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Posts tagged with “WI-08”

Let’s Not Mince Words Here

From the WisPolitics blog covering the 2010 DPW Convention:

U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen told delegates he ran for Congress to oppose a pair of wars being waged “a president who couldn’t think things through.”

He said he wants to stay to fulfill the promise of health care reform and help rebuild the nation’s economy. He stressed that he has voted “no to bailouts; yes to jobs,” and said he was proud to deliver on a promise of leaving no patients behind with the passage of health care reform.

But he also said that his constituents are “confused,” and he needs Democrats to help him in the 8th CD.

“They actually believe what they see on TV and think it’s reality,” Kagen said. “We have to work hard to get our message through.”

(Emphasis mine)

Translation: My own polling says I’m losing.

Never really wanted to say this, but I’ve been privy to a few polls — NRCC, that crazy McCormick poll, a poll from another politician running for another office in the Green Bay area — and they all pretty much say the same thing: Kagen’s re-elect numbers are bad.  Never really wanted to believe any of them because 1) the GOP Primary is still going on in WI-08 and generic numbers, even in the historically GOP-leaning 8th CD, are meaningless until the match-up is set;  2) Kagen’s been more than coy about his even running for his own re-election; and  3) While Kagen’s fund-raising isn’t great, he’s going to have an advantage in money in the bank and free media by September 15th, the day after the primary.  It’s just one of the pluses of being the incumbent.

That being said, I really wonder if Kagen’s ready to run a campaign without John Gard to vilify and a Democratic wave to his back.

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Green Bay Media Finally Gets Around to Kagen Spending Story

Well, to quote one of my favorite Christmas films of all-time, Die Hard, “Welcome to the party Pal!!!”

When it comes to communicating with constituents at taxpayers’ expense, U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen is the most prolific member of the Wisconsin congressional delegation.

Through the first nine months of 2009, the Appleton Democrat spent $126,422 on franked mail, according to recently released reports of expenditures for members of the House of Representatives. The closest delegation member to Kagen in franked mail spending was Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, at $82,033.

Franking is a congressional perk that allows lawmakers to sign their name on mail in lieu of postage stamps. Taxpayers pick up the tab in the form of a Member Representational Allowance, a formula-driven office expense account.

Nearly half of Kagen’s franked mail spending came between June 30 and Oct. 1, when he spent $59,934, the report shows. The congressman spent $29,577 on one June 9 mailing of a newsletter that included a survey.

Kagen was tending to family matters Tuesday and unavailable for comment, a press aide said. But he provided the following statement through his press office:

“Listening and responding to the needs of constituents across the rural regions of northeast Wisconsin are essential to performing my duties, which I take very seriously,” Kagen said. “I am working hard, representing the best interests of every family in my district.”

The allowance formula includes the distance between Washington and a member of Congress’ home district as well as the varying rates for operating district offices. Kagen’s expense allowance for 2009 is $1,470,426. Sensenbrenner had the highest at $1,510,755, while Rep. Ron Kind had the lowest at $1,455,796.

So with Kagen having blown nearly $1.2 million for the year so far you can tell, they plan on blowing the entire wad this fiscal year.  There will be no nice little press release on how much is given back from the taxpayers like Ron Kind, Paul Ryan, and former Congressman Mark Green used to do on an annual basis.

By the way, love that there’s now an official statement from the Kagen Press Office on the spending.

Finally, good to see that Kagen’s plan of hiring former Gannett reporters and editors as staff (at least those from the Appleton Post-Crescent) to keep the embarrassing news out of the district backfired.

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We Offer This Correction…

…on behalf of WisPolitics.

Given my post yesterday on the spending habits of the office of Congressman Steven L. Kagen, M.D. (D-Appleton), I’ve been tracking the response from media in Wisconsin to see if the state’s (and the Green Bay) media actually picked up and ran with the story.  So far, the only taker has been WisPolitics.

