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Category “2011 Elections”

Foley’s WRTL Witchhunt Goes Unfulfilled

Sorry Tom.

You were wrong.

(Hell, at least our side was expecting none of the Democrats to be charge with anything.  This is Milwaukee County after all.)

No charges will be brought against two groups that were accused of election law violations in the run-up to the August recall election of Sen. Alberta Darling, according to a statement released this morning.

“It is unclear, at best, whether an offer to pay persons to gathers absentee ballot applications on a quota basis comes within the scope of the Election Bribery statute,” wrote Asst. Dist. Atty. Bruce Landgraf, the lead prosecutor on the case for Milwaukee County. “The statute as currently written does not give much guidance to those who wish to follow the dictates of the law, especially in the area of absentee voting.”

Wisconsin Right to Life gave campaign workers $25 gift cards for every 15 voters sympathetic to the anti-abortion cause that were enlisted for absentee voting.

Wisconsin Jobs Now, a community and labor group, held five block parties on the northwest side of Milwaukee. They provided food, prizes and a lift to Milwaukee City Hall where voters could cast absentee ballots.

In a 14-page letter to Milwaukee County Judge Kevin Martens, Landgraf said he was influenced by the fact that both groups were acting in good faith to maximize voter participation.

“Put another way, there was no evidence that these groups were acting in bad faith or with motives suggesting any form of corruption,” he wrote.

No wonder I don’t go to Tom for legal advice.  Besides he’s gone all crazy after the Feingold loss.

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LA Times to WisDems: End the Recalls

I honestly don’t expect the Left in this state to heed this advice; especially from people as far away as California, but I pass this along anyway.

Honestly, the only thing Wisconsin liberals want from California these days are the warm weather and any loose change they could spare to help in the recall efforts.  (I hear after he’s done being all bat-$#!+ crazy like and pretending his paycheck from The Avengers doesn’t disqualify him as part of “The 99%,” Kenosha native Mark Ruffalo will probably show up like he always does.)

Wisconsinites may not have much use for advice from an out-of-state news organization, but coming from a place that has undergone its own share of political troubles as a result of recall elections, we humbly submit this counsel to Badger State Democrats who are launching a recall drive against Gov. Scott Walker: Don’t do it.

Walker’s election in 2010 was among the most polarizing of the political shifts of that tumultuous year, when anger over the struggling economy fueled the tea party movement and Republicans pushed out Democratic incumbents nationwide. His attempt to destroy public employee unions rather than negotiate with them to reduce his state’s budget deficit were unnecessary and extreme, and understandably prompted a furious response from unions and Democratic Party leaders. But targeting a governor for recall just because you disagree with his policies is a terrible idea. We know.

When California experienced serious budget problems in 2003, Republicans mounted a recall drive against Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. He was guilty of no misconduct and had done nothing to betray the public trust, yet Davis failed to provide much leadership during tough financial times and, fatally, he allowed the state’s vehicle license fee (better known as the “car tax”), which had been slashed in 1999, to revert to its former level, irking California voters who saw this as a tax hike. Davis was recalled and voters elected Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, a popular movie star with no government experience who immediately ended the car tax increase while proposing nothing to make up for the lost revenue.

Recall drives like California’s, and the one Wisconsin Democrats plan to start circulating petitions for on Nov. 15, render meaningless the notion that voters elect governors to serve a set term. Recalls make it nearly impossible for state leaders to get anything done because they go into campaign mode rather than legislating mode. They worsen partisanship and, Davis’ recall notwithstanding, they are usually a waste of time and money (an effort by Wisconsin Democrats to end the Republican majority in the state Senate via recall has already failed, with four of six GOP incumbents keeping their seats). And populist outrage doesn’t necessarily lead to positive reform. Schwarzenegger may not have been a worse governor than Davis, but he was hardly a better one, with his tenure marked by political paralysis and continual budget deficits stemming from the loss of $4 billion in annual car-tax revenue.

Elections have consequences, and sometimes your side loses. Recalls are a useful tool when a politician commits misconduct, but that’s not the case in Wisconsin. Democrats should accept that and move on.

The fact we’re even in this recall hell to begin with is a sign that most Wisconsin Democrats still haven’t accepted last November’s election results and are failing to move on.

Frankly the whole party needs more time on the couch than on the campaign trail in my opinion…

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Democratic Strategists to Would-be Candidates: Don’t Run!

Amazing what one bad night will do, isn’t it?

