FRI REPORT: Sanders tops Dem prez field in Wisconsin donations

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Your Democratic governor shockingly stated he will veto legislation that would protect Wisconsin babies. The baby’s born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully and then the doctor and the mother determine whether they will execute the baby.
– President Trump during his Green Bay rally on Gov. Tony Evers’ promise to veto a “born alive” bill. Evers said he’d veto the bill, because state law already addresses the issue.

To say that doctors in the state of Wisconsin are executing babies is just a blasphemy. It doesn’t happen. … That is just a horrific thing to say.
– Evers during a Press Club luncheon. He added that Trump is “going to do this kind of crap as long as he is president” and told reporters afterward that it was “irresponsible” to use the language Trump did. He also knocked former Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, the lead author of the “born alive” bill, saying if they support such language, “it is equally irresponsible.”

What is the harm in putting things in state law in making sure that these babies are protected? Their knee jerk reaction is unfathomable. I just don’t understand it. This is not an abortion bill.
– Steineke, who fired back it was inappropriate for Evers to pledge a veto without first hearing public testimony on the bill, which he said addresses “gray areas” in current law. He said he took Trump’s comments to be an attempt to illustrate the scenario described by Dem Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in a January interview outlining a late-term abortion.

We believe the proposed budget by Governor Evers’ digs a Doyle-sized deficit. The governor spends so much, the next budget would start with a $2 billion structural deficit. The bottom line is his budget is unsustainable, irresponsible and jeopardizes the progress we’ve made in the last eight years.
– JFC Co-chairs Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, in a statement announcing non-policy fiscal items and other measures Republicans plan to strip from the budget, including Evers’ proposal to expand Medicaid. Evers said he is “not giving up” on the expansion and pressed residents to contact lawmakers on the issue.

I honestly think we have to take it. Whether we do or not, I don’t know. We need to look with an open mind what it does for the state of Wisconsin.
– Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, in an Associated Press article on Medicaid expansion. Darling was also quoted saying she was open to talking about it. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, responded, “I don’t know why people are talking about that, because we’re not doing it.”

If there’s a way for the Republicans to take it under the guise of something else, they’ll do it.
– Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-West Point.

My hope is that we’re turning a corner, that perhaps today Gov. Evers finally has accepted the fact that Gov. Walker and the Republicans negotiated a really good deal for the state of Wisconsin. And perhaps hearing it directly from Chairman Gou’s own mouth he’ll be able to accept the reality that Foxconn is going to be a huge benefit for our state and we should all celebrate.
– Vos on Evers meeting for the first time with Foxconn Chairman and CEO Terry Gou. Foxconn after the meeting said in a statement it will continue to work “collaboratively and productively” with the Evers administration.

Governor Evers’ actions targeted public servants who are dedicated to working on behalf of Wisconsin citizens. I’m glad to see that the Supreme Court has ended this unnecessary constitutional crisis and enforced the return of these individuals to their rightful positions.
– Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, after the state Supreme Court ordered the restoration of 82 lame-duck appointment Evers sought to rescind while the court considers the merits of the case. An Evers spokeswoman maintained the administration was “confident that the Court will ultimately rule against the legislature’s unconstitutional attempt to override the will of the people.”

–A collection of insider opinion–
(Apr. 27-May. 3, 2019)


Tip McGuire: The assistant DA keeps a Kenosha-area Assembly seat in Dem hands. But was the price worth the score? Dems were favored to hold onto the seat the minute former Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, resigned to join the Evers administration as Revenue secretary. After all, it’s a district where U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, won 61.4 percent in November, and Gov. Tony Evers took 55.9 percent. But after last month’s upset in the state Supreme Court race, Republicans saw a slight chance of pulling off another in a low-turnout special election, especially with talk of the conservative base being supercharged by everything from Dane County rulings on the GOP lame-duck session to Evers’ budget. Hillary Clinton only took 52.5 percent in 2016. But in addition to the district’s normal tendencies, McGuire also had resources on his side. He reported raising $125,042 between Jan. 1 and April 15 to the $16,952 Republican Mark Stalker pulled in. McGuire ends up hitting 62 percent in winning the seat. That prompts some Dems to ask whether they could have secured the victory without putting in so much cash. Some Republicans, meanwhile, crow about forcing Assembly Dems to spend some of their scarce resources in a Dem-dominated district and in a race that didn’t end up being close. Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, put RACC resources and staff into the race while sending caucus members to the district to do doors. But it was just enough effort in case a favorable wind blew Stalker’s way, not an all-out financial blitz. Still, other insiders caution an unexpected loss for Dems would’ve been an immense psychological blow. Combine it with conservative Brian Hagedorn’s victory, and Republicans would have had a talking point through next year about how they were going to compete on non-traditional GOP turf and win. And it would’ve caught the attention of national forces trying to decipher whether Wisconsin is ripe for another Donald Trump win in 2020. What’s more, it would’ve given Republicans ammo to lay the blame at the feet of Evers and his budget, which has rankled conservatives. Vos is happy just to see Dems have to spend resources in the district, some say. But McGuire’s solid win means none of those possible GOP talking points is going to percolate, insiders say, and that means the money was well spent. Still, the money spent above and beyond what was needed means that much less in the till for the 2020 races, and Assembly Dems are expected to struggle for resources compared to their GOP counterparts as it is. Even in a good environment last year, Dems only picked up one seat, prompting another round of arguments over whether it was the maps — as Dems say — or the message — as the GOP counters. But with Trump the only statewide race on the ballot next year, Assembly Dems may be largely at the mercy of the top of the ticket, though some say having ample resources could give them room to make a difference in some close seats. Meanwhile, McGuire, a former Barca aide, is the latest young Dem — he’s just 31 — to join a caucus that’s always looking for smart, young leadership. And barring unforeseen problems, he’ll likely be able to hold onto the seat for a long, long time, insiders say.

