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I appreciate Kevin’s service to our nation, but he’s going to have to prove what his conservative track record is. I don’t have to prove that to you. You know what my track record is. … We know more about Kevin’s track record as a Democrat than we do about his track record as a Republican.
– Sen. Leah Vukmir taking a shot at rival Kevin Nicholson during the closing minutes of their first GOP U.S. Senate primary debate. Nicholson was head of the College Democrats of America in 2000, but said he became a Republican after his experience serving in the Marines, raising a family and working in private industry.

My track record? I would look to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan if you want it. … I know that doesn’t mean much to certain politicians; I know that darn well.
– Nicholson, in response. Vukmir called the suggestion that she didn’t respect his service a “low blow,” said she respected it and demanded an apology. Nicholson didn’t apologize, shooting back, “If it makes you feel better, I feel respected.”

See WisPolitics.com coverage:
” >https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/nicholson-vukmir-debate-ends-with-exchange-over-conservative-credentials-respect-for-military-service/

Jobs are coming back, confidence is coming back, and under President Trump, America is coming back and we’re just getting started.
– Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at an America First Policies event on the GOP tax overhaul in Milwaukee. Following the event, Pence headlined a fundraiser for Gov. Scott Walker. A state Dem Party statement said “fundraising off of their scam tax law is pay-to-play politics at its worst.”

See WisPolitics.com coverage:
” >https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/pence-at-milwaukee-stop-says-national-optimism-soaring-due-to-trumps-policies-federal-tax-overhaul/

There’s basically one reason why we are here, and that’s Gov. Scott Walker. Without him and executive management team convincing us … I don’t think I would be standing here today, I don’t think you would be giving me a standing ovation.
– Foxconn special assistant Louis Woo during a panel discussion before Pence’s speech. Woo received a standing ovation when he was introduced as a panelist.

The chattering class in Washington gets paid to identify problems. For the past nine years, in manufacturing, I got paid to solve problems.
– Republican Bryan Steil announcing his run for House Speaker Paul Ryan’s 1st CD seat. Steil is a UW regent and general counsel at a plastic film manufacturing firm.

I understand what it’s like to work two full-time jobs and not have insurance and be diagnosed with cancer. I don’t know that Mr. Steil has ever had to go through something like that.
– Dem 1st CD primary candidate Randy Bryce.

Honestly, I am just relieved that an anti-Semite white supremacist is no longer the front-runner for the Republican nomination, but I am encouraged by Bryan Steil’s willingness to have a real conversation about the issues.
– Dem 1st CD primary candidate Cathy Myers referring to Paul Nehlen, who’s also running for the GOP nomination.

Mike Pompeo’s distinguished track record of service to our country was recognized today by a majority of my colleagues. It is disappointing Sen. Baldwin and so many Senate Democrats abandoned Senate tradition and put partisan politics ahead of supporting the confirmation of such a well-qualified individual to be our nation’s top diplomat.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson criticizing U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin for voting against the confirmation of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state. His nomination was confirmed Thursday on a 57-42 vote.

After meeting with Mr. Pompeo, I don’t have confidence that he shares this commitment and I am concerned that he is inclined to choose military force as a first option over diplomatic solutions to the many challenges we face around the world.
– Baldwin in a tweet on Tuesday.

I have a position open on my leadership team. It is the assistant director for the TEPDL team. Focus is on licensing and customer service … Social Justice Equity Warriors please apply. #wiedu.
– Assistant State Superintendent Sheila Briggs in a post on her personal Twitter account.

Frankly, Ms. Briggs’ Tweet is an open encouragement for those with a more liberal perspective on educational policies to apply and a chilling impact for those wanting to apply with a more conservative perspective on educational policies.
– Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, in a letter criticizing the tweet.

–A collection of insider opinion–
(Apr. 21-27, 2018)


Bryan Steil: The attorney and UW regent moved quickly to get his campaign for the 1st CD off the ground after fellow Republican Paul Ryan announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. And insiders see it paying off in two ways: Steil tells backers he raised $250,000 in the first days of his campaign, and insiders don’t see any other name Republicans moving to get into the race. Steil, whose family has long known Ryan’s, moved so quickly to get his campaign up and running that some assumed he had to have some kind of hint about what was coming. But his backers insist that’s not the case. Rather, Steil has had an eye on running for the seat ever since 2012 in case Ryan won the vice presidency and had to resign. Insiders say that means he already had in mind what it would take to launch a bid, and once the time came, he sprang into action. That included making dozens of calls to supporters in the days after Ryan announced he wouldn’t run — while other possible contenders were feeling out the idea of a bid. By the time others got on the horn, they say, it was clear Steil was well out in front. For now, Steil only has Paul Nehlen, branded a bigot and a pariah by his own party, and little-known Nick Polce to beat for the GOP nomination. Considering the contempt for Nehlen — and his 68-point loss to Ryan in 2016 — and that Polce’s desire to challenge Ryan likely won’t win him many fans among GOP voters, many see the GOP field clearing for Steil. Already, Kenosha County Supv. Jeff Wamboldt, a police officer, has announced he’s dropping out a week after saying he was in. To some insiders, the only question left for the GOP field is whether there’s a mystery candidate out there with personal wealth who could shake up the race. Some doubt that will materialize, especially with the early effort Steil is putting into the race and the appearance to many that he is Ryan’s favored candidate. That also shows itself in the early haul for his campaign. It’s an impressive sum to Republicans. But Steil also has a long way to go to close the gap with Dem Randy Bryce, who raised $4.8 million through the first quarter of 2018. Bryce, who faces Janesville School Board member Cathy Myers for the Dem nomination, has been a fundraising juggernaut, a vehicle for progressives who dislike Ryan to express their disapproval. With Ryan out, some have questioned whether Bryce’s fundraising would dry up. But his campaign says he raised $210,000 in the 13 days after Ryan’s announcement. Some insiders assume that will drop off at some point. While Bryce has built a national brand, they say, Ryan was the boogeyman. Without the Janesville Republican on the ballot, it will be tough to sustain that level of fundraising. Still, they add, Bryce has already pulled in more than most Dem House challengers will and already has nearly $2.3 million in the bank, enough to run a real campaign for Congress. Others see the small-donor network Bryce has been able to build and believe there’s an opportunity to keep pulling in that cash with the appeal that it’s time to finish the job and put Ryan’s seat back in Dem hands. It’s almost a Pavlovian impulse for some donors to keep sending those $50 checks once you get them hooked, some argue. Meanwhile, Republicans believe Ryan will put in an effort to keep the 1st in GOP hands, including fundraisers and other help for Steil. They also talk up Steil’s early fundraising compared to Bryce’s national launch. It isn’t a viral video that helped pull in that $250,000, they say, but old-fashioned hard work that will continue to pay dividends.