No story has so far run in the Wisconsin Gannett Papers in Green Bay and Appleton, the four television stations in Green Bay with news departments, or elsewhere in the state (Madison-Milwaukee-State AP)

(I’ve long given up on seeing this in a Dan Bice column since I pointed out it was Kagen with the highest House expenditures, not Bice’s long-time whipping boy of Jim Sensenbrenner.)

While most of the data WisPolitics has with its post is correct, one line in it made me do a double-take.

Kagen, D-Appleton, spent $452,307 on his office during the third quarter of the year and almost $1.2 million over the first nine months of the year.

His spending for the year was second to only Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. He spent $1.9 million on the first nine months of the year and $670,210 for the third quarter.

As I said in my post, Congressional offices have a total budget of $1.5 million for the entire year, it would be impossible for Mike Rogers of Michigan to spend more than his allotted in just three quarters of the year.  What WisPolitics failed to realize, was that there are two Rep. Mike Rogers in Congress — one in Alabama, one in Michigan.

Both men are Republicans.

So using the same spreadsheet, Rogers of Alabama’s office spent $354,591 for Q3, and $950,944 for the year-to-date.  The Rogers of Michigan’s office spent $315,620 for Q3, and $975,534 for the year-to- date.

A closer examination of the summary spreadsheet supplied by the Sunlight Foundation shows there is no way to distinguish between the two Rogers by either middle initial or state; the only clue is the categories repeating their order.  Looking at it, I admit I almost made the same error myself when I went to double-check the figures.

So here’s hoping WisPolitics doesn’t mind me correcting them.  On the reverse side, I’d like to thank them for pointing out that Kagen’s House office isn’t just the biggest spending office of Q3, but year-to-date as well.

I hadn’t run those numbers yet on my own.

(By the way, I’ve been looking at the detailed costs spreadsheet; what sort of office space in Green Bay and Appleton charges $2200 and $2400 a month for rent?)

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Need a Job in Politics?

Saw this the other day at a website commonly used for Democratic Job Postings.  Seems this will be the third Press Secretary Congressman Steve Kagen will have in as many years.

Not that it’s big news mind you.  Congressional offices and most political operations go through Communications Directors and Press Secretaries like they’re copier toner.

Congressman Steve Kagen, M.D. (WI-08)
Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2009 9:54 AM
Subject: Job Posting: Communications/ Press Secretary

Communications/ Press Secretary: Frontline Midwestern Democrat seeks politically savvy person with strong writing skills to handle press and communications. Responsibilities include coordinating press events and pitching stories, responding to press inquiries, writing op-eds and releases, as well as handling website/e-communica tion. Ideal candidate will have press experience in a Congressional office. A good sense of humor is a plus. Please send cover letter, resume, and 2 brief writing samples to uppermidwestdem@ yahoo.com. No phone calls or drop-ins.

Notice what’s missing?  How about a preference for someone from Wisconsin?

Most Congressional offices when they have an opening try to make a preference for someone from their home state.  It is because they view it as a plus to bring on board a local person who knows the area (particularly in a Congressional office which is as local as you can get in federal politics) they will helping to represent.  Members of the Wisconsin delegation on both sides of the aisle tend to do this often.  In fact, Ron Kind and Paul Ryan’s offices are almost completely staffed by native Wisconsinites.

This lack of Wisconsin representation in the upper echelons of the Kagen Congressional office is nothing new.  His first Press Secretary was from New York and his latest — the soon-to-be-departed Jake “The Snake” Rubin — is from New England having gone to college in Massachusetts at Brandies University and worked on the Presidential campaigns for both Senators John Kerry in 2004 and Chris Dodd in 2008.

All Kagen appears to want from his applicants beyond a good resume is a ‘good sense of humor.’  No doubt they’ll need it.  Ought to be a real hoot when the position is taken over by a new staffer who’s been a lifer in DC for much of the decade and they can’t pronounce “Minocqua” or the litany of other Northeast Wisconsin locations for the first time.

