• WisPolitics


Saturday, June 14, 2008

 3:19 PM 

WisPolitics: Dems favor Clinton for vice president, Lautenschlager for AG in 2010

Contact: JR Ross
(608) 669-8418

STEVENS POINT -- Wisconsin Democratic activists favored U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton as Barack Obama's running mate this fall, with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson finishing a close second, according to the annual convention straw poll conducted by WisPolitics.com.

Attendees at this weekend's state party convention also favored former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager to be the Democrats' nominee in 2010 to take on incumbent Republican J.B. Van Hollen for the state's top cop.

Forty-nine convention attendees wanted to see Obama select Clinton as his running mate, while 44 backed Richardson. Thirty-four supported former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, while 32 backed U.S. Sen. Jim Webb.

Lautenschlager, who served one term as attorney general and lost in the 2006 Dem primary to Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, also won last year's WisPolitics.com straw poll asking the same question about the attorney general's race. She received 100 votes this year, while Falk came in second with 63.

In this year's WisPolitics straw poll at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention in Stevens Point, 259 total ballots were cast by convention delegates, alternates and official guests. There were more than 600 official attendees at the convention.

Only one vote per person was allowed, and only ballots with one candidate marked in each category were counted. This poll in no way was endorsed by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

WisPolitics, since it was launched in 2000, has conducted straw polls at state Republican and Democratic party conventions and considers them but one measure of a candidate's popularity and viability.

Paper balloting was conducted Friday and Saturday at this year's convention.

WisPolitics.com is an independent non-partisan political news service based in Madison, Wis. WisPolitics also operates these companion sites: WisOpinion.com, WisBusiness.com and IowaPolitics.com.

2008 DEM CONVENTION STRAW POLL QUESTIONS, RESULTS
259 total ballots cast

1) Who would you like to see Barack Obama select as his vice presidential nominee?

--Hillary Clinton 49
--Bill Richardson 44
--John Edwards 34
--Jim Webb 32
--Wesley Clark 27
--Joe Biden 12
--Kathleen Sebelius 12
--Claire McCaskill 5
--Ed Rendell 5
--Chris Dodd 4
--Chuck Hagel 4
--Evan Bayh 3
--Tim Kaine 3
--Janet Napolitano 2
--Ted Strickland 2
--Brian Schweitzer 1
--Mark Warner 1
--No vote 3

Write-ins, 16 total
--Al Gore led with 4

2) If a 2010 primary for attorney general were being held today, which Democrat would you choose to be the party's nominee?

--Peg Lautenschlager 100
--Kathleen Falk 63
--Ron Kind 34
--Marc Marotta 14
--Jon Richards 13
--John Chisholm 6
--Matt Frank 4
--Brian Blanchard 3
--No vote 13

Write-ins, 9 total
--Bill Drengler led with 3

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 2:24 PM 

Rae, Hicks elected DNC members

Before DPW chairman Joe Wineke closed the 2008 state Dem convention, he announced that current DNC member Jason Rae and Rollie Hicks have been elected to the Democratic National Committee.

Wineke also told the few remaining delegates and guests that next year's convention will be held the second weekend in June at Green Bay's Radisson Hotel. He said the party was "likely" to head to Eau Claire for the 2010 convention, but promised to return to Milwaukee -- the traditional site of pre-presidential year conventions -- for 2011.


-- By Andy Szal

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 2:05 PM 

McCain camp touts Wisconsin delegate's defection

Debra Bartoshevich, a Wisconsin delegate to the national convention for Hillary Clinton, is mentioned in a new release from John McCain's campaign touting what it calls a "group of prominent Democratic and unaffiliated leaders and activists who have joined 'Citizens for McCain.'"

Bartoshevich told a newspaper Friday that she planned to vote for McCain this fall, even though she's a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this summer.

The state party said it will file a complaint with the DNC seeking to revoke her status, saying her support of McCain breaks party rules for delegates.

Bartoshevich has not returned calls from WisPolitics this weekend. But she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she was unhappy with the way Clinton was treated during the primary and has reservations about Obama's lack of experience.

"I just feel you need to have somebody who has experience with foreign matters," she told the paper.

See the release.


-- By JR Ross

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 1:44 PM 

At least four eyeing leadership of Assembly Dems

Regardless of the outcome in November's elections, Assembly Dems are going to need a new leader.

The question is whether it will be a speaker for the first time in 14 years or -- once again -- a minority leader.

At least four candidates have emerged to lead the caucus next year with current Minority Leader Jim Kreuser, D-Kenosha, leaving the Legislature now that he has been elected Kenosha County executive. Kreuser will remain in his legislative role through the end of this two-year session, but a team of Assembly Dems is working now to lead the party's efforts at re-taking the Assembly.

Should they pull that off, state Reps. Pedro Colon of Milwaukee, Fred Kessler of Milwaukee, Jon Richards of Milwaukee and Mike Sheridan of Janesville are all eyeing a run at speaker. All four were at the convention this weekend and spoke with WisPolitics about their interest in leading the Dem caucus, which went from 39 members after the 2004 election to 47 after the 2006 election.

All four expressed confidence about their chances of re-taking the Assembly for the first time since losing control in the 1994 elections, though they cautioned it was not a given.

Colon, a member of the Joint Finance Committee, said the Dems' next leader needs to be able to deliver on issues like health care and education while being prepared to deal with a series of challenges, including a difficult economic picture.

He said while eager to run for speaker, he also realizes the challenges facing the next caucus leader.

"We haven't been in the majority for a long time, so the next leader is really going to set the tone for Democrats for the next four, maybe six, maybe eight yeas, if that were to happen," Colon said. "It's an incredible responsibility."

Kessler, who's making his third go round in the Assembly, said he would be "flattered to be speaker."

He said he tried to convince his colleagues in 2006 that they had a chance to take over the Assembly and felt if leaders had followed some of his suggestions, they could have pulled it off. He said he played a "major role" in seven of the eight seats that Assembly Democrats picked up two years ago and two of the Senate seats the party won.

Kessler faces a complaint by the Office of Lawyer Regulation stemming from his wife's campaign for the state appeals court. He said it was "such a minor thing" that it wouldn't hurt his candidacy for a leadership spot and said he expects to be exonerated in the end.

"I am a person who has a set of values that I'd like to see implemented," Kessler said of his motivation in running for Dem leader.

