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Category “WI State Senate Races”

While Everyone’s Focusing on Ellis and Schultz…

…they seem to have forgotten there are actual Democrats to defeat next year. (But who am I to stop RINO hunters?)

One of those — who still hasn’t announced his plans — is State Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, winner of a contentious and potentially ill-gotten victory in a recall against Van Wanggard, in state Senate District 21.

Here’s Lehman’s recent campaign finance filing, which was turned in on July 11th according to the GAB.  Yes, redistricting is playing a role in what’s happening here, but as you can see, you have to begin to wonder when the retirement press conference is.

Lehman21 JanJune2013For those unable to see it, he raised a total of $250 in six months, of which all $250 came from a PAC.  He ended June 2013 with $2,820.01 cash on hand.

(That’s no where near Rob Zerban pathetic, but it’s close.)

Van Wanggard, who has been seeking the seat since his recall loss raised over $25,000 in the six-month fund raising time period; a more than healthy amount for a challenger in a Wisconsin State Senate race.  As for ending cash on hand, he’s got a tad under $26,000.

ASIDE: When comparing these COH numbers to other “to watch” seats in 2014, here are their numbers according to the GAB.

  • 1st Senate District (Lasee) — Raised $46,589; COH – $46,411.
  • 5th Senate District (Vukmir) — Raised $23,760; COH – $27,475.
  • 19th Senate District (Ellis) — Raised $3,257; COH – $142,295.
  • 23rd Senate District (Moulton) — Raised $8,180; COH – $29,050
  • 29th Senate District (Petrowski) — Raised $8,804; COH – $21,600.


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30 Pieces of Silver Paid in Full, Wirch Gets Spot on JFC

The biggest shock here isn’t that Wirch is on Joint Finance.

It’s that incoming minority leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) bounced off Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) to put Wirch on and decided to keep La Crosse’s Jen Shilling — who was a mainstay during her Assembly days — on instead.

A Democratic senator said to have changed his vote for his party’s leader snagged a coveted appointment Wednesday on the Legislature’s powerful budget committee.

Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Somers) and Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) were chosen to serve on the Joint Finance Committee by incoming Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee). Earlier this month, Larson beat his Democratic colleague Jon Erpenbach of Middleton in a race for minority leader.

After the vote, Erpenbach’s backers concluded Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie) had voted for Larson after saying he would vote for Erpenbach. One of them had noticed Wirch had folded his ballot multiple times and was able to tell which ballot was cast by Wirch after the fact.

Justin Sargent, Larson’s chief of staff, said that the Milwaukee Democrat hadn’t considered the recent leadership vote in deciding on the committee appointments. Shilling, who had run for assistant minority leader and lost to Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), was seen as being aligned with Erpenbach.

Under the soon-to-be replaced legislature, Taylor is the current co-chair of Joint Finance with soon-to-be Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington).  What exactly did she do to Larson to not only lose her seniority from the committee, but to be bounced completely.

There’s got to be a story behind that right there.  Is it because the two don’t get along — a theory I don’t buy — or because the two faced off against each other in the primaries of Milwaukee Assembly Districts where Larson (and WEAC) was seeking to replace many African American incumbents who Taylor was close with?

It’s probably the latter, but the truth is, we’ll never know.  He’s only has two spots to fill, and probably has a litany of reasons not to give each and every member of his caucus a spot on Joint Finance.

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Miller Stepping Down as WI State Senate Leader

Not unsurprising news, his chief of staff bailed to work for Milwaukee Co. government months ago.  The writing was on the wall for weeks that something was going to change depending on last night.

Mark Miller has decided to step down from his post as Senate Democratic leader.

Miller’s office issued a statement Wednesday saying he plans to quit his post when the current legislative session ends in December.

The Monona Democrat ran unopposed in Tuesday’s elections. The statement doesn’t say why he chose to quit his leadership position and his spokeswoman didn’t immediately return telephone messages.

Question now is who takes over.  The logical guess would be elevating Dave Hansen, the Assistant Leader, to leader, but considering he didn’t want the job after the 2010 elections (He briefly was “Leader” when they broke for caucus after former Wausau state Senator Russ Decker became the deciding vote against public employee contracts in the lame duck session, removing him as leader.), you wonder if he prefers to be #2 in the caucus more for political reasons.

