SAMPLE: WisPolitics REPORT
The WisPolitics REPORT is sent to subscribers each Friday afternoon. The sample below was sent on Aug. 5.
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BREAKING NEWS: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a ruling that found a Wisconsin law banning hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery for transgender inmates is unconstitutional.
DOJ executive assistant Steven Means said in response, “We don’t believe the Constitution requires prison officials to provide hormone therapy and sexual reassignment surgery to prisoners. However, the Seventh Circuit disagrees and we will now have to consider our litigation options in light of today’s decision.”
Read the ruling:
5 August 2011
Exclusively for WisPolitics Gold and Platinum Subscribers
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QUOTES OF THE WEEK
I told them both, 'If I ever find out that either one of you had anything to do with this, I'll be very disappointed.'
- Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, on a meeting with Gov. Walker and DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch that caused him to miss a procedural vote on the budget repair bill in February. Schultz said the move cost him a chance to try to amend the controversial legislation; Walker's office denied any attempt to keep Schultz off the floor during the vote.
The idea that I would pull a quick one on one of my members, that's ridiculous. It doesn't work that way. It wouldn't work that way. It couldn't work that way.
- Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, on the vote missed by Schultz.
I believe if given the facts they’re going to make good decisions. Sometimes they’re going to be decisions that side with me, sometimes they’re going to be with others, but I’m going to respect their decision.
- Gov. Scott Walker saying the upcoming Senate recall elections are “out of our hands” at a ceremony to open the Wisconsin State Fair.
Obama cannot win unless he wins Wisconsin. That's why you see all this money in here. That's why you see all the arrows and guns pointed at me.
- Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, in the final debate of the 8th SD race ahead of Tuesday's recall elections. See WisPolitics coverage:
Senator Darling is unwilling to talk about her own record, about her own role in dividing the state and gutting education and making health care much less available to people across the area.
- Rep. Sandy Pasch of Whitefish Bay, the Dem challenger in the 8th.
Extraordinary times called for extraordinary measures. We are growing jobs. We are balancing our budget. We are paying our bills.
- Sen. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, during a forum in the 32nd SD.
We have seen this governor want to divide and conquer -- whether it's our university system, our public schools and our communities. We need to work together to mend that, to repair that and build up our communities.
- Kapanke's opponent, Rep. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse.
It’s a shell game. It’s the we’ll-pretend-we’re-for-it-because-we-know-we’re-on-the-hot-seat, and we’ll let the Assembly do our dirty work.
- Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, criticizing GOP senators for concurring in an Assembly bill that leaves in place a one-week delay at the start of unemployment benefit payments. See more in Quorum Call: http://quorumcall.wispolitics.com/
People do not care about political games. They are not interested in people posing for pictures. They want us to help them.
- Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, alleging that the Dem amendment eliminating the delay resulted in the bill being stalled in the Legislature. Walker signed the legislation, which uses federal funding to extend unemployment coverage by an additional 13 weeks, on Wednesday.
We think this is going to make life a lot easier for people who are going to get a driver's license.
- State Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb announcing the state would open four new Department of Motor Vehicles branches and keep the existing locations open to expand ID card services. A DOT release last week outlined the possible closures of 16 branches while expanding hours at nine others.
I don’t think they expected this kind of outcry.
- Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, on the DOT decision. Dems had accused the Walker administration of attempting to disenfranchise voters by closing DMV branches in Dem-leaning areas.
On behalf of all the government officials in Washington, let me apologize.
- U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, returning to his district after a last-minute vote to raise the nation's debt ceiling and stave off default earlier this week.
They have no interest in shared responsibility and ask nothing, I repeat, nothing, of millionaires, billionaires, and corporations that use tax loopholes to ship jobs overseas.
- U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, on her GOP colleagues in debt ceiling negotiations. Baldwin was the lone Wisconsin House member to vote against the debt ceiling deal; Oshkosh Republican Ron Johnson voted against the bill on the Senate side. See more in DC Wrap: http://dc.wispolitics.com/
Some say ‘Well, why not cut your post offices?’ I have seen the amount of fat and waste that goes on in this city, and there’s a lot of room to reform the way we do business. But I look at the post offices that serve our small, rural communities. I don’t believe that’s the fat.
- U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Ashland, on his opposition to a U.S. Postal Service proposal that would put as many as 41 mostly rural Wisconsin post offices in jeopardy.
I just don’t think that we should have any involvement in that decision for the most part if we can help it.
- Dane Co. DA Ismael Ozanne on his decision to seek a special prosecutor to handle the investigation into an altercation between Supreme Court Justices David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley. See WisPolitics coverage: http://wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=243735
I went out. I got drunk. I made an ass of myself and embarrassed this city. I apologize for that.
- Sheboygan Mayor Bob Ryan apologizing to the city council for an admitted alcohol relapse. He again rebuffed the council's request that he resign.
POLITICAL STOCK REPORT
--A collection of insider opinion--
(July 30 - Aug. 5)
Election complaints: The complaints are flying: It must be the week before Election Day. As the tensions over next week’s recall elections rise, so do the complaints as each side files a flurry of accusations. Conservatives howl that Dem Rep. Sandy Pasch is illegally coordinating with Citizen Action Wisconsin, pointing to her spot on the liberal group’s board and the fact her campaign treasurer holds the same position with the group. Dems counter with their own allegation that Sen. Alberta Darling, Pasch's opponent, is coordinating with conservative groups. Insiders conclude neither side offers a smoking gun proving coordination, but they add that's not really the point of 11th hour charges. It’s instead meant to muddy the waters and move undecided voters. Complaints also pop up over incorrect information the conservative Americans for Prosperity sent voters on absentee ballots and a robocall from the Democratic National Committee giving the wrong election date. Both prompt cries of voter suppression and dirty tricks. The Milwaukee County DA is also looking into turn-out-the vote block parties by the liberal group Wisconsin Jobs Now in Milwaukee that featured free food and rides to the polls to vote absentee as well as gift cards that conservative groups Wisconsin Right to Life and Wisconsin Family Action offered volunteers who hit goals for absentee voters. Insiders, meanwhile, expect much of it to be dismissed once the dust settles. The GAB this week has already knocked out three complaints filed against Sens. Rob Cowles, Jim Holperin and Luther Olsen.
