SAMPLE: WisPolitics MON PM Update -- 14 April 2014

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-- U.S. Rep. Tom Petri said he decided to retire for a myriad of reasons, but -- above all -- the time was right.

Speaking to a town hall audience in Neenah, the Republican congressman refused to identify a cause for bowing out of his re-election bid, saying he didn't think it was "fair" to single out just one reason. However, he acknowledge that a challenge in the upcoming election, combined with an already lengthy time in Congress, weighed on his mind as he made the decision.

"Sooner or later, you're either booted out, die or retire," Petri joked.

"No time is perfect, but this was pretty good," Petri added.

He wouldn't endorse or name any candidates to succeed him, but said he was sure there would be a diverse and "qualified" field for voters to consider.

"I think voters are quite capable of making up their minds without me," Petri said.

He advised all potential candidates to make sure they've given "serious thought" to what running entails and offered to talk to anyone who is interested in a bid for his 6th CD seat.

-- Ahead of Petri's announcement, Gov. Scott Walker wished the congressman the best of luck during a stop in Oshkosh, saying he had always respected the congressman for his demeanor and approach to government.

"Often times we talk about the old phrase 'the distinguished gentleman,'" Walker said. "I think Tom Petri is the classic example of the distinguished gentleman in every sense of the phrase."

-- Walker's campaign is going back up on TV tomorrow as he prepares to announce his re-election bid.

Two sources with knowledge of the buy said Walker's latest buy will begin tomorrow, when he has a statewide tour planned for a "special announcement" related to the 2014 election. He'll start the day in Dane with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch before stops in La Crosse, Chippewa Falls, Schofield, Green Bay and Milwaukee.

The sources said Walker's buy runs through April 24. One source said it includes 30- and 60-second spots.

-- Walker was mum on his 2014 campaign kick-off message.

However, he did say during the Oshkosh stop there wouldn't be any new tax-related pledges tomorrow, which is tax filing day.

Walker also said he didn't see the exits of Petri and state Sen. Mike Ellis, R-Neenah, as reactions to a conservative push within the party.

Walker, speaking after a job creation announcement in Oshkosh, barely mentioned the reasons for Ellis' exit from the Senate, not directly referencing the undercover video of the senator released by Project Veritas. Instead he said Ellis' departure had to do with something outside the "political spectrum" and said Petri had been eyeing retirement for sometime.

"If anything, of late, the Democrat Senate minority leader is there largely because he beat a moderate Dem four years ago," Walker said, referencing Sen. Chris Larson's defeat of Sen. Jeff Plale. "And so it's just a matter of how districts are and who chooses to run."

-- Several Dems emerged as possible candidates in the 6th CD.

Winnebago County Exec Mark Harris, former state Sen. Jessica King and Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels told today they'll consider a run for the seat.

Harris, who last year passed up a bid for guv, said he has had his eye on running for the 6th CD for some time, but he has a series of questions to work through before deciding whether to get in. He declined to offer details.

"For years, I said I would run for this office if he retired, and now he's retiring," Harris said of Petri.

King, who lost her 2012 re-election bid, said she doesn't have a deadline to make up her mind, noting "there's a lot of conversations going on right now."

"Everyone is just trying to make some decisions," said King, who has a law practice in Oshkosh. "I haven't made a decision one way or another."

Nickels said he'll consider what he could do in Congress vs. the opportunity he has as mayor. He also wants to ensure the Dems have a viable candidate in the open seat and will consider his own viability if he ran.

"Since this opportunity arose, I'd be foolish not to look at it and explore the potential," he said.

Mitt Romney won 53 percent of the 6th CD vote in 2012 as Barack Obama won the state.

-- Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he was encouraged by some to take a shot at the 6th CD, but decided against moving into the district for a bid.

The Juneau Republican also said he needs to keep his focus on maintaining the GOP majority in the Senate, where he now needs a new candidate in the 19th SD and may need one in the 9th if state Sen. Joe Leibham decides to run for Congress instead.

Fitzgerald has represented the 13th SD since 1995. The majority of the district -- both under the old maps and the new ones draw in 2011 -- is largely in what is now the 5th CD occupied by longtime GOP Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner.

The 2011 maps split Fitzgerald and his brother, then-Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, into separate congressional districts with Jeff Fitzgerald ending up in the 6th and Scott Fitzgerald the 5th.

"It's not something that I would rule out a future run for higher office," Fitzgerald said.

-- Fitzgerald said it's likely Leibham will run for the 6th CD, which would open up his Senate district in the Sheboygan area.

Fitzgerald said he has already met with Leibham on potential candidates in case his colleague decides to run.

Normally, sitting Assembly members would be top candidates to fill a Senate seat. But two of the three -- GOP Reps. Mike Endsley of Sheboygan and Steve Kestell of Elkhart Lake -- are retiring. The third is freshman Rep. Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc.

Fitzgerald also praised former GOP state Rep. Roger Roth as a possible candidate for the 19th SD with Sen. Mike Ellis' decision opt out of a re-election bid.

Fitzgerald called Roth a "serious candidate" and said he's been working with the former lawmaker, who lost a 2010 bid for the GOP nomination in the 8th CD, to get him comfortable with the prospect of a state Senate run.

"I think he's moving in that direction," Fitzgerald said.

