though trailing in the latest polls, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump expressed confidence Monday night at a rally here he will win both the Badger State and the White House next month.

“We are going to win the state of Wisconsin,” he told supporters at the KI Center in downtown Green Bay. “We’re doing great in the polls. Together, we’re going to deliver real change that puts America first.”

The latest Marquette University Law School Poll had Trump trailing Dem nominee Hillary Clinton by 7 points in a four-way match up.

But the GOP nominee dismissed the surveys, which he said aren’t accurately capturing his support.

“There’s a big undercurrent out there that they can’t poll,” Trump told the crowd, which the Green Bay Fire Department estimated at 2,500 people. “There’s a big undercurrent of support for me. Everyone is calling me and telling me we’re going to win Wisconsin. Traditionally Republicans skip Wisconsin, but I know I am going to win.”

Trump’s return to Wisconsin was his first since House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled an invitation for him to appear at an Oct. 8 rally in Walworth County. That was to be the first time Trump appeared on stage with Ryan, R-Janesville, Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh. But Ryan disinvited the GOP nominee following the release of a 2005 videotape that showed him making vulgar comments about women.

Ryan, Walker and Johnson all missed Monday’s rally, as did Mike Gallagher, the Republican nominee for the 8th Congressional District. Ryan told House GOP colleagues last week he would not campaign with Trump for the remainder of the race, while the other Republicans cited previous commitments for missing the rally.

Trump mentioned neither Johnson nor Ryan. Trump has taken some recent Twitter shots at Ryan, including one that said, "Paul Ryan, a man who doesn't know how to win (including failed run four years ago), must start focusing on the budget, military, vets etc."

At one point during Monday’s stop, the crowd began to chant “Paul Ryan sucks” while state GOP Chair Brad Courtney tried to address Trump backers.

Courtney issued a statement following the rally saying the party is “incredibly proud and fully supportive of Ryan and the work he does for the conservative movement here in Wisconsin and across this great nation.”

In addition to Courtney, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke spoke before Trump arrived on stage, with Clarke repeating a comment he made on social media that it’s time for “pitchforks and torches in America.”

Once Trump took the stage, he read from a teleprompter for much of his 50-minute speech, hitting topics that ranged from his pledge to create more jobs and building the nation's military might to blasting current U.S. trade policies and promising to build a wall along the country’s border with Mexico.

Trump also unveiled a new five-point proposal that would bar executive branch employees, members of Congress and Congressional staffers from lobbying the government for five years after leaving their positions. Trump said the move would “drain the swamp” of corruption in Washington.

“Donors are giving hundreds of millions of dollars to Clinton. I’m spending my own money and controlling myself. I’m working for you,” he said. “On Nov. 8, we will once again have a government by and for the people. You will see great things starting to happen.”

At multiple times in his speech, Trump hammered Clinton’s ethics, stating she is the “most corrupt person to ever run for presidency of the United States.” After that line, the audience broke into the “lock her up” chant popular at Trump’s rallies.

Trump mentioned the documents made public earlier in the day between the State Department and FBI showing disagreements over whether some of Clinton’s emails should be considered classified. The FBI and State Department denied any deal was offered, but Trump called it a “criminal conspiracy.”

“This is worse than Watergate and what does she get out of it? She gets to run for president of the United States, but we’re going to put an end to that on Nov. 8,” Trump said.

The Republican candidate focused on various emails from members of Clinton’s campaign staff that have appeared on WikiLeaks in recent weeks. He said the media were purposely not reporting that story although multiple national news organizations have run stories about the documents.

“We’re competing in a rigged election. The media is trying to rig the election, giving credence to false stories,” said Trump in a reference to the release earlier this month of the 2005 videotape and allegations from several women who claim the billionaire businessman made unwanted advances. “They are taking statements from 20 or 30 years ago and putting up big headlines. These events never happened. Most people believe me and we’re going to see a big backlash.”

Trump also said the media is an extension of the Clinton campaign, inspiring the crowd to turn to the media area and yell “Tell the truth.”

“Yes, tell the truth,” Trump said.

If elected president, Trump pledged he would fight for all Americans, uniting everyone under “one country, one God, one flag. Once again, we will have a government by and for the people. You will see great things starting to happen.”

