• WisPolitics

Saturday, June 13, 2009

 2:46 PM 

WisPolitics: Dem activists favor Lawton next year if Doyle doesn't run

Contact: JR Ross
(608) 669-8418

GREEN BAY -- Wisconsin Democratic activists favored Lt. Gov. Barb Lawton to be the party's candidate for governor next year if Gov. Jim Doyle opts against seeking a third term, according to the annual convention straw poll conducted by WisPolitics.com.

Party activists were also asked whether they believed Scott Walker or Mark Neumann would be more beatable as the GOP gubernatorial candidate next year. Walker, the Milwaukee County executive, received 124 votes, compared to 90 for Neumann, a home builder and former congressman from southeastern Wisconsin.

Eighty-two attendees said they would back Lawton if Doyle doesn't run next year, while 33 favored Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Twenty-nine picked state Sen. Jon Erpenbach of Waunakee, while 28 favored U.S. Rep. Ron Kind of La Crosse.

At last year's convention, Dem activists favored Hillary Clinton as Barack Obama's running mate and backed former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager as the candidate they would most like to see challenge current AG J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican.

In this year's WisPolitics straw poll at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention in Green Bay, 214 valid ballots were cast by convention delegates, alternates and official guests. There were more than 700 official attendees at the convention, according to the DPW.

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.

214 total ballots cast

1) If Gov. Jim Doyle doesn't run for re-election next year, which politician would you support in the 2010 party primary?
--Barb Lawton 82
--Tom Barrett 33
--Jon Erpenbach 29
--Ron Kind 28
--Kathleen Falk 18
--Russ Decker 8
--Mike Sheridan 2
Write-in votes, 14 total

2) Which of the top two likely Republican candidates for governor next year would be the most beatable?
--Scott Walker 124
--Mark Neumann 90


 1:06 PM 

Two polls differ on Doyle vs. GOP opponents

A new poll released by Raleigh, N.C.-based Public Policy Polling shows Gov. Jim Doyle trailing both prospective GOP opponents in next year's gubernatorial race. But a poll commissioned by liberal blog Daily Kos gives the incumbent double-digit leads on both Scott Walker and Mark Neumann.

According to the poll by PPP, a Dem polling firm, Doyle trails Walker 48 percent to 40 percent head-to-head, and Neumann 42-41. The poll also shows Doyle with an approval rating of just 34 percent. The poll shows 33 percent of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of Walker and 26 percent have one of Neumann.

PPP surveyed 580 Wisconsin voters on June 9 and 10 by automated phone calls. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percent.

Thirty-nine percent of the poll respondents identified themselves as conservatives, 39 percent said they were moderates, and 22 percent liberals. Forty-two percent called themselves Dems, while 32 percent identified as Republicans and 26 percent as independent/other.

See the polling memo and press release:

The Daily Kos poll, released Friday, showed Doyle ahead of Walker 48-36 and ahead of Neumann 49-35. Doyle had a favorable rating of 43 and an unfavorable rating of 45 in the Kos poll; half of the sample had no opinion of Walker, while one-third had no opinion of Neumann.

The poll also has Doyle just behind former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson, who has said he might consider another run.

Thompson's 47-45 lead over Doyle was well within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Thompson's favorable rating was 54 percent, compared to an unfavorable rating of 36 percent.

The poll of likely voters was conducted by Research 2000 June 8-10.

The survey also found Lt. Gov. Barb Lawton with similar numbers when paired up with the three Republicans. She led Walker (44-35) and Neumann (43-35) while trailing Thompson (46-44).

The survey also paired up U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold head-to-head with GOP U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and former GOP U.S. Rep. Mark Green. Feingold had double-digit leads in both questions, though neither Republican has expressed an interest in running against him.

See the write up on the survey:

-- By Greg Bump


 12:17 PM 

Convention comes to a close

New DPW Chair Mike Tate has officially closed this year's convention.

He also announced that next year's convention is expected to be in Eau Claire.

A party official said there were 797 delegates, alternates and registered guests this year.