U.S. Senate spending: Dem Tammy Baldwin and her allies have been ringing the alarm bell for weeks about the amount of outside money flowing into her re-election bid. Increasingly, the national media are paying attention. The latest example is a front-page story in the New York Times that declares the “fight for Wisconsin is on.” The story is pegged on a Center for Responsive Politics analysis that donors from outside the state are spending twice as much money on Baldwin’s re-election bid than any other Senate contest. It also notes an estimate by the state Dem Party that nearly $10 million in ads have already been aired or purchased by outside groups either hitting Baldwin or backing GOP candidate Kevin Nicholson, whose campaign pegs it at $9 million. Meanwhile, those backing Baldwin are at $3.7 million in advertising. Dems frequently note much of that spending against Baldwin and for Nicholson is being driven by Illinois businessman Dick Uihlein and the groups he funds. It also may be having an impact on Baldwin’s poll numbers with the March Marquette University Law School Poll finding her upside down at 37 percent favorable to 39 percent unfavorable with registered voters. Already, Baldwin has been up on the air touting efforts such as her “buy America” bill and help for the dairy industry. Republicans see that as a sign that Baldwin is vulnerable. Others also see it as an indicator of her successful fundraising operation. With $7.8 million in the bank to end March and her fundraising clip nearing $3.4 million in the first quarter of 2018, insiders note Baldwin has the resources to remain on the air through the November election if she wants. She also may have the luxury of a bitter GOP primary. Insiders have never sensed much of a warm, fuzzy feeling between Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir. But the tensions that have seemed just below the surface boiled out into plain view during their first debate of the primary. After more than 50 minutes of largely friendly questions in the debate hosted by the conservative Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin, the thinly veiled attacks turned more direct — and personal. Nicholson accused Vukmir of questioning whether his service during two wars in the Marines qualified as conservative credentials. Vukmir, whose son serves in the Army, called the shot a “low blow,” and said she respected his service and demanded an apology. Instead, Nicholson replied, “If it makes you feel better, I feel respected.” The exchange dominates the post-primary chatter as insiders debate how that comment will play. The crowd demonstrated a pro-Vukmir bent in the introductions, and some in the room seemed taken aback by Nicholson’s remarks. Still insiders note it’s a question of how many primary voters tuned in, how many that didn’t who saw the coverage and whether such moments will leave any lasting impression on the race. Still, insiders note, the more they go after each other, the better it is for Baldwin, who can keep stockpiling money and running positive spots while her potential rivals keep cutting down each other.

– See more on Baldwin’s fundraising network in a story below.

Foxconn: With the $4.5 billion state and local tab to land the Taiwanese manufacturer becoming a tougher sell to voters than Gov. Scott Walker and some of his backers had initially expected, Republicans said a key to turning public opinion would be shovels in the ground. It also wouldn’t hurt for outstate Wisconsin businesses to land project work to help the argument that Foxconn will benefit more than just southeastern Wisconsin. And the guv gets a string of good news on those fronts. Not long after the DNR signs off on four air permits for the project and approves Racine’s request to divert up to 7 million gallons of Lake Michigan water a day to the development, Foxconn special assistant Louis Woo announces the first phase of construction will begin within a few days at its Mount Pleasant site in Racine County. Appearing at a panel discussion as part of Vice President Mike Pence’s Wisconsin stop, Woo said 90 percent of the winning contractors in the first phase are from Wisconsin, and 90 percent of those are from outside of Racine County. He added that 10 percent of the contractors are from companies owned by women, minorities or veterans. He also credits Walker’s pro-business policies for helping Foxconn to locate in the state. Project critics, however, still aren’t sure that’s going to be enough to swing sentiment in Walker’s favor. While acknowledging there’s a benefit to Walker to seeing construction begin, critics continue to argue voters are going to ask why they’re paying for the project over the next 25 years, particularly those outstate. To Walker’s backers, the more announcements about local supplies and contractors, the better. The more tangible the project becomes, the more the public will see the benefit, they argue. It also could be a political issue for more than just Walker. State Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, is considering a bid for the 1st CD, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has been musing about jumping into the guv’s race. Barca broke with most of his Dem colleagues in supporting the state Foxconn package in the Assembly, while Barrett joined others at the Wisconsin announcement of the project to herald the “incredible foreign investment.” Considering where the Dem base is, some see that as putting both at odds with the voters they’d be wooing — should either get in. Insiders have doubts how real their talk is about running. But Barca would have to deal with that vote in the primary, though some could see him making the case he voted in the best interests of his legislative district. Barrett backers, meanwhile, note he has had issues with the project after seeing the size of the public investment and would likely contrast that with the business incentives he’s worked on as mayor. He also wouldn’t be the first Dem guv candidate to switch gears on the project. State Rep. Dana Wachs, of Eau Claire, initially praised the project before becoming a vocal critic and touting his opposition while serving on the WEDC Board. While backers of the project are thrilled with the latest developments, there are still signs of looming issues. It is expected a glass manufacturer would locate on the same property at the Foxconn plant, and some have mentioned New York-based Corning Inc. as a likely candidate. But the company chair and CEO told an earnings call that it wouldn’t build such a plant unless “we get two out of every three dollars from others and that we could keep 100 percent of the revenues and profits.” Considering the public money already committed to Foxconn and the guv’s insistence that the state won’t offer additional incentives to company suppliers, that could mean a company such as Corning could look to Foxconn for help, some suggest.


