Welcome to our weekly DC Wrap, where we write about Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Sign up here to receive the newsletter directly: https://forms.gle/YLYZtJWHPSt24HhZ7
Quotes of the week
“If Trump loses … they will change every rule, they will violate every precedent, every norm. They will never relinquish power. That is not an overstatement.”
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, warning people “will not recognize America” under a Biden Administration.
“Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are rushing toward a vote on the president’s Supreme Court nomination to do what Trump wants: terminate the Affordable Care Act.”
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination. The high court is scheduled to hear a ACA challenge next month.
This week’s news
— Excessive tariffs and trade wars over the Trump administration’s four years have gone too far in upsetting Wisconsin agriculture, John Bolton told a Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service virtual event.
Bolton, Trump’s former national security advisor and a former UN ambassador, said last night the president’s arbitrary trade wars with Canada and Mexico hurt Wisconsin farmers more than it addressed the U.S. trade deficit.
“I think that the resort to tariffs in the Trump administration has been excessive and kind of arbitrary. In many respects I think the farmers in Wisconsin, particularly the dairy farmers, were heavily affected by the disputes that we had with Canada,” Bolton said.
He also knocked Trump’s unilateral moves to meet with North Korea as a “waste of time.”
However, he gave a nod to Trump for enacting tariffs on China as an effort to stop the country from gaining more power by stealing intellectual property. He said that got China’s attention with a blunt instrument.
According to Bolton, Trump’s tariffs are “like hitting China between the eyes with a two-by-four.”
“The way to get China’s attention, whether it’s economic space or in the political or military space, is to set up structures of deterrence that let them know when they engage in unacceptable behavior that they will face consequences.”
Bolton said China has also engaged in a sustained buildup of military resources like nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and cyber warfare tools. The Chinese navy has also worked to block the United States Navy and its allies from the South China Sea, including constructing inhabitable islands where none previously existed.
While some have criticized Trump’s consistent unilateral foreign policy decisions for hurting foreign relations, Bolton said unilateral moves are sometimes necessary in the international community.
Bolton said unilateral and multilateral forms of decision making in the foreign policy process are just “tools” and “mechanisms” to enact foreign policy. He said it’s particularly important to understand the fact that all multilateral organizations, such as NATO and the United Nations, operate differently.
Bolton also said the U.S. could sidestep China in its relations with North Korea by merging North and South Korea into one country. He said splitting the country in half, as Germany was split after WWII, was never a sustainable plan and merging the two Koreas “is the only sure way to end the North Korean nuclear threat.”
— President Trump is expected back in Wisconsin on Saturday for a campaign stop in Milwaukee, according to two GOP sources with knowledge of the plans.
One source said the president’s stop, which would be his seventh of the year, will be at the airport.
Trump, who was in Wisconsin this past weekend for a rally at the airport in Janesville, was last in Milwaukee in January for a downtown rally. There have been multiple signs this fall that the president is struggling in suburban areas, including around Milwaukee.
— Trump told a Janesville rally the outcome of the election rests on Wisconsin.
“We win Wisconsin, we win the whole ballgame,” he said Saturday night. “What the hell do you think I’m doing here on a freezing night with 45-degree winds? You think I’m doing it for my health? I’m not doing this for my health.”
Trump has consistently trailed in publicly released polls of Wisconsin voters after winning the state by 22,748 votes four years ago in a surprise victory. He urged supporters to turn out this fall, arguing the polls are off like they were in 2016.
The president was supposed to be in Wisconsin Oct. 3, but canceled after he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He crowed his COVID-19 diagnosis made him immune to the virus.
“I didn’t feel good, I’ll be honest with you,” he said during his sixth trip to Wisconsin of the year. “I wasn’t feeling so good, I wasn’t feeling like your president has to feel, I wasn’t feeling like Superman. I can now jump into the audience and give them all a big kiss, the woman and the men, I’ll even kiss the men.”
Ahead of the rally, Dems slammed Trump for going forward with the event despite Wisconsin’s continued status as one of the nation’s hotspots for COVID-19.
See more here.
— Dem vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris called it “a great beginning” to have people in Milwaukee lined up at polling stations this morning to cast early voting ballots.
Ahead of the first day for early voting in the state, the California senator in a virtual event geared towards the state’s largest city praised local officials, religious leaders and community leaders for their efforts to get out the vote.
“What a great beginning,” she said on Tuesday. “Now we’ve got to see it through, but what a great beginning. And I think it speaks first of all to the leadership of the people I just mentioned … and so many folks who have reminded everybody and reminded their friends and their neighbors about what is at stake in this election.”