Buried in an article from the Hill about last night’s two GOP victories in special elections for House seats in New York and Nevada.

Polling leading up to the race indicated Obama was dragging down the Democratic candidate. Democratic pollster Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling said that a Turner win would be “largely due to the incredible unpopularity of Barack Obama dragging his party down in the district” after PPP’s polling found Obama with just 31 percent approval in a district he won with 55 percent of the vote in 2008.

A Democratic strategist said Obama has become such a problem for down-ticket Democrats that he was wary of encouraging candidates to run next year. “I’m warning my clients — ‘Don’t run in 2012.’ I don’t want to see good candidates lose by 12 to 15 points because of the president,” said the strategist.

National Democrats expected early on that they would have no problems holding the district, even though it has trended Republican over the last decade. But when the race tightened the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decided to spend $500,000 on television ads in the highly expensive media market, while the Democratic outside group House Majority PAC has spent an additional $100,000. Republicans were badly outspent in the race, but it didn’t matter.

I think it’s a little too early to say if this unnamed Democratic strategist is going to be right or not.  But I haven’t heard of such an idea being tossed around since 2008, when senior GOP consultants were said to be telling would-be candidates the same thing.

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Can GOP Take Anthony Weiner’s Seat?

We’ll know for certain on Tuesday, but it’s starting to look like a real possibility.

Panicked Democrats are releasing a barrage of negative television advertising, turning to the national party for a cash infusion and pleading with President Obama’s network of supporters for help as they confront what seemed impossible two months ago: defeat in the heavily Democratic House district last represented by Anthony D. Weiner.

Party leaders say the president’s flagging popularity and defections among Jewish voters have left them facing the embarrassing possibility that their candidate, Assemblyman David I. Weprin, could lose New York’s Ninth Congressional District to a little-known Republican businessman who has never held elected office.

A new poll released on Friday showed Bob Turner, the Republican, with a six-point lead over Mr. Weprin. The election is on Tuesday, and even though lawmakers have discussed eliminating the district in redistricting next year, the race has become symbolically important as an indication of how much Mr. Obama’s unpopularity might affect other Democratic candidates.

“This has been a difficult campaign, and this campaign has had some major operational problems,” said Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

Mr. Lopez said that he expected Mr. Weprin to win, but that the campaign needed to become much more aggressive in the final days.

Steven A. Greenberg, a pollster from Siena College, which conducted the survey, said the special election, though it was taking place in a traditionally Democratic section of Brooklyn and Queens, had become a chance for voters to register their unhappiness with the national economic and political climate. The poll, which had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points, found that 54 percent of likely voters in the district had an unfavorable view of Mr. Obama, and nearly three quarters said the country was headed in the wrong direction.

“You have the potential perfect storm for the Republicans,” Mr. Greenberg said. “When the country is headed in the wrong direction, you want to blame the people who are there. And who are in charge? The Democrats.”

While the Siena College poll is saying Turner is up, reportedly, what really has Democrats worried are a string of internal polling from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee which apparently has Weprin losing outside the margin of error.  What really has the “Netroots” at Kos worried is apparently Public Policy Polling (PPP) is in the field and Tom Jensen has stated on Twitter the Dems are going to lose the race ‘BIG.’

He even said the all-caps of “BIG” was justified.

PPP has yet to release the poll, and is expected to do so on Monday.  Since it’s now carrying a reputation of being the most accurate pollster so far for 2011 with its record in the Wisconsin Recalls and other special elections, it’s results have liberals on edge.

What’s causing this reliably Democratic district to possibly flip?  Well, there’s a number of reasons.

The President is a Democrat, so that tends to mean independents are more likely to vote against his party in a special election if things are lousy…and well, things are lousy.  Secondly, Weprin’s a horrible candidate.  Even typically, reliable press outlets for the Democratic Party like Talking Points Memo have called him a gaffe machine, and even better, he won’t be able to vote for himself on Tuesday since he doesn’t even live in the District.

(His mother does though, and he’ll be escorting her to the polls like a good son.)

Then of course, there’s the old liberal standby…Koch!

Oh, I’m sorry.  That’s the right spelling, wrong pronounciation.  It’s not Koch (Coke), it’s Koch (Kaach), as in former NYC Mayor Ed Koch.

Koch has backed the Republican Turner and has made no secret he’s been trying to make the race a referendum on the Obama Administration’s policy towards Israel.  Polling among Jewish voters in the district shows he may have been successful.