School safety: $100 million for school safety grant funding sure sounds like a lot. But when it’s split among some 3,100 public and private schools across Wisconsin, there’s not much to go around. AG Brad Schimel acknowledges that grants could average $31,000 per school. That means the newly created Office of School Safety — and schools looking to bolster their safety features — are dealing with limited resources. Under the grant’s newly announced framework, awards will be split into two categories: primary grants for baseline improvements to schools such as door locks; and advanced grants for schools that have already met minimum security thresholds. The goal, Schimel said, is for every school to have a locked entry point featuring shatterproof glass. The AG said he expects about a third of the money to go toward those costs. The advanced grants, meanwhile, could be used for improvements such as video intercoms and exit door alarms, but the money can’t be used to hire new staff or cover weapons, vehicles or body armor. Insiders note it’s up to Schimel to prioritize what’s most important — as it’s him and his Department of Justice that’s overseeing the office. It makes sense to prioritize, they say, and after all, the Legislature can always appropriate more money in the future for school safety. Schools have until June 8 to apply for the funding, and Schimel said he hopes to have the awards finalized by mid-June, expecting few schools would wait until the deadline to submit their applications. To qualify for the money, school staff will have to have training in trauma-informed care before the end of the 2018-19 school year or show staff have already received such training. Schools will then be reimbursed for the projects after they’re completed.

Cryptocurrency donations: Republicans loosened campaign finance limits to reflect what they saw as the new reality of campaigns. But some on the Ethics Commission express concerns about allowing cryptocurrency donations such as Bitcoin. In February, the chair of the Wisconsin Libertarian Party asked the commission for a public hearing and formal opinion on accepting cryptocurrencies. Chair Phil Anderson wrote in the request that the party and its campaigns have been offered donations in cryptocurrencies and sought advice on questions such as how to calculate such donations toward campaign limits since the value of cryptocurrency can fluctuate. Anderson, who’s also a candidate for guv, was the only person to testify at a public hearing on the issue, urging commissioners to open the door to the donations. But some members were skeptical. Mac Davis, a retired Waukesha County judge, questioned whether cryptocurrency meets the statutory definition of an eligible contribution to a campaign. Fellow commissioner Pat Strachota, a former GOP lawmaker, said she had concerns after staff explained the donations could be made anonymously, putting an onus on recipients to try verifying the identity of contributors. The commission took no action on the issue in open session.


Kathleen Vinehout: Rumors have circulated for weeks about staff departures from the Alma Dem’s guv campaign as insiders see signs of a campaign that’s struggling to raise money and a candidate who’s been at odds with other party members on abortion and gun issues. The campaign now says to WisPolitics.com that some staffers have left, but declines to say who and how many, citing privacy concerns. Still, WisPolitics.com confirms campaign manager Carlene Bechen is among those who have left. She cited a series of personal factors that influenced her decision, adding “the stress of the campaign was too much.” She also hints at other issues. Her last day with the campaign was March 25, five days after a Senate floor session in which Vinehout joined all Republicans in voting to table a Dem amendment to a school safety plan that sought to reinstate a 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases. Asked about whether the vote impacted her decision, Bechen said: “I’d really rather not comment about my decision, but I can tell you that she and I don’t agree.” That vote struck many insiders as odd for a candidate running in a Dem guv primary. Vinehout has tried to make the case some in her party don’t understand how gun issues resonate in rural Wisconsin. But others point out background checks are overwhelmingly popular; the March Marquette University Law School Poll found 81 percent of registered voters back background checks on private gun sales and sales at gun shows. Even among those in a household with a gun, 78 percent back them. Beyond that, Vinehout can expect some pushback from abortion rights groups over her past on the issue; Kelda Roys, who worked for NARAL, says on the campaign trail she’s the “only pro-choice woman in the race.” Still, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin’s poll on the Dem guv field found Vinehout in third place in the crowded field. To some Dem insiders, that’s simply a reflection of Vinehout’s past runs for guv and her work with the party’s grassroots. But they have a hard time seeing her poll numbers breaking away from the pack, particularly with her fundraising issues. She burned through more money than she raised from donors in the last half of 2017, finishing in the black only because her husband put money into the campaign and she took out a commercial loan. With the staff departures, Vinehout’s husband Doug Kane will take an expanded role with the campaign, having worked on her previous state Senate bids. She also isn’t the only Dem guv hopeful to see staff turnover lately. Mahlon Mitchell, head of the state’s firefighters union, has a new campaign manager after his previous one left due to “unforeseen circumstances,” while a finance assistant for Dem Dana Wachs’ guv campaign has left that position to work for a congressional campaign in Iowa. Wachs’ campaign says he plans to fill the position. But the string of staff moves across the crowded field has only fed the perception to many insiders that it’s tough sledding raising money with so many contenders — and no signs of the pack thinning anytime soon. And few insiders see the fundraising getting any easier. There are already competing pressures such as U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s re-election bid, Josh Kaul’s AG campaign and the legislative races. Then there’s Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s flirtation with getting into the guv’s race. That’s not going to help contenders persuade donors to jump in, even if many believe Barrett will eventually take a pass. Also of interest is the DGA’s hire of Tom Russell, who ran Russ Feingold’s 2016 U.S. Senate campaign, to work on the Wisconsin guv race as a consultant to lay the foundation for the general election so the winner of the Aug. 14 primary can hit the ground running. That, Dems say, is a sign that national forces have come to see Walker as vulnerable. But it’s also another place for donors to park their money. It could pay off in the long run, Dems say, but it’s not helping in the short-term to separate the primary field. Others, though, counter it’s always tough to raise money in a crowded primary and donors have long had the option of parking their dollars with the state Dem Party to help fund the coordinated campaign.