-- By JR Ross


 12:15 PM 

Boyle doesn't miss early morning votes

Former Rep. Frank Boyle came down to Green Bay to see some of the people he misses from his days in the Legislature -- or as he calls them, the "crazy renegades."

As for the actual legislative process, however, the longtime Superior Democrat, who left the Legislature in January, doesn't miss the 5 a.m. votes on the budget.

"I didn't miss that at all," Boyle said. "It shouldn't be that way."

Boyle has otherwise been enjoying what he called "an incredibly positive retirement."

He and his wife joined the Sierra Club on a three-month journey through the remote mountains of New Mexico, and he has since taken up working on his cabin and pontoon boat.

He's also serving as a "messenger boy" for his son, who's running for a seat on the Duluth City Council, and has stayed involved in local politics, from taking phone calls from the Assembly floor to hosting an event for the Douglas County Dems later this month at his home.

"If need be, I'll step forward," Boyle added. "I'll go to a podium any time."

Listen to the interview with Boyle here.

-- By Andy Szal


 10:44 AM 

Delegates elect Tate, Schroeder, other officers by voice vote

Delegates elected Mike Tate chair and Melissa Schroeder vice chair this morning by voice vote as Lena Taylor's attempts to retain her post as the party's No. 2 leader failed to materialize.

Taylor had hoped to mount a write-in campaign to keep her 1st vice chair post, which she's held for the past two years. She failed to turn her papers in by the party deadline, keeping her off the ballot. But she showed up this weekend encouraging delegates to cross Schroeder's name off the ballot and write hers in.

The party did nominations and seconds for those candidates who had filed to run by the deadline, including Tate, Schroeder, Jef Hall for re-election as 2nd vice-chair, Angela Sutkiewicz for re-election as party secretary and Michael Childers for re-election as party treasurer

Following the nominations and candidate speeches, a delegate moved unanimous consent from the convention to elect the candidates who had met the deadline and properly filed out their paperwork.

No one raised any objections to the motion, and it passed on a voice vote.

UPDATE: Taylor said after the vote that the party made it clear in its actions that it was not going to allow delegates to "vote their opinion." She decided against objecting to the unanimous consent motion and instead said she wanted to focus on moving the party forward.

"We decided to do a graceful exit and keep the party unified," Taylor said.

-- By JR Ross


 10:42 AM 

Tate takes shot at Republicans, pledges to outwork other side

Dems have worked too hard to go back to the days of tax breaks for the rich, torturing our political prisoners, and discriminating against gays and lesbians, Mike Tate told delegates following his nomination as DPW chair.

"We are not going back!" Tate declared as he addressed the convention for the first time as a nominee for party chair.

Tate showed a video to the convention that recounted his experience working for various campaigns around Wisconsin and followed it by pledging to "knock on more doors, raise more money from more people" and activate more volunteers than the other side.

"We are going to outwork, outcommunicate and straight up beat down any Republican who gets in our way," Tate promised.

He also had a message for Scott Walker and Mark Neumann, one of whom could be the GOP nominee for governor next year. He called both of them retread, failed leaders who don't offer any new ideas or new solutions.

"If I have to knock on every door of every voter of Wisconsin myself, I will do that just so they know how incompetent the both of you are," Tate said.

Listen to the speech.

-- By JR Ross


 10:28 AM 

Baldwin tied up in DC

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, was scheduled to follow Sen. Kohl on this morning's agenda.

But she was in committee late last night and couldn't get a flight that would deliver her in time for her speaking slot, a party official said.

-- By JR Ross


 10:26 AM 

Kohl calls GOP party of no

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl told delegates that what's left of the Republican Party is now on radio and TV constantly saying no to the Dems' agenda.

Kohl said the GOP is saying no to protecting the environment, reforming the financial system and overhauling health care.

"The American people are tired of the party of 'no'," Kohl said.

"Americans have been hoping and waiting for solutions for too long. Now is the time to bring the results that people are hungry for."

Kohl told delegates there is nothing "more important to the future of our country economically and morally" than solving the health care crisis, pledging Dems would finish the task.

Kohl thanked the crowd for helping to turn Wisconsin from purple to "true blue" and helping to end eight years of Republican rule. He said the effort is now underway to improve the country's image around the world and that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were working to extend a hand of peace.