It is a lot easier to knock out a guy in a swing district if he’s also the face of the opposition, and no doubt Hansen knows that.

Erpenbach is another likely option, since he’s practically been the media face for the caucus since “The Fleeing.”  Frankly, the options among the 14 other members of the caucus not named Mark Miller are slim pickings.  They’re more bomb throwers than leaders, unless someone decides to finally get serious among the lot.


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A Sign of How State Senate Races are Going?

Possibly, or it’s just a jump in salary?

Only time and the ballot box in November will tell.

The Milwaukee County Board’s new lobbyist is Jamie Kuhn, a legislative assistant at the state Capitol for 12 years.

Kuhn takes the job of director of intergovernmental relations, a post that has been vacant for more than three months following the retirement of Roy de la Rosa from the position.

“Jamie brings exceptional insights and invaluable relationships from her experience in state government that will benefit Milwaukee County and translate into real results,” County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic said Monday.

Kuhn will be paid about $88,000 in her county job.

Kuhn was chief of staff to state Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona). She worked on his staff since 2000.

Traditionally, when you’re the top staffer of a legislative body, you like being the top staffer of a legislative body.  With it comes power, respect, and all the other “perks” of the job.

You don’t leave unless you’re either bored or trying to cash in all the power you’ve accumulated.  That traditionally means the lobbyist route.  Another reason folks leave is that they think they’re about to be ousted from power.

Is that what’s happening here?  Is Kuhn abandoning ship because that 17-16 majority she leads is about to disappear?

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Green Bay Legislators Begin Unloading On Lena Taylor

More consequences of her “Type in Facebook Account, Insert Foot” mentality.

Madison: Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) announced her plans to boycott Georgia Pacific. Sen. Taylor posted her intentions to boycott the company on her Facebook wall and encouraged others to boycott as well. Georgia Pacific employees approximately 2,300 Wisconsinites in the city of Green Bay. Some fear that if the boycott is successful it could mean layoffs for workers at the Green Bay facility.

Representative Steineke issued the following statement about the boycott:

“Georgia Pacific has been an exceptional employer for the Green Bay area and as a company that employs Wisconsin citizens; I wish them nothing but the best and hope for their continued growth so that we are able to see more positions being added. Why someone would wish ill on a company that employs our citizens is beyond me.

“This is absolutely irresponsible governing. As an elected official, Senator Taylor should be working to create jobs in Wisconsin; not instigating a boycott that puts Wisconsinite’s livelihoods on the line.”

Mayor Jim Schmidt of Green Bay also commented on Taylor in the media yesterday as well, meaning the story probably hits the Press-Gazette and TV stations up there today or tomorrow.

The real question circulating around Madison in political watchers circles is how long can state Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), who represents the plants in question, stay quiet on this.  He’s up for re-election next year and despite dodging the recall bullet will be targeted in the new maps in play, and not speaking up for one of the oldest industries in that district could be costly.

Then there’s the other things Hansen could do to her behind the scenes.  See, he’s Assistant Minority Leader of the Democratic caucus in the State Senate.  Wonder if any political trips Lena had planned will suddenly be canceled and given to other members?

UPDATE: From the press releases issued today.

Rep. Chad Weininger (R)

Rep. Tony Staskunas (D)

Nothing was issued from any of the 15 other State Senate Democrats on Taylor’s remarks.

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Colbert SuperPAC Treasurer Resigns to be Perry’s Treasurer

Real pity the Sandy Pasch campaign and Citizen Action of Wisconsin never thought about doing this, huh?

No joke: Presidential candidate Rick Perry and comedian Stephen Colbert, who last week barraged Iowa voters with advertisements urging voters to support “Rick Parry,” shared the same political committee treasurer – until they didn’t.

Salvatore Purpura, who has represented numerous political committees as treasurer over the years, told POLITICO that he resigned on Thursday as treasurer of Colbert’s super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.

Then, on Monday, Perry – not Parry – formally filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission listing Purpura as his campaign treasurer.

“Obviously, there was a potential conflict of interest,” Purpura said. “I told [Colbert lawyer] Trevor [Potter] on Thursday I would not be able to be treasurer anymore.” Potter could not immediately be reached for comment.