-- By MaryBeth Matzek

Editor's note: This story has been updated with more details from the rally.

 7:30 AM 

Reform America Fund announces seven-figure campaign hitting Feingold on stimulus vote

Reform America Fund today announced what it says is a seven-figure ad campaign accusing Dem Russ Feingold of sending millions to foreign companies.

The spot references Feingold’s vote for the federal stimulus bill and the claim some foreign companies received money from the package, including through their U.S.-based subsidiaries. Reform American Fund said the spot will air on statewide TV, radio and digital.

The spot opens with the narrator offering a “quick geography lesson for Sen. Russ Feingold,” showing Wisconsin, “where he promised to create jobs,” and China, “home to some of the foreign companies Feingold sent millions to.”

The narrator goes on to say Feingold said he’d create jobs in Wisconsin, “But sent money here,” showing China. The narrator then says Wisconsin lost 70,000 jobs.

“Where in the world does Feingold come up with this stuff?” the narrator asks to close the spot. “Thirty years of being radical. Thirty years of being wrong.”

-- By JR Ross

Friday, October 14, 2016

 8:20 PM 

Johnson, Feingold spar on Tomah VA, presidential nominees in first debate

GREEN BAY -- U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson charged Friday Dem rival Russ Feingold or his then-Senate office received information about problems at the Tomah VA while he was a senator but did not care enough to act.

Feingold fired back, accusing Johnson of repeating a charge he knows isn't true and saying the problems at the medical center, which included opioid overprescription and a Marine Corps veteran dying of an overdose, happened on Johnson's watch.

Johnson, who chairs the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, said during Friday's debate he immediately acted on the Tomah VA problems when he became aware of them. He said his committee's investigation of the issue uncovered and made public more information in three months than a three-year inspector general probe.

"Because of my investigation, because of my hearings, because of our reports, we've actually held those people accountable," Johnson said.

But Feingold or his office, Johnson said, was "repeatedly advised" of the problems before the Middleton Dem left the Senate.

"Was that simply because his staff didn't care or Senator Feingold didn't?" Johnson said.

Feingold fired back, saying "it's a sad moment when a senator from Wisconsin says something he knows for sure is not true."

Feingold said testimony before Johnson's committee "made it very clear that my office never received anything of the kind” and the death of a Marine from a lethal mix of prescriptions happened in 2014, “under Senator Johnson's watch.”

"So this a sad moment when somebody who knows for sure that something is untrue repeats it because he's a politician who's trying to get re-elected,” Feingold said. “It's awful."

Meeting for the first time in their rematch, the two also sparred over their respective presidential nominees, background checks for gun purchases, the Affordable Care Act, college affordability and paid family leave.

They fielded questions from a panel as part of the debate sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and moderated by Jill Geisler, a member of the WBA Hall of Fame.

Asked if they stand “100 percent” behind their party nominees, Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said he has been consistent in supporting areas of agreement with Donald Trump, such as growing the economy, defeating ISIS and appointing judges instead of “super legislators.” Johnson also said he hasn’t been shy in disagreeing with Trump, who he referred to as “our candidate," and said he would not “defend the indefensible,” referencing past comments by the businessman.

He pivoted to slamming Feingold for supporting the Dem nominee, saying he “must be about the last American who thinks Hillary Clinton is trustworthy.”

“I will hold whoever is president accountable,” he said.

Feingold fired back supporting Trump is “completely irresponsible” because he lacks the qualifications and temperament to be president. Feingold challenged Johnson to renounce his support for Trump, noting other GOP Senate candidates across the country already have.

“This is one of these times when you have to be an American first, not a politician running for office, not a Republican or a Democrat, but an American who’s worried about the future of our great country,” Feingold said.

On guns: Johnson said additional gun control laws don’t make the country more safe. If they did, he argued, Chicago wouldn’t have the problems it does.

He pivoted on a question about making the country safer while protecting gun rights to calling for the defeat of ISIS. That, he argued, would help prevent lone wolf attacks such as those in San Bernardino, Calif., and Orlando, Fla.

“Additional gun control is not the answer. Defeating ISIS is,” Johnson said.