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And Roth Makes Seven…

I’ve been asked by some people to write down my thoughts on the WI-08 GOP Primary, but I won’t for a while.  First off is I don’t know if this is all the candidates we are going to see yet. Rumors about a possible candidacy by former Green Bay Mayor (and current Green Bay Chamber of Commerce President) Paul Jadin may get in and I’d like to hold off until January to see if that happens for a number of reasons.

The first is what will Jadin name the growth from his ass that will be Guy Zima if he were to run.  Zima’s a bulldog of a city alderman in Green Bay and the lead voice in trying to nail Jadin for responsibility in the debacle which is/was the City of Green Bay’s deal with Younkers.  Secondly, I just want to hear what “The Recess Supervisor” thinks of this new addition to the race, especially when I have it on good authority that a certain budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation was going to run in WI-08 if Roth didn’t.  Seems the two of them are friends or something…

Anyway, welcome to a crowded primary Assemblyman Roger Roth.

State Rep. Roger Roth, a Republican from Appleton, has sent out a fundraising appeal announcing his intention to seek the GOP nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen in the 8th CD.

Under a header that reads “Roger Roth for Congress,” the letter blasts Democrats for taking the United States down the wrong path.

“In 2010 we will decide if our nation can be preserved as a beacon of hope to the world or if it will continue on a certain path toward socialism and economic stagnation,” Roth says in the letter.

“Our founding fathers were wise. They were faithful in giving to us a political and economic system that has become the envy of the world. Today this system is under a great attack from within.

“This attack comes from the liberal elite who believe that spending and wasting massive amounts of money while going ever deeper in debt is the answer to every problem. You and I know that we are in serious trouble. Borrowing, taxing and incessant spending is only digging a deeper economic hole.”

Roth is in his second term in the Assembly. A member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, he recently returned from a mission to Iraq.

The Federal Elections Commission said Thursday it hadn’t yet received a registration statement from Roth

Roth joins a crowded GOP primary field which includes former state Rep. Terri McCormick, who Roth succeeded in the Assembly.

Roth has also set up a Web site for his congressional run at www.rothforcongress.com/

On a short-term matter, this announcement probably helps Roofing Company Owner Reid Ribble the most.  With Roth in, he takes away “The Establishment Candidate label” (if such a label exists in a seven-way primary) from Ribble and takes the pressure of the bulls-eye off him and onto Roth now since many people — myself included — likely view Roth as the first “real choice” to enter the race.

Best of luck to all candidates in the coming year.

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NRCC to Candidates: Prove Yourselves Worthy!

Actual, given the likelihood that donations next year will be less because of the economy, this isn’t the most outrageous news the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) could come out with.  Less money means they’ll have to be picky with who they help out in General Election contests.  Candidates should be able to show they are worth the

Candidates hoping for financial help from the National Republican Congressional Committee will have to prove they’re worth the investment.

The NRCC will only spend money on independent expenditure ads hitting Democrats if the Republican in the race has qualified as a top-tier member of the “Young Guns” program, a party spokesman tells The Hill.

Young Guns is a three-tiered program aimed at recruiting and improving top-notch candidates, the GOP’s answer to Democrats’ successful “Red to Blue” program. Candidates begin as “On the Radar” prospects before advancing to “Contenders.” If they meet certain benchmarks laid out by the NRCC, they become Young Guns.

So far, nine candidates have made it to the Contender tier. Thirty-eight candidates have achieved On the Radar status. None have made it to Young Guns level.

Paul Lindsay, an NRCC spokesman, declined to specify what the benchmarks for achieving the top status are, citing a policy against discussing internal strategy. But members of the different tiers will be judged on fundraising, grassroots and communications bars they have to meet.

Membership in the Young Guns does not guarantee the NRCC will spend money in the race, but the party will not spend money for members who do not reach the highest tier. Typically, the NRCC begins its financial relationship with a candidate by spending up to $87,300 in coordinated funds before moving on to independent expenditures.