Richards has spent the past five years as the Assembly assistant minority leader and cautioned the focus now needs to be on winning the majority, not who might lead the caucus if that effort is successful.

He said the public is tired of inaction by the state Legislature and the next Assembly Dem leader needs to have a "strong compass in terms of what they believe in" as well as the ability to put together a legislative agenda that can keep Dems in the majority for years to come.

"I think someone who is workmanlike and can demonstrate that they can get things done, those are the types of things that we need in a leader, and I think those are the types of things that I bring in the caucus," Richards said.

Sheridan recently retired from General Motors in Janesville and is set to leave his post as president of the United Auto Workers. He said he remains hopeful that GM will decide to keep the Janesville plant open with a new product after deciding it would shut down its SUV line there by 2010. But he admitted it would be an uphill battle.

He said he'd be honored to lead the caucus, if his fellow Assembly Dems believe he has the skill and ability to do the job.

"I tongue in cheek say that we're just like this big, dysfunctional family. I don't mean that in a bad way," Sheridan said. "You're dealing with a lot of different personalities. I've had to do that within the UAW and General Motors and have great skills in that area. I get along with everybody, Democrats and Republicans. It'd be an opportunity to really change the way politics are played in the state of Wisconsin."

Listen to the interview with Colon.

Listen to the interview with Kessler.

Listen to the interview with Richards.

Listen to the interview with Sheridan.

-- By JR Ross

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 1:00 PM 

Sullivan ready to back Obama

DNC member Tim Sullivan was one of Hillary Clinton's early supporters in Wisconsin. But he's ready to back Barack Obama.

Sullivan and U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin were the only two super delegates from Wisconsin to back Clinton. In explaining his support for Clinton prior to the Feb. 19 primary, Sullivan praised her experience and said he was backing the "adult" in the race.

But he said today in a short interview that he is fully behind Obama and the only thing that really matters now is winning come November.

"I'll fight to the death for Barack Obama," Sullivan said.

-- By JR Ross

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 11:30 AM 

Ryan opponents highlight electability

Candidates vying for party support in their campaigns to unseat U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan highlighted their electability and knocked Ryan's plan to address entitlements, taxation and spending.

Marge Krupp positioned herself as a "proven contender," saying that she has what it takes to win by running a full-time campaign, hiring a full-time staff and demonstrating her fundraising ability.

"T.V. and radio are expensive so fundraising is critical," Krupp said.

"I am running a full-time, professional campaign for the United States Congress," Krupp said.

Paulette Garin highlighted her grassroots organization and support from elected officials.

"My committee and I have built a successful grassroots organization," Garin said. "We have established solid relationships and name recognition within and beyond the 1st Congressional District."

She also highlighted attention she has received on television, radio, newspapers and the Internet.

She also pointed to state and local officials supporting her campaign as the "greatest evidence" of the success of her efforts.

A relatively new entrant into the race without a well-developed campaign organization, John Mogk said it isn't necessary to have a lot of money and a large campaign staff to win.

"If that were true, the State of Wisconsin wouldn't have one of the highest rated U.S. senators, Russ Feingold, who once said you can't buy votes in Wisconsin," Mogk said. "Good people without a lot of money have won elections here, and he has the home movies to prove it."

"If we keep playing the same games by the same rules, when are things ever going to change?" Mogk asked.

The candidate were all critical of Ryan and his recently release "Roadmap for America's Future."

Garin blamed Republicans for circumstances that "deteriorate daily at an exponential rate."

Garin pointed to Ryan's plan, which she said is "being marketed to the masses as a brilliant and innovative solution to the problems facing this country."

What it really is, Garin said, "is the same old GOP spin of privatizing social security and Medicare, segregating healthcare access, and providing tax breaks to the wealthiest."

To a refrain of "where is the love" Mogk highlighted problems with education and the economy, healthcare, energy policy and the conduct of the war.

Mogk criticized Ryan's Roadmap for America as "private sector greed" and a "roadmap for Wall Street."

Krupp blasted Ryan for supporting the Iraq War, saying that our economy, security and liberty has been sacrificed for it. She said that while Ryan talks about fiscal conservatism, he continues to vote to fund the war, which she said has put us in an "Iraq recession."

-- By David Wise

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 11:29 AM 

Cheers to Fighting Bob

State Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, would like to remind everyone that it's "Fighting" Bob La Follette Day today, thanks to a provision tucked into the state budget last year.

The item designated June 14, La Follette's birthday, as his day.

-- By JR Ross

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 11:07 AM 

Kittelson reviews "resume'" for Congress

Congressional hopeful Roger Kittelson said that he holds a better resume' for Congress than current 6th Congressional District U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac.

Kittelson promoted his views on health care, hunting, environmental conservation and fiscal responsibility while addressing Democratic delegates.

-- By Matt Dolbey

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 10:26 AM 

Kohl: Primary will pay off for Dems


The hard fought primary in Wisconsin will pay of for Democrats in November, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl said told delegates and guests today.

"As we know in Wisconsin our primary was hard fought and very pivotal," Kohl said. "The excitement of the primary helped build our party and it will pay off in key state races when we keep Wisconsin a true blue state and take back the state Assembly and strengthen the majority in the state Senate."

Kohl said both Obama and Clinton supporters should be proud of the candidates and must now come together.

"People everywhere are energized, they're ready to work for Democrats, they're ready for change and they are ready to stop John McCain from being elected and serving George Bush's third term," Kohl said.

After eight years of Bush, Kohl said Americans are ready for change. He said Obama will invest in America's people, make healthcare affordable, bring back good jobs and make America safer by "building our allies instead of rallying our enemies."

Kohl said this is going to be a good year for Democrats in Wisconsin and nationally.

"We're going head off into a new and exciting era, led by Democrats, led by Barack Obama, and together we will make this a much greater country," Kohl said.

Listen to Kohl's speech: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/080614Kohl.mp3


-- By David Wise

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 9:17 AM 

Dems pick delegates for national convention

The party has selected former chair Linda Honold and former Assembly Speaker Walter Kunicki as unpledged add-on delegates to the national convention.

Add-on delegates function like the party's super delegates and are not committed to either candidate. But Honold is backing Hillary Clinton, and Kunicki supports Barack Obama.

The party also selected at-large and party leader/elected official delegates to fill out its roster for the convention in Denver.