"The United States is once again becoming a shining city on the hill to people all over the globe," Kohl said.

Listen to the speech.

-- By JR Ross


 10:22 AM 

Kohl calls July hearings on Sotomayor fair

Sen. Herb Kohl said he believes the July 13 date Dems have selected to begin confirmation hearings on the appointment of Judge Sonia Sotomayor is appropriate and that his side has provide a "reasonable accommodation" for Republicans.

GOP senators have complained Dems are trying to rush the nomination process to meet what they say is President Obama's arbitrary deadline of having her seated before the court's August recess. Republicans had pushed for hearings in September.

Kohl, a member of the Judiciary Committee that will hold hearings on the nomination, said he believed Republicans wanted to push off the hearings in the hopes that they could find something to pin on her.

"They're entitled to exercise whatever rights they have to try and slow it down, but we think we're being fair," said Kohl, who serves on the committee along with fellow Dem Sen. Russ Feingold of Middleton.

Kohl said he didn't want to pre-judge her nomination before the hearings, but he called Sotomayor "very impressive" and said he hoped she would be confirmed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority.

Listen to the short interview.

-- By JR Ross


 9:57 AM 

Nelson goes straight from budget to convention

Rep. Tom Nelson, D-Kaukauna, is the first of an assuredly exhausted Assembly Democratic caucus to make it to the Green Bay convention. But even though his hometown is on the way from Madison, the majority leader wasn't able to catch any sleep after the budget vote at about 5:15 a.m.

"I cleaned up my office a little bit, thanked my staff, collected my belongings, got in my car," Nelson said of his morning after the Assembly passed the budget bill. He said he expected at least three other Fox Valley Assembly Dems -- Jim Soletski of Green Bay, Ted Zigmunt of Francis Creek and Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton -- to eventually make it up to the convention.

Nelson said last night's work culminated an entire week of diligent work by Democrats in more than 60 hours of caucusing and chided Republicans for offering no solutions during a difficult time for the state. He accused them of doing nothing more than "taking pot shots at Democrats" and "armchair quarterbacking."

"We knew in November that whichever party won would have to make some tough decisions," Nelson said. "And that the end product would not be without controversy."

Nelson said each member of his caucus had input on the budget bill and added that he got to know his colleagues "very well."

"I think if I were to compare this last budget week, it would be a combination of band camp and math camp," Nelson said.

Listen to the interview here.

-- By Andy Szal


Friday, June 12, 2009

 11:41 PM 

Delegates take in hospitality suites

The delegates have moved to the hospitality suites portion of the evening, with three rooms hosting delegates after the speaking program.

U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen and Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton -- both Fox Valley natives -- hosted a "Hometown Party 2009" ice cream social with bowls of ice cream, a toppings bar and several tables. Kagen also had a flier asking supports to join at a $1,000 per host fundraiser at John Peterson's Appleton law office on June 29.

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold held his annual suite with sloppy joes and other snacks, which had largely cleared out within an hour or so of the suites ramping up.

Most of the delegates still up have made their way to Gov. Jim Doyle's party in Purcell's Lounge in the Oneida Casino. Five piece band The Classic Tawnies are playing in the back corner of the bar. Despite loud applause for Doyle's praise of the statewide smoking ban in his speech earlier, the air is thick with cigarette smoke. The ban, set to take effect next summer, will still not apply to the Ashwaubenon Indian casino -- but the Radisson has numerous signs posted showing that the hotel will go smoke-free starting Monday.

-- By Andy Szal


 11:08 PM 

Hassett '90 percent there' on AG bid

Former DNR Secretary Scott Hassett said he's "90 percent there" on a potential bid for the attorney general's office and will make a final decision around July 1.

Hassett, who said he's been talking to friends, Dems and others about a run since March, said he can't wait much past July 1 to make a decision because of the demands of a statewide bid.

"I'm just taking the temperature and laying the groundwork," Hassett said.