Ellen Nowak: The PSC commissioner is back on the job, and she’s looking for a little payback. The lingering question, insiders say, is whether seeing Nowak, Georgia Maxwell and Bob Seitz back on the job will be enough to tamp down tempers in the Senate GOP caucus that led some to threaten shooting down the guv’s cabinet picks over the appointment standoff. While the legal battle over Republicans’ actions in the December lame-duck session has raged, some insiders have noted the personal toll of the fight — and that has infuriated Republicans. Shortly after a Dane County judge overturned the confirmation of 82 of Gov. Scott Walker’s appointments in the December extraordinary session, Gov. Tony Evers moved to rescind the picks while GOP lawmakers rushed to an appeals court. He eventually restored most of Walker’s picks. But Republicans were furious that he moved so quickly and Nowak — a former DOA secretary and GOP legislative aide — was among those he wanted to replace. At one point, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said some members of his caucus wanted to reject Evers cabinet picks to show how angry they were. But after the 3rd District Court of Appeals declined to do so, the state Supreme Court steps in and restores everything to the way it was before the Dane County ruling as it looks at the broader issues. That means Nowak can go back to the PSC with Seitz as her executive assistant and Maxwell can resume her role as a Labor and Industry Review commissioner. Nowak tells shortly after the state Supreme Court order that she plans to seek back pay, reimbursement for her health care costs during the six weeks she was out of work, and a restoration of benefits. DOA, meanwhile, quickly says all three will get back pay and benefits for the period between Evers seeking to rescind their appointments and when they were able to get back on the job. The reaction in the Senate GOP caucus, though, is still TBD. A Fitzgerald spokesman says Senate Republicans will caucus soon to discuss where they’re at. So far, the Senate hasn’t brought any of Evers’ cabinet picks up for a floor vote. Maybe, some say, this will clear the way for the ones with the most consensus to start moving. While some insiders still see trouble ahead for some of Evers’ picks, there are doubts any of them would be rejected if put to a floor vote considering only three Republicans would need to join Dems to confirm any of them. Maybe, some add, Fitzgerald will continue to hold back some of the more controversial picks instead.

Supreme Court field: Having watched the 2019 race slip through their hands, liberals aren’t wasting any time in getting lined up for a shot in 2020 to take back the seat they just lost. Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky, a former state DOJ official, gets ready to join the field, saying she plans a formal announcement of her campaign in May. That follows Marquette Law Prof. Ed Fallone saying he’s getting into the race, and others have been kicking the tires as well. In looking at their early choices, Dems generally see Karofsky as the stronger candidate, because she fits the profile of Justice Rebecca Dallet — a female judge and former prosecutor. Dallet in 2018 became the first progressive candidate in more than two decades to win an open Supreme Court seat, and some Dems see her profile as a winning one. Add in while at DOJ Karofsky served as the violence against women prosecutor and led the Office of Crime Victim Services, and some Dems are hoping she has the campaign chops to match the resume. Meanwhile, Fallone has the advantage of having run before, though he lost to Justice Pat Roggensack by 15 points in 2013. He’s also never been a judge, which some consider a glaring hole in his resume. Still, some note he could raise money from the Milwaukee legal community, which is familiar with him after his tenure at Marquette. What’s more, as much as some want to anoint Karofsky as the next Dallet, others caution a deeper dive is needed first on her record and then on her campaign skills. Meanwhile, former U.S. Attorney Jim Santelle has been mentioned as a possible candidate, though some believe the ethics questions he faced over use of a government credit card while in office would be tough to overcome. Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge Michael Fitzpatrick has also been mentioned as a possible candidate, but that talk is fading and some believe a bid is unlikely. There’s still plenty of time for others to weigh a race as well, and many see why it’d be such an attractive option for left-of-center candidates. With the Dem presidential primary on the ballot next April, whomever emerges to face conservative Justice Daniel Kelly would likely be considered the favorite — but only if certain assumptions pan out. Republicans had been so worried about Kelly’s prospects next year that they flirted with the idea of moving the presidential primary to its own election day, hoping that would move the race away from a supercharged Dem base. Still, insiders note a whole host of dynamics could impact what the electorate looks like come April 2020. One, there’s no guarantee the massive Dem field now vying for the presidential nomination will still be in a heated race come April. After all, 31 states will have their primaries or caucuses before Wisconsin goes April 7, and someone could run away with the nomination by then. Two, does the remaining field have any candidates who excite African American voters in Milwaukee? And what’s going on with the challenge of Donald Trump? Few expect former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld or anyone else who gets into the GOP primary to wrest the nomination away from him. But if Trump voters perceive any kind of threat to the president, that could drive them to the polls as well. Some also note the interesting spot Wisconsin has on the presidential primary calendar. Between March 17 and Wisconsin’s primary, the only elections will be the caucuses in Hawaii and Alaska April 4. That could shine an intense spotlight on the state in the weeks leading up to the race — and make it hard for a Supreme Court candidate to break through the noise. Republicans are also heartened by conservative Brian Hagedorn’s win last month, saying it shows a narrow path to victory exists even when being outspent. Still, Hagedorn received 606,000 votes with the conservative base jazzed up over what some viewed as attacks on the judge’s Christian faith and the political goings on in Madison. More than 1 million Dems voted in the party’s 2016 presidential primary. There’s no guarantee every one of them would vote for a left-of-center Supreme Court candidate over an incumbent. But it would be a huge lift for conservatives to match that kind of turnout without something driving it from the presidential level on the GOP side, and even some Kelly backers acknowledge he could start 2020 as the underdog.