The party leader/elected officials are: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, state Rep. Mark Pocan, state Rep. Pedro Colon, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Milwaukee County Dem Party Chair Martha Love, Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk, state party Administrative Committee member Heather Colburn and Marquette County Party Chair Jan Banicki. Six are Obama supporters, and four are Clinton backers.

The at-large delegates are: first lady Jessica Doyle, Guy Costello, Molly Rivera, Scott Tyre, Katie Boyce, Marwell Santigo, Sara Rogers, Bethany Ordaz, Beverly Jenkins, Paula Dorsey, Nabella Baig, Chris Selin, Gloria Villenova, Jack Kreuger, Nancy Nusbaum and Shawn Pfaff. Nine are Obama supporters, and seven are Clinton backers.

The party also picked four at-large alternates: Ingrid Ankerson, Harold Jackson, Kira Brenner and Mark Boswell. The first two are Obama supporters and the second two back Clinton.

-- By JR Ross

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 9:11 AM 

Dems to vote on national committee members today

Delegates will select the state's members of the DNC later today.

The party will pick two female committee members and two males.

On the female side, current DNC members Paula Zellner and Melissa Schroeder are the only two on the ballot.

On the male side, current DNC member Jason Rae is the the ballot again, along with Rollie Hicks and Shah Haqqi.

The results are expected by mid-afternoon.

-- By JR Ross

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 1:01 AM 

Doyle: This is our time

Gov. Jim Doyle told Democrats today that Sen. Barack Obama's candidacy brings hope to people who are struggling, saying that they know Obama will be "a president who is going to be on their side."

Doyle pointed to workers who are losing their jobs at the GM plant in Janesville, families of service members worried their loved ones will get sent back to Iraq, and a middle class couple Obama spoke to who were having trouble getting by in Kaukana.

"Those people, when they look at Barack Obama, know they will have a president who is on their side," Doyle said.



Wisconsin may be the state that decides the presidential election, Doyle told attendees as he challenged them to do everything they can make sure Obama wins the state.

"Wisconsin, this is our time," Doyle said. "We could well be the state ... that will decide what the results of this election will be."

Doyle called the task an "enormous responsibility" and pointed to attacks on Sen. John Kerry's war record by Republicans as an example of the level of attacks they may have to battle in the coming election.

But Doyle pointed to gains in the last election and Kerry's 2004 win in Wisconsin as examples of how Democratic activists have been effective in turning out the vote.

"You've done remarkable things electorally in this state," Doyle said.

While Doyle noted there had been some division in the Democratic Party over the primary, he held Obama up as a uniter.

Doyle said that in Wisconsin Obama was able to bridge divisions between age race and gender during the primary.

"Barack Obama in Wisconsin showed it isn't about those divisions," Doyle said. "He brought us all together in February and he will do it again in November."

Doyle said Obama has incredible character and is honest and smart. "Smart? A smart president?," quipped Doyle with a smile.

Although Doyle spent a good portion of his speech on the presidential race, he also discussed statewide issues.

Doyle pointed to successes Democrats in Wisconsin have seen over the years, like getting increased participation in BadgerCare, getting more money for Milwaukee Public Schools for math education, passage of the Great Lakes Water Compact and free tuition for veterans. In each case, Doyle gave examples of how Republicans either openly opposed the measures or failed to fund them when they passed.

"It shows the difference between what a Democratic vision is in Wisconsin and what a Democratic vision can be nationwide," Doyle said.

While Doyle said there have been successes, he said work needs to be done to require insurance companies to cover autism and to pass a statewide workplace smoking ban.

Listen to Doyle's speech: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/_080613Doyle.mp3


-- By David Wise

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Friday, June 13, 2008

 11:58 PM 

Hospitality rooms in gear

The speeches ran long tonight, but that hasn't stopped Dems from hitting the hospitality rooms en masse.

U.S. Rep. Obey's suite remains fairly crowded, boasting a buffet-style potato bar and the congressman himself signing copies of his book, "Raising Hell for Justice."



The longest line, however, belonged to Obey's House colleague Steve Kagen, where the line for ice cream sundaes stretched nearly outside the suite's entrance.

The Doyle-Lawton campaign has staked out the bar in the Holiday Inn Ruby's restaurant, with a three-piece rock band playing to a largely subdued crowd.

The Assembly Democrats seem to be the only group with a theme for their suite, which consisted of hanging a Jolly Rodger flag to symbolize their campaign to "take back the majority." ADCC is supplying beer and selling t-shirts.

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold's suite, while initially crowded with delegates seeking beer and sloppy joes, has cleared out since word spread that the keg was tapped.




-- By Andy Szal

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 11:17 PM 

Moore says McCain counting on disunity


U.S. Rep Gwen Moore urged attendees to support Obama and pointed to Debra Bartoshevich's support of McCain after she had previously backed Clinton as an example of the type of division McCain is counting on to win.

"We know that John McCain is counting on this type of disunity," Moore said.

After a series of digs into McCain's positions, which she says have changed from independent stances to those of the far right, she praised Obama and called for unity.

"Democrats, it's time that we unify our party and elect Sen. Barack Obama, the next president of United States of America," she said.

Moore also took time to remember Tim Russert, saying he was "called to do the public good, to really report and speak truth to power."

In her introduction of Doyle, Moore said Doyle was called to public service, much the way Russert was.

Listen to Moore's speech: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/080613Moore.mp3

-- By David Wise

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 11:17 PM 

Former Clinton campaign official calls defection 'sad'

Heather Colburn, who served as Hillary Clinton's state coordinator in Wisconsin, said she was "a little sad" to see one of the senator's delegates publicly endorse John McCain, saying it ran contrary to the charge the former first lady laid out for this fall of electing a Democrat to the White House.

Debra Bartoshevich made national news Friday when she said she would vote for McCain this fall even though she is a Clinton delegate for this year's national convention. The state party announced that it will file a complaint with the DNC seeking to revoke her status as a delegate.

Colburn said Bartoshevich was "a Clinton stalwart" who had been to Iowa and Ohio to campaign for the senator and "definitely was a great volunteer and very dedicated to Sen. Clinton and I'm assuming that's where the defect comes from, that feeling of being heartbroken and saddened by the loss."

Colburn said she's using a "gentle hand" with some Clinton supporters to get them behind Barack Obama, saying some are ready to embrace him while others say they'll vote for him this fall, though they need some time right now.