Harris said “the soul of America” is at stake this cycle, a phrase often used by her running mate, former VP Joe Biden.
She went on to criticize President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic — which as of Wednesday has resulted in 1,681 Wisconsin deaths — and slammed his administration for supporting a case before the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which she said would take some 20 million Americans off of health insurance and dismantle protections for people with preexisting conditions.
Harris said some 2.4 million Wisconsinites have preexisting conditions and would be at risk if Trump got his way.
See more here.
— The latest CBS News poll has Joe Biden up by 5 points among likely Wisconsin voters, largely unchanged from the network’s last survey a month ago.
The poll, released Monday, found 51 percent of likely voters backed Biden while 46 percent supported Trump. In early September, it was 50-44.
The poll found 47 percent of likely voters favor Trump on the economy, compared to 46 percent for Biden. Meanwhile, Biden is favored 53-34 on handling coronavirus.
The latest survey of 1,124 registered voters was conducted by YouGov Oct. 13-16. The margin of error for the sample of registered voters, as well as the sample of likely voters, was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
See more here.
— Young voters of all political stripes in Wisconsin agree on a big motivating factor driving them to the polls this fall: President Donald Trump.
Their participation could determine the outcome, especially in a state that swings on thin margins like the 22,177 votes that led Trump to victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. An analysis from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement at Tisch College at Tufts University shows this time around, young voters in Wisconsin have more potential to sway the presidential election than their peers in any other state in the country.
According to UW-Madison journalism and political science professor Mike Wagner, young voters in the state are poised to do just that.
Wagner told WisPolitics.com a host of Wisconsin-specific polling data he has examined show voters between the ages of 18 and 24 are more enthusiastic about voting this election than ever. Wagner said polling data show more than 70 percent of that age demographic say they will vote. And of that group, he said, about 70 percent say they will vote for Joe Biden compared to 20 percent who say they will back Trump.
“If the youth vote turns out in the way that they say that they’re going to, it would be an advantage for Joe Biden, and a fairly considerable advantage,” Wagner said.
See more here.
— Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said “the other side does not love this country” and warned people “will not recognize America” in six months if Dem Joe Biden beats President Trump.
At a Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce webinar held on Wednesday, Johnson said he prays Trump wins reelection because he fears Dems would, among other things, pack the U.S. Supreme Court with liberal-leaning justices, grant statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., kill the Senate’s filibuster, and even split California into two separate states.
“I hope everybody understands the profound choice in this election,” he said. “If Trump loses … they will change every rule, they will violate every precedent, every norm. They will never relinquish power. That is not an overstatement.”
The latest FiveThirtyEight analysis of Wisconsin polling gives Biden a 6.7-point lead over Trump. Johnson in the webinar acknowledged state residents “are not real nuts about a New York street fighter,” but he said Trump “actually believes in this country” and Democrats do not.
State Dem party spokesman Phil Shulman called Johnson “Wisconsin’s biggest embarrassment” and said he should focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. Wisconsin on Wednesday reported a record 48 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, bringing the state’s coronavirus death toll to 1,681. The state also reported its second single-day confirmed case count over 4,000.
“Instead of using his perch in the Senate to help Wisconsinites get through the COVID-19 pandemic, Ron Johnson continues to spend his time promoting dangerous conspiracy theories and fear-mongering because he knows the Badger state will send Trump packing on November 3rd,” he said.
See more here.
— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin charged President Trump and Senate Republicans are “rushing toward a vote” on Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination with an eye on striking down the Affordable Care Act.
The high court is scheduled on Nov. 10 to hear a lawsuit backed by the Trump administration challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature health care legislation. The Madison Dem told reporters on Wednesday that Barrett “has a record of opposing previous Supreme Court decisions upholding” the ACA.
“Here’s what’s at stake: if Trump and Senate Republicans get their way, 135 million Americans with preexisting health conditions could lose their guaranteed protections, including more than 2 million Wisconsinites,” Baldwin said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., indicated earlier this week the Senate will vote on Barrett’s nomination on Monday.
Spokesmen for the state GOP and Trump campaign were not immediately available for comment.
— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind outspent opponent Derrick Van Orden by nearly a 3-to-1 margin over the last three months as he seeks to defend his western Wisconsin seat in what is likely to be the only competitive congressional race in the state.
Third-quarter campaign finance reports show the La Crosse Dem spent more than $2.3 million, while Van Orden, the second-highest spender among those running for Congress in Wisconsin, listed over $885,300 in expenditures.
Still, Van Orden edged Kind in fundraising in the third quarter. He reported roughly $818,000 in contributions fueled largely by $759,000 from individuals.
