Category “WI State Assembly Races”

Kestell Announces He Won’t Seek Re-Election

Well, heads up to Wis­con­sin Elec­tion Watch, they had this rumor over a month ago. (Dis­claimer: I occa­sion­ally write for them, but did noth­ing on this subject)

This now makes the third Repub­li­can retire­ment from the Assem­bly for She­boy­gan Co.  The 27th (where my par­ents live) includes the lower third of Man­i­towoc Co. and the north­ern part of She­boy­gan Co.  It should be a Repub­li­can hold, but I’m unsure who the bench is at the moment.

The last one who con­sid­ered chal­leng­ing Kestell in a pri­mary was She­boy­gan Falls Mayor Randy Meyer, and he’s fac­ing re-election today.

Just over a month ago, Rep. Steve Kestell said he hadn’t yet decided whether to seek re-election to his 27th Assem­bly Dis­trict seat.

Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake, has now decided, and the answer is no.

In a release sent to media Tues­day after­noon, Kestell, 58, said his deci­sion has the bless­ing of his family.

Dur­ing my years in the state Leg­is­la­ture, I’ve worked every day to uphold the belief that elected offi­cials should strive to do the right thing, for the right rea­son, and in the right way,” he said. “I am proud of what we’ve accom­plished together, and I look for­ward to new chal­lenges as the future unfolds.”

Kestell, who serves as chair­man of the Assem­bly Edu­ca­tion Com­mit­tee, was on the fore­front of the push this win­ter against a Repub­li­can bill that would have cre­ated sanc­tions for poorly per­form­ing pub­lic schools and pri­vate schools that accept taxpayer-subsidized students.

Repub­li­cans ulti­mately dropped the plan and instead adopted a bill that would require all schools that accept pub­lic dol­lars to include per­for­mance data on report cards the pub­lic can view.

Kestell was first elected to his seat in 1998.

That being said, if Jack Lech­ler is the best RACC can come up with on short notice, I’m going to bang my head against the wall.

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Bies Announces Retirement from Legislature

Stur­geon Bay will need a new state rep. soon.  Gary Bies is hang­ing it up.

Though there has been some change in vot­ing trends in Door County in recent years, I really don’t see Repub­li­cans los­ing this seat.

Madi­son… “Tomor­row I will file my Notice of Non-Candidacy to seek an eighth term in the state Assembly.

I am very grate­ful to the cit­i­zens of the First Assem­bly Dis­trict who’ve sup­ported me with their vote to be their Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the past 7 terms.

With your encour­age­ment and prayers we have accom­plished many things both large and small to make our state and dis­trict a bet­ter place to live, work and enjoy. I thank you for the oppor­tu­nity to have served you for the past 14 years.

God Bless you, the State of Wis­con­sin and the United States of America.”

Bies joins Cascade’s Dan LeMahieu as another recent retire­ment announce­ment.  That seat too, the 58th, will likely stay in Repub­li­can hands.

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JFC">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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Taxes are for Saps, Not Democratic Assembly Candidates

Never paid taxes except for once…around 25…

No won­der this is Chris Larson’s can­di­date of choice. (Via Dan Bice)

Man­dela Barnes, a Demo­c­rat run­ning for the state Assem­bly, wants to change the state’s tax policies.

We have to imple­ment a pro­gres­sive tax rate that ensures that every­one pays their fair share,” Barnes told the Shep­herd Express recently.

Not that Barnes knows much about pay­ing Wis­con­sin taxes.

Records show that the Barnes, 25, has paid state income taxes only once. He forked over $534 to the state Depart­ment of Rev­enue in 2009, the same year he worked as a staff assistant/intern for Mil­wau­kee Mayor Tom Bar­rett.

Barnes, who worked pre­vi­ously as lead orga­nizer for the non­profit Mil­wau­kee Inner-City Con­gre­ga­tions Allied for Hope, is chal­leng­ing Rep. Jason Fields (D-Milwaukee) in a heated con­test for the 11th Assem­bly Dis­trict.