She said she was probably still going through the process of accepting that Clinton will not be the party's nominee. But she decided to back him after thinking about how she would feel on the last night of the national convention as Obama accepts the party's nomination.

"I know that I'm going to feel extremely honored to be part of history," she said. "That motivates me to recognize maybe, again, it's not the kind of history that I set out to make, but it's still an amazing piece of history that we're about to write."

Listen to the interview.

-- By JR Ross

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 11:04 PM 

Judge attends convention as an observer

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge John Siefert, who is suing to overturn state rules that prohibit judges from belonging to a political party, is at this weekend's convention.

But he's only a "guest."

Siefert, whose suit is pending in federal court, wants to be allowed to join the Dem Party. He's also challenging the prohibition on judicial candidates directly asking for political contributions.

Siefert said he attended a dozen Dem conventions as a delegate before he became a judge. But hasn't been a delegate since he joined the bench. He said state rules allow judges to listen to political speeches like those at the convention.

"I'm an observer," Siefert said.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:58 PM 

Delegates OK with Obama's absence

Although Barack Obama stopped just 80 miles away yesterday in Kaukauna, Dem delegates aren't too broken up that their presumptive nominee didn't stick around for the convention.

Several delegates said that his time was better spent elsewhere, since convention-goers seem to be largely unified behind the Illinois senator's candidacy. Obama spent Friday in Ohio.

"At the end of the night, this is the Democratic state convention," said an Eau Claire County delegate. "I'm some sense, I'm glad he didn't show up."

He added he would probably have a chance to see Obama later in the campaign.

A Washington County delegate argued that Republicans were driving the perception of a divided Democratic party, and possibly drove Clinton's extended stay in the Dem race through crossover voting. He said Obama needed to focus on independents rather than the base.

"He needs to mend fences," he said.

Another delegate was more blunt in assessing the perception of a divided Democratic Party.

"It's the press," she said.

Obama did appear via video in the convention hall and thanked Wisconsinites for their support.


-- By Andy Szal

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 10:18 PM 

New progressive group Advancing Wisconsin begins

Dem strategist Mike Tate is now working on a new endeavor named Advancing Wisconsin that he says will work as a grassroots organization both in elections and lobbying the Legislature on progressive issues.

Meagan Mahaffey, who recently left her position as executive director at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, has joined the organization as its program and campaign director, handling the day to day operations. Katie Belanger, who worked for U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin's campaign and leadership PAC as finance director, will oversee fundraising and the finance operation as well as assist Mahaffey as deputy program and campaign director.

Others working for Advancing Wisconsin include Steve Schwartz, who worked for Wisconsin Citizen Action as its canvas director and will serve as the new group's field director. Awais Khaleel, a member of the DNC, is the group's operations director.

Tate said the group may do direct mail and could weigh in on elections. Tate said the group's organization will allow it to do independent expenditures. There are also no limits on the contributions it can accept, though the group will file disclosures.

The liberal-leaning One Wisconsin Now has become a media hub on progressive issues through blogs, press releases and other mediums. The Greater Wisconsin Committee has also been a heavy player in Dem elections through outside ads, mainly through TV.

Advancing Wisconsin seems set up to fill a third role for Dems as an organizing outfit to round out their election efforts. It also could be a player this fall in helping Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

"We're very much a door-to-door operation," Tate said.

See the Advancing Wisconsin Web site.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:01 PM 

Lawton again pledges support to Obama

While taking time to praise Hillary Clinton for her presidential campaign, Lt. Gov. Barb Lawton again pledged her support of Barack Obama this fall, saying Dems could not afford to allow John McCain to become president.

Lawton, who co-chaird Clinton's Wisconsin and Midwest campaigns, said Obama wants to restore the promise of a great democracy, while portraying McCain as a continuation of the failed policies of the Bush Administration.

"We can't have four more years with a president that thinks the economy is a faith-based initiative," she said.

Lawton got a dig in on GOP Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to start her speech. Van Hollen was criticized in recent weeks after his staff discussed whether he should have a security detail during the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis later this summer. After the news broke, Van Hollen said he did not plan to have any security accompany him to the convention.

DPW Chair Joe Wineke got the joke rolling by telling the crowd, "I can't blame him. I wouldn't trust those damn Republicans anyway."

Lawton came to the stage to the "Pink Panther" theme, accompanied by a "security detail." Lawton said she thought he'd need security for his trip to "Lake Wobegon, Minnesota."

"My staff wanted nothing less for me," she said.

Listen to Lawton's speech

-- By JR Ross

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 10:01 PM 

Feingold urges Obama to promise guaranteed health care, says he needs to win Wisconsin

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Middleton, said that likely Dem presidential nominee Barack Obama should expand his propsed health care plan.

Feingold said no one would fight stronger for Obama than him, but said that he wants Obama to "fight for guaranteed health care for every single American." Obama currently proposes an opt-in health care plan.

Feingold also told the delegates that they have to work hard to put Obama in the White House.

"If Barack Obama loses Wisconsin," Feingold said, "he loses the presidency. It's as simple as that."

Feingold said likely Republican nominee John McCain is not a "given" victory just because of anti-Republican sentiment.

Feingold also addressed criticism that he waited too long by endorsing Obama following his assured delegate victory. Feingold said he couldn't endorse someone against Clinton and her historic run for president, and that he respected her too much.

Feingold slammed General Motors for announcing the closing of the plant in his hometown of Janesville, saying the company turned its back on people who made a great product.

Listen to the speech.


-- By Matt Dolbey

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 9:59 PM 

Obey remembers Russert, blasts Bush

House Appropriations Chair Dave Obey says voters who thought there wasn't a dime's difference between the two parties should examine the $40 billion shifted from George Bush's priorities to the nation's priorities in the new Democratic Congress.

"In 144 days we will change the direction of this country by electing Barack Obama to replace the most befuddled and disastrous president in American history," Obey said. "He has been stiffing not only the Congress but the American people as well."

The longtime 7th CD U.S. Rep. ran through a laundry list of government programs, particularly in education, health care and medical research, targeted for cuts or elimination by the Bush Administration.

He also blasted the Iraq War not just for its administration, but for the lack of shared sacrifice by the nation as a whole. He called for fully funding the G.I. Bill and providing health care for life for veterans.

Obey opened his speech with a moment of silence for NBC News' Tim Russert, who passed away earlier today.