Paul Ryan: The debate over the raising the nation’s debt ceiling produces few winners. But the follow up commission to find more spending cuts could be another opportunity for Paul Ryan to shine, insiders say. The legislation raising the debt ceiling -- supported by all Wisconsin lawmakers except liberal Rep. Tammy Baldwin and conservative Sen. Ron Johnson -- calls for a 12-member “supercommittee” comprised of members from both houses to find additional spending cuts. While some doubt how successful the committee will be, failure would mean automatic, across-the-board spending cuts of $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years that would be equally divided between domestic and defense spending. Speculation quickly turns to who will serve on the committee, with the House Budget chair considered a top pick, particularly because conservatives expect GOP leaders to select members willing to hold the line on taxes; fans consider Ryan the perfect candidate to carry out that mission. Meanwhile, Ryan’s star continues to shine nationally with conservative columnist Bill Kristol openly pining for the Janesville lawmaker to get into the presidential race, reflecting what some say is a general unhappiness among Republican voters with the GOP field.
Domestic partner benefits: Despite criticism from conservatives over its cost -- an estimated $742,000 annually beginning next year -- Milwaukee County Exec Chris Abele signs a measure to provide county employees with health benefits for domestic partnerships. Supporters had countered that the proposal was a fairness issue, while County Board Chairman Lee Holloway noted that the cost could be trimmed by limiting the benefit to only same-sex domestic partners in the budget process.
DMVs: Just a month after announcing some 16 branches would close, the DOT does an about face and announces all 88 DMV offices would remain open, four new ones will be added and the hours of operation for some 40 counties will be expanded significantly. DOT officials say the change was prompted by a series of concerns from lawmakers over the plans to close some branches while expanding hours elsewhere. Dems in particular cried foul considering the voter ID bill Republicans pushed through the Legislature this year. Despite more hours, cutting the number of offices would make it harder for citizens to get the state-issued IDs they need to vote, critics charged, and some raised concerns politics was a motivator in the branches slated to close. The DOT secretary denies the allegation, and the new times and locations will increase office hours by some 32,000 annually starting in late January.
Senate Republicans: Nobody really knows what’s going to happen Tuesday with six unprecedented recall elections in the middle of August and control of the state Senate at stake. Predictions are all over the map, as uncertainties over turnout prevail. About the only universal bet seems to be that GOP Sen. Dan Kapanke will likely lose Tuesday. In the end, it will largely hinge on voter turnout, and the conventional wisdom puts the GOP losses in the two or three range. The focus is on Sens. Alberta Darling and Luther Olsen, two GOP districts that nobody would have imagined months ago would be this close. While Dem insiders generally are optimistic at getting the three seats, Republicans insiders of late have been pessimistic as Darling, the perceived firewall, looks to be in more trouble than expected. Even if Republicans prevail, insiders say, they face the very likely prospect of a smaller majority that would make moderate caucus members like Dale Schultz and Mike Ellis that much more important and make it harder to get the most conservative legislation through the Senate.
See below for WisPolitics.com handicapping and a story outlining possible post-election scenarios.
Early voting: It's still hard to predict the kind of voter turnout the state will see next week. But if early voting levels are any indication, some areas could see turnout that rivals some guv elections. Others, not so much. Local election officials largely tell WisPolitics this week that early voting is higher than a typical spring election but lower than a higher profile fall race. A clerk in the northeastern Wisconsin 2nd SD likens early turnout to a February presidential primary, while another in the tight 14th SD race says it's similar to a fall primary. Another 14th SD municipal clerk says traffic through her office for early voting has been slower than she expected. In La Crosse and Fond du Lac, however -- two areas that Dems are most optimistic about ousting the incumbent Republicans -- clerks say early voting levels are approaching those seen last November.
See more about early absentee voting in an item below.
Wisconsin Right to Life: The anti-abortion group scores a significant win before a federal appeals court on contribution limits for groups doing independent expenditures. But it also finds itself ensnared in the battle of complaints and investigations in the recall elections after offering volunteers gift cards for hitting absentee ballot targets. On the court front, WRTL has been pushing for a judge to invalidate the state’s $10,000 limit on individual donations to groups that do independent expenditures. The federal judge overseeing an ongoing lawsuit over the state’s regulations of so-called issue ads has refrained from issuing a ruling on the contribution issue, but the 7th Circuit this week grants WRTL’s request to ban the state from enforcing the limit ahead of this month’s recall elections. WRTL officials declare victory and promise to begin fundraising immediately to weigh in on the races. But they are forced to defend their practices after the Milwaukee County DA’s office says it’s looking into the gift cards WRTL and Wisconsin Family Action offered volunteers who hit certain goals for getting like-minded voters to cast absentee ballots. The DA says the practice raises questions under state law prohibiting giving an elector or a third party anything of value to induce someone to vote. WRTL says it did no wrong and says its election expert has deemed the practices perfectly legal.
The unemployed: Laid-off workers who have exhausted their unemployment benefits had to wait a little longer than they’d hoped for a new 13-week extension using federal funds. But the GOP-run state Senate this week approves the legislation after accepting the Assembly’s position on a one-week delay before newly laid off workers can start collecting benefits. Senate Republicans had acquiesced on a Dem amendment the first time the bill was before them, but Assembly Republicans stood by the one-week delay. Backers of the provision argued it will save the state’s beleaguered unemployment insurance fund up to $56 million annually by giving state officials time to root out fraud and ensure recipients are getting the right amount of money. But opponents argue Republicans are sticking it to the unemployed at a time when they most need help. Insiders debate the politics of the vote ahead of next week’s recall elections. But at least the unemployed will soon have their checks in hand, some say. There are other ominous signs for workers on the horizon. As the stock market plummets, talk heats up of a double-dip recession. And while the guv touts the number of new jobs in Wisconsin since he took office, the state’s unemployment rate is also up.
Dan Kapanke: There are few certainties about Tuesday’s recall elections as insiders try to figure out the dynamics of unprecedented summer recall elections. But the one consensus emerging appears to be the likelihood that Jen Shilling will be the next senator from the La Crosse-area's 32nd District. Kapanke fought against the tide in the 2008 Dem wave, narrowly winning. But Shilling and the current environment are proving even tougher for Kapanke . It’s telling to some insiders that when the conservative group Americans for Prosperity ran a TV ad praising Kapanke recently, the general reaction was, “Why?” To some, it appears to be a waste of resources when there are competitive races elsewhere. But others suggest it may have been a sign of respect for a lawmaker who took a tough vote and shouldn’t be allowed to go down alone.
