August 21, 2014

Burke critical of Walker on job creation

Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke (Photo: WSAU)

Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke (Photo: WSAU)

Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke was back in Wausau Thursday, campaigning in an area she says is still struggling to recover from the recession under Governor Scott Walker’s administration.

Burke toured Wausome Foods, where Brian Gunning and his staff have been making specialty cheese crackers. Wausome Foods is a local start-up business that is now seeing a need to grow to meet demand for their snacks. Burke says they talked about the number one problem new businesses and recent start-ups have. “We talked about access to capital, and that’s one of the main issues that I hear as I travel around the state and I talk to entrepreneurs.”

Like her opponent, Burke’s top priority is job creation. However, she criticizes Scott Walker’s administration for not putting enough into small start-ups and for how the state uses its economic development resources. “We’ll, make more access to capital available. We actually know right now under Scott Walker that WEDC actually isn’t even using the capital and resources available to it, so what we need to do is cut the red tape. Make sure that the capital and resources that are available are getting to the places and the entrepreneurs who need it the most and who can utilize it to create the most jobs.”

Burke says it’s about “using the existing resources more wisely, and I don’t think that that’s being done. We know that WEDC actually lost track of taxpayer’s money. We know that they’re actually not even using all of the funds appropriated to them, so it’s actually you getting the biggest bang for the buck and using taxpayer money more wisely.”

The Walker campaign is critical of Burke’s tenure under former Governor Jim Doyle as Commerce Secretary for losing jobs. The Burke campaign is critical of Walker’s leadership saying we’ve gained some jobs, but nine other Midwestern states are doing better at creating jobs. “Certainly we have created jobs coming out of the recession, but every other state has, and in fact, we are not creating jobs at the same rate, so 10th out of 10 Midwestern states and dead last? I don’t know, I’m competitive enough to know that we can and should be doing better than that, and as Governor, I’m going to make sure that we are.”


Likely recount may hamper GOP fundraising

U.S. Capitol building (Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

U.S. Capitol building (Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

The two top candidates in the Republican primary for the 6th Congressional District could face some fundraising difficulties, with a recount likely in the race.

State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-Campbellsport) came out on top in Tuesday’s primary, but only leads state Senator Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) by 214 votes. While party officials say they expect the candidates will continue to prepare for November, UW-Oshkosh Professor Jim Simmons says it could be difficult for them to campaign and fundraise until the election is wrapped up.

Leibham has not yet said if he will request a recount, although the margin of Grothman’s victory is currently small enough that he could ask for one at no cost to his campaign.

Simmons notes that both Grothman and Leibham spent a lot of money during the primary, which had four candidates vying for the nomination to replace outgoing U.S. Representative Tom Petri (R-WI). He says they are likely tapped out for the time being, and money from donors and third party groups will probably be limited until a recount is completed.

The winner of the race will face Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, the Democratic nominee.


With primaries done, party leaders look to November

Mike Tate (File photo)

Mike Tate (File photo)

Although the winners of a few races remain unclear at this point, Democrat and Republican leaders claim there were few surprises during Tuesday’s primaries and argue their winning candidates emerged stronger than before.

With Mary Burke has officially won the Democratic nomination in the race for governor, State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate says they can turn their attention towards defeating incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker. Tate says “there’s obviously a reason Mary’s running neck and neck with Scott Walker in the polls right now. It’s because she’s a phenomenal candidate, someone who won’t reject an idea because it’s a Democrat idea or a Republican idea.”

Still, state Republican Party Vice Chair Brian Schimming believes Walker is well positioned to take on Burke in November. “He’s got the record to bring to the table. We look forward to the contrast between him and Mary Burke, and talking about how the state’s been moving forward.”

Tate is also excited about Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ’s win in the primary for attorney general. Happ defeated state Representative Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) and Dane County D.A. Ismael Ozanne. Richards was seen by many as a widely-backed establishment candidate, but Tate says any of the three Democrats running would have been a strong nominee. He credit’s Happ’s decisive win to her having a “message that resonates” with voters, and argues that people want someone with her background in the attorney general’s office.

Schimming says Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel, the Republican nominee, will be ready to take the issues to voters ahead of November. Schimel faced no opposition in the primary.

Brian Schimming

Brian Schimming

The most visible undecided race in the state right now is the Republican primary in the 6th Congressional District. State Senator Glenn Grothman maintains a narrow lead of just over 200 votes and state Senator Joe Leibham, the next closest candidate in the four-way primary, could request a recount once the vote totals are finalized. Even if that happens, Schimming says he expects the race to be resolved quickly and that both candidates will continue to prepare for November as if they are the nominee. He says “they’ll be ready, no matter what.”

The eventual winner will go on to face Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, the Democratic nominee. Tate describes both Grothman and Leibham as extreme conservatives, although he adds that “having someone like Glenn Grothman is kind of like the epitome of a knuckle-dragging, right wing conservative, give Mark Harris a phenomenal chance to win that seat in November.”

Recounts loom in three primaries

Map UW-Madison

Map UW-Madison

The narrowest of margins separates two Democrats who hope to succeed veteran Republican state Senator Dale Schultz in southern Wisconsin’s 17th Senate District. The unofficial tally has Ernie Wittmer with 3,828 votes and Pat Bomhack has 3,826 – a difference of just two votes cast in the Tuesday primary. The winner will face Republican state Representative Howard Marklein, who had no primary opponent, in the November general election.

A recount appears likely in a state Assembly district in northwest Wisconsin. Overnight returns indicated Michael Bub won the Republican primary in the 87th Assembly District by just three votes over James Edming. Rusk County elections officials now admit that Edming ought to have received 20 votes which were mistakenly given to fourth-place finisher Scott Noble. If that’s the case, Edming will have won the primary by 17 votes over Bub. Bub says he’s not happy with what happened, and he’ll likely request a recount if his loss is confirmed. That won’t happen for about another week, after canvassers in Rusk, Sawyer, and Taylor counties finalize the results. Bub or Noble will face Democrat Richard Pulcher in November, for an Assembly seat given up by Republican Mary Williams of Medford.

The biggest potential recount story continues to be in the 6th Congressional District, where just 214 votes separate Republican state Senators Glenn Grothman and Joe Leibham. With nearly 65,000 votes cast, the margin is within the half-percent threshold that would allow Leibham to request a recount.

Leibham refused to accept the declaration of a Grothman victory by the Associated Press, saying too many wards in his home county of Sheboygan went uncounted. His campaign issued a statement around 2:30 this morning that Leibham will wait to pass judgment on the results until they’re final. The AP subsequently withdrew the declaration of a Grothmann win.

Shawano County voters get Bieber fever

Facebook photo

Facebook photo

Shawano County’s two-term sheriff has lost his job to a police officer who shares a last name with a pop star who’s had a few run-ins with law enforcement. The city of Shawano made the difference to Adam Bieber, who beat Sheriff Randy Wright by 228 votes in Tuesday’s primary.

Bieber won the City of Shawano by 41 votes. It was too close for comfort until the end for Bieber, winning Wards 5 and 6 by 9 votes and Wards 7 and 8 by just 6 votes. Bieber also won Wards 1 and 2 by 52 votes, 3 and 4 by 29 votes and Wards 9 and 10 by 19 votes. Wright won Wards 11 and 12 by 74 votes.

Bieber – who will run uncontested in the November general election – indicated surprise that sharing a last name with singer Justin Bieber gave his campaign attention beyond northeastern Wisconsin, including from celebrity news site TMZ.