John Jacob­son, a spokesman for Barnes’ cam­paign, said the Mil­wau­kee Demo­c­rat didn’t pay taxes in most years because he was unem­ployed or work­ing out­side Wis­con­sin. He was claimed as a depen­dent, Jacob­son said, on his par­ents’ income taxes for every year except 2009.

Note to self…if this jack­ass wins on Tues­day bring him up every sin­gle time the @$$-clowns at One Wis­con­sin Now get all high and mighty about any Repub­li­can office seeker and their taxes.

It’s the hypocrisy of it all mostly.

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Dominoes Begin to Topple in Madison Politics

Expected news.  Hell, I’ve writ­ten columns on this topic time and time again.

Demo­c­ra­tic domi­noes are expected to start falling soon after Labor Day with a series of cam­paign announce­ments from national and local candidates.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Bald­win of Madi­son is expected to offi­cially enter the race for retir­ing U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl’s seat as early as next week. As soon as she does, state Reps. Mark Pocan and Kelda Helen Roys, both of Madi­son, are expected to announce their runs for Baldwin’s House seat.

Offi­cials with all three camps are play­ing coy with the tim­ing of the announce­ments, but their inten­tions are some of the worst-kept secrets in Wis­con­sin pol­i­tics these days.

Let’s just say, next week could be a very busy week for Democ­rats,” Pocan said.

Roys made sim­i­lar com­ments to the State Jour­nal this week.

I’m very encour­aged by all of the sup­port I’ve received,” she said. “I plan to announce my plans next week.”

State Sen. Jon Erpen­bach, D-Middleton, also is mulling a run.

It’s not every day that a con­gres­sional seat comes up in Dane County,” he said.

But Erpen­bach said there is noth­ing “mag­i­cal” about next week and didn’t offer specifics about when he may make an announcement.

Pocan and Roys would be fol­low­ing the lead of Bald­win, 49, who served in the state Assem­bly before becom­ing a mem­ber of Con­gress. Bald­win was in the Assem­bly from 1992 until 1999, when she became a U.S. representative.

Pocan, 47, is a sign com­pany owner first elected to the Assem­bly in 1998 and is widely con­sid­ered to be one of the Democ­rats’ top strate­gists at the state Capitol.

Roys, 32, was first elected to the Assem­bly in 2008 and pre­vi­ously served as the exec­u­tive direc­tor of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin.

Erpen­bach, who was first elected to the state Sen­ate in 1998, is one of the 14 Demo­c­ra­tic sen­a­tors who left the state in Feb­ru­ary to slow the progress of Gov. Scott Walker’s col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing bill. The group became fre­quent guests on national news talk shows. Erpen­bach appeared on sev­eral shows, includ­ing mem­o­rable pieces on the Com­edy Cen­tral shows “The Col­bert Report” and “The Daily Show.”

Erpenbach’s run­ning mostly because he’s got the free ride to do so this cycle.  Unlike Pocan and Roys who have to resign from the Assem­bly no mat­ter what, “Erp” can still keep his day job if he loses.

Other names to be on the look­out for: for­mer State Rep. Spencer Black (He retired in 2010), for­mer Madi­son Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, and prob­a­bly a few oth­ers I haven’t thought of at this moment.

These deci­sions are going to cause immense tur­moil in the strat­egy rooms of Madi­son — where all real power sits in Wis­con­sin Demo­c­ra­tic cir­cles (sorry Mil­wau­kee) — as the Ass­Dems deal with a cycle with­out Pocan in the driver’s seat, the Madi­son del­e­ga­tion is pulled apart with in-fighting for endorse­ments in the Con­gres­sional pri­mary, and then folks on the city coun­cil, advo­cacy group ranks, or Dane County Board scram­bling them­selves to run for the sud­denly open Assem­bly seats of Pocan and Roys.

No won­der there’s talk of Assem­bly Minor­ity Leader Peter Barca think­ing of jump­ing into either the U.S. Sen­ate race or plac­ing him­self as “the sav­ior” in a pos­si­ble Walker recall; it’s prob­a­bly not worth lead­ing a cau­cus on the verge of a decade in the minority.

