April 16, 2014

Bernard Schaber reacts to Ellis’ decision

The Democrat in the race for Senator Mike Ellis’ seat is reacting to today’s developments.

Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber says she’s going to continue to focus on her campaign. The Appleton Democrat says she doesn’t know what the Republicans are planning in their search for a candidate, but she’ll run a positive, transparent, and accountable campaign.

Bernard Schaber says it’s unfortunate that Ellis’s career is going to end the way it is, because he spent so many years serving people in his district.


Petri will not seek re-election in Congress

Congressman Tom Petri

Congressman Tom Petri

U.S. Representative Tom Petri (R-WI) not seeking re-election. The congressman, who has held Wisconsin’s 6th congressional district seat since 1979, will make an official statement on Monday at his town hall meeting in Neenah.

Upon hearing the news, State Senator Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) announced that he will take the next few days to consider running for Petri’s job. In a statement, Leibham says “Congressman Petri contacted me this morning to inform me of his decision to retire.”

Leibham was first elected to the state Assembly in 1998, then went to the Senate starting in 2002. He says, “Out of love and respect for my family and country, I will take time over the next couple of days to consider, discuss and pray about how and where I can best use my time and talent to improve the quality of life for our state and nation.”

State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) has already announced his intentions to campaign for that seat, citing concerns about what he sees as the out-of-control growth of federal entitlement programs.

In a statement following the news about Petri, Grothman says, “I thank Congressman Petri for his dedicated years of service to the people of the 6th Congressional District. Congressman Petri is a good man and I wish him well as he transitions to retirement.”

Governor Walker issued a statement: “Congressman Tom Petri has been a long and trusted friend to Wisconsin and to me personally. We will miss his leadership – in particular on transportation and education issues. We thank him for his distinguished service.”

On Saturday afternoon, Republican state Representative Duey Stroebel threw his name into the race. “I’m running for Congress to create a stronger future for my children and all of Wisconsin and I’m committed to running a strong, well-financed campaign based on conservative principles that put power back into the hands of the people.”

Ellis not seeking re-election (AUDIO)

Ellis on hidden video

Ellis on hidden video

A high-profile senator decides not to run for office again in November.

Republican Senate President Mike Ellis tells WHBY in Appleton he will not seek re-election following release of a secretly-recorded video, saying he just doesn’t “fit in” anymore in the current political world because “this is a different era we live in.”

AUDIO: Ellis talks exclusively to WHBY’s Mike Kemmeter, saying this type of secret recording is part of “the new norm” in “gotcha politics.” 1:21

In the controversial recording, which was recorded two weeks ago at a Madison bar right across from the state Capitol building,  the long time lawmaker discusses an illegal campaign scheme.

In explaining his decision, Ellis tells WHBY the atmosphere surrounding the Capitol has changed over the last six or seven years. He says he should be able to go out for a fish fry with his wife without having to look over their shoulders to see whether someone is using a cell phone to record their every move.

The 73-year-old Neenah Republican was first elected to the state Assembly in 1970, he was elected to the Senate in 1982.

The decision to not run for office again comes two days after the video was released by Project Veritas, which is a national organization led by conservative activist James O’Keefe. Ellis is confident that if he chose to seek another term, he would win the election. He says it’s hard to leave something you love and have more to give. “I can now appreciate Brett Favre’s on again, off again retirement saga.”

In the video recorded on hidden camera, Ellis talks about creating a political action committee (PAC) for the sole purpose of spending a lot of money to attack his Democratic opponent state Representative Penny Bernard Schaber (D-Appleton). This so-called super PAC would allow Ellis to publicly separate himself from the attack ads. He later told media that upon realizing his scheme was illegal, he drop the idea. Bernard-Schaber would have been Ellis’ first election challenger in 16 years.

Governor Walker says he’s confident the GOP will find a quality candidate to replace Senator Mike Ellis in the race for the 19th Senate district seat. Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson is calling for the removal of Ellis as Senate president.

In a statement, Ellis says his wife Sandy can’t go to the grocery story, gas station, or restaurant without having a camera shoved in her face.

AUDIO: More raw tape with Ellis 2:54

Thanks to WHBY’s Mike Kemmeter

Reaction to Ellis video continues

The head of a government watchdog groups says it’s a “tragedy in many respects” that a past supporter of campaign finance reform was caught on video, talking about setting up his own Super PAC for his run for re-election.

Republican Senator Mike Ellis of Neenah says he now knows that it’s illegal in Wisconsin for a candidate to coordinate with an outside group. Jay Heck of Common Cause says to hear Ellis talk about that, even in a hypothetical manner, is shocking and disturbing. He says it’s a sign of the times.

Democratic Representative Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton is challenging Ellis this fall. In the secretly taped video, at a Madison hotel bar, Ellis said the PAC could run attack ads against Bernard Schaber.

Bernard Schaber says she’ll take her Republican opponent at his word that he didn’t realize forming a Super PAC for his campaign was illegal, but that people are frustrated with politics and government, and they can get turned off by backroom politics.

Heck says he worked closely with Ellis several years ago to push for reforms. He says Ellis was concerned about third-party, outside groups, and the money they were putting into campaigns. He doesn’t think the fallout from the video will end anytime soon.


Walker to launch campaign Tuesday

Governor Scott Walker will holds a series of events across Wisconsin on Tuesday, where he’s expected to make his re-election bid official.

Walker’s campaign is planning a “special announcement” about the re-election effort. He’s expected to begin the day near Madison, and wrap up the events at State Fair Park in suburban Milwaukee. Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch will accompany Walker.

Tuesday happens to also be the deadline to file income tax returns. It’s also the first day that candidates for the state’s fall elections can circulate nominating petitions.

The Republican incumbent won his first term by defeating Milwaukee Democrat Tom Barrett by almost six percentage points in 2010. Walker also survived a recall attempt against him in 2012, defeating Barrett by nearly seven points.

This fall, the governor is challenged by Democrat Mary Burke, a former Trek Bicycle executive and state Commerce Secretary under then-Governor Jim Doyle.