While not officially in the race yet, Hassett has already taken his first hit from the other side.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin put out a statement late Friday afternoon calling Hassett an "unqualified, job killing" candidate for AG. The party took Hassett to task for not being an active member of the Wisconsin Bar, making him ineligible to practice law in the state, and blamed the Department of Natural Resources under his supervision for Menards building distribution centers in Iowa and Ohio and doing expansions in other states instead of Wisconsin.

"First Democrats let prisoners out of jail early, and now they prop up a candidate for Attorney General with no experience as a prosecutor," RPW Executive Director Mark Jefferson said in a statement.

Hassett laughed off the criticism, saying he stopped practicing law when he took the secretary's position and has been looking at other opportunities outside of the field since leaving the post.

He said he's halfway to getting the needed credits to be active again with the bar and wondered if Republicans knew that being an attorney wasn't a requirement to be AG anyway.

He defended his law enforcement credentials, noting the DNR has a law enforcement division roughly the same size as the Department of Justice and pointed to his years in private practice that included hundreds of criminal cases and frequently representing law enforcement on labor issues.

"For more than 20 years, I represented law enforcement as their attorney," Hassett said.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce played a significant role in the 2006 AG campaign, spending big money to help Republican J.B. Van Hollen defeat Dem Kathleen Falk.

A Hassett campaign could create an interesting scenario for WMC, a group his father Paul used to lead more than two decades ago.

Hassett said he's known current WMC President Jim Haney since he was in high school and that Haney not only replaced his father at the business group, but also worked under him when the two of them were in the office of former GOP Gov. Warren Knowles.

"It would be interesting to see what happens," Hassett said.

Listen to the interview.

-- By JR Ross


 9:58 PM 

Doyle says he will sign budget that protects middle class

Gov. Jim Doyle turned reflective in his keynote address to the state convention tonight, recalling all that had transpired in the year since he navigated flood-ravaged roadways to the Stevens Point DPW convention in 2008.

"The citizens of Wisconsin have called on us as Democrats to lead," Doyle said of November's results following a dreadful economic collapse. "We are in an extraordinary position."

Doyle told the delegates that revenue collections in April fell by 35 percent over the year before and that unemployment jumped by 5 percentage points in six months.

"Can you imagine what kind of shape we'd be in today" if the '08 elections had gone differently, Doyle posed to the audience.

"All the Republicans seem to be offering is 'no,'" Doyle said. "No, no, no across the board."

Doyle praised the state budget that was on the Assembly floor as he spoke. He said the state would spend less in GPR than the previous budget for the first time in history and said Republican complaints about spending increases reflect their opposition to the federal stimulus funding.

He added that the budget would protect the middle class from tax increases, maintain education and health care, and "actually go out and help businesses."

"I am about to sign a budget that will dramatically increase the tax credits for research and development," Doyle said.

Doyle closed by reflecting on his parents, who helped found the modern Democratic Party in Wisconsin 41 years ago in Green Bay. He said they were educated during the Great Depression and pledged that Wisconsin would maintain its commitment to children during a much less severe economic climate.

"Even when we have to make hard choices, our choice is the future," Doyle said.

Listen to the speech.

-- By Andy Szal


 9:33 PM 

Woodson surprises delegates

Packers cornerback Charles Woodson told the audience he blew off advice from a former Packer about how much he'd enjoy Green Bay.

"In my mind, I was not coming here," Woodson joked about his free agent signing with the team. But with that former Packer, George Koonce, also in the audience, Woodson introduced Gov. Jim Doyle as one of many people he'd been priviledged to meet since coming to Wisconsin.

"Even though some of you may not know why I'm here, you know why you're governor's here," Woodson said in his surprise introduction to the convention. "You know where his passion lies, and it's the future. And the children are the future."

Woodson praised Doyle's work on education, health care, and job creation, before joking, "While he's doing that he finds time to balance the budget."

-- By Andy Szal


 9:31 PM 

Feingold: Sotomayor proves 'elections matter'

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold used his meeting with Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor to illustrate to Dems that "elections matter."

"We made it possible for this president, with his tremendous understanding of the law, to nominate a justice like Judge Sotomayor," Feingold said, calling her "the next Supreme Court justice."

While calling President Obama's speech in Cairo "one of the greatest speeches I've ever seen in my life," Feingold also said Obama should remove protections for attorneys who cleared torture in the Bush administration, as well as discourage "prolonged detention."