(Insert your own line about rats and sink­ing ships here.)

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Gerry-Bitching

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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Newcomer to Leave Assembly

This is expected news, with some expect­ing it would hap­pen dur­ing this past weekend’s state GOP con­ven­tion.  Accord­ing to many posts by my friend James Wigder­son, Newcomer’s per­sonal life has become a mess (divorce, busi­ness strug­gles, etc.) and would have become a dis­trac­tion to his ser­vice in the Assembly.

The seat is con­sid­ered a safe hold for the GOP.

Another state law­maker has decided to quit.

Rep. Scott New­comer, a Hart­land Repub­li­can, says in a state­ment he won’t seek re-election in Novem­ber. He didn’t offer any rea­sons in the state­ment. A mes­sage left at his Capi­tol office wasn’t imme­di­ately returned.

New­comer has served in the Assem­bly since 2006. He did a stint as chair­man of the Assem­bly Finan­cial Insti­tu­tions Committee.

He becomes the 22nd leg­is­la­tor to bow out of the Novem­ber elec­tions, leav­ing 19 open seats in the Assem­bly and three open seats in the Sen­ate. Democ­rats hold a 52–46 major­ity in the Assem­bly and an 18–15 edge in the Senate.

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Black Retiring from Assembly

With Black’s announce­ment, along with the announce­ment on Fri­day of Green Bay Repub­li­can Phil “Monty” Mont­gomery of his retire­ment, that now makes 20 Assem­bly seats which are now open by either retire­ment or the cur­rent office­holder seek­ing another office.

Demo­c­ra­tic Rep. Spencer Black, who was first elected in 1984, told the Wis­con­sin State Jour­nal on Sun­day he will not seek re-election.

Black was recently a lead spon­sor of a con­tro­ver­sial clean energy bill call­ing for Wis­con­sin to get 25 per­cent of its power from renew­able sources by 2025, which died with­out get­ting a vote in either house. On Sun­day night, Black, 59, said the bill’s death was a dis­ap­point­ment, but it “really didn’t play a role” in his deci­sion, which he said was a per­sonal one. And he said he believes he could win re-election, yet thinks “it’s a good time to pass the torch.” He also spoke of accom­plish­ments in the area of envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, such as the statewide recy­cling law and a preser­va­tion effort known as the Stew­ard­ship Fund.

As I did when I first ran for office, I con­tinue to believe that noth­ing is more impor­tant to the long range future of our state and nation than pro­tect­ing the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we love,” he said in an e-mail.

Call­ing his abil­ity to rep­re­sent his neigh­bors “the great­est honor” of his life, Black spoke of his work on a min­ing mora­to­rium law aimed at pro­tect­ing the Wolf River, the state trails sys­tem, grants to pro­tect endan­gered species, and a new ban on phos­pho­rus in lawn fer­til­izer and detergents.

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, called Black an irre­place­able envi­ron­men­tal advo­cate who’s been at the fore­front of count­less con­ser­va­tion bills. “Out­side of Gay­lord Nel­son, I can’t think of any­one who’s had a big­ger influ­ence on the envi­ron­ment in Wis­con­sin,” Pocan said.

No one is cur­rently reg­is­tered to run for Black’s seat rep­re­sent­ing the 77th Assem­bly Dis­trict in the fall elec­tion, accord­ing to the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­ity Board website.

Rep. Black has to know Assem­bly Democ­rats’ days in charge are num­bered and there’s no doubt he doesn’t want to go back to the days where his far-left agenda gets neglected by more rea­son­able lead­er­ship,” said Reince Priebus, chair­man of the Repub­li­can Party of Wisconsin.

There’s a lot of truth to what Chair­man Priebus is say­ing about Black’s retire­ment.  It’s start­ing to look more and more, with the num­ber of retire­ments, and the place­ment within lead­er­ship going after dif­fer­ent offices (i.e. Nel­son for Lt. Gov­er­nor), that many of the Ass­Dems are see­ing the writ­ing on the wall: They might not be run­ning the place next year.