"It is a body blow to this entire country," Obey said of Russert's death. "Tim was one of those newsmen who maintained a devotion to delivering hard news."


-- By Andy Szal

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 9:48 PM 

Kind touts Obama, recalls floods

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind told convention-goers that Barack Obama's message of change resonates with people because Obama talks about "change we can control."

Kind discussed themes of individualism, saying that Americans could eat right and drive the speed limit easier than government could implement a health care or energy program.

He illustrated his point by discussing the selflessness of emergency officials and citizens in the wake of devastating floods in his district. He talked about the "heartbreaking" stories he has heard, but also told two stories of complete strangers helping flood victims in La Farge, Wis., yesterday.

Kind cautioned against taking John McCain for granted, arguing that Obama's message of community and change were necessary to stop four more years of the Bush Administration.

"It's a message we need to hear," Kind said.


-- By Andy Szal

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 9:32 PM 

Baldwin urges Clinton supporters to back Obama

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who backed Clinton throughout the primary, implored Democrats to support Barack Obama.

She listed his positions on issues such as health care, the war in Iraq and abortion in trying to convince Clinton supporters that they must join her and Clinton in "enthusiastically endorsing the candidacy of Barack Obama and working our hearts out to assure his election as the next president of the United States."

She said that she and Clinton share an "unshakable" commitment to health care for all and the belief that a women becoming president is not only possible, but inevitable.

Baldwin quoted President Gerald Ford's first speech upon taking office, in which he said "our long national nightmare is over."

"Little did anyone know, the worst was yet to come," Baldwin said.

Baldwin called the last eight years on Bush and Cheney and the "most destructive, debilitating and demoralizing in memory, and perhaps even history."

"The next Jan. 20, this long national nightmare will be over," she said.

Listen to Baldwin's speech
-- By David Wise

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 9:32 PM 

Kagen: Republicans don't belong in government

U.S. Rep Steve Kagen said Republicans deserve to be kept out of government for "centuries to come" because of the problems he said they have caused.

Kagen railed against what he called the "borrow and spend" policies of Bush and Cheney and held the Democratic Party as the party of "peace and prosperity."

Kagen said Dems will "send those Republicans packing home" in November.

"They don't belong in Washington, they don't belong in our statehouses, they don't belong in our local governments for centuries to come for what they've done to out country," Kagen said.

Kagen, a doctor, stressed the need for universal healthcare, saying healthcare is the only area where discrimination is still allowed.

"If you're a citizen you should be in," Kagen said "If it's in your body it should be covered."

Listen to the audio here

-- By David Wise


 8:28 PM 

Sass seeks to end "unawareness" of Treasurer's office

State Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass began her speech to delegates by clarifying her job description.

"It's the Department of Revenue that collects taxes," Sass joked. "We give the money out."

Sass said her first two years on the job have begun to "put an end to our unawareness program" surrounding her state office. She listed the increased visibility of the EdVest college savings program and the state's unclaimed property department. She also touted her participation in a "social marketing initiative" to increase financial literacy in the state.

Listen to the audio here
-- By Andy Szal

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 8:26 PM 

Decker praises Senate accomplishments

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, took the stage to tout the accomplishments of the Senate since retaking the majority in 2006, and to stress the importance of building on that year's success.

Decker singled out the UW growth agenda and closing corporate loopholes, as well as their status as "one of the only legislative bodies in the country" to pass comprehensive health care reform.

He emphasized the possibility that 2008 could see Wisconsin "elect three women to the state Senate," citing the candidacies of Tara Johnson, Alison Page and Jessica King.

Listen to audio of Decker's speech here

-- By Andy Szal

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 8:18 PM 

Assembly leaders stress "three"

Rep. Jim Kreuser, D-Kenosha, addressed the convention as Assembly Dem leader for the fifth and final time, appearing with Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, who has taken charge of campaign efforts for the minority.

Kreuser, who will depart the Assembly after winning election as Kenosha County executive on Tuesday, said he stayed on as minority leader in order to keep the party united while his potential replacements helped guide the fall campaign.

"The last time this happened, the Democrats won 58 seats in the state Assembly," Kreuser said.

Kreuser and Pocan eached stressed the number three in their speeches, which is the number of seats needed to flip the Assembly this fall. One of the more popular stickers that delegates sported Friday night had a blue state of Wisconsin with a plus sign and the number three in white.

Pocan said Dems have recruited candidates in more Assembly districts than for any election in the last 24 years.

"We are in the midst of having a perfect storm," Pocan said of Dem chances in the Assembly. "We have a 99-district strategy in Wisconsin."

Listen to Kreuser and Pocan addressing delegates: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/080613KreuserPocan.mp3


-- By Andy Szal

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 8:14 PM 

Dems move to strip delegate status of Clinton supporter turned McCain backer

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin began the process Friday of stripping the delegate status of a Hillary Clinton support who publicly announced that she would back presumptive GOP nominee John McCain this fall.

Debra Bartoshevich was selected from the state's 1st CD this spring to be a Clinton delegate at the party's national convention in Denver this August.

Her announcement was the early buzz of the convention Friday as Dems expressed disbelief that one of their own would back McCain publicly.

DPW Chair Joe Wineke announced news of her decision to the convention, prompting boos and hisses from the audience. The party then introduced a resolution to show the delegates' support for the motion, imploring delegates to back what he said was a needed step to "send the message that the Democrats of the state of Wisconsin will never support someone who supports John McCain."

The motion was approved overwhelmingly. Only one person voice opposition the motion to suspend convention rules to take it up.

DNC member Jason Rae told the crowd the party can challenge Bartoshevich's status as as a delegate because of party rules that require all delegates to be "bona fide Democrats" and said she no longer qualified because of her support of McCain. He also said rules prohibit delegates from supporting someone other than the party's nominee.

He said the state party would file the challenge next week with the DNC.

Bartoshevich did not return a message WisPolitics left Friday night at her Waterford home.

-- By JR Ross

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 8:05 PM 

Taylor: Plant trees, get rid of Bushes

Sen. Lena Taylor said that while she did not win her bid for Milwaukee County executive, her run helped "till the soil" in order to help Barack Obama win the White House and Democrats make gains in the state.

Taylor said it was time for change and "to plant some trees and get rid of the Bushes."

Taylor employed fellow Dems to unite around Obama, and work in their local communities to help local Dems pick up seats.

"United we can do it," Taylor said. "We can't take more of the same."