Abortion politics: The fight over late-term abortion that has raged in places like Virginia and New York is now heating up in Wisconsin — and President Trump has happily fanned the flames. During eight years of Gov. Scott Walker’s time in office and GOP control of the Legislature, Republicans pushed through a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, targeted Planned Parenthood funding and considered — but ultimately failed — to place new restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. But it’s only now that Dem Tony Evers is in the East Wing that they’ve introduced a “born alive” bill, causing some insiders to charge that politics is at play. Evers would never sign such a bill considering his backing from Planned Parenthood and where the Dem base is these days, they reason, so the legislation is an opportunity to boost the conservative base and maybe put some Dem lawmakers in uncomfortable positions. Some also believe Evers being so dismissive of the issue could come back to bite him in 2022. Others, however, say the nation will be on some other abortion battle by then. This is all about 2020, when Donald Trump will need an energized and galvanized GOP base in Wisconsin to help him repeat his 2016 success. And Trump, never one for subtlety, wades into the debate during a rally in Green Bay. Taking a swipe at Evers for saying he would veto the bill, Trump told the crowd, “The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby. I don’t think so.” The comments set off a political firestorm and not just in Wisconsin. Dems accuse the president of using incendiary language that they fear could spark violence. His backers, however, fire back he’s only referring to the language Dem Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam used when he described late-term abortion in a January interview that helped spark the national debate. Evers says the president’s suggestion that Wisconsin doctors “are executing babies is just a blasphemy,” while Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, one of the bill’s lead authors, challenges the guv to identify anything in the legislation he finds objectionable. Meanwhile, the proposal’s backers are moving ahead with a public hearing on the legislation and have three other abortion bills cued up the same day: banning abortion for things such as race, sex or a Down syndrome diagnosis; adding new requirements for women seeking a chemically induced abortion; and trying to cut off Planned Parenthood from the Medical Assistance program.


Transportation: The Joint Finance Committee is poised to push aside a whole host of Tony Evers’ priorities, because Republicans oppose hiking taxes on manufacturers, capping the school choice program and decriminalizing marijuana. Finding agreement amongst themselves on funding roads, however, likely won’t be as easy. When it convenes for the first time May 9 to start voting on the budget, Republican committee members plan to wipe out 131 provisions that Evers included in his budget, from restoring the prevailing wage to expanding Medicaid. That Republicans plan to nix the provisions comes as no surprise considering the concerns they’d already raised about them. Typically the JFC co-chairs put together a motion right out of the gate that targets policy provisions for removal from the budget. This time around, however, Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, are going well beyond that with their initial motion. While eye-opening to some, others point out it’s the co-chairs prerogative what to include in the motion, and nothing in there is a surprise to anyone. But in removing all those items at once, it also cuts the budget to a handful of significant differences between the GOP caucuses. And transportation is one of — if not the biggest — question mark for Republicans, insiders say. Yes, they may tinker around the edges with Medicaid or have some work to do about what level of spending they believe is appropriate for education after Gov. Tony Evers proposed $1.4 billion. But there remain deep differences among Republicans — not just between the two houses, but within each caucus — on how to fund state highways. Some good news on that front emerged with the Department of Transportation announcing a plan to spend an additional $76.7 million in federal money the state wasn’t expecting to receive. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Evers’ budget included a proposal to increase the gas tax by 8 cents a gallon — a proposal that will remain in the document for now — while eliminating the minimum markup on gas — a provision that Republicans plan to remove with their first JFC vote. The perception continues to be that Assembly GOP leadership is more open to a revenue upper for the transportation fund than the Senate Republican caucus. Rep. Mike Rohrkaste, R-Neenah and a member of the JFC, tells WISN-AM he’d be open to a gas tax hike — but with a sunset of two to five years. Senate President Roger Roth, R-Appleton, tells WHBY a gas tax hike would be difficult in his caucus but suggests other levers to pull. Among them: raising registration and license fees, and moving sales tax revenue to the transportation fund from the general fund. He also floats bonding in the neighborhood of $250 million to $300 million, though he acknowledges millions more in new revenue would still be needed to address the state’s needs. Still, trying to add more to the state’s credit card to fund roads has been part of the ongoing standoff among Republicans over transportation with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, arguing over and over it’s not more conservative to drive up debt. The speaker continues to say he’s open to options such as a gas tax increase and tolling. But both have their detractors in the GOP caucuses. The pending JFC motion also seeks to keep the annual transfer to the transportation fund from the general fund, which is expected to be $87.8 million over the next two years. Some Republicans are also advocating taking more sales tax revenue from car sales and service to pump up transportation funding. The Evers administration, meanwhile, tries to up the stakes for Republicans by releasing details on how it would spend the additional $320 million he’s proposed for the state highway rehabilitation program. And just to help drive home the message, the list is broken down by legislative district. At some point, insiders say, Republicans are going to have to pick some numbers and move on transportation. But much like the last eight years, the issue is also likely to expose fissures in the caucuses over how to solve the state’s transportation issues.