That being said, I believe that both par­ties should be able to eas­ily hold the Mont­gomery and Black seats easily.

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Hilgenberg Not Seeking Re-Election

Had heard there was talk he wasn’t going to seek re-election, guess it was true.

Demo­c­ra­tic state Rep. Steve Hilgen­berg of Dodgeville is not seek­ing re-election.

The 65-year-old Hilgen­berg announced Fri­day that he is not run­ning due to health concerns.

Hilgen­berg served two terms after being first elected in 2006.

Hilgen­berg is the fourth Demo­c­rat and 11th Assem­bly mem­ber over­all to announce they will not be seek­ing another term. Two Repub­li­cans and one Demo­c­rat in the state Sen­ate are also not run­ning for re-election.

Democ­rats hold a 52–46 major­ity in the Assem­bly and an 18–15 major­ity in the Senate.

What’s going to be inter­est­ing to watch this fall in the State Leg­isla­tive races — beyond fur­ther retire­ments — is how the Democ­rats are going to be play­ing defense.  After win­ning both houses because of their back-to-back waves in 2006 and 2008, they now have the entire state leg­is­la­ture and gov­er­nor­ship to defend (not to men­tion at least the Kagen seat).  Will it be an all-or-nothing approach where WEAC and the tribes to keep the Governor’s Mansion.

Or will they try to save at least one house of the leg­is­la­ture instead?

My guess, Democ­rats (and more than a few lib­eral blog­gers) will take too much stock into the new Ras­mussen poll and bet it all on Barrett.

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Wood Unable to Force Floor Vote on Own Expulsion

I’ve long thought that the move to expel Jeff Wood (I-Chippewa Falls) was use­less, and that the guy should save us all from it by sim­ply resign­ing.  Since Jeff Wood con­tin­ues to prove he’s a amoral jack­ass by not resign­ing from the State Assem­bly, this lit­tle move doesn’t come off as a shock to me.

Rep. Jeff Wood early Fri­day morn­ing failed in an effort to force a deci­sion in his ethics case at a moment when the law­maker lead­ing it was prepar­ing for his mother’s funeral.

The Assem­bly dead­locked 47–47 and did not take up the pos­si­ble expul­sion of the inde­pen­dent from Chippewa Falls, who racked up three intox­i­cated dri­ving charges within a year. The vote required a two-thirds mar­gin. If expelled, Wood would be the first law­maker ousted from the Leg­is­la­ture by his col­leagues in nearly a century.

Wood tried to com­pel a vote on his pos­si­ble dis­ci­pline at a moment when the law­maker lead­ing the effort against him, Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), was absent get­ting ready for his mother’s funeral to be held later Friday.

Democ­rats who voted to take up the mat­ter said they wanted to vote for a lesser dis­ci­pline than expul­sion such as cen­sure. Repub­li­cans said they would take the mat­ter up on Tues­day when Nass returns.

Nass aide Mike Mikalsen denounced the move as “despi­ca­ble,” say­ing Democ­rats and Wood put Repub­li­cans at a dis­ad­van­tage because Nass knows more about the issue than other GOP colleagues.

There was a deci­sion to play pol­i­tics while he was mourn­ing the loss of his mother,” Mikalsen said.

Wood said on the floor he wasn’t try­ing to shut out Nass and instead wanted to resolve the mat­ter ahead of a sched­uled no-contest plea in one of his intox­i­cated dri­ving cases Mon­day. He said it was a bad prece­dent for the Assem­bly to expel a mem­ber for con­duct unre­lated to his offi­cial duties.

I’m not mak­ing excuses for what I did. I’ll face the con­se­quences in the judi­ciary. But that’s the appro­pri­ate place for it,” said Wood, who declined to answer ques­tions afterward.

What’s amaz­ing in all this, is that in this entire time, nei­ther Nass or Wood have squared off pub­licly about the expul­sion mea­sure.  You can see the 47–47 roll call here.

But to try to get to the floor on the eve of the night Nass is try­ing to bury his mother…classy move from an admit­ted drug addict.

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