Before her speech, Taylor led convention goers in a chant of "I say demo, you say crat!" for several rounds.


-- By David Wise

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 8:00 PM 

Kagen: Republicans don't belong in government

U.S. Rep Steve Kagen said Republicans deserve to be kept out of government for "centuries to come" because of the problems he said they have caused.

Kagen railed against what he called the "borrow and spend" policies of Bush and Cheney and held the Democratic Party as the party of "peace and prosperity."

Kagen said Dems will "send those Republicans packing home" in November.

"They don't belong in Washington, they don't belong in our statehouses, they don't belong in our local governments for centuries to come for what they've done to out country," Kagen said.

Kagen, a doctor, stressed the need for universal healthcare, saying healthcare is the only area discrimination is still allowed.

"If you're a citizen you should be in," Kagen said "If it's in your body it should be covered."

Listen to Kagen's speech

-- By David Wise

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 7:45 PM 

Barrett: Our soul is strong

Repeating a common refrain for the night Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called for Dems to unite behind Barack Obama.

Barrett noted that he decided to back Obama 14 months ago, and said people thought he was crazy. Now, he quipped, they ask him for stock tips

Barrett said Americans are now "beginning to understand the we will have a nominee that will unite this country and bring back hope to a generation that has lost hope in this country."

After what he called a "long and historic primary season," Barrett said Republicans are wrong in describing the party as bruised and battered

"Our soul is strong and we know what's at stake in November," Barrett said.

Barrett touched on a number bread and butter Dem issues and said it is time to elect Obama to the White House and more Democrats to the state Assembly and Senate and to Congress.

"Our job is to be united," Barrett said.

-- By David Wise

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 7:42 PM 

Wineke calls for unity

In a call for unity, DPW Chairman Joe Wineke said Clinton and Obama were the two best candidates the party has seen and fought an "epic battle" that one had to win.

"We will be united as a Democratic Party in this state and in this country moving on," Wineke said

Wineke said that while he won't seek a third two-year term next year, his goals before he leaves are getting Barack Obama into the White House, getting U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen re-elected, and defeating U.S. Reps. Paul Ryan and Jim Sensenbrenner.

Wineke pointed to gains in the last election, noting Dems have the majority in the Senate and are three seats away from controlling the Assembly. Wineke predicted further gains this year.

"We're going to win eight to 10 seats in the State Assembly, and we're never going to look back again," Wineke said to loud applause. "We're going to take back this state, we're going to take back this country, and the world is going to respect America again."

Before making his remarks, Wineke ordered delegates from the 8th CD to move from the back of the room to the front as a reward for helping win the seat for Kagen. The seating was arranged starting with the 1st CD in the first section and the 8th CD in the back.

-- By David Wise

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 7:18 PM 

SEIU bus tour hits DPW convo

Representatives of SEIU brought their purple "Road to American Health Care" bus into Stevens Point for a press conference on health care to kick off the convention.

Union members targeted the fall election to end "the Bush-McCain nightmare" on health care, and to increase their efforts after the election.

Rep. Donna Seidel blasted Assembly Republicans for ignoring health care during their time in the majority, arguing that the state's small businesses and farmers "have nowhere to turn" for health care. She called the location in Stevens Point ideal for a debate on health care, saying, "Our rural neighbors are uninsured at even higher rates."

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker used the occasion to tout the Healthy Wisconsin plan. He said that last session's Senate approval of the universal care plan "the first time... we've actually had a good, sound, thorough debate about Healthy Wisconsin and health care."


-- By Andy Szal

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 7:18 PM 

Halverson: Dems Among Friends in Portage County

Following the reports of the party committees, the group of 460 delegates and guests received welcomes from Portage County Co-Chair Lois Lawler and Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson.

Halverson pointed to high vote levels in support of John Kerry in 2004 and Jim Doyle in 2006 in Portage County and told those assembled "in Portage County, Democrats are, to say the least among friends."


-- By David Wise

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 6:48 PM 

We're here

We made it. Finally.

It was a little bit of an adventure getting to Stevens Point, but we managed.

Our Milwaukee bureau chief David Wise left Milwaukee at 11:45 a.m. to pick up the rest of us in Madison. But the trip took him three hours with I-94 closed at Johnson Creek.

With I-90/94 north of Madison closed due to high water at state highway 33, the state party recommended heading up 151 to 49 at Wapaun and then heading into Stevens Point on U.S. 10.

Interestingly, the route took us through Ripon, birthplace of the Republican Party.

-- By JR Ross

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 1:59 PM 

Convention off to a typical start, despite the weather

DPW spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson said road conditions have not affected convention turnout thus far, and that people are attending meetings and setting up vendor booths just as they would normally.

"It's definitely what we expect for this time of day," Strauch-Nelson said. "People are coming in."

She added that no speakers have cancelled their scheduled appearances, but did not have an indication of changes in overall turnout.

"I imagine it would to some extent," she said of flooding's effects on delegate attendance, which is expected to pick up later this afternoon and evening.


-- By Andy Szal

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 11:01 AM 

WisPolitics.com staging straw poll on VP, 2010 AG races

WisPolitics is conducting a straw poll at both party conventions this year. Results from the May 16-17 GOP straw poll can be found here.

The following are the rules for this year's poll:

-- A list of possible candidates will appear in alphabetical order on a paper ballot for each question. A write-in spot will follow.

-- All convention delegates, alternates, and official guests will be eligible to vote. Only one vote may be cast per person. WisPolitics staff will stamp the credentials of all voters and use other means to ensure nobody votes more than once.

-- Ballots with more than one name marked will not be counted. Ballots with an illegible write-in name will not be counted. WisPolitics will be the sole judge as to whether a ballot should be counted.

-- The results will be counted by WisPolitics staff and released at www.wispolitics.com on the Saturday of the convention.

Here are this year's questions for Democrats:


WisPolitics.com Straw Poll Ballot
DPW Convention 2008


Who would you like to see Barack Obama select as his vice presidential nominee?

_ Evan Bayh
_ Michael Bloomberg
_ Joe Biden
_ Wesley Clark
_ Hillary Clinton
_ Tom Daschle
_ Chris Dodd
_ John Edwards
_ Chuck Hagel
_ Tim Kaine
_ Claire McCaskill
_ Janet Napolitano
_ Sam Nunn
_ Ed Rendell
_ Bill Richardson
_ Brian Schweitzer
_ Kathleen Sebelius
_ Ted Strickland
_ Mark Warner
_ Jim Webb
_ _______ (Write In)


If a 2010 primary for attorney general were being held today, which Democrat would you choose to be the party’s nominee?