Medical marijuana: The guv’s proposal to legalize medical marijuana is on its way out of the budget. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he’s still looking at standalone legislation on the issue. And insiders continue to doubt the suggestion it would get through Senate Republicans — regardless of how it’s packaged. The Joint Finance Committee’s list of policy items to be pulled from the budget includes Evers’ proposals to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize the possession, manufacture or distribution of 25 grams or less of pot. Vos, R-Rochester, says the issue is D.O.A. in the budget, though he hopes to address the issue in the fall once the budget is done, adding, “my hope is we’ll have the ability to work together to perhaps sit at the same table and talk about the ideas and bring something back this fall once we’ve gotten past the heated rhetoric of the budget.” Some believe the Assembly could eventually get something done on medical marijuana, possibly something like Ohio, where only those with certain ailments can obtain it and it’s only sold in a processed form with a continued ban on smoking it. Insiders, however, still see Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, as a roadblock for any relaxing of Wisconsin’s marijuana laws.


Tony Evers: A Dane County judge opened a window for the guv to undo some of the lame-duck maneuvering and put some allies in key positions. But the state Supreme Court shuts the door — at least for now. Meanwhile, Evers now has a number of Scott Walker appointees in important positions who aren’t any more likely to see his point of view than they were before the legal fight. And he has just as many angry Republicans who see the guv’s actions as one more reason not to trust him. Beyond that, Republicans are poised to wipe out the centerpiece of his budget, he’s battling Republicans on abortion and he’s softening his public stance on Foxconn after meeting with the company founder. When a Dane County judge overturned the confirmations of 82 Walker appointees, Evers seized the opportunity to act. While he eventually sought to restore the majority of those appointees, he didn’t seek to re-appoint Walker’s picks to the PSC, Board of Regents and Labor and Industry Review Commission, among others. To some, it’s a no-brainer why. Rather than having two of the three PSC commissioners, for example, be Walker appointees, the Dane County ruling created an opportunity to have two Evers picks on the body. Replacing two of Walker’s appointees to the UW Board of Regents would mean moving up the time when a majority of the members would be Evers appointees. But the state Supreme Court steps in and restores things to how they were before the Dane County ruling came down. Some note the court’s actions have been unusual when it comes to the two Dane County rulings on the lame-duck session. In one, the court stepped in and took over the appeal even though no one had asked the justices to take that step. In this case, the conservative majority sided with GOP lawmakers by relying on a rule that wasn’t cited by either side in the briefs leading up to the decision. To Republicans, the majority simply saw such a significant wrong created by the Dane County ruling that it was looking for an avenue to make things right. To Dems, the majority is making things up as it goes along to repay those who helped get them on the court in the first place. The court has yet to rule on the merits of the case, which involve the question of whether the Legislature has the ability to call itself into extraordinary session. But some believe that’s a foregone conclusion. It’s not a matter of whether the court sides with GOP lawmakers, some say, it’s whether the liberal justices go along with the conservative majority in the ruling. On the budget front, Evers declares he’s “not ceding one foot” on his proposal to accept federal money to expand the Medicaid program and will make his case to voters on the issue. But while some believe GOP lawmakers will find some way to put more money into Medicaid, many also say the guv’s proposal is done. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, is too dug in, and there isn’t enough support in the GOP caucuses to get it done. Evers is also going to watch the Joint Finance Committee nix his proposals on marijuana, school choice and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. Evers does get to sign his first bill, inking legislation that eliminates words such as “mentally retarded” from administrative rules. But that wasn’t exactly high on the wish list for his Dem backers when they went to bat for him last fall, and it’s going to be tough sledding for many victories with the GOP majorities in the Legislature looking to stymie Evers at every turn, some say. Still, some note much of what’s swirling in the Capitol is inside baseball to the average voter. Plus, they’re on Evers’ side when it comes to issues such as the Medicaid expansion. And a new poll paid for by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce — not exactly big fans of the guv to start — finds 49 percent approve of the job Evers is doing, compared to 38 percent who disapprove.