Candidate voices: Despite raising a robust $6 million, the voices of recall candidates are being swamped by the TV and radio ads aired by a bevy of liberal and conservative groups. Overall spending has already hit the $31 million mark, according to a tally by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, meaning the candidates have been outspent some 5-to-1. While insiders try to guess what the final tally will be, nailing that down will be difficult because much of the spending isn't reportable under state rules. Insiders marvel at the amount of spending in just nine state Senate races. The WDC says spending in five of the nine races has already surpassed the previous record for an individual Senate race with a sixth likely to cross that mark shortly. At the top of the list is the Milwaukee-area's 8th SD, where WDC estimates $7.9 million has already been spent, followed by central Wisconsin's 14th at $5.5 million and western Wisconsin's 10th at $5 million. The previous record was $3 million, set in the 2000 10th SD race.
Supreme Court: The investigation into the alleged physical altercation between Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and David Prosser is over. But the controversy shows no signs of letting up. With the Dane County Sheriff’s Department investigation now in hand, Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne announces he’ll seek a special prosecutor to handle the case. Ozanne was intricately involved in the collective bargaining case that sparked the argument between Bradley and Prosser, and he says he doesn’t want there to be any appearance of impropriety in how the case is handled. That passes the question of a special prosecutor to Dane County’s chief judge, who will then have to find someone to take the case and wade into the thorny situation. The investigation report didn't include a charging recommendation, and insiders generally expect the case to be a difficult one regardless of who takes over. What’s more, the court’s shoddy reputation isn’t going to catch a break any time soon, insiders say.
WISPOLITICS HANDICAPPING: CONTROL OF SENATE APPEARS TO REST IN OLSEN, DARLING SEATS
In a normal election under normal circumstances, Luther Olsen would be a near-lock for re-election.
But this summer is anything but normal.
Heading into Tuesday's six recall elections involving GOP senators, Olsen's race with Dem Rep. Fred Clark could be the key to whether Dems net the three seats they need to flip control of the chamber. Alberta Darling's race against Sandy Pasch isn't far behind, according to insiders.
Beyond those races, a narrative is coming into focus: Dan Kapanke is all but done, Randy Hopper is closing, but faces an uphill climb, and Rob Cowles and Sheila Harsdorf are in the best shape of the six GOP incumbents.
But insiders caution that all of this comes with a big caveat. No one has ever seen recall elections like this in Wisconsin in the middle of August. Both sides acknowledge the difficulty in building turnout models for their polling. And no one knows for sure just who has voted early and who will go to the polls Tuesday.
So after millions of dollars dropped on TV, radio and lit pieces, the outcome of these races will all come down to some of the most intense GOTV efforts Wisconsin has ever seen. Insiders generally agree Dems have momentum on their side in the turnout game. But can Republican voters match the intensity on the other side, even if for just one day?
Guesses on turnout fluctuate wildly. Still, some believe the higher the turnout, the better GOP candidates will do because it will be a sign conservatives were able to match the Dems’ intensity.
With all that in mind, WisPolitics.com has done its final handicapping on the six recall races involving incumbents Republicans, using analysis from a range of sources. The rating shows two toss-ups, one leaning Dem, one leaning GOP, one edge for the GOP and one with a solid Dem edge. That shows movement toward the Dem side from the previous handicapping on July 15, which showed no toss-ups, three leaning Republican, one leaning Democrat, one Dem with an edge and one Republican with an edge.
HANDICAPPING NOTE: Candidates identified as having an edge are generally considered likely to win Tuesday. Districts with a lean could go either way, though one candidate appears to have an advantage. Toss-up means too close to call. Here are the overviews going into the final few days of campaigning:
**2nd District (edge Cowles, same as July 15)**
Throughout the recall process, Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, has been considered the safest of the GOP targets. His district is solidly Republican, and while Dem challenger Nancy Nusbaum has high name ID after serving as Brown County exec, she also came into the race with plenty of negatives thanks to that background. That includes her transformation from a Republican to an independent to a Dem.
Conservatives say their polling shows Cowles up comfortably, by roughly 10 points, though they say it’s tough to say in a recall election that anyone is in good shape. Still, Gov. Scott Walker’s approval ratings in the district have been decent, which helps. But there are enough Dems in the district to possibly make it competitive.
Dems say their polling has the spread more in the 5- to 6-point range and question whether base GOP voters in places like Shawano will be motivated to turn out for Cowles, who has a pro-environmental record that’s won him a moderate reputation on some issues to go along with his work as a fiscal hawk.
In the end, the district is likely too Republican and Nusbaum’s negatives too high for Cowles to lose. The district, though, hasn’t been getting as much attention as others, and some see some potential for a sleeper race here. Insiders woke up the day after the November election surprised to see Russ Decker lose -- though a huge TV buy from a national GOP group helped immensely there -- and some Dems hope something similar could happen here.
But for Cowles to lose, it would have to be a big Dem wave, and it would likely mean Dems swept all six recall elections.
Cowles has the edge.
**8th (from lean Darling on July 15 to toss-up)**
Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, squeaked out a 1,000-vote win over Dem Sheldon Wasserman in 2008 as a Dem wave swept the state and turned her normally safe GOP seat into a swing district. Insiders are wondering in a hyper-charged atmosphere like the one now engulfing her district, does she have another squeaker win in her?
The level of pure nastiness in this race over the past several weeks shows just how close it is, as does the constant drumbeat of negative campaign ads tearing the candidates to shreds and the number of complaints filed accusing the candidates of breaking the law, being unethical or both. And some believe this race and the 14th will be the keys in deciding who controls the Senate.
Still, if Pasch can pull out a 'W' on Tuesday, her victory would likely be a temporary one. The 8th has been redrawn in such a way that – barring a successful court challenge by Dems – the district would simply be too Republican for Pasch to hold next fall.
But that hasn’t discouraged any Dem groups from pumping resources into the district in an attempt to make a run at what state Dem Chair Mike Tate called the “crown jewel” of the recall elections. As co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, Darling had a significant hand in shepherding the guv’s budget through the Legislature. It also undoubtedly helped her raise more than $1.1 million for this campaign, making her the best fundraiser in any of the races.