_ Brian Blanchard
_ John Chisholm
_ Kathleen Falk
_ Matt Frank
_ Ron Kind
_ Peg Lautenschlager
_ Marc Marotta
_ Jon Richards
_ _______ (Write In)

One vote per person, only ballots with one candidate marked will be counted.

This poll is in no way endorsed by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

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 10:20 AM 

DPW advising alternate routes to Stevens Point

Dem Party chair Joe Wineke said this morning that DPW is looking for alternate routes to central Wisconsin due to major highway closures in the state.

Wineke said the party will try to reach out to members to advise them of ways to travel to the convention. DPW suggested a possible alternate to avoid I-39 from Madison -- they advocated taking U.S. 151 to WIS 49, followed by taking U.S. 10 into Stevens Point.

Wisconsin Emergency Management is advising motorists traveling between the Twin Cities and Chicago to use I-94 to WIS 29 to I-43 to I-94. Motorists wanting to travel to the Northwoods from Chicago are told to use I-94 to I-43 to WIS 29 to I-39.

See the latest on road closures from the state Dept. of Transportation: http://dot.wi.gov/travel/incident-alerts.htm

See a Wisconsin Emergency Management update on road closures: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=128649

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 9:48 AM 

Wineke predicts big things for Dems this fall

State Dem Chair Joe Wineke said his party is confident it will meet this year's election goals: gaining a majority of the Assembly, building the majority in the Senate and winning the state for Barack Obama.

"We're feeling very good in June about where we're at," Wineke said in advance of the state Dem Party convention this weekend in Stevens Point "We know we're going to get everything but the kitchen sink thrown at us."

Wineke joined Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, and Rep. Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, in a conference call with reporters to preview the convention this weekend -- an event being bypassed by Obama.

Wineke 8th CD incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen has strengthened his position in the district after some early missteps. He also noted GOP opponent John Gard's diminished stature after two years away from the Assembly speaker's office, as well as his support for the Bush administration.

"We're going to wrap George Bush around John Gard's arms this year," Wineke said. "I like our chances there in a big way."

Lassa, whose district will host the convention, said Senate Dems can create a historic opportunity by building on the successes in 2006. Lassa said winning the party's targeted Senate races, especially against Sen. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, would "build the kind of majority that can be proactive on issues that people really care about."

Seidel also expressed confidence for Assembly prospects this fall, noting that 12 Assembly Republicans currently represent districts carried by either Gov. Jim Doyle or U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold.

Wineke added that positioning the convention in Stevens Point represents a concerted effort to move the Dem Party into different parts of the state. He noted that next year's convention will continue that pattern in Green Bay and said he hoped to secure Eau Claire as the location for the 2010 convention.


-- By Andy Szal

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

 4:59 PM 

Obama: D.C. policies to blame for faltering economy

Just a day before Democrats convene to rally around his candidacy after a divisive primary campaign, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama stopped in Kaukauna to highlight his economic stimulus plans.

At a town hall meeting in front of roughly 1,700 in the Kaukauna High School gymnasium, Obama said claims that he is a "tax-and-spend liberal" are "just not true."

After eight years of the Bush administration, Obama said, Americans are working harder and bringing home less.

He warned that electing Republican John McCain will be a continuation of Bush's "tired and outdated" economic policies that "value wealth but not the work that creates it."

State GOP Chair Reince Priebus countered in a conference call with reporters that he was happy to see Obama begin to detail his economic policies because the public will finally get the chance to see that he plans to raise taxes on everything from income and capital gains to Social Security and energy.

Obama took questions for about half an hour, and vowed that Badger State voters will be seeing more of him.

"I will be back in Wisconsin. We are going to win Wisconsin," he said.

*See more WisPolitcs coverage: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=128588

*Watch WisPolitics video of Obama discussing Midwestern flooding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPgjTnvse3c

*Listen to WisPolitics audio of the event: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Content=173


-- By Greg Bump

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 12:22 PM 

Poll shows Obama with early lead on McCain

In the inaugural UW Dept. of Political Science/WisPolitics.com survey taken immediately after Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign, Barack Obama leads John McCain by a 13-percentage point margin in the Badger state.

The survey of 506 randomly selected probable voters was conducted by phone from June 8- June 10 under the direction of Charles Franklin and Ken Goldstein from the University of Wisconsin Department of Political Science (www.polisci.wisc.edu). It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Consistent with evidence from other national surveys, the study paints a picture of a hostile political environment in the swing state of Wisconsin for Republicans in 2008. Eight in 10 Wisconsin voters think the country is going in the wrong direction, President George W. Bush has a favorability rating of only 30 percent, 66 percent believe that the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, and the top two issue concerns are the economy and getting U.S. soldiers out of Iraq.

Wisconsin was a key battleground in the presidential contests of 2000 and 2004 and saw extraordinarily tight contests in both years. Al Gore beat George W. Bush by 5,708 votes (0.2 percent) in 2000, and John Kerry bested Bush by 11,384 votes in 2004 (0.38 percent). Goldstein points out, "In both 2000 and 2004, party attachments in the state were virtually identical with equal numbers of voters identifying with the Democrats and the GOP. One of the striking results in this poll and consistent with other survey work I have done in the state, the Democrats now enjoy a major advantage in party identification." In the study, 38 percent of probable voters identified with the Democrats and 24 percent with Republicans.

Obama has very strong favorable ratings with 64 percent of Wisconsin probable voters saying they have a favorable opinion and 32 percent having an unfavorable opinion. McCain also has relatively strong favorables, too, at 53 percent to 44 percent. Obama is seen as the candidate to bring about change (70 percent to McCain's 42 percent) while McCain is seen as the experienced candidate (84 percent to Obama's 43 percent). Still, as the evidence shows, McCain faces a stiff headwind in Wisconsin

Party polarization is a striking feature of Wisconsin opinion at this time with 87 percent of Democrats and 89 percent of Republicans saying they would vote for their party's nominee if the election were held today. "For all the talk about a new politics, the electorate is sharply split,'' said Franklin. Among independents, Obama holds a nine-point lead, 46 percent to 37 percent for McCain with 17 percent undecided.