To date, Purpura remains listed as treasurer in FEC documents for both Perry’s presidential committee and Colbert’s super PAC, which Purpura attributed to a paperwork lag time. Shauna Polk, an official at Washington, D.C.-based law firm Caplin & Drysdale, has assumed treasurer duties for Colbert’s super PAC, Purpura said.

The Atlantic originally reported that Purpura’s name appeared on both committees’ paperwork.

Purpura’s online LinkedIn resume indicates he’s served as treasurer or “director of treasury” for George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, John McCain 2008 presidential campaign, the U.S. Senate campaign of Carly Fiorina in California and the campaign of Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), among others.

Treasurers often do not have leadership and decision-making roles in political committees, more often serving in a financial capacities depending on the committee. For Perry, Purpura says he’ll work as “CFO – managing accounting.”

Treasurers are pretty much just over-glorified accountants of political committees.  In fact, during for the Ron Johnson Senate campaign, Ron actually had a number of accountants act as his campaign treasurer and deputy treasurer.

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“We Are Wisconsin” Loses La Crosse Offices in Fire

And I give it 12 hours before the conspiracy theorists get to work on this news.

It just won’t stop burning.

A fire in the 400 block of Jay Street that has already claimed one building stubbornly refuses to go out, due partly, said Assistant Fire Chief Warren Thomas, to its rubber roof.

Crews cut holes in the rubber, but the water gets trapped and can’t do it’s job properly, he said.

With the burning building behind it knocked down, all the efforts of the La Crosse and Onalaska Fire Departments is now on the front building at 423 Jay St., particularly the southeast corner. If the fire in that corner gets out of control, Thomas said, it could jump to the building on the corner at Fifth Avenue and Jay Street.

“We don’t want it spreading.”

Beginning at about 9:30 a.m., crews attacked the fire from ladder trucks high above the roof tops as the blaze spread south.

By late afternoon crews brought in an excavator to demolish one structure after its roof collapsed earlier in the day.

The buildings are home to six apartments, whose residents all escaped safely. Firefighters have been treated for heat exhaustion throughout the day, but no one was seriously injured.

The structure also houses the local headquarters for We Are Wisconsin, a Democratic organizing group. It is a total loss, said group spokesman Kelly Steele.

Staff was inside when the fire broke out and escaped safely, he said.

It is unclear how the fire started.

At one point in the afternoon, it appeared the fire was under control, but new clouds of black smoke began billowing from storefront and apartment windows.

Police have blocked off Fifth Avenue from Main Street to Jay Street. Officials ask that you avoid driving downtown near the fire.

Given past reports from the gang at MacIver, I will admit, I’m a bit shocked to see the Shilling campaign offices weren’t effected either.

In multiple cities across the state, recall campaign offices for Democratic candidates and “We Are Wisconsin” offices share the same building.

No coordinating there, right?  (Where’s a BS complaint filing from Mike McCabe to the GAB when you need it?)

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Wait a Minute, Fred Clark Hit a Guy With His SUV?

Yeah, while clearly running a red light too.

It’s at the 40 second mark of this video.

And to read “PolitiFACT” try to spin it to the eventual “TRUE” rating they have to give out is pretty nuts.

(Disclaimer – I actually had to track all this down in January 2010 when I was doing opposition research for state legislative races for RPW.  The police report is really something when you go through it.

Clark would barely win his 2010 Assembly re-election by just 288 votes.

That’s why I laugh at all those who think Clark has a chance beyond Luther Olsen being completely lazy on the campaign trail.  Sadly, that is possible for those who know Luther.)

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So after weeks and months of wondering when the Republican-led state legislature was going to unveil new district maps on Friday.  Some thoughts:

1) – Of course it’s a gerrymander…and I don’t care.

As someone who’s heard of the rumored “Chvala Map” and it being in the hands of either former State Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (Chuck Chvala’s wife was on his state Senate staff) or Madison’s Jon Erpenbach, you know these ideas have been kicked around for years, by both sides.

You’re a naive, bumbling fool to think it’s only one side with “Evil, diabolical plans for total state political control” when it comes to redistricting.

2) – The Harping over the 7th is Hilarious.