– See the WisPolitics.com guide to the guv’s race, including current campaign managers:

Former UW-Oshkosh officials: The state Department of Justice already brought civil charges that are still pending against former UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells and former Vice-Chancellor of Administrative Services and Chief Business Officer Thomas Sonnleitner. But a new summons sent to Sonnleitner and Wells could indicate a bigger storm brewing on the horizon for the two officials accused of misusing public funds for real-estate projects undertaken by the private UW-Oshkosh Foundation. The two signed off between 2010 and 2014 on loan guarantees for five of the foundation’s real estate projects. Three of those projects — an alumni center and two biodigesters — have left the foundation $15 million in debt. The foundation is suing UW System to force it to aid in those debt payments. The case is now headed to trial after failed attempts by the state to get the case dismissed on the grounds the debt, since it was accrued by a private entity, isn’t public and therefore not the UW System’s responsibility. A U.S. bankruptcy judge isn’t buying that argument. Meanwhile, Wells and Sonnleitner are now facing five felony counts each in the DOJ’s latest legal action. Based on a statement this week from Board of Regents Audit Committee Chair Michael Grebe, who wrote the system is trying to “rebuild confidence,” it appears the Board of Regents is doing everything in its power to wipe the slate clean as it tries to move forward. The news comes after a Legislative Audit Bureau report last month showing UW System schools and their private foundations getting a little too close for comfort, with UW System failing to adequately keep track of money flowing from universities to foundations. Some insiders are lauding the criminal charges as a means to prevent taxpayers having to bail out private foundation debt, which could undermine relations between system administration and lawmakers.


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Two Republican candidates vying for the open 1st SD say they’ve already pumped personal money into their campaigns during the lead-up to the May 15 primary.

But Rep. André Jacque and Alex Renard declined to detail how much they put in.

Meanwhile, Dem Caleb Frostman, of Sturgeon Bay, said through a campaign spokesman he doesn’t plan to invest money into his campaign at this time, adding he’s “not in a position to put significant resources into a political campaign.”

A WisPolitics.com check of each candidates’ statements of economic interest, though, shows Renard and Frostman would be best poised to put personal money into their campaigns, as the two logged a series of liquid investments.

Meanwhile, Jacque’s economic interest filing didn’t show any significant money he could invest in his bid for the seat previously held by former Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere.

The disclosures list only broad ranges for investments and debts, making it difficult to ascertain how much many are worth. For example, investments have to be detailed only if they’re worth $5,000 to $50,000 or more than $50,000. WisPolitics.com assumed the minimum value for each asset or debt listed in reviewing the filings.

Still, the reports give a general sense of how much candidates could dip into their personal resources over the compressed election window.

Renard’s statement of economic interest form lists at least $70,000 in stock.

His filing also includes more than $50,000 invested in Renco Machine, as well as between $5,000 and $50,000 in investments in: Overseas Shipbuilding Group; Sibanye Gold, Ltd.; Heron Therapeutics; and Keryx Biopharmaceuticals.

Frostman, the executive direction of the Door County Economic Development Corp., listed nine investments in the $5,000 to $50,000 range.

That includes a Vanguard Institutional Index account in the Wisconsin deferred compensation program. The remaining eight were mutual or money market funds, including an American Funds Global Growth account and an American Funds Smallcap World Fund A account.

Those eight accounts are for between $40,000 and $200,000.

Jacque, a full-time legislator from De Pere, didn’t list any investments or further business activities on his form.

Renard’s statement also includes personal debts of at least $55,000, though the Wisconsin form — as with investments — only includes ranges of between $5,000 to $50,000 and more than $50,000.

That includes more than $50,000 owed to Nicolet National Bank in Green Bay and between $5,000 and $50,000 to Capital Credit Union.

Jacque, meanwhile, listed the following personal debts: Chase Bank, $5,000 to $50,000; Fox Community Credit Union in Green Bay, $5,000 to $50,000; and Wells Fargo, $5,000 to $50,000. He also owes more than $50,000 to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

And Frostman reported he owed between $5,000 and $50,000 to American Honda Finance Corp.

He also lists himself as the secretary/treasurer of two additional companies: Loch Construction Co. in Green Bay and Loch Walls Inc., also in Green Bay.

Frostman said through a campaign spokesman that he doesn’t receive compensation from either and Loch Walls “was in the process of being folded up when I filled out the form.”

Renard, meanwhile, lists himself as a secretary of Murder Inc. in the Town of Little Suamico.

Asked about the business, Renard said it’s a duck hunting club his grandfather and father started in the 1930s. His grandfather, he said, wanted a “clubber name,” and since a group of crows is called a “murder,” that’s what they went with.

Also on the form, he listed NEW Property Management, LLC in Green Bay, which Renard said he started a couple years ago with the intent to get into property development.

And he lists an address for a condo in Green Bay that he said was his former residence, which he bought, fixed up and is currently for sale privately.

See Renard’s SEI:



Most GOP candidates for the 42nd AD have invested in their campaigns

Three of the four GOP candidates in the race for the 42nd Assembly District have already put personal resources into their campaigns.

Those three also have significant liquid assets they could potentially draw from as the race heats up, according to a WisPolitics.com check of their statements of economic interest.

Jon Plumer, a karate studio owner and Republican establishment favorite, has already contributed $9,000 to his campaign and said he plans to rely on donations over the rest of his campaign.