Medicaid expansion: GOP Sen. Luther Olsen saying he was open to taking federal money to expand the Medicaid rolls fired up new talk about whether Republicans would bow to public opinion and go along with Gov. Tony Evers’ plan — or some version of it. The Joint Finance Committee and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, however, quickly snuffed it out. Vos, R-Rochester, wasted no time reinforcing where he stood on the Medicaid expansion — #never — after news of Olsen’s comments, as well as some of his Senate GOP colleagues looking at possible alternatives to the full expansion. But then the Joint Finance Committee co-chairs included the Medicaid expansion in the list of items they plan to pull out of the budget on the body’s very first vote. Typically, that motion includes policy items. But this time around, the co-chairs cast a net that catches some big-ticket fiscal items as well. One of the biggest is the Medicaid expansion, which would save an estimated $324.5 million in general purpose revenue in the next biennium and is the centerpiece of Evers’ plans to invest $1.6 billion into health care, from expanding access to upping reimbursement rates. Dems remain perplexed by Republicans’ inflexibility on the issue. Evers ran on expanding the Medicaid program, and it’s a winner in the Marquette University Law School Poll with 70 percent of voters saying they back the move. With that kind of public support, Evers declares he’s not willing to cede “one foot on this.” Two problems with that, insiders say: no way Vos gives in after drawing such a line in the sand, and the votes aren’t there in either GOP caucus to approve the expansion. Vos has been adamant throughout the debate that accepting the federal money would be a mistake. Part of that is principle, some say. There’s also the fact that accepting the federal money would mean reversing course after taking heat for rejecting the expansion six years ago and in each election — with no real consequence — since. What’s more, while some Republicans in both houses are willing to look at the expansion — whether they’re saying it publicly or quietly — it’s a far cry from the numbers needed to pass a budget with such a proposal. Republicans, however, have had their own struggles with the issue. The Dem message is simple: more people covered for less state money. Republicans, meanwhile, have had a more complex tale to tell, and it hasn’t broken through. That’s why, insiders say, GOP lawmakers are now trotting out lines about the proposal being an expansion of welfare. Expect them to keep bringing up a study from the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty suggesting the proposal would drive up the costs for those on private insurance. It doesn’t matter that the study is hotly disputed, some note. It helps provide cover. And Republicans have started talking about the number of people who would be pushed off private insurance for Medicaid. Now, some say, the challenge will be for Republicans to do more than what’s happening under current law without going toward Evers’ position. Vos suggests Republicans could do more to make sure those eligible for the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act are taking advantage of the opportunity. That could be anything from raising awareness to creating a new position to help people sign up, some suggest. Dems, meanwhile, pledge to keep up the pressure on the issue, particularly with numbers from the Evers administration breaking down not only how many more people would be covered in each county under the expansion, but how much additional money would be invested in those counties. It all shows how out of touch with the public Republicans are, Dems argue.

Meteor Timber: The Georgia company isn’t going to get any help from the DNR in restoring its permit to fill 16 acres of wetlands for a frac sand operation. Now its hopes rest with the courts. Under Gov. Scott Walker, the DNR granted the company the permits it needed to fill wetlands for the operation, but an administrative law judge overturned that decision. Still, the company went back to the DNR, and former Secretary Dan Meyer agreed to review the administrative law judge’s decision, raising the possibility the agency would restore the permits. But new Secretary Preston Cole, Gov. Tony Evers’ pick to lead the agency, declines to overturn the administrative law judge’s decision. Instead, Cole writes in the decision he believes the “matter is best resolved by mutual agreement of the parties or, if a mutual agreement is not reached, through judicial review.” The latter means a lawsuit before a Monroe County judge who will next weigh in. The company wants to build a $75 million frac sand mining and processing plant in Jackson and Monroe counties, along with a processing and shipping terminal. But to do it, the company would fill in 16 acres of wetlands, an area that includes 13 acres of rare white pine-red maple swamp. The company has argued the project is still environmentally conscious, because it would end up preserving 296 acres of wetlands on the property while converting 33 acres of nearby cranberry beds into wetlands. But the Ho-Chunk Nation, which is part of the coalition that appealed the DNR decision, says destroying the “rare wetlands would have a profound impact on the Nation’s people, land, and cultural heritage.”