In Wisconsin, the only members who so far have qualified made it into the lowest tier of the “Young Guns” programs are Sean Duffy in WI-07, Dan Kapanke in WI-03, and Reid Ribble in WI-08.  Given the primary field line-ups, expect to see the NRCC involved in Kapanke’s race more at this level since he’s the only declared Republican in WI-03 against Ron Kind; the other candidates have primaries.

What will be interesting to see is who else — especially in WI-08 — is added to the “Young Guns” programs.  With the possibility of a 6 or 7-way primary fight, the edge is going to go to the self-financing candidates and established political entities because much of the money will be on the sidelines until the general election.  Another factor will be who drops out as other candidates jump in.  One question I wonder is will Kerry Thomas, who still spends his time thinking John Gard tried to destroy Terri McCormick on multiple levels in 2006, get out if McCormick does get in as is rumored.

Time will tell; we’re just at the part of the game where pieces are being put on the chess board.  No one’s made any opening moves; though some press releases trashing Kagen’s votes on multiple fronts would be nice to see.

The lack of them is making me wonder how much of an amateur hour are we going to see next year.

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Charlie Cook: Democrats Won’t Be Able to Blame Economy on Bush

I often laugh when I see some liberal blogger (Okay, it’s just Chris Leibenthal) who goes on and on about how people are going to remember come November 2010 this economy as “The Bush-Cheney Recession.”

Well, he’s half-right according to political predictor Charlie Cook.  People do know the recession started in the Bush-Cheney years, however for Democrats, many people also know it was the Obama-Biden Administration and the Democratic Congress which passed the stimulus package, and (via The American Spectator) unless hiring picks up, they will eventually not just own the economy, but be blamed for it.

Obviously, there are many variables that can drive a political party’s fortune in next November’s elections, but the economy and jobs dwarf all others. Polls may show a majority of Americans understand that this recession started under President George W. Bush, but every day, President Obama, and inferentially his party, take on a bit more ownership. By the 2010 midterm elections, the economy will completely belong to Obama and Democrats.

What should concern Democrats is that while there is a diversity of views about just how much the economy will grow next year, the views of both optimists and pessimists converge on the politically important question of unemployment: The consensus is there will be very, very little job growth next year.

If I were running any of the three targeted seat the NRCC is looking at Wisconsin, I’d start by carving up ads which use the press releases of the any of their opponents where they taut the jobs the bills they are passing were supposed to be produced by now.  Use their own words — or the words of their press secretaries to be more precise — against them.

It wouldn’t be negative advertising.  It’d be a statement of broken promises and misplaced ideology.

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NRCC Launches Ad Against Kagen

This came out much soon than I thought it would.

House Republicans are trying to pressure Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wisconsin, to oppose his party’s approach to health care reform in a new television commercial that begins airing this week in the Green Bay market.

The ad seeks to tie Kagen to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and uses footage of the Wisconsin Democrat responding to a question on health care posed by — and caught on camera by — a Republican campaign staffer.

This is the first ad on health care that the National Republican Congressional Committee has run this year. NRCC spokesman Ken Spain would not reveal much the GOP was spending on the commercial, but he did characterize it as a “significant buy” and noted it would run for one week.

Here’s the script.  The most priceless moment is seeing the doctor — strolling through the streets of DC with his jacket coat over his shoulder like a prep — being quoted for a perfect line.

“Congressman Steve Kagen, he voted with Nancy Pelosi on the wasteful stimulus; on the budget; on the national energy tax; and now what does Kagen say about the Pelosi health care plan? ‘I am writing the health care bill what would you like in it?’ Since you asked, how about no government run plan; no tax increases on small businesses; no cuts to Medicare. Call Steve Kagen, tell him to write a health care plan for us, not Nancy Pelosi.”

See the ad for yourself below:

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