And Darren Schroeder, a farmer and town board chairman, has so far put $1,000 into his campaign, though he said he plans to top out at $2,000.

Colleen Locke-Murphy, an attorney, said she’s put less than $1,000 into her campaign and plans to spend more, although she declined to disclose how much.

And Spencer Zimmerman, a self-fashioned “Trump conservative” from outside of the district, hasn’t yet contributed to his campaign, though he said he’s planning a low-budget social media ad buy as his campaign progresses.

Plumer and Locke-Murphy are the most well-positioned to pour additional cash into their campaigns, the WisPolitics.com review shows. Both have more than $100,000 in stock options or mutual/money market funds.

Plumer’s statement of economic interest shows he has more than $50,000 in stock options from Altria Group, a tobacco company that owns Philip Morris USA. Plumer said he received those options when he worked at Kraft Foods. He also has between $5,000 and $50,000 each in stock options from Madison Gas and Electric, Kraft Heinz and ONEOK, Inc.

Plumer also logged more than $50,000 in Bond Fund of America mutual funds, and between $5,000 and $50,000 each in mutual funds from the Income Fund of America, American Balanced Fund, American High Income Trust and Fundamental Investors.

He also owns a Lodi karate studio and the building in which it is housed.

Locke-Murphy, an attorney with a solo practice in Jefferson, logged more than $50,000 each in Alliant Energy and Madison Gas and Electric stock. She has between $5,000 and $50,000 in options in General Electric, plus ownership in her law office.

Schroeder has at least $55,000 in liquid assets, with more than $50,000 in American Century Investments mutual funds and between $5,000 and $50,000 in Farmers and Merchants Bank mutual or money market funds.

Zimmerman’s statement of economic interest shows him to have between $5,000 and $50,000 in Alliant Energy stock options.

The winner of the May 15 GOP primary will go on to face Democrat Ann Groves Lloyd and Independent Gene Rubinstein in the June 12 special election.

See Plumer’s SEI form:

See Locke-Murphy’s:

See Schroeder’s:

See Zimmerman’s:


Republican Alex Renard is looking to paint himself as a political outsider as he prepares to face off against four-term state Rep. André Jacque in the primary for the open 1st SD.

The 24-year-old operations manager for Renco Machine Co. in Green Bay, is also touting a series of “government reform” initiatives — as well as his business experience — that he’s looking to bring to Madison.

But Jacque, 37 and a full-time legislator, is holding up his “conservative track record” that includes spearheading changes to the state’s criminal justice system; supporting so-called “tort reform” and other regulatory overhauls; and backing a strict anti-abortion agenda.

“I have been that independent voice and I have been very effective in getting things done,” he said. “Some people would say it’s a liability to have positions staked out on so any issues. I look at it as a very big strength of mine just because people know where I stand.”

Both candidates spoke to WisPolitics.com this week as part of a series of interviews with all special elections contenders. The primaries are May 15 with a general election June 12 to fill the 1st SD in northeastern Wisconsin and the 42nd AD, which is northeast of Madison.

Among the changes Renard says he wants to pursue should he be elected are: enforcing a policy to withhold pay from state lawmakers if the biennial budget isn’t passed by the first day of the fiscal year and pushing for a Wisconsin constitutional amendment for across-the-board term limits in state offices of between 10-12 years, depending on the post.

Renard’s campaign said he’d limit himself to three terms in the Senate even if the amendment doesn’t come to fruition.

Renard and Jacque are largely on the same side of issues ranging from fetal tissue to the UW System tuition freeze.

But one topic that sets them apart is the “constitutional carry” bill that ultimately failed to pass the Legislature this session.

The bill, which would have allowed individuals to carry a concealed weapon without first obtaining a permit or going through any training, passed the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, but did not receive a floor vote in either chamber.

Renard, who has a concealed carry license, said he wouldn’t support it.

“I do not have a problem with an individual having to obtain a permit or in that case going to a live fire exercise. It’s what an individual like myself has went through and many others across the state, and it’s what responsible gun owners will do in order to be able to exercise our Second Amendment right,” he said.

But Jacque, who signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill, said he’d again support the bill if it comes back around.

“When you look at how we have open carry, which is really allowed more broadly, and all you have to do is put on a coat and suddenly it’s concealed carry — that wouldn’t be allowed without a permit,” he said.

Citing the state’s passage of concealed carry in 2011, Jacque said the “law has worked well” and he’s looking to continue allowing for reciprocity with “as many other states in the country as possible.”

But both candidates say they want to see bills involving the use of fetal tissue make their way through the Legislature.

Republicans this session again failed to find a compromise on legislation surrounding the sale of fetal tissue, as two competing bills circled the Legislature but neither gained traction.

One, backed by the Health Without Harm Coalition, would have imposed a blanket prohibition on acquiring, providing or using a fetal body part from an abortion. The other would have banned the sale of fetal tissue, but allowed more avenues to continue research.

Jacque, who had worked for multiple sessions to get variations of his fetal tissue legislation passed, was a co-sponsor of the first bill. He said the issue was something he’d like to continue to lead on in the state Senate.

Renard, meanwhile, said he would support banning the sale of fetal tissue even if it means restricting research at UW-Madison, saying he’s “100 percent pro-life.”

On other issues:

*Continuing the UW System tuition freeze:

Both candidates signalled their support of the five-year UW tuition freeze, which lawmakers voted to continue in the most recent budget, although they were non-committal about whether it should be backfilled with general purpose revenue.

Jacque said he was “comfortable” with the current budget’s extension of the tuition freeze, though he noted the question he comes back to is what the acceptable level of those expenses is.

And he said going forward, he’d like to “find ways to at least address the cost side of the college affordability question.”