Tuesday, May 7: Luncheon: “Wisconsin’s Role in the Presidential Race”

Join for lunch at The Madison Club, 5 East Wilson St., Madison, on Tuesday, May 7 with top pundits talking about Wisconsin’s role in the presidential race and how upcoming state party conventions could be the first sign of candidate strength.

The pundits include Republican operative Keith Gilkes, Democratic strategist Tanya Bjork and Marquette University Law School poll Director Charles Franklin.

Check-in and lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., with the program going from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM. subscribers, as well as Madison Club members and their guests, receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons of $19 per person. Price for general public is $25 per person.

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Three years after besting Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin’s presidential primary, Bernie Sanders has topped the wide field of Dem candidates in the burgeoning race in donations from the state.

The new fundraising figures are the latest sign the Vermont senator continues to court some Badger State Dems, following a recent Marquette University Law School poll that showed Sanders leading the party’s field as 32 percent rated him a “top choice” for president.

In all, Sanders logged $41,435 in campaign donations from Wisconsinites over the first three months of the year, according to FEC data, placing him first among a score of contenders. Those donations, spread across 121 individuals, came from across the state — Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee, Mosinee, where Trump rallied supporters in October, and more. used the latest campaign reports filed with the FEC to compare candidates’ fundraising prowess from Jan. 1 through March 31 in terms of total donations from state donors.

In all, the field raised $115,736 from individual donors over the period. The results showed Sanders leading the pack, with U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris a distant second.

The former California AG, who was rated as a “top choice” for president by 11 percent of respondents in the Marquette poll last month, raised $19,957 from individual Wisconsin donors.

And rounding out the top five were: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who raised $14,693 over the period from the state; South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who listed $12,450 in donations from Wisconsin; and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who had $11,037.

Seventeen percent of respondents called Warren a “top choice” as a Dem presidential candidate. Buttigieg was at 7 percent, while Klobuchar hit 8 percent.

Of the top fundraising candidates, just two visited Wisconsin after officially launching their 2020 presidential campaigns this year: Sanders, whose blustery April 12 visit to Madison came after the first quarter fundraising period ended; and Klobuchar, whose visit to Eau Claire back in mid-February marked her first presidential campaign stop.

No other Dem presidential candidate raised more than $10,000 from Wisconsin donors over the period, according to their fundraising reports.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden — the second-highest ranked Dem candidate in the April poll — didn’t have a fundraising report for Q1 at the FEC site. He first officially got into the race last week.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, of Massachusetts, also didn’t have fundraising figures posted over the first three months of the year. His bid for the presidency began April 22.

Following is a breakdown of the other presidential candidates’ donations from Wisconsin:

*Andrew Yang, who first filed as a presidential candidate in November 2017, logged $4,343 in donations from three Wisconsin individuals over the period. Yang is an entrepreneur and founder of Venture for America.

The biggest donor to his campaign, who contributed nearly $3,100 in all, is Wausau-based Ming Tao Jiang, the CEO of Marathon Ginseng. Yang’s other two contributors listed themselves as software testers or developers at Verona’s Epic Systems.

*Beto O’Rourke listed $4,323 in Wisconsin donations during Q1. The former Texas congressman and U.S. Senate candidate, has visited Wisconsin twice this year — once in mid-February and once in March, days after he officially launched his presidential bid.

His donations were spread out across 14 individuals, with Residential Property Management Director Jim Miller, of Wauwatosa, logging the largest contribution, at $715. No contributors listed donated on March 17, the day O’Rourke visited Madison and Milwaukee.

*U.S. Sen. Cory Booker raised $2,345 from Wisconsinites in the first three months of the year. Booker, of New Jersey, made his first stop in Wisconsin as a presidential candidate April 23, weeks after the Q1 fundraising period ended.

Booker’s biggest total contribution came from Madison resident Patrick Hughes, who gave $600 over the period. Hughes, who listed himself as not employed, is one of nine Wisconsin donors to Booker’s campaign.

*Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a former U.S. rep, reported getting $2,100 from four Wisconsin donors over the period.

Delafield resident Michael Jury, who listed himself as not employed, logged the highest total donations over the period at $1,100.

*U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, of Hawaii, raised $1,480 from six people in the state, who listed their addresses as in the Milwaukee area as well as Wausau and Menomonie.

*U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, listed $914 in donations from two Wisconsinites: Sidney Grossberg, a Milwaukee physician, and Chad Speight, a Monona alder and president of Chads Design Build.

*Author Marianne Williamson received $410 from one Wisconsin donor over the period: Mary Vernon, of Madison, who listed herself as not employed.

*And former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper raised $250 from one Wisconsin donor, FEC data shows. That is retired Mequon resident Alden Taylor.

The other five Dem presidential candidates — Julian Castro, who spoke at the state Dem Party’s Founders Day Dinner April 13, Eric Swalwell, Tim Ryan, John Delaney and Wayne Messam — didn’t list any Wisconsin donations to their campaigns over the first quarter of the year, according to the FEC.

PROFILE: DEPARTMENT OF SAFETY AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICES SECRETARY DAWN CRIM is profiling some of the newly announced state agency heads. This week features our 12th installment with Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dawn Crim.