What’s going to happen on Tuesday?  I have no idea.  I quit predicting special elections in New York State years ago and won’t bother with one on this one; especially one that will probably be redistricted out of existence in the coming months.

That being said, it sure would be nice to think a Republican is sitting in Chuck Schumer’s old House seat.

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Finger-Pointing Begins in SSD 12 Aftermath

Interesting screed (Yes, the jury okays the use of the word) by Kevin Stevenson, the Lincoln County GOP Chairman in the Wausau Daily Herald on ‘Why” exactly Northwoods Patriots leader Kim Simac lost to Jim Holperin in the August 16th recall election.

Stevenson pretty much narrows it down to two things, none of which related to Simac as a candidate.  His reasons are:

1) RPW gave Kimac an inexperienced campaign staff:

The RPW then recommends campaign staff to Kim Simac. One would assume that it would recommend only the best and brightest in an election of this importance, and that every effort would be made to run an aggressive campaign to unseat Holperin. Wrong!


The RPW will tell you that the staff was young and had never run such a campaign before. They are right. That’s why it is not right to blame the staff alone. The Republican Party of Wisconsin took control of this campaign and deserves the lion’s share of blame.

2) The Campaign staff “hide” Simac from the press.

The staff decided that all “mainstream” media would be biased against them. Rather than simply leave it at this, they went further and insulted and demeaned the media. Now, the media should not feel special in this area, because it is hard to find anyone who did not feel this way after dealing with the staff. People-friendly this staff was not.

Most campaigns struggling with cash flow issues would welcome debates and forums with the incumbent. Again, the staff surprised everyone. Rather than accept these opportunities to reach large numbers of voters to share Kim’s background, ideas and goals, they instead chose to hide. This just intensified the claims: “You just can’t trust Kim Simac.”


For issue 1, I don’t think Stevenson is off by much, but there are a number of reasons for it.  For starters, most of the experienced staff is usually going to go to incumbents.  Always has, always will, and happens regardless of party.

Take for example Alberta Darling’s campaign.  She insisted on getting the very team she had in 2008 back for her recall, and pretty much got it. (But no doubt she had to pay a premium to get them too.)

Secondly, most of the experienced campaign staff for Republicans State Senate from 2010 likely got jobs inside the Walker administration or any of the then 19 Republican State Senate staffs.  In order to work on a campaign, they would have had to take leave of absences from their regular jobs.

Democrats probably didn’t have those problems.  The mass layoff program in Madison known as “Election 2010” had probably left more than a few of the best and brightest campaign operatives floating around, looking for work, and willing to do it at cheaper rates.

Thirdly, as I wrote here at the Wisconsin Reporter and has been mentioned else where, it seems quite likely that RPW and CERS (Committee to Elect a Republican Senate) decided playing defense in the recalls made much more sense than playing offense during them.  That’s going to lead to the better campaign operatives going to where they appear to be needed, not where party chairmen might wish them to be.

Finally, it’s the Northwoods.  I don’t know many folks who willingly want to go up there in the summer to run a campaign.  Fish and sit out on a lake pier?  Sure!

But not the former.

As for point 2, I don’t know what the hell Stevenson is thinking there.  Simac was a mixed-bag at best with the media and it depended on where you put her.  From the two radio interviews I did hear her on, she sounded fine on Charlie Sykes, but came off as a train wreck on Vicki McKenna in Madison.

I’ve heard much the same from others.

So why is Stevenson doing this?  Well, he might be legitimately upset with RPW and CERS, he wouldn’t be the first guy, and frankly he wouldn’t be far off. (SEE: Nygren, Failure to get on Ballot)

Another might be that he’s trying to cover for his own county’s under-performance in the race itself.

According to the AP, Holperin won Lincoln County 5,994 to Simac’s 3,919.  Roughly a 60 percent to 40 percent margin.

Does that make Lincoln Co. a Democratic County?  Hardly, and recent elections show it.

In the Prosser – Kloppenburg race, Lincoln County was barely carried by Prosser 3,578 (50.2%) to Kloppenburg’s 3,549 (49.8%) — post recount figures.

When taking the 2010 fall state wide elections (Governor, U.S. Senate) into account, Lincoln Co. went 54.8 percent to Walker and 54.5 percent to Johnson.

So, it is possible Stevenson could also doing a bit of CYA in terms of his county’s performance last week.