See the poll:
http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=128513

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

 4:42 PM 

Doyle to keynote convention

Gov. Jim Doyle, as the state's top ranking Democrat and a top national Obama surrogate during the primary season, will serve as the convention's keynote speaker Friday evening.

DPW chairman Joe Wineke said efforts had been made to get Obama himself, but he said he's heard the presumptive nominee will be heading off for a few days of rest and relaxation next weekend after a grueling campaign season.

The state's Dem congressional contingent will also speak on Friday night, except for U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, who will take a Saturday morning speaking spot.

Other Friday night speakers include: departing Assembly Minority Leader Jim Kreuser and Rep. Mark Pocan, Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, State Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass,and Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton.

Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson and Portage County Dem chairwoman Lois Lawler will be the first to address Wisconsin Dems.

Doyle, Feingold, U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, the Assembly Democrats and Kagen will host hospitality suites Friday night. Kohl hosts a breakfast hospitality suite Saturday morning.

Friday afternoon at the convention will be taken up by caucus meetings, with the party's LGBT, Hispanic, black, American Indian and women's caucuses gathering separately at 5 p.m. The county chairs will also meet at 4 p.m. Friday.

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 12:19 PM 

Top Clinton backers already behind Obama

Barack Obama doesn't have to do anything to win over Hillary Clinton supporters Barbara Lawton and Kathleen Falk.

They're already on board.

With the Dems' primary season now over and Clinton preparing to throw her support behind Obama tomorrow, the party's presumptive nominee is now starting to work on winning over his rival's supporters after a bitter campaign that exposed some rifts in the party. Polls in recent primary states showed a significant portion of Clinton's backers unwilling to vote for Obama this fall, while images of Clinton supporters outraged over the handling of the disputed primaries in Michigan and Florida dominated cable news last weekend.

But the lieutenant governor, who was co-chair of Clinton's Wisconsin and Midwest campaigns, and the Dane County exec, who was one of the first Wisconsin public officials to back Clinton, say they're already prepared to do what they can for Obama this fall.

Lawton admitted disappointment among Clinton supporters. But she said it's time to move on.

"I just have a very clear sense of purpose that I need to get to work, and I have already in talking to people and saying, 'Get over it, let the swelling go down and come to work,' because we simply must ensure that the havoc that has been wrought in our state and other states across the nation by eight years of a Bush administration doesn't continue under the name of John McCain," Lawton said.

Falk, who often acted as a surrogate for Clinton in the week leading up to Wisconsin's Feb. 19 primary and campaigned for her in Iowa, said while Dems are passionate, she hasn't met any Clinton supporters so upset over how the primary-caucus season played out that they won't back Obama. She also said the prolonged nomination fight energized Dems like never before.

Falk said she'd be thrilled and excited if Clinton were tapped to be Obama's running mate, but she expects the New York senator to be involved in this fall's campaign regardless of who gets the nod for the No. 2 spot on the ticket and said she continues to focus on the positives of Clinton's prez campaign.

"She has shattered a really big glass ceiling. I am grateful for that," Falk said.

See more: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=128393

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 5:52 PM 

8th CD, legislative races highlight convo

A focus of the Dem convention will be the fall legislative races, with the Senate Dems trying to hold on to a three-vote majority and the Assembly Dems feeling optimistic about overcoming a 52-47 GOP majority.

State Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, who's leading the charge for the fall Assembly campaigns, said some of the candidates will be on hand Friday night at the convention. He said the party faithful are energized.

"People get that if we have a clean sweep of the Senate, Assembly and governor we can have some decent policy stuff moving," he said. "The volume of candidates speaks to the excitement that's out there."

Wineke said the Dems have 90-plus candidates for the Assembly and may field candidates in all 99 districts.

Besides the presidential and legislative contests, Wineke said an emphasis of the convention will be the 8th Congressional District race between incumbent Dem Steve Kagen and Republican challenger John Gard. Kagen narrowly defeated the former Assembly speaker two years ago, and the race is among the top targets for Republicans nationally.

Wineke said there will be a big push at the convention to participate in the party's neighborhood volunteer project, which enlists Dems to visit 25 people in their neighborhoods identified as undecided voters. There will also be a workshop on Saturday on how to register voters.

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 2:33 PM 

State Dems seek unity after bruising nomination fight

State Democratic Party Chairman Joe Wineke isn't worried about hurt feelings tainting this weekend's Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention in Stevens Point.

"The end of an election is a little bit like a funeral," he said, referring to the finale of New York U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton's bid for the party's presidential nomination. Her opponent, Illinois U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, locked up the nomination last week.

"These things don't heal overnight, but the fact that it's done now in early June instead of late August is a good thing.

"I'm hoping Senator Clinton does the type of job it sounds like she's going to do (in her concession speech) on Saturday on party unity," Wineke said. "But I like to say that we have the greatest unifying force in the world right now, and that's George W. Bush."

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 9:48 AM 

Dems take their turn in Stevens Point

Four weeks ago, state Republicans headed to Stevens Point for their annual convention.

This weekend, the Democrats take their turn at the same location in the same city. Both parties based their decisions to head to Point on its central location, but it's more of a Dem town.

Congressman Dave Obey, the House Appropriations chair, represents Portage County in Congress.

State Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, represents the area in the state Senate. And the state reps in Lassa's district are all Dems -- Vruwink, Molepske and Schneider.

Stevens Point is home to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where the late Lee Sherman Dreyfus was chancellor before being elected governor as a Republican.

What else do "Pointers" do?

They've got one of the best golf courses in the state in their community, SentryWorld, and the Korean War Memorial of Wisconsin is nearby. There's also plenty of recreational opportunities, including the Polish Heritage Trail (biking) and the Ice Age Trail (hiking).

And of course, tours of the Point Brewery are available.

In addition to geography, Stevens Point boasts another honor -- a recent ranking by Relocate-America.com as one of the top 10 places to live in America. Appleton was the only other Wisconsin city named in the 'Top 100 Places to Live'.

See convention details from DPW: http://www.wisdems.org/ht/d/sp/i/1015605/pid/1015605

The convo hotel is the Holiday Inn and Convention Center.

Here's a map of the area

See more on Stevens Point attractions

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Updates from WisPolitics.com on Wisconsin's participation in Democratic conventions.

Editor: JR Ross
Reporters: Chris Thompson, David Wise

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