Renard said while he supports continuing the freeze, he’d want to work with the regents and other administrators to find further efficiencies within the UW System and “make (the freeze) viable for them.”

*Road funding:

Asked if he’d support a 5 cent gas tax increase, Renard said he isn’t “a big fan of taxes” but if it was offset elsewhere so the overall tax burden isn’t increased, he said he “could live with that.”

He also didn’t give a position on raising vehicle registration fees or implementing tolling, saying: “It’s always worth a discussion.”

Jacque, meanwhile, said he could see increasing vehicle registration fees or the gas tax as a possibility so long as it fits within parameters Gov. Scott Walker has laid out of any increase being offset by a reduction in taxes elsewhere.

He also said he is “willing to look at” tolling, but said there are other steps the Department of Transportation and the Legislature can also take to reduce overall expenditures on projects and find further efficiencies, such as design-build legislation, where an owner hires one entity to provide both design and construction work under a single contract.

Jacque said one of his priorities is also targeting funding toward local infrastructure projects, versus megaprojects, noting that as the state has increased transportation spending “we’ve been putting more of it toward the megaprojects.”

Listen to the Jacque interview:

Listen to the Renard interview:


Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald originally pushed for a special elections bill that could have left vacant legislative seats open for 15 months, a WisPolitics.com check of the drafting language shows.

According to drafting documents, Fitzgerald’s original request sought to require special elections to occur a minimum of 180 days from the date of the guv’s call and a maximum of 195. The original request also sought to ban special elections after the April general in an even-numbered year.

Under that language, Gov. Scott Walker would have had to call special elections by Oct. 5, 2017, for vacancies in the 42nd AD and 1st SD for them to be filled before the 2018 midterms. Former Sen. Frank Lasee, R-DePere, and state Rep. Keith Ripp, R-Lodi, resigned their seats Dec. 29 before joining the Walker administration in early January.

The Juneau Republican also requested a 12-week window between the primary and special election. Current law allows a four-week window.

Fitzgerald spokesman Dan Romportl said the timeline was to accommodate military and overseas voters.

“The 180-195 day and 12-week windows mirrored the timelines for the regularly scheduled fall primary and general elections. It was an attempt to ensure that military voters had enough time to cast ballots in both elections,” Romportl said.

But some Dems, as they did while the bill was under deliberation, argue the intent of the bill was to disenfranchise voters in two districts with vacancies. Walker originally declined to call special elections for the seats, prompting a lawsuit by the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

“It’s clearly obvious they were trying to bend and rewrite the law in their favor,” said Kate Constalie, a spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling.

The finalized version of the substitute amendment called for special elections to occur between 124 and 154 days of the governor calling the special election — double that of current law — and an eight-week window between the special election and its primary. It also banned special elections for Assembly and state Senate seats from taking place after spring elections.

The bill and its substitute amendment never made it to the floor after Walker ultimately called elections for the 42nd AD and 1st SD following several court orders requiring him to do so.

See the drafting request:


U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has a national fundraising network of individual donors that has helped fuel her significant cash advantage over her potential GOP rivals.

She also could benefit from a network of joint fundraising agreements as well.

According to a check of FEC records, Baldwin has signed joint fundraising agreements with 21 groups, ranging from a partnership with the Wisconsin Democratic Party to Texans for a Progressive Senate.

That is significantly more than all but one of the top Senate targets in this fall’s elections with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., signing 24 such agreements. It also is well ahead of the five Dem Russ Feingold had two years ago and the six for GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in the 2016 race. Meanwhile, the two Republicans seeking to take on Baldwin this fall — business consultant Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir — do not have any, according to FEC records.

The agreements so far have not been a significant piece of Baldwin’s fundraising effort. Since Jan. 1, 2017, Baldwin has reported $881,308 in transfers from joint fundraising committees, according to a WisPolitics.com check of her fundraising reports. Over that 15-month period, she’s raised nearly $13.7 million overall.

Still, they are one more piece in the fundraising puzzle for Baldwin with national headlines already proclaiming her re-election bid to be one of the top targets nationally for outside money.

State GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman said Baldwin has pushed a far-left agenda and “knows she’s vulnerable in 2018 and is desperate for help from her liberal allies across the country.”

But Baldwin campaign spokesman Bill Neidhardt pointed to the influx of cash in the race from megadonors that has gone toward attacks on the incumbent, while “our campaign has instead tapped into a groundswell of grassroots enthusiasm by giving supporters the ability to back both Tammy Baldwin and our Democratic field program or fellow progressives at the same time.”

Several operatives who spoke with WisPolitics.com this week said the joint fundraising committees are attractive to candidates and donors for several reasons.

They can be created among candidates, PACs or party committees to share the cost of fundraising and then split proceeds. Since 2014, they also have not been subject to aggregate donation limits.

They do not, however, offer a way around the FEC-imposed donor limits. Candidates can accept up to $5,400 per individual donor, split evenly between the primary and general elections. Likewise, candidates can receive no more than that from an individual donor who contributed to the joint fundraising committee, which then transferred funds to the candidate. There are also the same disclosure requirements for donors on contributions received through the joint fundraising agreements as those given directly to a candidate.

The activity of the 21 joint fundraising committees tied to Baldwin has varied widely. Half of them listed no activity during the first quarter or 2018 or have filed termination reports.

Of the active committees, Baldwin has received $178,010 over the past 15 months from the Massachusetts Wisconsin Victory Fund, an effort that includes Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Still, the committee reported no fundraising or expenditures in the first three months of 2018.

Baldwin also received $152,013 from Upper Midwest Women Victory Fund and $151,105 from Texans for a Progressive Senate between Jan. 1, 2017, and March 31.

During the most recent three-month reporting period, the Michigan Wisconsin Victory Fund made the biggest transfer to Baldwin at $73,300 while giving U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., $73,400. The group’s seven largest donors were all from New York and contributed $5,400 each.