Feingold praised Obama for committing to a public option in health care reform yesterday in Green Bay, saying "the pressure is working" on health care reform in 2009.

Lastly, Feingold asked for help from Dems who led landslide victories in 2006 and 2008, taking a shot at opponent David Westlake for a harsh campaign e-mail sent out this week.

"He says he's David and I'm Goliath," cracked the self-described 5-foot-9 Feingold. "I have never been called Goliath in my entire life."

Listen to the speech.

Watch the speech here.

-- By Andy Szal


 9:20 PM 

Lawton challenges Dems on climate change

Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton challenged Democrats to fulfill their commitment to environmental issues in her floor speech, while mocking Republicans as "gadflies" who are "shouting from the margins."

She urged delegates to maintain pressure on lawmakers on energy and climate change legislation, saying that businesses in Wisconsin can only evolve through a "clear framework of state and national goals."

"Are we going to live up to the DNA of Gaylord Nelson and Aldo Leopold and John Muir?" Lawton asked.

She also asked Dems to help their 1st CD colleagues, chiding Paul Ryan for voting against stimulus money that she said is helping cities devastated by the economy.

"They know that they deserve better than a congressman whose goal was to privatize Social Security," Lawton said of 1st DC Dems. "Let's vow tonight as a state to help them make that necessary change."

Listen to the speech.

-- By Andy Szal


 8:06 PM 

Kagen talks about plane ride with Obama

U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen told the crowd a story about flying on Air Force One with Barack Obama back to Washington, D.C., Thursday after the president's visit to Green Bay to talk about health care.

When the president got off the plane, Kagen said he thanked him for coming and told him he didn't have to go very far to get a health care story.

While waiting for him at the Green Bay airport, Kagen said he spoke with a server named Jeff working in the airport restaurant who said he was putting in 65 hours a week at two jobs but couldn't get health care coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

"Jeff, hope is on the way. We have a president who cares about you," said Kagen, who returned to Green Bay this afternoon.

Kagen also got in some shots on Republicans for "what they have done to our country." He said one of the most daunting tasks for Dems now is to "bring an end to wars that were started by personal vendetta, lies and deception."

He also compared the clean up job now before Dems to what a town faces when the circus has a parade and elephants make their way down the street.

"There's a lot to clean up," he said.

Listen to the speech.

-- By JR Ross


 8:04 PM 

Decker praises Dem accomplishments

Senate Majority Leader told the crowd why he's proud to be a Dem and said the party has worked to protect working families, create jobs and provide tax relief.

"We should concede nothing to the Republicans, nothing," Decker said.

He touted Dem efforts to close corporate loopholes through combined reporting, which the Legislature approved and the governor signed earlier this year as part of a stimulus bill, drawing applause when he said that big corporations were now paying "their fair share."

Decker also contrasted Dem efforts to ensure women equal pay for equal work with what happened under Republican administrations. Pointing out he's now in his fifth term, Decker said former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson commissioned a study on how to break through the glass ceiling, but nothing happened. Likewise when former GOP Gov. Scott McCallum tried to tackle it.

But then Dems won the governor's office in 2002, the Senate in 2006 and the Assembly in 2008.

"We passed it and got it signed into law," Decker said.

Listen to the speech.

-- By JR Ross


 7:30 PM 

Sass says she's running for re-election

State Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass announced this evening that she's running for re-election next year.

Sass was swept into office in 2006 in the Dem wave after spending "$4,700 and change" on her campaign, defeating incumbent Republican Jack Voight.

Sass said her campaign proved that money doesn't necessarily matter in a campaign.

"I am proof you can make the leap from an activist to an office holder," she said.

Sass asked the convention for help with her campaign next year, including her nomination papers.

"If you want to send me a dollar, that'd be great, too," she said.

Listen to the speech.

-- By JR Ross


 7:12 PM 

Hall up $10

The convention center is attached to the Oneida casino, and 2nd Vice Chair Jef Hall said he's up $10 so far. He's also quitting while he's ahead.