Feingold hit Johnson on background checks for gun sales at shows and over the Internet. He also knocked his opponent over a bill U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, offered to allow the Justice Department to block people on two terror lists from purchasing firearms. The legislation included a provision allowing those denied a gun to appeal if they were wrongly included on one of the lists.

Johnson touted an alternative he wrote that sought to put the burden on government to stop a gun sale rather than requiring a buyer to appeal a rejected sale.

But Feingold said Collins believed Johnson’s proposal gutted hers.

“Because Sen. Johnson has no independence from the National Rifle Association, this bipartisan effort failed,” Feingold said.

On the Affordable Care Act: Feingold accused Johnson of wanting to roll back provisions in the health care bill that would mean 20 million people losing their coverage.

Feingold said he’s heard from people who, for example, had cancer and couldn’t get insurance before Obamacare because they had a pre-existing condition. Young adults can now stay on their parents’ health care plans until they’re 26, there’s more coverage for mental health issues and treatment for opiate addiction.

Feingold said the law is not perfect, but Johnson is “obsessed” with getting rid of it. That includes a “frivolous” lawsuit Johnson filed challenging the Obama administration rule allowing the federal government to subsidize health insurance for lawmakers and some congressional staffers. 

“He is litigating rather than trying to work with other members of the Senate to say, ‘How can we make this better?” Feingold said.

Johnson countered focusing on what he called the lies of Obamacare, such as if people like their doctors, they can keep them. He pointed to Feingold’s past comments the health care law was not as bad as some people believed before noting stories of two people who he said have struggled under the law. That includes a woman featured in a recent TV ad who said she had to go from a part-time job to full-time work just to afford her premiums.

Johnson said Feingold “promised that wasn’t going to happen.”

“He lied to the Wisconsin voters,” Johnson charged.

On college affordability: Feingold says he supports retaining the federal student loan program and allowing those with student loand debt to refinance. He noted Johnson voted against a proposal that would have allowed that.

"Where is the concern about the terrible position these young people are being placed in?" Feingold said.

Johnson said the cost of college has increased 2.6 times the rate of inflation since the 1960s and pegged Feingold as part of the problem.

"I think everybody has to asks themselves what in the world is so different about what colleges and universities send their money on that their costs would increase by that level," Johnson said. "Well, Senator Feingold's actually Exhibit A of how that happens when he basically charged $8,000 per lecture as a lecturer at Stanford University."

Johnson noted there are already 38 programs to help students repay loans and that the plan Feingold's supports would cost $50 billion and add to the deficit.

Paid family leave: Johnson turned the question into one for voters: Do they want more regulations that feed a “massive, bloated government,” or “your paycheck feeding your family.”

Johnson said economic growth has been stagnated by over-regulation, and a government mandate adding paid family leave would be another factor weighing on wage growth by increasing costs to employers.

Johnson noted Trump has proposed creating a leave program that would utilize tax credits, saying he’d prefer that kind of approach.

“I want to build the private sector, leaving more money in your pocketbook. Sen. Feingold wants to grow government,” Johnson said, adding his Dem rival voted 278 times to raise taxes.

Feingold countered Johnson’s position is emblematic of a senator who prefers to talk about his own positions rather than listening to his constituents on their views. Feingold said he’s heard from voters who are having a hard time making ends meet and want things like a minimum wage increase and paid family leave. He argued it’s good for not only the parents and the child, but the business, which sends a message to employees it values them.

“It really is a shame that instead of siding with the families of this state that are making this request, Sen. Johnson will only go with a position that is oriented toward a corporate view,” Feingold said.

-- By David Wise

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with more from the debate.

 1:17 PM 

Trump drops Monday stop in West Allis, Green Bay rally still on

Donald Trump has canceled a planned rally in West Allis Monday night, but will still campaign in Green Bay that afternoon, a spokesman said.

Matt Schuck said there was a scheduling change, but did not have other details.

"He will definitely be back in Wisconsin again," Schuck said.
-- By JR Ross

 1:10 PM 

Ryan doesn't mention Trump in Madison but warns of Clinton presidency

House Speaker Paul Ryan today didn’t mention Donald Trump once during his appearance in Madison, though he warned of Hillary Clinton being “given control of Washington.” 

Ryan, speaking at the Madison Masonic Center Foundation, told a group of College Republicans the election has taken a “very dark” turn at times. But their focus should be on the choice they face -- a philosophy that encourages freedom and equality or the left keeping “people down instead of helping them break free.” 