None of the joint fundraising agreements tied to Baldwin is ranked in the top 40 for money raised this cycle, according to a list compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The Baldwin Wisconsin Victory fund, a joint effort with the state Dem Party, was No. 86 with $345,601 in receipts.

Donors to the Baldwin Wisconsin Victory Fund since Jan. 1, 2017, include: Milwaukee County Exec Chris Abele, $30,000; Exact Sciences CEO Kevin Conroy $22,700; John W. Miller, founder and principal at Arenberg Holdings, $30,000; and John C. Miller, John W. Miller’s father and the former head of Miller-St. Nazianz, $20,000.

Baldwin’s backers touted the Baldwin Wisconsin Victory fund because donors can write one check that will go to both her re-election bid and the state party to strengthen the Dems’ field program this fall. They pointed to the effort put in ahead of liberal Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet’s win in the state Supreme Court race and Patty Schachtner’s victory in the special election for the 10th SD as a sign of what those donations can help fund.

On the CRP’s ranking of joint fundraising committees, the largest, by far, was House Speaker Paul Ryan’s political operation. Dubbed Team Ryan, it had $55.9 million in receipts. The Trump Make America Great Again Committee was No. 2 at $34.4 million.

See the CRP ranking of joint fundraising agreements:


May 10: WisPolitics Luncheon with Kelda Roys

Join WisPolitics.com for lunch at the Madison Club, 5 East Wilson St., Madison, on Thursday May 10 with former state Rep. Kelda Roys to discuss her bid for the Democratic nomination to run against GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

See Roys’ bio: https://keldaforgovernor.com/meet-kelda/

Check-in and lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., with the program going from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Madison Club members and their guests receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons, $19 per person. Price for general public is $25 per person.

This luncheon is sponsored by: Husch Blackwell, American Family Insurance, Xcel Energy, Walmart, AARP Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

For registration: https://eventbrite.com/e/wispolitics-luncheon-with-kelda-roys-tickets-45290902308



Monday: The Weekly Standard Midwest Conservative Summit
– 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.: The Pfister Hotel, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee.

Tuesday: Wisconsin Forum presentation featuring Christopher Preble.
– 5:30 p.m.: 924 E Juneau Ave., Astor Hotel Grand Ballroom, Milwaukee.

Thursday: UW-Madison shared governance forum.
– 3 p.m.: Wisconsin Idea Room, Education Building, Madison.

(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 Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative/Alliance President JOHN DICKERT on the latest developments with Foxconn; and state Rep. DANA WACHS on his Dem bid for governor.
*See viewing times in state markets here: http://www.wisn.com/upfront/
*Also view the show online each Monday at WisPolitics.com

“Rewind,” a weekly show from WisconsinEye and WisPolitics.com, airs at 8 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. on Sundays in addition to being available online. On this week’s episode, WisPolitics.com’s JR ROSS fills in for WisEye’s STEVE WALTERS. He’s joined by the Capital Times’ JESSIE OPOIEN to discuss Vice President MIKE PENCE’s visit to Milwaukee; the GOP U.S. Senate debate; and Gov. SCOTT WALKER’s campaign going up on the air next week for its first TV ad buy of the race.
*Watch the show: http://www.wiseye.org/Video-Archive/Event-Detail/evhdid/12342

Wisconsin Public TV’s “Here and Now” airs at 7:30 p.m. Fridays. On this week’s program, anchor SHAWN JOHNSON, who’s filling in for FREDERICA FREYBERG, talks with: Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin President RON HEGWOOD and Tenant Resource Center Program Director AARON ROMENS on the recently signed landlord-tenant law; CHRIS BORLAND, former Badger football player and San Francisco 49er, on his Time Magazine essay about head injuries in sports; and UW-Milwaukee professor MORDECAI LEE on the ever-growing list of Dem gubernatorial candidates. Then, multimedia journalist MARISA WOJCIK discusses the driverless shuttle that made an appearance this week in Madison.

“For the Record” airs at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on WISC-TV in Madison. Host NEIL HEINEN talk with UW-Madison School of Nursing Dean LINDA SCOTT and UW-Madison Doctorate of Nursing Program Director PAM McGRANAHAN about the changing landscape of nursing and addressing shortages among rural providers.

“Capitol City Sunday” airs at 9 a.m. Sunday on WKOW-TV in Madison, WAOW-TV in Wausau, WXOW-TV in La Crosse and WQOW-TV in Eau Claire.

“The Insiders” is a weekly WisOpinion.com web show featuring former Democratic Senate Majority Leader CHUCK CHVALA and former Republican Assembly Speaker SCOTT JENSEN. This week, the two discuss bipartisan agreement on juvenile justice reform.
*Watch the video: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/wisopinion-com-the-insiders-discuss-bipartisan-agreement-on-juvenile-justice-reform/

Send items to staff@wispolitics.com

RILEY VETTERKIND, a WisPolitics.com news staffer, is the voice behind the new WisPolitics.com MIDDAY podcast. The daily 2-minute podcast can be found on iTunes and the Google Play Music App. Or check out it out here:: http://wispolmidday.libsyn.com/

Upcoming WisPolitics.com/WisBusiness.com events in Madison, Milwaukee and Sturtevant include:

*A May 10 Madison Club luncheon with Dem guv candidate and former state Rep. KELDA ROYS. Check-in and lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., with the program going from noon to 1 p.m. This luncheon is sponsored by: Husch Blackwell, American Family Insurance, Xcel Energy, Walmart, AARP Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Hospital Association. Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wispolitics-luncheon-with-kelda-roys-tickets-45290902308