He offered a suggestion to delegates who win big this weekend. Anything they win up to $500 should go to their local Assembly candidates, anything after that could go to their Senate candidates and they could work their way up to their congressional candidates.

The suggestion didn't get much of a response.

"I thought it was funnier than that," Hall cracked.

-- By JR Ross


 6:18 PM 

Hansen not happy with some Assembly changes

State Sen. Dave Hansen, a member of the Joint Finance Committee, said he was disappointed by some of the changes the Assembly Dems have made to the budget he helped craft.

But he said he also understands why they did it.

"We're concerned, but they've got to get to 50 votes," said Hansen, D-Green Bay. "Conversely, we've got to get to 17."

Hansen said Senate Dems will likely meet Monday to review what the Assembly did if the budget makes it out of the chamber this weekend.

He said the big changes his counterparts in the Assembly made to the budget include taking out the joint and several provisions -- which he said were "all about the victims " -- and the alterations to the oil franchise fee.

He had some concerns about rules the Assembly Dem caucus approved to change how utility rates change when fuel prices fluctuate and other changes.

His biggest reservation was an amendment to remove a JFC provision that prohibits DOT from getting involved in the "construction, reconstruction, or rehabilitation of a bridge that crosses a river forming a boundary of the state, if the contract for the project is awarded using a design-build procurement process."

Hansen said amendment was done for Rep. Ann Hraychuck of Balsam Lake and pertains to the reconstruction of a bridge over the Mississippi River. He said deleting the provision means Minnesota workers will end up doing the work even though Wisconsin would pick up a significant chunk of its costs.

"Just because we're Democrats doesn't mean we're not independent thinkers," Hansen said.

Still, Hansen said his biggest diappointment was Republicans, who he said failed to offer up any specifics on cuts to balance the budget without raising any taxes. he also said their complaints that the state is raising overall spending in a deficit suggests they wouldn't accept the federal stimulus money that makes up all of that increase with the JFC budget propsing a 3.2 percent cut in GPR spending.

"How deep would their cuts be? What would schools look like if they were in charge?" Hansen said.

"I think they failed miserably."

Listen to the interview.

-- By JR Ross


 6:10 PM 

Packer Charles Woodson to introduce Doyle

The delegates are going to get a surprise speaker tonight.

Green Bay Packers defensive back Charles Woodson will introduce the governor tonight before his keynote speech.

Woodson, an Ohio native who played his college ball at the University of Michigan, is entering his fourth season with the Packers and 12th in the NFL.

See his player profile.

-- By JR Ross


 5:55 PM 

Taylor mounting write-in campaign

Barred under DPW rules from mounting a campaign from the convention floor to retain her party post, state Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee is mounting a write-in campaign to remain 1st vice chair.

Taylor has a booth set up at the convention center and is urging delegates to cross out Melissa Schroeder's name on the ballot tomorrow and write in hers instead.

She's also handing out the above sticker to delegates.

Taylor complained that Milwaukee does not have any representation in the leadership of the Assembly or Senate and won't have a spot on the party leadership slate either unless she keeps her post.

"They're not allowing me to run from the from, so it's my only choice," Taylor said of the write-in campaign. "I think the people should decide."

UPDATE: Taylor dropped a reference to her write-in campaign during her 1st vice chair report from the podium.

Taylor spent most of her speech praising gains Dems have made in the Legislature and the party's leaders. At the very end, she said she had been honored to serve as the party's first vice chair and and that she has been "working for you on the front lines" as a state senator.

She promised to keep up the fight whether vice chair or not and praised Schroeder as "great" and said Dems would be in great hands whoever serves in the position.

"But I'm asking you to strike for Talyor," she said before leaving the stage.

-- By JR Ross


 5:10 PM 

Tate-Schroeder-Hall ticket

Mike Tate is handing out the above stickers ahead of tomorrow's vote for party officers.

Tate and Jef Hall are officially unopposed for the offices of chair and 2nd vice chair.

Melissa Schroeder is also the only candidate to make the ballot for 1st vice chair. But state Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee, who's held the post for the past two years, has talked about trying to run for the convention floor to retain the post. She missed the deadline to file her papers with the party and didn't make the ballot.