Crim, who came to Madison in the mid-90s, most recently worked as the assistant state superintendent for the Division of Student and School Success at the Department of Public Instruction. She previously worked at UW System in a variety of capacities.

Birthplace, age?
Originally from Philadelphia, 51 years old. Moved to Wisconsin in 1996.

Job history?
Most recently served as the Department of Public Instruction’s assistant state superintendent for the Division of Student and School Success, a position she held for some 18 months. She also served in various capacities at UW-Madison, as well as business development manager for UW-Extension’s UW-Learning Innovations program. When she first came to Madison, she worked as an assistant coach with the UW-Madison women’s basketball team.

Received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in rhetoric and communications, before attending Penn State University for her master’s in education. She’s currently working on her doctorate at UW-Madison in educational leadership, a program she started three years ago.

Grew up in a family of six, including three brothers. Met her husband at Penn State while she was pursuing her master’s degree. They have two children, a son and a daughter. Her son is 19 and is a budding professional dancer in San Francisco, while her daughter is 16 and a junior at Madison West High School.

Favorite non-work interests?
Loves traveling, sports and riding her bike. Also enjoys playing Bid Whist, a card game similar to Euchre, with a card group dating back 20 years.

Why the interest in being in the Evers administration?
“I had a wonderful opportunity to work for state Superintendent Evers at the Department of Public Instruction, and I found his leadership style to be very inclusive. He’s very authentic, high integrity, and he really is interested in problem-solving but not alone, actually having his staff provide input to help problem solve. You know, no one person has all the answers, and so I really enjoyed his inclusive nature of problem-solving. The other thing is in terms of connecting the dots, he really sees that problem-solving approach is not just with your staff, but it’s also stakeholders; it’s also the citizens of Wisconsin. It’s, ‘What type of input can we have to actually come up with the best solution?’ And so what I like about that is he’s asked all of the secretaries to see how we might work across agencies to problem solve. And so as you know, he’s coined 2019 as the (Year of Clean Drinking Water). Well we have water, we do waste management here. And so we’re talking with the DNR as well as DATCP and DHS on how we can work together on problem-solving to ensure the drinking water is what it needs to be for the citizens. So I really had just been inspired by how he does his work, how he includes people in doing the work and his authenticity.

What are your priorities for the agency under your leadership?
Well, it’s funny. Many people don’t realize that we’re a new agency. We are 8 years old. We were born out of the union of the Department of Commerce and the Department of Regulation and Licensing. And so people will often say DSPS, but nobody knows what that means. So I really am very clear to say the Department of Safety and Professional Services. I spell it out as often as I can because the work we do is in our name. And so it was important that people realize that. And with being a new agency, part of our goal is really needing to modernize the infrastructure. And what I mean by that is we had an antiquated system, somewhat electronic at the Department of Commerce doing building inspections. And a lot of our trades also work with a system that really needed to be modernized from regulation and licensing that focuses on over 245 occupational licenses. Well, with the birth of our agency, it also brought together those two systems, both needing to be modernized. So we are looking at modernizing the technology. But it’s not just about the technology; it’s also about the processes that go with those technology advances. So it’s process improvement, modernization. And as we’re doing that, stabilizing the workforce, that starting to do the work jointly, not as two individual agencies. So really a true meshing and intertwining of the two agencies to actually make a whole agency. So there, that’s where a big part of our focus has been. And then of course protection is in our name with safety. So really ensuring that we ensure that the citizens of Wisconsin remain safe under our licenses and under our processes, and inspections and things.

What should the agency be doing differently?
I think really it’s understanding and talking with people about what’s needed. When you think about modernizations, sometimes there’s licenses that no longer have the shelf life that they once did. There’s tweaks, there’s adjustments, there’s small changes that may need to be made. Being open to the input and knowing where that push and pull is in terms of what’s needed for these times.

What’s the best advice you’ve received since getting the job?
I would say really listening to people and taking the information and the inputs that we’re given to actually then go and do the good work … There are many people who have been here for 30-plus years that have grown with one agency or the other, Commerce or Regulation and Licensing and really hearing the changes that they have seen over time. What inputs do they have? You know, I’m really new to it. So it’s building on those who have experience, either utilizing the license or building from an external standpoint, or those who have the experience in supporting what our constituents need from inside the agency. And so coming into this role, I was able to make several hires, and four of those hires are people who had been already working in the agency in a variety of capacities, moving them into a leadership role because again, they have the expertise. I’m able to do the work, because I’m informed by that information.

Worst advice?
You know, when you come into something that’s new, there’s never really any bad advice. It’s advice that you need right now, advice that you might draw back on at another time. But right now it’s important to hear all voices, to really understand how to do this work that really speaks to a variety of people. When you think about our state, 72 counties, people do things differently in different places. How homebuilders are needing licenses and advice in Chippewa valley or Eau Claire maybe different than Waukesha. So it’s, you never know when that advice is going to come that’s needed for what area. So it’s important to have your listening ears open for everything.