The National Republican Congressional Committee also cut the Hagar City Republican a $5,000 check while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s leadership committee gave Van Orden $10,000. Minority Whip Steve Scalie’s campaign kicked in $4,000 while his leadership fund gave Van Orden an additional $7,500.
He has $251,500 in the bank heading into Election Day.
Kind, meanwhile, reported $755,000 contributions. That includes $325,000 in individual contributions and $437,000 from political action committees as well as $7,400 in refunded contributions.
Kind’s fundraising haul includes over $21,000 from Dem members of Congress, including $4,000 from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Hoyer’s leadership committee also gave Kind $10,000 while U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s leadership committee kicked in an additional $5,000.
The spending spree knocked Kind’s warchest, once the largest in the delegation, down to $1.4 million. He now has the second-most money in the bank among Wisconsin congressional candidates, trailing U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, by some $500,000.
See more here.
— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, fueled almost entirely by individual contributions, was the top fundraiser in the third quarter of 2020 among both the Wisconsin congressional delegation and candidates seeking a House seat.
Baldwin, who is not up for reelection for another four years, raked in just shy of $1.4 million over the last three months. That sum nearly doubles the haul of the next top fundraiser, 3rd CD candidate Derrick Van Orden, R-Hager City.
All but $31,000 of Baldwin’s total came in the form of individual contributions.
The Madison Dem also reported some $425,000 in expenditures. The largest expenses included some $89,000 to mail and marketing firm Prolist; $38,000 to a Maryland printing company; and three five-figure buys from a Maryland direct mailing company.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher has supplanted U.S. Rep. Ron Kind as the Wisconsin congressional candidate with the most cash on hand after a third quarter spending spree knocked the La Crosse Dem off his long-held perch.
Gallagher, R-Green Bay, reported a $1.9 million warchest after raising roughly $585,000 and spending $698,600 in the third quarter of the year. That edges Kind by some $500,000 after the La Crosse Dem reported more than $2.3 million in expenditures over the last three months.
See a roundup of congressional candidates’ campaign finance reports here.
— The Milwaukee host committee for the Dem National Convention raised $42.7 million and is expected to finish the year with a small debt.
John W. Miller, who chaired the committee’s Board of Directors, said final bills are still coming in, and the effort expects a final debt of a few hundred thousand dollars. He pledged the committee will pay off the final bills without asking for public support.
“We will absolutely not rely on not only taxpayers, but anyone in Wisconsin to pay that bill,” Miller said in a phone interview.
The committee could look to various sources to cover the shortfall. Joe Biden’s campaign, for example, has posted back-to-back fundraising months in excess of $300 million.
The committee, under its official title The Good Land Committee, filed a report with the FEC late last night detailing its finances for the first time.
It raised $42.7 million, including in-kind contributions of $988,201, and detailed $38.4 million in spending so far. The report also showed $1.5 million in cash on hand and $1.6 million in debts.
Much of the debt stemmed from a letter of credit the committee pulled together during the bid process. That includes $1.5 million the National Education Association pledged to the effort, and Miller said the committee expects the union to forgive the loan.
See more here.
— Outagamie County Exec Tom Nelson, a former state lawmaker who lost a bid for the 8th CD in 2016, has filed to run for the U.S. Senate.
The late Friday FEC filing created the Nelson for Wisconsin campaign committee, though it listed 2020 as the relevant election. There is no Senate race in Wisconsin this year, although U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, is up for reelection in 2022. Johnson hasn’t said if he plans to run again or will stick to his original pledge to serve just two terms.
Nelson was the Assembly majority leader in 2010 when he ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The following year, he won the Outagamie County exec’s race and was unopposed in his 2015 and 2019 reelection bids.
See more here.
Posts of the week
The forest industry has taken steps to preserve the health of our forests, like planting more trees than they use. Today, companies like @KCCorp in #Neenah utilize these vital forest goods in their products, such as tissues and diapers.
— Rep. Glenn Grothman (@RepGrothman) October 20, 2020
It was 25 years ago today Chris and I took our wedding vows on the Wilderness Queen. It was a cold (38°) and snowy October day capped off by a great party at the Thirsty Whale. Happy anniversary Chris! How about 25 more? 😁 pic.twitter.com/ZlNpmQiuiA
— Tom Tiffany (@TomTiffanyWI) October 21, 2020
Today is the first day of in-person early voting.
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) October 20, 2020
We must support our farmers in Southeast Wisconsin. https://t.co/S1fi5KMWGG
— Bryan Steil (@RepBryanSteil) October 21, 2020