The party has said its bylaws do not allow a run from the convention floor, so stay tuned.

-- By JR Ross


 5:07 PM 

Let the blogging begin

We're here.

Andy and I are at the WisPolitics table at the convention center, and the WisPolitics straw poll is officially open.

We had to leave Greg behind for this one with the state budget, so hang with us if we're a little slower than normal.

-- By JR Ross


 1:59 PM 

Budget could alter speaking line-up

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin annual convention is set to get

But with the Assembly still working through the state budget
this afternoon, Dems may have to shuffle their speaking line-up

The party said Speaker Mike Sheridan's address, originally scheduled
in the 6:50 p.m. block of speakers, may be pushed off until tomorrow
if Assembly members can't make it to Green Bay.

Gov. Jim Doyle is slated to deliver the keynote address after U.S. Sen.
Russ Feingold's 7:30 p.m. speech.

See the full roster of speakers here.

-- By Andy Szal


 8:30 AM 

Green Bay hosts Obama leading up to convention

President Barack Obama rolled out his public campaign to reform health care at Southwest High School in Green Bay Thursday, explaining that although the plan would cost the government billions, "doing nothing will cost us far more in the coming years."

Obama, in Wisconsin for the first time since taking office, addressed a crowd of about 1,500 in the school gymnasium about his plan for a Health Insurance Exchange -- a "one-stop shop" for consumers to compare public and private health care plans and select their plan of choice.

Obama assured the audience that Americans would be able to keep their preferred doctors and insurance plans and said any reform plan must maintain the successes of places such as Green Bay, which pays comparatively less for health care than most national markets.

"But in order to preserve what's best about our health care system, we have to fix what doesn't work," Obama said. "For we have reached a point where doing nothing about the cost of health care is no longer an option. The status quo is unsustainable."

See complete WisPolitics coverage of Obama's visit here.

-- By Andy Szal

Thursday, June 11, 2009

 2:39 PM 

Hospitality suites on tap

Gov. Jim Doyle, U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and Lt. Gov. Barb Lawton are among those who have reserved hospitality suites for the convention.

The others are U.S. Reps. Steve Kagen of Appleton and Ron Kind of La Crosse and the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee.

Doyle's hospitality suite at the state party convention will feature The Classic Tawnies, a Madison band.

See their My Space page:

A party spokesman says College Dems plan to offer hospitality in their suite as well.

-- By WisPolitics Staff


 11:16 AM 

Straw poll rules, questions

WisPolitics is conducting a straw poll at both party conventions this year. Results from the Dem straw poll will be released late Saturday afternoon.

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.

-- Delegates, alternates and registered guests are allowed to vote only once.

-- Only ballots with one candidate clearly marked for each question will 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 Dems:

If Gov. Jim Doyle doesn't run for re-election next year, which politician would you support in the 2010 party primary?
--Tom Barrett
--Russ Decker
--Jon Erpenbach
--Kathleen Falk
--Ron Kind
--Barb Lawton
--Mike Sheridan
--Write In

Which of the top two likely Republican candidates for governor next year would be the most beatable?
--Mark Neumann
--Scott Walker

-- By WisPolitics Staff


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

 8:02 PM 

Taylor still intends to try to keep 1st vice chair's post

State Sen. Lena Taylor said she's heading to this weekend's Democratic Party state convention with the intentions of mounting a bid from the floor to retain her position as first vice chair.

But the state party contends that isn't an option.

Taylor said party officials told her she missed the deadline to file her papers to run for another two-year term. She also said party officials discouraged her from mounting a bid from the floor.

She complained that it was "a little much" to hear her papers had been filed late considering she's been focused on the state budget as a member of the Joint Finance Committee. She said this afternoon she hadn't made a final decision about mounting a bid for the office from the convention floor, but she was leaning in that direction.

"I'm going there with my papers ready to run," she said.

Melissa Schroeder, an aide to U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, was the only person to file papers by the May 22 deadline to run for the office.

DPW spokesman Alec Loftus said the party's election commission met last week and ruled that a run from the floor isn't allowed under party rules and bylaws.

Taylor said she disagreed with the committee's interpretation of party rules and bylaws.