“Liberal progressivism is not government for the people,” he said. “It is government for the elites.” 

The speech comes following a tense week between the speaker and the GOP presidential nominee. Ryan has spent much of the summer and early fall arguing that he supported Trump for president because a Republican president would make it more likely that the House GOP agenda would be enacted.

But he disinvited Trump from a rally in Walworth County last weekend and told fellow House Republicans on a call earlier this week that he will not defend the Republican nominee or campaign with him over the next month following the release of a 2005 videotape of Trump making vulgar comments about women.

Ryan, R-Janesville, didn’t take questions from the media today, but answered prepared questions from the students. They largely focused on his “Better Way” agenda and how they can convince fellow millennials to back the Republican Party. None asked a question about Trump.

The right path, Ryan said, is talking about policy ideas instead of turning elections into a “bizarre personality contest.” 

“That’s what we did here in Wisconsin,” Ryan said. “That’s what Scott Walker and that’s what the state Legislature did.” 

-- By Polo Rocha

 12:04 PM 

In third TV ad this week, Johnson backers praise his business background, not being a career politician

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s campaign today released his third TV ad of the week, this one featuring people praising his business background and that he's not a career politician.

A man who opens the spot saying the Republican’s “business background gives us the perspective we need in Washington.”

The ad then shows two young women with one saying Johnson is a businessman, not a career politician.

“He built his company, and he actually took a pay cut in order to be a senator. So he’s not voting with reelection in mind, he’s voting with the American people in mind," she says.

Dem rival Russ Feingold this week released a TV ad hitting Johnson for calling a $700,000 in pay “pretty reasonable” and taking a “$10 million corporate payout” while opposing a federal minimum wage. 

The Johnson spot features others saying he knows what it’s “going to take to bring our country back” and that he’s “working for us.”

A man then says, “He’s straightforward. He doesn’t mince words. He will tell you the truth."
-- By JR Ross

 8:34 AM 

Ryan to denounce liberal progressivism, Clinton’s vision in Madison speech

Liberals intend to make their progressive experiment “an arrogant, condescending and paternalistic reality,” House Speaker Paul Ryan will tell College Republicans in Madison today.

Ryan’s office released excerpts of his planned speech in which he will argue why liberal progressivism doesn’t work and say Hillary Clinton would continue the approach.

Ryan will tell the students liberal progressivism is a government for the elites, not the people.

“You see, when Hillary Clinton says we are ‘stronger together,’ what she means is we are stronger if we are all subject to the state,” Ryan will say. “What she means is we are stronger if we give up our ties of responsibility to one another and hand all of that over to government. But there is no strength in that. Only hubris. Only the arrogance to assume we are better off if we fall in line and bow down to our betters.”

Ryan will argue Republicans are offering a bold agenda on “a better way that means less government and more freedom.” It is part of a choice between being positive and inclusive while reclaiming the country’s founding principles and being “overrun with liberal progressivism” with more drift, despair and decline.

The speech comes following a tense week between the speaker and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Ryan has spent much of the summer and early fall arguing that he supported Trump for president because a Republican president would make it more likely that the House GOP agenda would be enacted.

But he disinvited Trump from a rally in Walworth County last weekend and told fellow House Republicans on a call earlier this week that he will not defend the Republican nominee or campaign with him over the next month following the release of a 2005 videotape of Trump making vulgar comments about women.

Ryan will ask the students to reflect on the choice facing them.
“It is important that we take a step back and reflect on what this election is ultimately about,” Ryan was to say. “Beneath all the ugliness lies a long running debate between two governing philosophies: one that is in keeping with our nation’s founding principles -- like freedom and equality -- and another that seeks to replace them.”

 8:30 AM 

Ryan focuses on House agenda in speech to Waukesha business group

House Speaker Paul Ryan avoided mention of Trump during a presentation before a Waukesha business group Thursday, and instead focused on promoting the House GOP's "A Better Way" agenda.

Trump has slammed Ryan as "disloyal" after the Janesville Republican criticized him over his 2005 remarks about women and told the GOP House conference he would not defend or campaign with Trump.