See a video of the conversation:

See past interviews and videos with other cabinet secretaries:


Monday: Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee meeting
– 1:30 p.m.: 3099 E. Washington Ave., Madison.

Tuesday: Assembly Public Health Committee public hearing on four abortion-related bills
– 9 a.m.: 412 East, State Capitol.

Thursday: Joint Finance Committee first executive session on the budget
– 11 a.m.: 412 East, State Capitol.

(Check local listings for times in your area)

“UpFront” is a statewide commercial TV news magazine show airing Sundays around the state. This week’s show, hosted by ADRIENNE PEDERSEN, features Assembly Minority Leader GORDON HINTZ, D-Oshkosh, and Rep. JEREMY THIESFELDT, R-Fond du Lac, debating Hintz’s plan to end the personal exemption on vaccines, and editor JR ROSS with a look at how the governor and the speaker are digging in on the Medicaid expansion.
*See viewing times in state markets here:
*Also view the show online each Monday at

“Rewind,” a weekly show from WisconsinEye and, airs at 8 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. on Sundays in addition to being available online. On this week’s episode,’s JR ROSS and WisconsinEye’s STEVE WALTERS discuss Medicaid expansion, the state budget and recent developments with Foxconn.
*Watch the show:

Wisconsin Public TV’s “Here and Now” airs at 7:30 p.m. Fridays. On this week’s program, anchor FREDERICA FREYBERG is joined by Sen. JON ERPENBACH and Rep. AMY LOUDENBECK, who share their perspectives on the budget.

“Capital 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. This week, host EMILEE FANNON talks with Sen. JON ERPENBACH and Department of Revenue Secretary PETER BARCA.

“The Insiders” is a weekly web show featuring former Democratic Senate Majority Leader CHUCK CHVALA and former Republican Assembly Speaker SCOTT JENSEN. This week, the two debate the lame-duck appointments controversy and the issues before the state Supreme Court after it reinstated Republican appointments nixed by Gov. Tony Evers.
*Watch the video or listen to the show:

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Upcoming events in Madison and Washington, D.C. include:

*A Tuesday Madison Club luncheon on Wisconsin’s role in the presidential race featuring Republican operative KEITH GILKES, Democratic strategist TANYA BJORK and Marquette University Law School poll Director CHARLES FRANKLIN. See details:

*A June 5 DC Breakfast with MANU RAJU, senior congressional correspondent at CNN. Raju will analyze the relationship between the Republican Senate and the Democratic House and how Democrats will handle the impeachment question. He is a former Politico reporter and a UW-Madison grad who grew up in the Chicago area. See details:

*SAVE THE DATE: June 13 luncheon with DOT Secretary CRAIG THOMPSON, Waukesha County Exec PAUL FARROW and others on transportation funding. The luncheon will take place at a Waukesha County location. The event will go from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. with the program from noon to 1 p.m. This is the second of four issue programs in the Milwaukee area from Registration information coming soon!

The Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association is bringing on KIRSTEN VILLEGAS as its new president and CEO starting June 1. Villegas, who was selected unanimously by the group’s board, will replace longtime President and CEO TRISHA PUGAL, who’s retiring May 31. Villegas previously served as executive leader of two other state trade associations: the NAIOP Wisconsin – Commercial Real Estate Development Association and the Wisconsin Builders Association.

The UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health’s Wisconsin Area Health Education Center program has brought on a new statewide director: ELIZABETH BUSH. Bush currently works as the program manager of independent learning at the University of Wisconsin Extended Campus. She starts her new role May 15. See the release:

President TRUMP’s campaign has brought on NATHAN GROTH as in-house counsel. Groth, who previously served as associate counsel for the Republican National Committee, also has ties to Wisconsin. While attending law school at Marquette University, he worked as a law clerk for then Gov. SCOTT WALKER’s presidential campaign committee, before later serving as a legal intern in the Walker administration’s Office of Legal Counsel.

DOUG ANDRES, a former PAUL RYAN staffer and Food and Drug Administration adviser, is now working with Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL as press secretary, Politico recently reported.

Former Wisconsin congressional candidate PAUL NEHLEN, who ran against PAUL RYAN, has been banned from Facebook as the social network completed a sweep of “dangerous” people from the platform.

Marquette University Professors DARREN WHEELOCK and MICHAEL O’HEAR and a host of experts and scholars will participate in a June 3-4 conference hosted by Marquette Law School addressing the threat of violent recidivism. See more and register for “Responding to the threat of violent recidivism: Alternatives to long-term confinement”:

Conservative activist BEN SHAPIRO will headline the Wisconsin Right to Life dinner and auction May 16. See more:

For more Names in the News, see subscriber products from earlier in the week plus the press release page at

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

If you have a contribution, e-mail

(from the state Ethics Commission)

Twenty-five changes were made to the lobbying registry in the past 10 days.

Follow this link for the complete list:

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