-- By JR Ross


 8:01 PM 

Mason skipping convention because of budget deliberations

At least one Dem lawmaker has dropped plans to attend this weekend's state convention in Green Bay because of the budget.

Rep. Cory Mason of Racine, a member of the Joint Finance Committee, said he had planned to attend the convention, but changed his mind.

With the Assembly scheduled to now take up the budget Thursday and Republicans talking about 100 amendments from their side, some expect the deliberations to stretch into the early hours of Friday, the day the convention starts.

"For me, the priority is the budget," Mason said.

DPW spokesman Alec Loftus said Mason was the first legislator he'd heard of who had dropped plans to come to the convention. He said the calendars for the Legislature and Congress often prevent some lawmakers from making the convention and this would be "no different than past years' conventions."

UPDATE: With the beginning of the budget debate in the Assembly now pushed off to Friday, more Assembly Dems could have a problem making it up to the convention.

-- By JR Ross


 7:45 PM 

Tate poised to take over as DPW chair

Mike Tate has a simple way to figure out whether his term as state chair of the Dem Party is a success.

The party has larger majorities in the Assembly and Senate, still has a Dem in the guv's office, still holds both U.S. Senate seats, GOP U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan is no longer in office, Steve Kagen still holds the 8th CD and Dave Obey is still chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

Just for good measure, Dem proposals need to turn around the economy and make it easier for people to get ahead and succeed in Wisconsin.

"If we achieve all those things, that would have been a pretty good couple of years for however long I do this job," Tate said in a new WisPolitics interview.

Tate, 30, is on the verge of becoming the youngest state party chair in the country this weekend as he runs unopposed to replace Joe Wineke as head of the DPW.

As Tate takes over, Dems next year are looking to hold onto the impressive gains of the previous two cycles in what figures to be an unstable economic environment.

They have majorities in the Assembly and Senate for the first time since the early 1990s, control the Legislature and governor's office for the first time since the mid-'80s and successfully defended the 8th CD for the first time in decades.

But they're also now dealing with a $6.6 billion budget shortfall that has required a series of painful and sometimes controversial moves that have Republicans licking their chops at the campaign fodder before them.

Still, Tate says he has no worries about GOP attacks.

"It's real easy when you're in the minority to just throw stones. They have no new ideas," Tate said, adding "there's a reason" only 26 percent of people identify themselves as Republicans in some national polls.

See more.

Listen to the full interview.

-- By JR Ross


 12:54 PM 

Some useful links

Here's a quick overview of this weekend's convention events.

First, here's a link from the DPW site on the convention.

The convention events are at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Green Bay.

The convention officially opens at 6 p.m. Friday with a slate of speakers. It then continues Saturday with more speeches, the election of new party officials, and a debate on the party platform and resolutions.

Here's the tentative schedule from the party:

Friday, June 12
6:00 p.m.
Call to Order
Presentation of Colors
Pledge of Allegiance
National Anthem

6:30 p.m.
Welcome -- Tom Sieber, Brown Co. Dems Chair
Kathy Hughes, Oneida Tribe Vice Chairwoman
State Chair's Report -- Joe Wineke
1st Vice Chair's Report -- Lena Taylor

6:50 p.m.
State Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass
Sen. Russ Decker
Speaker Mike Sheridan
U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen
Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton

7:30 p.m.
U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold
Keynote Speaker Gov. Jim Doyle

Saturday, June 13

8:30 a.m.
Platform and Resolutions Debate
10:00 a.m.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin
U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl

10:45 a.m.
Mike Tate

12:30 p.m.
Voting for Officers

Here's the full media release.

-- By WisPolitics Staff


Monday, June 08, 2009

 12:00 PM 

'08 convention coverage

Here are some links to the WisPolitics coverage of the 2008 DPW convention.

See the WisPolitics blog entries from last year.

See the release on last year's straw poll results, in which delegates favored Hillary Clinton to be Barack Obama's running mate and favored Peg Lautenschlager to be the party's nominee for attorney general in 2010.

-- By WisPolitics Staff



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Editor: JR Ross
Reporters: Chris Thompson, David Wise

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