Ryan, however, did make a few references to the election, telling those gathered for the Waukesha County Business Alliance luncheon at the Sheraton in Brookfield that Republicans are running on issues despite what is seen on TV or the Internet.

"There is an actual choice between two different schools of thought, two different philosophies, two different agendas before us in this country, but you wouldn't know it if you turn on the computer or the TV, would you?" Ryan said.

Ryan said he "would like to take a break from all the mudslinging and the mess that's out there on TV" before outlining the House GOP's agenda, which involves fighting poverty, bolstering national security, reforming the regulatory regime, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and reforming the tax code.

"This is the agenda that we are running on in Congress, but you wouldn't know about it, would you?" Ryan said.

Ryan urged the audience to "forget about the buzz of the day and forget about what Twitter storm is going on." Referring to the House GOP agenda, Ryan said, "This is who we are, this is what we believe."

The advisory for the event said it would include a Q&A with the audience, but Ryan, left immediately after his remarks.

Ryan campaign spokesman Zack Roday cited Ryan being on a tight schedule for there not being a Q&A.

-- By David Wise

 7:18 AM 

Ryan's national political organization raised $15.4 million in third quarter

House Speaker Paul Ryan's national political operation, dubbed "Team Ryan," raised more than $15.4 million in the third quarter, his campaign said today.

That pushes Team Ryan's haul since the beginning of the year to more than $48.2 million.

Team Ryan includes the Janesville Republican's personal campaign committee, Prosperity Action PAC Inc. and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

In this morning's announcement, Ryan's campaign said he has now transferred more than $31 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee since becoming speaker.

-- By JR Ross

Thursday, October 13, 2016

 3:00 PM 

Ryan raises nearly $3 million for his re-election in latest reporting period

House Speaker Paul Ryan raised just less than $3 million in the most recent reporting period and had more than $9.9 million in the bank for his re-election at the end of September, his campaign said today.

The totals, which cover the period between July 21 and Sept. 30, are only for the Janesville Republican’s re-election campaign.

As speaker, he has an operation dubbed Team Ryan that includes his work raising money for his House colleagues. 

Finance reports covering the most recent reporting period are due to the FEC on Saturday.

-- By JR Ross

 12:16 PM 

Johnson hits Feingold with second Obamacare ad this week

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s campaign today released its second TV ad this week hitting Russ Feingold on Obamacare.

The spot opens with a clip of Feingold from 2015 saying, “They see that the healthcare bill was by no means as bad as some people pretended it was.”

The spot then goes to Gina Sell, who the Johnson campaign identified as a Wisconsin nurse, who says, “I am not pretending.”

She says Obamacare has been devastating for her family, their premiums are now higher than their house mortgage and she had to go from a part-time to a full-time job “just to afford health insurance.”

The spot then cuts to Johnson, who says, “Like Gina, thousands of Wisconsin families have been harmed by Obamacare. They’re not pretending, either."

Gina then says, “And Sen. Feingold, you promised this wouldn’t happen.”

“But it did,” Johnson says to close the ad.

-- By JR Ross

 12:04 PM 

Gallagher hits Nelson on early release program in new TV ad

A new ad from 8th CD GOP candidate Mike Gallagher goes after Dem Tom Nelson over an early release program he voted for while in the state Assembly.

Without mentioning him by name, Outagamie Sheriff Brad Gehring said he's worked with Nelson, who is Outagamie County executive, but he says he supports Gallagher because, "unlike his opponent, Mike will always support the brave men and women who wear the badge."

The second half of the 30-second spot, focuses on a vote Nelson took while in the Assembly in favor of an early release program targeted to prisoners convicted of nonviolent offenses. 

The narrator says Nelson "voted to grant early prison release to hundreds of criminals" while ominous music plays, and the ad shows a print news clip on a dark background next to a black and white image of Nelson. 

The ad then shifts to a man walking on a dark street with police lights in the background while the narrator says, "dangerous repeat felons turned loose."

As images of a jail door closing and the outside of a prison appear on screen, the narrator says within months, some re-offended.

"They should have been in prison," the narrator says. "Tom Nelson shouldn't be in Congress."

-- By David Wise

 12:02 PM 

Duffy says in new TV ad families keep America on top

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, is out with a new TV ad that features his eight children as he says families keep “America on top, not politicians and bureaucrats.”