*A May 22 Milwaukee luncheon with Dem guv candidate MATT FLYNN. The Milwaukee Press Club-WisPolitics.com luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m., with the program running from noon to 1 p.m. The cost is: $20 per person for WisPolitics subscribers and members; $25 for the general public and $15 for students. This luncheon is sponsored by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin Academy for Global Education and Training, ELEVEN25 at Pabst, Milwaukee Police Association, The Firm Consulting, Medical College of Wisconsin and Spectrum. Enter “5/22 MKE” in the purpose of payment field when you register and pay here: http://payment.wispolitics.com

*A May 24 luncheon and panel event in Sturtevant, organized by Wisconsin Technology Council, WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com. The event, brought to you by UW-Milwaukee and called “Navigating the New Economy: What can Wisconsin learn from South Carolina’s experience with BMW?”, will compare the potential impact of Foxconn to a similar investment from BMW in South Carolina. It’ll feature JOEY VON NESSEN, a top economist at the University of South Carolina who has studied the BMW impact on manufacturing clusters, followed by a conversation with Wisconsin experts, who will be announced later. Partners in the event organization also include the Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training, the Wisconsin League of Municipalities and the Wisconsin Counties Association. See more and register: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/wispolitics-com-wisbusiness-com-navigating-the-new-economy-what-can-wisconsin-learn-from-south-carolinas-experience-with-bmw-2/

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation has announced the panelists for primary debates. The GOP U.S. Senate primary debate is set for July 21; the one for Dem guv hopefuls is scheduled for July 27. Panelists for the GOP U.S. Senate debate are: CHRIS CONLEY, Midwest Communications; MELISSA LANGBEHN, WAOW-TV; BEN MEYER, WJFW-TV; HEATHER SAHR, WSAW-TV; and JEFF THELEN, WSAW-TV. The panelists for the Democratic guv debate are: JESSICA ARP, WISC-TV; EMILEE FANNON, WKOW-TV; LEIGH MILLS, WMTV-TV; and LUPITA MONTOTO, La Movida Radio.

The Wisconsin Forum is hosting CHRISTOPHER PREBLE on May 1 for a talk entitled “The Problem with U.S. Foreign Policy.” Preble is the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. See more: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/wisconsin-forum-event-ft-christopher-preble/

The International Foodservice Distributors Association has awarded U.S. Rep. GLENN GROTHMAN the 2018 Thomas Jefferson Award. The honor goes to legislators whose “voting record indicates strong support of policies that enable the U.S. foodservice distribution industry to create well-paying jobs, grow their businesses, and contribute to their local communities,” according to a statement from the group. See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/international-foodservice-distributors-association-award-recognizes-commitment-to-policies-that-support-business-growth/

The Urban League and MadREP recently recently finalized the agenda for this year’s Madison Region Economic Development & Diversity Summit. Newly announced featured speakers are: SARABHI JAIN, the director of adult education and workforce development for UnidosUS; and ED HUBBARD, of Hubbard & Hubbard, Inc. They’ll join previously announced speakers: AMY LUNCH, founder of Generational Edge; former Dem guv candidate MARY BURKE, founder of Building Brave; and TONY BYERS, former director of global diversity and inclusion at Starbucks. The event is slated for May 16 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Monona Terrace in Madison. Register: https://event-wizard.com/summit2018/0/welcome/

The Wisconsin Policy Forum is hosting a luncheon next month in Milwaukee featuring a panel discussion entitled “City Governments in Wisconsin: At a Breaking Point?” Panelists at the event include: Milwaukee Mayor TOM BARRETT; South Milwaukee Mayor ERIK BROOKS; Belot Mayor LORI LUTHER; and Racine Mayor CORY MASON. The event will be moderated by ROB HENKEN, of the Wisconsin Policy Forum. See more: https://publicpolicyforum.org/event/viewpoint-luncheon-city-governments-wisconsin-breaking-point%C2%A0/05-07-2018

The Weekly Standard Midwest Conservative Summit is slotted for Monday in Milwaukee. The event, which goes from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., will feature an interview with The Weekly Standard Contributing Editor CHARLIE SYKES and Gov. SCOTT WALKER; a second interview with The Weekly Standard Editor in Chief STEVE HAYES and House Speaker PAUL RYAN; and two panel discussions on “Covering the Swamp” and “The 2018 Midterm Election and the Future of Conservatism.” See more: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-weekly-standard-midwest-conservative-summit-tickets-44985462730

U.S. Sen. TAMMY BALDWIN, D-Madison, canceled a planned event in Janesville today to visit the North American Pipe Corp. Instead, she traveled to Superior following an explosion at an oil refinery there yesterday.

ENDORSEMENTS: The following is a list of recent endorsements made for statewide and congressional district elections, based on emails received by WisPolitics.com:

— U.S. Senate:

KEVIN NICHOLSON: U.S. Sen. MIKE LEE; Calumet County Sheriff MARK OTT; Green Lake County Sheriff MARK PODOLL; Door County Sheriff STEVE DELARWELLE; Rusk County Sheriff JEFFREY WALLACE; Winnebago County Sheriff JOHN MATZ; Kewaunee County Sheriff MATTHEW JOSKI; Marathon County Sheriff SCOTT PARKS; former Outagamie County Sheriff MIKE BROOKS; Oconto County Sheriff MICHAEL JANSEN; Polk County Sheriff PETER JOHNSON; Shawano County Sheriff ADAM BIEBER; and Brown County Sheriff JOHN GOSSAGE.

— Governor:


— 1st CD:

RANDY BRYCE: Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

For more Names in the News, see subscriber products from earlier in the week plus the press release page at WisPolitics.com: https://www.wispolitics.com/

For upcoming events, see the “Week Ahead” in this product and in your e-mail Monday morning. Click here for the online calendar: https://www.wispolitics.com/category/events/

If you have a contribution, e-mail staff@wispolitics.com

(from the state Ethics Commission)

Thirteen changes were made to the lobbying registry in the past 10 days.

Follow this link for the complete list:

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