Dems seized on Darling’s comments earlier this week that she didn’t know if she would win come Tuesday. Still, Republicans say their polling has consistently shown Darling at or under 50 percent with a slight edge over Pasch, adding voters are locked into this race with very few undecideds. That will make this that much more of a turnout race.
Going on gut feeling, some insiders believe Darling will find a way to pull through, especially with conservative talk radio ginning up GOP voters. But even Republicans are hesitant to get too confident on that prediction because of the uncertainty in this environment.
The race is rated by most as a toss-up, though there is an ever-so-slight advantage for Darling.
**10th (remains lean Harsdorf, as it was on July 15)**
Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, looked vulnerable at the outset of the recall elections. Though she cruised to re-election in 2008 with 56 percent of the vote and Walker won 58 percent there in November, JoAnne Kloppenburg won the district, which isn’t as conservative as it is Republican. Insiders describe a more moderate GOP voter in the district likely to be turned off by the speed at which the Walker administration made change and the ensuing Capitol conflict.
But even Dems say they may have erred in picking Shelly Moore as their candidate. Though voters in the district may be unhappy at how the debate in Madison has played out, they also aren’t necessarily going to embrace an activist public employee, especially after the way the Club for Growth has aggressively defined teacher Shelly Moore as a union warrior. Insiders on both sides say the attacks have been devastating and very effective. What’s more, the Harsdorf family has a reputation as likable, moderate Republicans. Making Moore out to be a fire-breathing union steward just makes the contrast all that more sharp, some conservatives say.
Conservative polling has put Harsdorf comfortably ahead, though some on the right expect the final numbers to be closer than what those surveys show. Dems warn that while Harsdorf has consistently had a lead, they see her numbers fairly stagnant, arguing in an environment like this, anything can happen. What’s more, Dem groups have been playing in the Minneapolis TV market, and some Dems say they can see anything from losing by 8 to winning by 2. Even so, Dems acknowledge Harsdorf will be tough to beat and they will need a wave-like atmosphere for a win.
The race leans to Harsdorf.
**14th (from lean Olsen on July 15 to toss-up)**
There is any number of reasons why Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, shouldn’t be locked in a tight race with Fred Clark, D-Baraboo.
Scott Walker and David Prosser did well here. Olsen wasn’t even opposed in 2008 because the district has been so solidly Republican. And opponents have had a steady stream of material to use against Clark that has helped drive up his negatives.
The problem for Olsen, observers say, is the voters don’t particularly care for him, either. Insiders on both sides say the two candidates have high negatives. Some GOP surveys have given Olsen decent leads, but even some of those on the right whose own polling has Olsen up say they expect a nail biter.
Part of it is the perception among some that Olsen isn't working particularly hard. He’s never had a tough race outside of winning the GOP Senate primary for the seat, and his moderate reputation coming into this session led some to believe he could one day be more vulnerable to a challenge from the right rather than the left.
The question for some is whether the northern two-thirds of the district will turn out enough to offset the intensity insiders see in the Baraboo area in the southern tip of the district. The region, which includes the Wisconsin Dells and Portage, is home to a decent chunk of state employees who wanted to live outside of Madison, and it’s included in a Madison media market that extensively covered the collective bargaining debate earlier this year. There will be little trouble motivating those Dem voters, insiders say.
The seat may represent Dems' best chance for picking off the third incumbent they need, and the ad wars underscore what’s at stake in the district. Both sides have opened up on the two candidates with everything they have, and it’s expected to continue through Tuesday.
In a normal year or even a good Dem year, the district’s nature would likely be enough to pull Olsen through. But this environment is anything but normal, and this race could break any number of ways.
It’s a toss-up.
**18th (remains lean King, as it was July 15)**
If Cowles is the “sleeper” whose loss would make Republicans say, “What the hell?” then Randy Hopper is the “sleeper” who would cause the same reaction in Dems should he win. But the betting money right now seems to be on Dem challenger Jessica King.
Barack Obama’s narrow win in this traditionally Republican seat looked like an aberration after Scott Walker won 57 percent of the vote last fall and David Prosser took home 53 percent in April. But a combination of a heavy concentration of public employees and the baggage of Hopper’s personal life have caused many to view the freshman as the second most vulnerable Republican after Dan Kapanke.
Optimistic Republicans hoping for a shock are pinning their hopes on a solid turnout by conservative voters, overreach by the unions and their base shaking off Hopper’s personal problems to make sure Dems don't take the seat.
Some Republicans also argue the race isn’t the runaway for King that some would like people to believe and Hopper has pulled to within the margin of error.
But the signs of a competitive race aren’t necessarily there. Conservative forces haven’t been bombarding the airwaves in an attempt to save Hopper like they are for Darling and Olsen.
Dem groups, though, haven’t let up, and the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund drops an ad this week focusing on media reports that Hopper’s alleged mistress got a state job with a significant raise compared to her predecessor. Insiders debate whether the ad goes too far. Everyone in the district already knows about the allegations, and shoving it in their face will only make voters squeamish, some argue. Others, however, argue Hopper was already dead, so the ad won’t backfire. To others, there are so few undecideds in this race that the ad isn’t about trying to persuade a Hopper supporter to back King instead. Rather, it’s about convincing women GOP voters to stay home rather than turning out for Hopper.
Some Republicans say the latest polling shows Hopper has closed to within the margin of error on King, but insiders generally believe he started too far behind to make up the ground in the end. This may be the race where it’s most likely that conventional wisdom will prove incorrect, and his volunteers and ground game may make it closer than people expect. There also remains the chance he’ll squeak it out, and a win would all but secure the GOP majority in the Senate. But insiders say the race leans Dem.
**32nd (remains edge to Shilling, as it was on July 15)**
The view that La Crosse Republican Dan Kapanke needs a miracle to survive Tuesday is near universal.
In 2008, Kapanke narrowly fended off a challenge from a mediocre candidate during the massive Dem wave, and the GOP brand has been damaged severely in southwestern Wisconsin through the fight over collective bargaining. What’s more, even Republicans praise Dem Rep. Jen Shilling as a well-known, well-liked candidate who’s doing all the right things to win Tuesday.