Other Republicans considering a bid for the 19th include state Rep. Dave Murphy of Greenville, former state Treasurer Jack Voight and former state Rep. Steve Wieckert of Appleton.

Murphy said today he continues to hear from those who want to see him in the race, and "I'm very seriously considering making that run." Wieckert said today he hasn't ruled out a rule, but is leaning against a bid.

-- State Rep. Bill Kramer was ordered today to have no contact with the woman who has accused him of forcibly kissing and groping her following a 2011 GOP event.

Kramer faces two counts of felony second degree sexual assault stemming from the incident.

During an initial court appearance, the judge also ordered Kramer to stay out of any establishment that serves alcohol and to have no contact with any witnesses in the complaint, his accuser's residence or her place of employment.

Kramer was released on a $5,000 signature bond, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for May 15, according to online court records.

Kramer also faces an unrelated personnel investigation related to allegations he groped a legislative aide during a fundraising trip to Washington, D.C., in February. Chief Clerk Pat Fuller said today there's no timeline for that probe to wrap up.

-- Liberal group One Wisconsin Now today asked the state Supreme Court to reject taking up a challenge to an ongoing John Doe investigation.

The Walker campaign last week asked the high court to take jurisdiction of a lawsuit challenging the secret probe that was filed by Eric O'Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth. The suit was appealed to the 4th District Appeals Court after the judge overseeing the Doe quashed subpoenas in the case early this year.

OWN Executive Director Scot Ross, in a letter to Supreme Court justices, wrote that two groups reportedly under investigation for potential campaign finance violations during the 2012 recall elections had contributed heavily to the court's four conservative justices.

"Were the court to accept Gov. Walker's appeal and act to squash the inquiry into wrongdoing, the appearance if not the existence of impropriety would indelibly stain the integrity of the Wisconsin Supreme Court for generations to come," Ross wrote.

See the release:

-- Dem Dick Skare is dropping out of the race for the 1st SD because of a "major medical crisis," his campaign coordinator wrote to supporters in an email.

The email, obtained by, told supporters Skare "cannot fulfill the demands of the campaign."

Skare previously ran unsuccessfully against state Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, in 2008 and 2010.

-- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett took a swipe at David Clarke in a fundraising email over the weekend, referencing comments the sheriff made at luncheon earlier this month.

Clarke spoke openly at the luncheon about challenging Barrett and said if he did, he would raise more than the $350,000 he pulled in for his 2004 effort that resulted in a third-place primary finish.

Barrett referenced how much Clarke said he would have to spend, called him a "darling of the far right" and criticized his fiscal management of the sheriff's department.

"When he comes after me, I'll be ready. But I'd love to have your help," Barrett writes, asking for contributions to build a "Rapid Response Fund."

Read the email:

-- U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will head to Milwaukee April 23 to participate in a roundtable discussion on school choice.

Paul will join parents, teachers, students and other advocates at St. Anthony School on Milwaukee's south side at a forum co-sponsored by Hispanics for School Choice and the LIBRE Initiative.

Paul will be in Chicago for a similar forum April 22.

See details:

-- U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner ended the first quarter of 2014 with $314,863 in his campaign account, according to his latest filing with the FEC.

Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, reported raising $44,626 during the first three months of the year and $27,119 in expenditures.

Reports for the first quarter are due tomorrow to the FEC.

See Sensenbrenner's report:

-- Today at GOP retirements shake up election, confronting racial disparities and paying online sales tax.

See today's WisOpinion posts for more on these and other topics:

Sign up now for the free WisOpinion Weekly email, a compilation of every link posted at throughout the week:


WRN: Kramer makes court appearance

WISN: Fitzgerald not running for Petri's congressional seat

WISN: Newly signed law gives Marquette University a police department

Wisconsin State Journal: Make first two years of college free, say UW-Madison professors

Channel 3000: Group asks Supreme Court to stay out of John Doe

CBS: Report: Average of 6 million in Obamacare marketplaces in 2014

CBS: John Boehner visits Afghanistan following presidential election

CBS: Obama: "No one should fear for their safety when they go to pray"



- 5:30 p.m.: Fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, The Hamilton, 823 E. Hamilton St., Milwaukee

- 6 p.m.: Fundraiser for Rep. La Tonya Johnson, Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery, 901 W. Juneau Ave., Milwaukee

- 7:10 p.m.: Sen. Carpenter Brewers game fundraiser, Miller Park, 1 Brewers Way, Milwaukee

Business Events

- 11:30 a.m.: MITA: Keeping Your International Business Practices Above Board, Fluno Center, 601 University Ave., Madison

- 12 p.m.: Milwaukee Rotary Club, Milwaukee County War Memorial Center, 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee


- 8 a.m.: Gov. Walker, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch campaign announcement, Dane Manufacturing, 115 Dane St., Dane

- 10 a.m.: PSC hearing, Amnicon Falls Room, 610 N. Whitney Way, Madison

- 10:30 a.m.: Citizen Action of Wisconsin press conference, 345 W St. Paul Ave., Milwaukee

- 1:30 p.m.: DWD, WEDC press conference, Laserwords, 4230 Argosy Court, Madison

- 7 p.m.: U.S. Rep. Sensenbrenner town hall meeting, Slinger Village Hall, 220 Slinger Road, Slinger

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