I’ve said it before, but to watch the wailing and moaning from the likes of Dave Obey about his ex-district is funny.

For starter’s, it’s his ex-district!  If Dave is so worried about it, why did he retire from Congress boys and girls?!?  (Sorry, still too soon?)

Do parties do all they can to shore up incumbents and first term legislators?  Of course they do.

Heck, I remember once on a comment board at either the Appleton Post-Crescent or Green Bay Press-Gazette where some Democrats openly discussed how they needed to ensure after 2010 — if he was still in Congress, and he’s not — and they had control of redistricting, to make sure Democratically-packed Oshkosh was included in any new boundaries of the 8th District to make sure Steve Kagen was secure.

Anything less they said, would make Kagen a perpetual target of the GOP.

(Never did ask Jef Hall, failed 6th Congressional Candidate, Winnebago Co. Democratic Party Chair, 2nd Vice Chair of DPW, and an older brother’s ex-rommie about his take on those plans…)

3) – Action now sought by Democrats makes them look “A Day Late, and a Dollar Short.”

Wisconsin Democrats controlled the State Senate after the 2006 elections, they controlled the State Assembly after the 2008.  So any calls for any sort of “Redistricting Commission” right now are hollow.  Democrats had their chance to enact one when they ran Wisconsin government and they didn’t do it.

Perhaps some inquisitive reporter-types should ask this session’s commission pusher, Brett Hulsey (D-Madis0n), [Not to mention Mike McCabe or Jay Heck] why no one accomplished this when his party had total control of the legislature and the governor’s office?

Or do we already know the answer to that one?

4) – Movers and Realtors to Benefit.

Yeah, this happens often.  The question is now, do you want to fight it out in a primary or is moving just smarter to do.  I think Wigderson has a solid list of those who will be putting “Two Men and a Truck” on speed-dial.

That being said, the fact they redistricted Nusbaum out of the 2nd State Senate District by mere blocks is pretty damn funny.

5) – The Local Redistricting Argument is a Red Herring.

I think UW law professor Ann Althouse puts it best.  While allowing locals to redistrict first has been what’s worked in the past, we’ve also never seen local officials more than willing to play political games at the rate they are.  What’s to stop Democratic strongholds like Shorewood, Milwaukee, or Madison to intentionally slow down their own redistricting until after the recalls.

Two can always play any political game.

6) – Amazing How Easily DPW Forgets Illinois.

You want to see a gerrymander, look to the Land of Lincoln.

This is how the law works in a number of states.  Screaming, holding ones breath, and jumping up and down won’t change it.  Win elections, then you get to draw the lines!

 7) – The Kos Kids Continue to Amuse.

Was reading over at Gruber’s blog how someone at DailyKos was putting the new districts and comparing them to the 2008 election. For the life of me, I do not understand why anyone would want to use 2008 election data (or 2010 data either) to determine who will win a given district in Wisconsin.

The 2006 through 2010 elections were waves — we seem to be having a lot of those lately — and waves give horrible “normal data” when it comes to voting patterns.  My personal take would be to use either the 2004 Presidential or 2011 State Supreme Court elections as better markers since those were base vs. base elections and results in essentially ties in the state.

Maybe the state GOP should thank the Democrats for making the Prosser race close after all.

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We Are Wisconsin’s “Ricca Moment”

Congratulations guys.  You join an elite company.

The latest smear launched by We Are Wisconsin, a union backed front group, appears to star the daughter of WEAC’s Executive Director Dan Burkhalter. Burkhalter, who has a $242,000 a year compensation plan, lives with his family in Middleton, roughly 90 miles away from Alberta Darling’s Senate District.

“Union bosses have been distorting the facts for years. Now it appears that WEAC is drumming up fake constituents to mislead voters in the 8th Senate District,” said Darling’s campaign manager Andrew Davis. “Dan Burkhalter and his $242,000 a year compensation package would like you to believe that Republicans are taking money out of the classroom. Yet it’s union bosses like him who have made a fortune off of forced union dues and have fought against modest compensation reforms.”

(Read here, or here for the “Ricca” reference.)

For their next trick, I hear “We are Wisconsin” will be coming out with an ad where they’ll be using old Packers game footage without getting the NFL’s express written consent.


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