Reinforcements from conservative groups have been few and far between. Americans for Prosperity went up with an ad buy recently, but some see that more as a sign of respect for Kapanke than a real effort to turn the race around. The owner of the La Crosse Loggers took a tough vote, and it wouldn’t be right to let him go down alone, some suggest.
For others, it’s telling that conservative polling in the district has been pretty sparse over the last six weeks, a sign GOP groups have put their resources in more competitive races. On the Dem side, some put Shilling’s lead in double digits, and even optimistic Republicans say Kapanke is in rough shape.
Shilling has a solid edge.
Ratings of the two Dem recall elections will be in next week’s REPORT.
Track all the recalls in the WisPolitics.com recall section:
SOME SEE TUESDAY TURNOUT APPROACHING TYPICAL NOVEMBER LEVELS
As the efforts to recall eligible senators picked up steam this spring, many politicos wondered just how interested voters would be in special elections during the middle of a Wisconsin summer.
But if early and absentee voting is any indication, some municipalities could see strong turnout on Tuesday in the first six Senate recall elections set for this month.
While special legislative elections are usually very low turnout, some are predicting district-wide turnouts at fall-like levels. That could mean turnout approaching 50 percent -- the turnout percentage in last year's gubernatorial election.
Ballot News, a non-partisan analysis group, says turnout is trending high in the recall elections. Turnout in the first recall election, won by state Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, was about 37 percent -- high but far below the 2008 general election in the same district in that presidential election year.
The recall primaries last month all registered double-digit turnout, according to Ballot News, ranging from 10 percent in the Republican primary in the Kenosha-area's 22nd SD to about 35 percent in the La Crosse-area's 32nd Dem primary.
Ballot News said in all eight primaries, the total number of votes cast surpassed the total votes cast in the 2008 Senate primary contests in the same districts.
Added the analysis: "According to a press release from the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in 2010, voter turnout in the 2010 primaries was 19.6 percent. Thus, turnout in the recall primaries far exceeded typical voter turnout. In the eight primary elections held, a total of 206,014 votes were cast for turnout of 25.77 percent. The high turnout reflects the massive attention being given to the recalls. In typical special elections, voter turnout is lower than a general election. But here, voters are heading to the polls at higher levels than a normal election."
See a GAB chart with statewide turnout figures:
Many special interest groups and candidate campaigns are repeatedly stressing turnout ahead of next week's votes, and heavy broadcast advertising has raised the visibility of the elections.
In addition, some clerks tell WisPolitics.com early traffic is more like a fall election than a spring election, with one muni already reporting double-digit turnout figures and others reporting activity similar to the fall guv's race in 2010.
See below for a summary of early voting activity:
**8th Senate District**
In the 8th Senate District, split between two safe GOP Assembly districts and one safe Dem district, Alberta Darling of River Hills is trying to hold off Whitefish Bay Dem Rep. Sandy Pasch next week.
In Pasch's Assembly district, the Shorewood clerk says the village just north of Milwaukee has already filed some 10 percent of its votes as early absentee ballots.
Clerk Sherry Grant said 925 ballots had been returned as of Thursday morning, and that many more had been filed throughout the day. She expects about 1,100 to be filed by the absentee deadline, and noted that just 700 filed in the February Supreme Court primary.
Grant said most voters don't have mailers with them, but are simply arriving at her office looking to cast a ballot early.
To the northwest, in the suburb of Menomonee Falls -- located in a GOP-leaning Assembly seat -- Village Clerk Janice Moyer said the early voting activity has been higher than a normal April election but short of a fall election pace.
She said she's seen about 1,500 requests for absentee ballots out of the nearly 24,000 eligible voters in the village.
Baraboo City Clerk Cheryl Giese says early returns are heavier than a spring election, likening them to a gubernatorial election or a fall primary in a presidential year.
Giese said she's received 463 requests for absentee ballots through Wednesday and that 230 had been returned. She said traffic through the clerk's office to vote has been steady and "fairly heavy" at times in the Sauk County city, which is also the home of Dem state Rep. Fred Clark.
Clark is looking to unseat Sen. Luther Olsen. In Olsen's hometown of Ripon, City Clerk Ann Schommer said foot traffic is "not as much as I expected" in the recall election, saying it's averaging about five or six in-person voters per day.
Schommer said 272 absentee ballots were issued in Ripon through last week, and that while an initial influx of returns came from direct mailers by the political parties or outside groups, that has tailed off of late.
**32nd SD and 18th SD**
In the two seats that Dem insiders are most optimistic about, clerks say the pace is approaching last fall's gubernatorial election in some cities.
La Crosse Clerk Teri Lehrke said her office has processed 2,263 requests for absentee ballots as of late Thursday, and that she expects to get close to the 2,533 ballots requested in November.
She said about 100 voters have come in to vote in person each day, totaling 764 through Thursday. La Crosse is the largest city in the 32nd Senate District and comprises most of the 95th AD, held by Dem Jennifer Shilling. Shilling is favored to knock off incumbent Dan Kapanke in the 32nd next week.
In the Fox Valley's 18th SD, Fond du Lac Republican Randy Hopper is facing a tough race from Oshkosh Deputy Mayor -- and 2008 opponent -- Jessica King.
Fond du Lac City Clerk Sue Strands said anywhere from 60 to 100 people have voted early at the local courthouse each day, and that about 1,000 absentee ballots have been mailed out.
She said that pace is "in line with a gubernatorial election," and that people have mostly been coming in with ballot applications from the political parties or outside groups' mailers.
In Oshkosh, Clerk Pamela Ubrig said her city's early turnout in the 18th is "more like a spring election" than a fall race, but that it has been relatively heavy. About 660 people have voted in the office through Wednesday, and she estimated well over 100 more would do so Thursday.
Ubrig said one rally was held in the city attempting to drive up early Dem turnout, but that only 25 out of 100 rally-goers eventually made their way to the office. She said some of those in attendance may have already voted at the time of the rally.
**2nd SD and 10th SD**
Republicans are optimistic about their chances for victory in the districts of incumbents Rob Cowles and Sheila Harsdorf.
In Cowles' district, De Pere Clerk/Treasurer Char Peterson said her absentee ballot totals for next week's race have already nearly tripled the requests for the July primary, going from 372 up to more than 1,000 by the end of business on Tuesday.