There’s enough blame to go around for what happened in the recalls of Hansen and Holperin and hopefully over the next 15 months, all folks involved, from the teams at CERS, RPW, the county parties, and even activists need to assess what happened, quit pointing the fingers, and then reload in the redrawn districts for the 2012 elections.

Both state senate districts are very winnable for the GOP in 2012, and both sides of the aisle know that even after the “Summer of Recalls” in Wisconsin.

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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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Unions Doubting DKos Polling

Interesting exchange in the JSOnline article regarding yesterday’s release of polling from PPP and DailyKos in the final two recall elections taking place today.

In new polling numbers released Monday by the liberal blog Daily Kos, both Democrats held double-digit leads in their races. The results, from Public Policy Polling, a firm that typically polls for Democrats, showed Holperin leading Simac 55% to 41%, with 4% undecided, and Wirch leading Steitz 55% to 42%, with 3% undecided. The firm released poll results last week that came quite close to the actual results in the Aug. 9 election.

The new polling was done over the weekend; the margins of error were 2.6% in Holperin’s district, 2.9% in Wirch’s; and the sample sizes were 1,387 and 1,130, respectively.

Republicans weren’t impressed with the numbers. Dan Hunt, the Steitz campaign spokesman who headed the signature campaign last spring to recall Wirch, said both races were “too close to call,” adding that “it comes down to turnout.” And John Hogan, executive director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, said the results were based on “a horribly slanted sample.”

Gillian Morris, a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party, said Monday in an email: “The poll released today reflects what we have seen on the ground in these last couple days.”

But Kelly Steele, spokesman for We Are Wisconsin, a coalition of labor groups that has been active throughout the recalls on the Democratic side, wasn’t buying the big leads in the PPP polling.

“Polls suggesting these races will be easy are wrong,” he said in an email. “The Holperin race is a tossup, and the activity on the ground – as well as the huge TV dump on the Republican side – shows our opponents are pulling out all the stops.”

Holperin has long conceded that he’s the Democratic senator most vulnerable to being defeated in a recall election. Conservative Supreme Court Justice David Prosser won 10 of the 11 counties in the district in April, and Walker took it with 57.4% of the vote in November.

Emphasis mine.

I don’t fault the DPW flack for wholesale buying the numbers.  Part of any party’s communications operation is to say things are going great (until they aren’t) and when things aren’t going great to say they are.

It’s a bit like being the one at the Vatican who has to tell Italian press that the Pope is in good health.  (Because the Pope is always in good health…until he is dead.)  Besides, the way things are going with Zielinski’s outbursts, Morris will be running the shop in Madison soon enough.

Steele at We Are Wisconsin isn’t bound by such laws of political discourse.  He might actually be telling the truth.  And considering how DPW’s polling numbers seemed to burn everyone last week on the Left, I frankly don’t blame the guy for being cautious.

Who’s right?  I guess we’ll know tonight.

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Cartoon of the Day

Yeah, this sums it up quite well from the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Joe Heller.

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Quote of the Day

From JSOnline’s “PolitiFACT” on the accusation by DPW on Waukesha Co. Clerk Kathy Nickolaus “holding votes.”

Two Waukesha County communities are in the 8th Senate District: Butler and Menomonee Falls. Butler sent in totals within 35 minutes of close of polls at 8 p.m., and those were posted early in the evening.

But Menomonee Falls Clerk Janice Moyer told us that heavy turnout there prevented tabulation of absentee ballots in some cases until after polls closed.

“It takes time, and we want them to do it correctly,” Moyer said of poll workers.

Nickolaus did not get most of the Menomonee Falls count until 10:36 p.m., according to Moyer. Nickolaus said results were posted on the county’s web site by 10:47 p.m. The last batch came in an hour later, and Nickolaus said she posted them within six minutes.

So the gap in reporting Waukesha County results was not due to Nickolaus, who posts and tallies the totals but does not count the votes.

What happened in April is well known, she didn’t post the tallies from Brookfield. Even though they were available on other sources of media if you looked for them.

Like the Brookfield Patch for instance.

You know, it used to be said that political operatives say the craziest crap out there to keep the unintelligent of us riled up and angry at the opposition.  “Confuse the Rubes” is what it’s been called in the past.

After years of this from Tate and Zielinski, I’m seriously beginning to believe the rubes are running the show.

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The Best Visual Demostration of Wisconsin Democrats to Any Loss

My apologies to the crew at Monty Python, but the shoe fits.


Yes, Democrats are “The Black Knight” in this example.

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