Duffy opens the spot in a flannel shirt, saying he grew up competing in lumberjack sports. With his wife Rachel, they are raising their kids with Wisconsin values of work, honesty and compassion, he says.

The ad shows his children practicing on a log used in lumberjack competitions.

"It starts at home, not in Washington,” Duffy says. “I want to keep our families strong so they can pursue their dreams. Because it's our families that keep America on top, not politicians and bureaucrats. Those Wisconsin values are what I take to Washington.”

Duffy closes the spot saying he approves the message, “because in Wisconsin, that’s how we roll.”

-- By JR Ross

 10:44 AM 

Judge orders state to provide more information to those seeking voter ID

A federal judge today ordered the state to immediately provide more information to those seeking a voter ID to help them maneuver the process.

U.S. Judge James Peterson, who said he would file his written order later today, left in place the state’s voter ID law, saying instead he would pursue a “targeted remedy” to help those who struggle meeting the law’s requirements. 

He also told the plaintiffs, which include the liberal One Wisconsin Institute, that he “won’t be offended” if they appeal his decision. Peterson repeated his argument from yesterday that he doesn’t have “the authority to issue a brand new injunction” to hold up voter ID, though the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals would.

“The 7th Circuit is right down the road if you want to take a shot there,” Peterson said.

But Peterson said fixing the major flaws with the ID petition process -- which helps voters who don’t have the proper documents to get a free voter ID -- would be “good enough.” Under the IDPP, those voters get a temporary receipt that they can use at the polls. Those receipts are good for 60 days, but Peterson said he’d extend that to “at least” 180 days. 

The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, he noted, has belatedly made major efforts to fix its “really inadequate” training of employees on the process. But what remains to be fixed, he said, is informing people what they need to do to enter the process. 

“I think what’s called for here is a remedy to the deficiencies and the information distributed about the ID petition process,” he said. 

The fixes Peterson wants include having a one-page handout that “tells people clearly” what the IDPP process is. He also wants that handout disseminated to media and organizations that could then publicize it to voters. 

Another quick remedy, he said, is making the DMV website much more clear on how the process works. The state would also need to provide status reports to ensure DMV staff are giving people the correct information, as a VoteRiders investigation found that wasn’t the case with some people. 

And he required the state and plaintiffs to develop a strategy for a public information campaign, though he said they can take more time to work on that. 

-- By Polo Rocha

 10:33 AM 

Trump to rally in Green Bay, West Allis on Monday

Donald Trump will return to the KI Convention Center in Green Bay and the State Fairgrounds in West Allis as part of a Wisconsin swing on Monday.

The Green Bay rally is scheduled for 4 p.m. with the West Allis event to start three hours later.

Trump was originally supposed to campaign in Wisconsin last Saturday. But Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, pulled the invitation after a 2005 videotape surfaced featuring the GOP nominee making vulgar comments about women.

Ryan has told his House colleagues he will not campaign with Trump over the final weeks of the election.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker's campaign said he will not be at Monday's events because he has a prior commitment to keynote a GOPAC event in New Jersey that day. Joe Fadness said the event has been on Walker's schedule for several weeks.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson also won't be at the event. Johnson's campaign said he had prior commitments, but declined to release details of what those commitments were.

Monday's stop will be Trump's fourth day in Wisconsin since winning the GOP nomination. He also was in Green Bay Aug. 5, West Bend Aug. 16 and Waukesha Sept. 28.

-- By JR Ross

 7:00 AM 

Feingold TV ad knocks Johnson on salary, payout and opposing federal minimum wage

Russ Feingold is out with a new TV ad today knocking U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson for calling $700,000 in pay “pretty reasonable” and taking a “$10 million corporate payout” while opposing a federal minimum wage.

The spot opens playing a clip of Johnson saying, “You know, $700,000 in the scheme of things, is a pretty reasonable compensation level.”

The narrator then says Johnson paid himself $700,000 and took a $10 million corporate payout before moving to Washington, “where he fights against even the existence of any federal minimum wage.

“Millions for him, not even $7.25 an hour for us,” the narrator says to close the spot. “Sen. Ron Johnson, for big corporate interests, not Wisconsin.”