Peterson said she expected final turnout to be about 45 to 50 percent for the 2nd SD recall election -- "comparable to one of our (February) presidential preference primaries."
And in Harsdorf's 10th SD, Hudson City Clerk Nancy Korson said absentee requests have been "heavier than a spring election" but not approaching a fall presidential election.
IF RECALLS GO THEIR WAY TUESDAY, DEMS COULD MOVE QUICKLY TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE CHAMBER
If three Democratic candidates knock off GOP Senate incumbents Tuesday, official control of that chamber could flip to Dems within a week.
But it's unlikely they'd be able to enjoy it before they know the results of the two remaining recall contests in Democratic seats on Aug. 16.
Polls close on the recalls in six GOP seats at 8 p.m. Tuesday, and Government Accountability Board spokesman Reid Magney said canvass boards in the districts are set to meet Thursday to determine the official results.
Once those are finalized, candidates have a three-day window to request a recount in a race. If that deadline passes, Magney said the GAB could certify the election results as soon as the following Tuesday, Aug. 16. He added the certification could be pushed back to Wednesday or Thursday if the canvass results are delayed.
The Senate Chief Clerk's office says victorious challengers may be sworn in as soon as the elections are official, adding there's no procedure the clerk's office follows for members who arrive mid-term.
"It's pretty much up to the candidates," said Assistant Chief Clerk Jeff Renk.
Renk said members will occasionally arrange for oaths of office to be administered in the Supreme Court, but that they could just as easily take place in the new lawmakers' districts. The only requirement is that they be sworn in within 10 days.
In the interim, any lame duck lawmakers would be able to serve until new members are sworn in, giving Senate Republicans one more week of control should the chamber flip.
But if everything falls into place as quickly as possible, Dems could take control on Aug. 16.
Should they seek to immediately control the chamber and act on legislation if they can? "They be idiots not to," said one Dem strategist.
If Dems rapidly seize control, speculation is that they'd quickly convene the Senate to pass an alternative redistricting plan, authorize the use of attorneys by their caucus and attempt to repeal the changes to public employee collective bargaining that sparked the recall efforts in the first place.
Dem control could also be short-lived, however. Dem Sens. Jim Holperin of Conover and Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie both face recall elections on Aug. 16.
If one or both of them loses, the chamber could flip back to Republicans. Lame-duck Dems would then have the same roughly week-long timeframe to serve in a majority.
Insiders get dizzy considering the scenarios. It's just another wrinkle in an already bizarre political summer.
SENATE DISTRICT 8: DEMS SEE DARLING AS 'CROWN JEWEL' IN RECALL EFFORTS
Democratic Party leaders view Sen. Alberta Darling's 8th Senate District seat as the “crown jewel” in their efforts to take back the state Senate.
Republican leaders view it as a crucial race to stem the Dem recall efforts against senators and GOP Gov. Scott Walker.
Recent election results appear to favor Darling. Conservative Supreme Court Justice David Prosser carried the district 57 percent to 42 percent against liberal JoAnne Kloppenburg in a proxy referendum on the Walker administration and controversial collective bargaining changes. And Darling beat a tough opponent in then state Rep. Sheldon Wasserman last time around.
But Darling's fighting like she's backed into a corner, despite her robust fundraising, the consistent help of conservative talk radio and early defensive advertising.
Darling was up with ads early, and has been raising piles of money in amounts typically reserved for congressional campaigns. So far this year she has pulled down $1.12 million and has spent just shy of $1 million.
Her Democratic opponent, Rep. Sandy Pasch, has raised more than $622,000 and spent $558,000.
But the money they have raised and spent pales in comparison to what third party groups have poured into the district in the form of organizing ground troops, sending mailers and buying broadcast ads that have saturated one of the state's most expensive media markets. Observers say total spending in this race easily eclipses the previous record for a Senate race -- the $3 million spent in a 2000 race between Republican Sheila Harsdorf and then-incumbent Dem Alice Clausing. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign estimates today that $7.9 million has been spent so far in this district.
The district covers northern parts of the city of Milwaukee, then extends north -- into the suburbs of Whitefish Bay, River Hills and Mequon -- and west into Germantown and Menomonee Falls. Pasch is the only Democrat out of the three Assembly districts represented by Darling.
In a sign of how pivotal the race has become, the closing days of the election have seen a flurry of election-related complaints launched by candidates and groups.
Conservatives have complained about block parties thrown by the liberal Wisconsin Jobs Now group, alleging that the free food and prizes at the parties, combined with rides to City Hall, constitute an illegal inducement to vote. Meanwhile liberals have focused on a push by Wisconsin Right to Life to offer gift cards to volunteers who persuaded like-minded voters to fill out absentee ballots in the recall elections.
The candidates themselves have also been on the receiving end of complaints.
Republicans and the conservative group Media Trackers kicked off the charges by focusing on Pasch's ties to the group Wisconsin Citizen Action, which has been running ads and organizing protests against Darling.
They filed complaints accusing Pasch of illegally coordinating with WCA; she serves on the group's board and her campaign treasurer holds the same position for the organization.
But Pasch says she hasn't been involved in any discussions of campaign strategy and left the room when campaign-related discussions came up months ago.
Pasch, in turn, questioned Darling's membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative policy organization.
But Darling said she's only an associate member and hasn't been to one of their conferences in years. “There's a very big difference in being on the board of Citizen Action and having your treasurer be the treasurer of Citizen Action,” Darling said.
A few days after the Media Trackers complaint surfaced, the state Democratic Party alleged Darling has "coordinated illegally with right wing, corporate-funded special interest groups" following her office’s denial of an open records request from the party.
DPW chairman Mike Tate said Darling hadn't complied with an open records request filed July 13 seeking correspondence with a number of conservative groups, and that the delay indicates illegal activity "given the criminal investigations into these right wing organizations." RPW executive director Stephan Thompson called the allegations ridiculous.
**Election issues extend beyond collective bargaining changes**
Outside of the election complaints, the candidates have tackled a range of issues far broader than the collective bargaining changes that sparked the recall efforts.
The race has turned to Darling's positions on Medicare, pay for fired Milwaukee police and cuts to education, corporate tax breaks, capping FamilyCare and other budget issues. Darling says she wants to keep the focus on the collective bargaining changes, which she says are working.
