October 24, 2014

Candidates in Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District meet in second debate

Glenn Grothman, Mark Harris

Glenn Grothman, Mark Harris

The two candidates for the 6th Congressional District met Thursday morning in Oshkosh for their second debate. Democrat Mark Harris and Republican Glenn Grothman are looking to replace retiring U.S. Representative Tom Petri (R-WI) of Fond du Lac.

Grothman, a state senator from Campbellsport, wants to reform federal benefits programs which he argued are “killing America” by “destroying both our work ethic and destroying our families.” Grothman contends the state can only do so much to address those program, since the vast majority of the problems come at the federal level. Grothman claimed that a mother with two children could receive around $30,000 a year in benefits, through food stamps, health insurance, low-income housing, and day care.

Harris, the Winnebago County executive, countered that studies have disputed those amounts. He also questioned what benefits should be cut, noting that Grothman thinks it’s perfectly fine to eliminate all income taxes for the wealthy, “but then you’ll begrudge those two little girls the food on the table…How is that fair?”

Grothman and Harris also faced off on issues surrounding Obamacare. Harris said he is open to changing parts of the law, but would like to keep popular requirements in place, such as coverage for preexisting condition. Grothman argued that the law creates problems that stifle the economy, such as setting up situations where businesses have to limit hours for workers or cap the number of employees they have in order to avoid mandates of the Affordable Care Act.

Grothman and Harris face each other on November 4.


Brett Hulsey reenters race for Wisconsin governor

Less than two weeks from Election Day, state Representative Brett Hulsey has announced an independent bid for governor. The Madison Democrat, who lost resoundingly to Mary Burke in the August Democratic primary (Hulsey received 51,830 votes to Burke’s 259,921), said at the time that he had no intention of running as an independent and would support Burke.

“I thought I could, but the more the campaign goes on, the more I realized we need real change in Wisconsin, and she’s just more of the same failed policies of Governor Walker and past administrations,” Hulsey said. The Burke campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Asked about the possibility that his candidacy could peel off enough votes from Burke to hand what appears to be a close race to Republican Governor Scott Walker, Hulsey insisted that’s not his intent. “It’s not my goal,” Hulsey said. “If it looks like at the end that that’s happening, I’ll pull out. I do not want to reelect Scott Walker.”

Hulsey won’t be on the ballot, but has informed the Government Accountability Board that he will run as a write-in candidate, joining three other write in candidates for governor. Election Day is November 4th.

Impact of Petri snubbing Grothman likely limited

U.S. Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI)

U.S. Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI)

The Republican in the race for the state’s Sixth Congressional District will not get the incumbent’s support, but a political expert says it may not hurt him too badly.

Retiring Congressman Tom Petri (R-WI) told a Fond du Lac newspaper this week that will not be endorsing Sen. Glenn Grothman, after Grothman said at a recent fundraiser he would be “insulted” to be compared to Petri. Lawrence University political science professor Arnold Shober says that, along with Grothman initially challenging Petri to a primary before the long-time incumbent announced his retirement, has clearly created some friction between the two.

Petri went on to complement the Democrat in the race, Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, saying both candidates are qualified for the seat. Despite the kind words, Shober says that should not be seen as Petri endorsing Harris either. He says it was just an observation from a political moderate, although it could give Harris some “ammunition” against Grothman, allowing him to go the voters and point out that the Republican is not supported by the current office holder. Still, he says it’s by “no means a death knell” for Grothman’s campaign.

Shober says Grothman still has an advantage, because he’s running in a Republican-leaning district.


St. Norbert College poll gives Walker slight edge in race for governor

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and GOP Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and GOP Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

A poll by St. Norbert College on the race for governor gives Governor Walker a one-point lead over Democratic challenger Mary Burke.

That’s among likely voters, and the school’s survey center director says that means the election is a “toss up.” Wendy Scattergood says six percent were undecided, and that’s a little surprising, considering the strong feelings people have about the candidates.

Overall, Walker led Burke 47-46 percent. The poll’s margin of error is 4.4 percent.


Wisconsin Democrats file lawsuit over training videos

DPW Chairman Mike Tate (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

DPW Chairman Mike Tate (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

The head of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin says the public has the right to know what’s on training videos that feature Republican candidate for attorney general Brad Schimel.

Democrats are suing the state Department of Justice, after the agency refused to release the videos through an open records request. The agency cited concerns about victim privacy and argued that criminals could view them to learn tactics used by prosecutors. During a call with reporters Wednesday, DPW chairman Mike Tate questioned that reasoning, and voiced his belief that the objections are more about “J.B. Van Hollen and Brad Schimel trying to prevent the public from getting a full true picture of who Brad Schimel really is.” Tate believes the videos may contain something objectionable about Schimel that he says Republicans “don’t want the public to see.”

The videos in question come from training events for prosecutors organized by the state DOJ. Schimel, who serves as the Waukesha County District Attorney, participated in five such talks, although the DOJ says it only has videos from two of those events.

In a statement released Wednesday, Schimel offered his rationale for keeping the videos from being released to the public. “During many of my presentations I break down specific real-life cases and explain to my fellow prosecutors how we catch and prosecute those who try to prey on our children. I analyze known patterns of behavior and explain how my fellow prosecutors can exploit the common mistakes these men make. I help my peers become better prosecutors and keep more predators off the streets.”

Schimel also dismissed allegations that the videos show him doing anything improper, arguing that “I would not have been invited back again and again and again,” if that were the case. He also criticized Democrats for filing the lawsuit, accusing them of showing “callous disregard for the safety of Wisconsin’s children” by trying to make law enforcement’s playbook public.

A Dane County judge plans to review the tapes, before deciding whether Democrats should get to see them. A ruling on that could come at a hearing scheduled for next week, just days before an election where Schimel faces Democrat Susan Happ, the Jefferson County District Attorney.