-- By JR Ross

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

 4:57 PM 

Judge: Voter ID likely to stay in place for November election, but more aggressive approach needed to help voters

The state’s voter ID law is likely to stay in place this November, though U.S. Judge James Peterson is calling for “more aggressive outreach” to voters who struggle meeting its requirements.

At a court hearing today, Peterson slammed the state for its handling of the voter ID law, saying its training of DMV employees was “manifestly inadequate” and that the issues that popped up in recent weeks were predictable. And he raised major concerns that the information DMV provides on its website remains far too complex. 

“There’s still a real failure to communicate in simple terms what you need to do to get an ID if you don’t have a birth certificate,” Peterson said. “This isn’t really rocket level science stuff here.” 

But Peterson signaled he won’t block the state’s voter ID law, saying he’s not sure he has the authority to do so. He scheduled a meeting tomorrow morning to draft a remedy to the issues raised in court today. 

The hearing today followed the release of audio recordings from the group VoteRiders that showed some DMV employees gave people the wrong information about the state’s ID petition process. 

That process, also known as the IDPP, lets people get a temporary receipt they can use at the polls if they struggle submitting the proper documents to get a permanent voter ID. 

Peterson said he wants to respect the state’s desire to have a voter ID law, which he said is likely constitutional under current law. But the state “really needs to step up” to ensure people understand the IDPP, which he said is a “prerequisite to a constitutionally sound voter ID law.” 

Per Peterson’s request, the state on Friday filed information on its investigation into the recordings and whether the roughly 400 DMV field employees have the proper training. DOJ attorney Mike Murphy said the DMV has “taken a lot of steps” to make sure its employees are trained adequately, pointing to the new online modules they were required to complete and the necessary follow-ups with their supervisors.

But Peterson countered that should’ve been happening at the outset. He said the recordings and DMV’s follow-up action were another example of a “disturbing pattern” in which the state only takes steps once issues pop up, saying the state “doesn’t actively anticipate problems.” 

“Many businesses that have to train customer service people do that first. … This is a matter of routine in businesses all over the country,” Peterson said. 

The state’s investigation also concluded media reports about the recordings were exaggerated.

One example, Murphy said, is that several of the recordings highlighted were VoteRiders volunteers or employees who asked DMV employees hypothetical questions that were likely to trip up the employees.

Only four of the cases submitted by the plaintiffs represented people actually seeking information on what to do, and those were all resolved successfully, he said. 

“That is not a description of a system that is fundamentally broken,” Murphy said. 

But Peterson said during its investigation the state also didn’t send in actual voters in its spot checks of 31 DMV stations. The state instead sent undercover troopers, and Peterson said though they “went in with the easy cases,” the information they got still wasn’t flawless. Peterson said he worried about an elderly person going to the DMV alone with a more challenging case.

-- By Polo Rocha

 12:54 PM 

Marquette poll finds 7-point edge for Clinton over Trump, tightening U.S. Senate race

The latest Marquette University Law School poll found Hillary Clinton’s edge over Donald Trump in Wisconsin and a tightening U.S. Senate race.

Clinton was backed by 44 percent of likely voters, while Trump was supported by 37 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson was at 9 percent, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein was at 3 percent.

The poll is the first publicly released survey in Wisconsin to capture some of the fallout after a 2005 videotape of Trump making vulgar comments about women was released Friday. 

In a four-way match up three weeks ago, Clinton had a 41-38 edge with Johnson at 11 percent and Stein at 2.

In the Senate race, 46 percent backed Dem Russ Feingold, while 44 percent supported U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh. Four percent backed Libertarian Phil Anderson.

Three weeks ago, Feingold had a 44-39 edge with Anderson at 7 percent.

The survey of 878 likely voters was conducted Thursday through Sunday over landlines and cell phones. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Poll director Charles Franklin said 412 of the interviews were conducted Thursday before the video was released, 230 were done Friday, as the new broke, and 236 were conducted Saturday and Sunday. 

There were signs in the results over the four days suggesting the tape had an impact in the presidential race.

Among likely voters, Trump was backed by 41 percent of respondents in the Thursday surveys, compared to 40 for Clinton. By Friday, it was 44-38 for Clinton. On Saturday and Sunday, it was 49-30 for Clinton.

-- By JR Ross

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