The changes, she says, have allowed school districts to weather cuts without widespread layoffs or large increases in class sizes.
In an interview, Darling complained that other issues besides her vote for collective bargaining changes have been the focus of the race, and that issues being raised such as budget cuts and taxes should be reserved for the regular elections.
“I want to stay focused on the reason I'm being recalled,” Darling said. “What we did is working. We put our state in a better position than almost any other state in our region. It's been very painful, but it worked.”
“We're not hearing anything about [collective bargaining] because it's not a winning issue,” Darling said.
She was critical of a Pasch ad accusing her of supporting a move to “end Medicare as we know it,” calling it a scare tactic.
“I have nothing to do with Medicare,” Darling said. “In fact, I have a lot to do with Medicaid, and we put $1.4 billion into it to make sure that nobody would fall through the cracks.”
She said she was doing what her constituents voted her in to do.
“I was elected in 2008 in a Democratic tsunami,” Darling said. “I ran on the issue of fiscal responsibility, living within our means and growing jobs. I'm doing what I said I would do.”
Darling said outside interests are behind the effort to oust her.
“I have people coming in from all over the country working against me because Obama feels Wisconsin is really important to his reelection and he wants us to go down so Walker can go down,” Darling said. “He can't lose Wisconsin. That's why his troops are here working against me. That's why unions have sent people in from all over the country to staff the Pasch effort and to fund it.”
Pasch said education is a major issue in the district.
“Education is huge in this district,” Pasch said. “It's why people move here.
“They're concerned about it. They're concerned that their class sizes are going to get bigger.”
Pasch disputes Darling's assessment about the effect of the collective bargaining changes, saying retirements have increased and many of those teachers wont be replaced, and that while some schools may get by this year, districts will face trouble in subsequent years.
“Is getting by really the best thing for education?” Pasch asked. “Don't they want a quality, robust education system?”
She was critical of a radio ad running that references racially charged mob violence in Riverwest and paints her as soft on crime.
“It sounds like Willie Horton in Milwaukee,” she said. “It's really a disgusting ad. They should be ashamed of themselves for doing that.”
Darling declined to comment on the Riverwest beating ad, run by Club for Growth Wisconsin.
“It wasn't my ad so I have no comment on that,” Darling said. “I support truth and accuracy and what I think voters need to know is that they have a clear choice and they need to make a decision.”
Pasch says she's been hearing from Republicans who say they can't vote for Darling again, some saying Darling's votes hurt members of their family, and others upset with the demonization of teachers or dismayed with the process Republicans have used to pass laws, which she described as rushing things through and bullying the electorate and elected officials.
One new ad from Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee features a Whitefish Bay teacher who says he's supporting Pasch despite his past votes for Darling and the last three GOP presidents.
“People are tired of the divisiveness of the state,” Pasch said. “They want the state to work together for all of the people and they really don't see that happening right now with the present administration and majority in Madison.”
See more on this race, including snapshots from the campaign trail, in the WisPolitics recall section
ON THE ISSUES: DARLING V. PASCH
WisPolitics.com asked the candidates their views on current issues. Below is a summary of their responses
-- Views on collective bargaining changes
Darling: Says the changes are working. She notes that Wisconsin has one of the strongest civil service protections in the country in place for all government workers for hiring, firing and grievances.
Pasch: Supports restoring collective bargaining system
-- Supreme Court election reform
Darling: Favors continuing with an elected judiciary
Pasch: Supports public financing and financial disclosure requirements for third-parties.
-- Changes to recall system
Darling: Says she doesn't have an opinion right now as she's too much in the middle of it, but expressed reservations about recalls being used over dissatisfaction with a vote. “I think that's a very dangerous precedent. It creates a very chaotic environment for our constituents' representation.”
Pasch: Supports the current law, and notes recalls have been rare.
“Just because someone is recalled, it doesn't mean the system is broken. It means it's a reflection that the job they've been doing is broken.”
-- How to best replenish the unemployment trust fund
Darling: Continue growing jobs.
Pasch: Work with Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council; grow jobs to reduce the unemployment rolls
-- Sales tax increase to boost school funding
Darling: Opposes increasing taxes: “We have to make sure more of hard earned dollars go into classrooms versus insurance companies, versus other expenditures. We should make sure the money goes into the classroom and gets the best outcomes for our kids and for our teachers.”
Pasch: Supports a segregated fund.
“I'd be willing to look at a variety of things that make sure that we prioritize education and that we don't steal from schools to pave our roads.”
-- Autonomy for UW-Madison
Darling: Says the issue needs further study
Pasch: Opposed, buts supports increased flexibility
“The Wisconsin Idea is that all of the system's schools work together. I think they can all grow together.”
-- Priorities for next session
- Grow the economy and jobs
- Continue effort to improve litigation and regulatory climate
- Analyze state programs for cost, efficiency and value-added
- Work to “align education with the real world of work.”
Pasch: Growing jobs and the economy in a bipartisan manner
EDUCATION FUNDING PROVIDES CONTRAST IN FINAL OLSEN-CLARK DEBATE
Luther Olsen and Fred Clark, locked in a close Senate recall contest, took contrasting views on education funding in their final debate before Tuesday's election.
Olsen, a Republican senator, and Fred Clark, a Dem rep, also debated the role of lawmakers and redistricting during a taping of the "UpFront with Mike Gousha" show that will air Sunday around the state.
Olsen, a member of the Joint Finance Committee, said all the new money in the budget went to Medicaid and said despite education funding cuts "the sky is not falling." Clark called education "one of the defining issues of this election."
Also chair of the Senate Education Committee, the veteran senator said "if we can't provide a quality education for the amount of money we spend per student" then "we have a serious problem in Wisconsin."
"We're in the ballpark of other states, and the sky is not falling. It better not, because this is Wisconsin," said Olsen, R-Ripon. "I think people in the end are going to say we made some tough decisions, and the sky is not falling. Class sizes are not going through the roof, and massive numbers of people are not being laid off."
Clark objected to budget measures that expanded private school voucher programs. "The disagreement I hear at home very strongly is why at the same time we are presenting public schools with these challenges," said Clark, D-Baraboo, "we're opening the door for private schools that are going to take students and dollars out of that public school system."
The two also clashed over redistricting.
"The Democrats would have also played to their advantage," Clark said. "I don't think they would have done it in such a secretive way, but that's why I supported the bill that would put that role in a nonpartisan committee.
Responded Olsen: "I find that statement very hollow. If you were really serious about that, you could have passed it in last legislative session. ... It came in middle of the game. ... Now that you have no say, let's change the rules."
"I think one of the biggest problems is that it just doesn't help secure a Republican majority to an advantage, but what we're doing with this is creating more safe seats," answered Clark, adding that means fewer competitive seats and more partisan lawmakers. "And I think the public loses when that happens."
Olsen painted Tuesday's contest this way. "This is (an election) not about Luther Olsen; it is about the ideas we put forward, and people are going to decide if they were the right ones or the wrong ones."
Clark said voters will decide "whether or not their senators have done the job they were sent to Madison to do. ... When the choices are tough is when it is most important for us to be out in our communities explaining to people what's at stake and why we make the choices we do."
Answered Olsen: "Just because you are not holding rallies all the time doesn't mean you're not working behind the scenes and being prepared so that when you take the votes you know what you are voting on and what the position needs to be."
See the Olsen-Clark debate Sunday on "UpFront with Mike Gousha," an editorial partner of WisPolitics.com. Click here for local viewing times: http://www.wisn.com/upfront/index.html
And check out the new UpFront Facebook page:
Monday: Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Allouez, and recall challenger Nancy Nusbaum, D-De Pere, appear in a forum sponsored by the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups.
-- 9:30 a.m.: Brown County Library Auditorium, 515 Pine St., Green Bay
Tuesday: Recall elections in six Republican-held state Senate districts.
-- 7 a.m.: Polls open. Find your polling location: https://vpa.wi.gov/
Tuesday: The Natural Resources Board meets in Iowa County to, in part, discuss a longer phase-in period for new shoreland zoning rules.
-- 9:55 a.m.: House on the Rock Resort, 400 Springs Drive, Spring Green
Tuesday: The Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economy and Small Business will vote on a measure to alter the Small Business Regulatory Review Board.
-- 11 a.m.: 328 Northwest, State Capitol
-- Gov. Scott Walker press conference on signing unemployment extension
-- Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald news conference
Listen to these and other audio clips at the WisPolitics Audio Archive:
(Check local listings for times in your area)
"UpFront with Mike Gousha" is a statewide commercial TV news magazine show airing Sundays around the state. This week's show features a joint interview with the candidates in next week's 14th SD recall election -- Sen. LUTHER OLSEN, R-Ripon, and Rep. FRED CLARK, D-Baraboo -- along with a discussion of the flood of recall campaign money with KEN GOLDSTEIN, president of Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group.
*See viewing times in state markets here: http://www.wisn.com/upfront/
*Also view the show online each Monday at WisPolitics.com
*Check out the new Facebook page for the show: http://www.facebook.com/upfrontwis
Wisconsin Public TV's "Here and Now" airs at 7 p.m. Fridays. Guests include state Children and Families Secretary ELOISE ANDERSON and UW-Madison historian STANLEY KUTLER.
"Sunday Insight With Charlie Sykes" airs at 10 a.m. Sunday on WTMJ-4 in Milwaukee.
"For the Record" airs Sunday at 10 a.m. on WISC-TV in Madison. AMITABH PAL, managing editor of The Progressive and author of “‘Islam’ Means Peace,” discusses the Muslim principle of nonviolence and its distortion.
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The newest episode of "WisBusiness: The Show" features the Tech Council's TOM STILL discussing the long-term effects of federal spending cuts on academic research and TOM PRIMIANO of NanoOncology Inc. talking about his company's development of cancer-fighting drugs.
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TOMMY THOMPSON's golf outing is coming up. The 8th Annual TGT Open & Silent Auction Reception, funding charities with an emphasis on providing access to education in the health related fields, is set for Sept. 23 at Door Creek GC in Cottage Grove. See more: http://www.tgtcharity.org/Open.aspx
And Sept. 19 is the date for the 2011 JOSEPH P. METTNER Foundation golf outing at Blackhawk CC in Madison. The second annual event will help fund a foundation honoring the life of the former PSC commissioner by providing scholarships to law students planning careers in public service. See details: http://www.joemettner.org/golf.html
Former GOP lawmaker SCOTT NEWCOMER has announced formation of the lobbying firm Newcomer’s Consulting Group. Newcomer’s Consulting Group, led by Newcomer and supported by an experienced staff, specializes in government relations and contract procurement, with services also available in association management.
Rep. MARK POCAN, D-Madison, is in New Orleans to attend the annual conference of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Commission. Pocan said in a statement that he was removed from an ALEC reception last night, but that he will stay through today and write about his experience for The Progressive magazine. See his statement: http://wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=244265
Department of Financial Institutions Secretary PETER BILDSTEN appointed GEORGE ALTHOFF to the department's newly created communications director position and CHRIS GREEN chief legal counsel. Althoff has 34 years of newspaper experience, most recently serving as publisher of the Portage division of Capital Newspapers. Green has been with DFI for 15 year and has been a general counsel with the department for 13 years. Read more: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=243907
Gov. SCOTT WALKER has appointed LORNA HEMP BOLL of Madison to the state Tax Appeals Commission. Hemp Boll, who would serve a six-year term if confirmed by the Senate, is currently a trust officer with SVA Plumb Financial. See the announcement:
Attorney General J.B. VAN HOLLEN appointed DANA BRUECK communications officer. She was most recently a reporter and weekend anchor at WMTV NBC 15 in Madison. Read the announcement: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=243952
Mauston High School Spanish teach LEAH LECHLEITER-LUKE was named a teaching ambassador fellow for the U.S. Department of Education. She was the 2009-10 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year. Read the announcement: http://dpi.wi.gov/eis/pdf/dpinr2011_85.pdf
President BARACK OBAMA will host the Super Bowl XLV Champion Green Bay Packers at the White House Aug. 12 to honor their Super Bowl victory. See details: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=244021
ED SCHULTZ, host of MSNBC’s ‘The Ed Show,’ will broadcast live from Madison on Monday and Tuesday. See details: http://ed.msnbc.msn.com/
HOWARD KALOOGIAN, who led the recall effort against former California Gov. GRAY DAVIS, is in Wisconsin for the Tea Party Express "Restoring Common Sense" pre-election tour. See details: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=244213
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