• WisPolitics


Saturday, June 12, 2010

 3:26 PM 

WisPolitics.com straw poll: Dem activists back lt. gov. candidate Sanders, incumbent treas., secretary of state

Activists attending the state Democratic Party convention backed Madison businessman Henry Sanders in the primary race for lieutenant governor.

And while Democratic activists also backed the incumbent Dem state treasurer and secretary of state in their primaries, a majority of those who voted on the question backed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett's plan to eliminate the state posts, according to the annual convention straw poll conducted by WisPolitics.com.

Sanders (left) received 326 votes to win the lieutenant governor straw poll over Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson of Kaukauna, who received 167 votes, Sen. Spencer Coggs of Milwaukee, who received 43 votes, and former Lodi alderman James Schneider, who received 11 votes.

Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, who is not running for re-election, received two of the write-in votes.

Delegates and guests at the convention at the Madison Mariott West in Middleton also supported incumbent state Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass and Secretary of State Doug LaFollette overwhelmingly in the straw poll. Sass received 382 votes compared to 122 votes for primary challenger Daniel Bohrod, a Madison budget analyst. Thirty-two-year incumbent LaFollette received 388 votes against 86 for Jeremy Ryan, a 21-year-old Madison primary challenger.

One Wisconsin Now executive director Scot Ross, who ran unsuccessfully in a primary against LaFollette in 2006, received 16 of the write-in votes for Secretary of State.

When asked whether the positions should be eliminated, 235 voted to eliminate the positions compared to 186 who wish to keep them. One hundred thirty had no preference on the question and 13 registered no vote.

Dem gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett proposed eliminating the Secretary of State and Treasurer positions as part of a list of cost-saving measures. Responsibilities of the positions would be consolidated under other state agencies and the lieutenant governor’s office under Barrett’s plan.

In all, 564 ballots were cast by the 1,100 delegates and 200 registered guests who attended the convention.

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 12:20 PM 

Lt. guv. candidates make their cases

Lt. guv candidates have made their pitches, stressing what they can do to help win the governor's race and to improve the state.

Sen. Spencer Coggs called for an expanded role for lieutenant governor, saying it should be a liason between the administration and the Legislature.

He said he would be a strong partner for Barrett and help him win votes.

He pointed to his more than 20 years of legislative experience and his work to create business incubators that he said have led to thousands of jobs.

Nelson said he is giving up seat in the Assembly to run because “it is essential we elect Tom Barrett governor.”

Nelson said the governor's race would be won by only a few points

“I believe it is going to be one of those campaigns where the running mate can make that difference between winning and losing,” Nelson said.

He pointed to his own victory against a Republican incumbent in 2004.

“We are going into a tough election year,” Nelson said. “This ticket needs experience in defeating Republicans in their own backyard.”

Henry Sanders's presentation featured a campaign-style introductory video that discussed his commitment to public service before he came on stage.

He said he would use the lt guv's office to helo create jobs, increase broadband access, and attract and retain the “next generation” of workers and work to ensure full equality and equal marriage rights for all.

Sanders to a swipe at the notion that Barrett's ticket needs geographical balance and pointed to his travel around the state to promote the Dem ticket.

“I'm not running to be Tom Barrett's geographical running mate,” Sanders said. “I'm running to be his lieutenant.”

James Schneider said that as lt. guv he would work to implement Barrett's policies.

He stressed his background in economic development and past leadership role with the Wisconsin Economic Development Association.

He said that as lt. guv. he would asked to be appointed to a leadership role in the Department of Commerce and would commit to remain there for four years and work on creating jobs.

Coggs speech: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100612Coggs.mp3
Nelson speech: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100612Nelson.mp3
Sanders speech: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100612Sanders.mp3
Schneider speech: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100612Schneider.mp3


-- By David Wise

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 12:17 PM 

Love named state's DNC rep.

Former Milwaukee County Dem Party Chairwoman Martha Love has been elected to serve as the state's Democratic National Committee member on a voice vote from the delegation.

The convention has now moved back into platform debate.

-- By Andy Szal

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 12:15 PM 

Reasbeck says reception has been positive

Though he didn't get a chance to address the convention, 7th CD candidate Joe Reasbeck is at the Dem gathering this weekend.

Reasbeck said he's been setting up meet-and-greets with county chairs and they've been receptive to him. Reasbeck, of Iron River, entered the race just a couple weeks ago to skepticism from some Dems due to an unsuccessful congressional bid in Texas in which he ran as a Republican write-in.

State Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, has been viewed as the party favorite to assume the seat vacated by the pending retirement of U.S. Rep. Dave Obey. Lassa addressed the convention last night.

Reasbeck said he requested a speaking slot at the convo but was told by party leadership the times were allotted long ago and he couldn't be accommodated.

Reasbeck said some county party officials are willing to give him a chance.

"There's definitely a sense that there seems to be some evaluation of who will be the best candidate to go up against Sean Duffy," Reasbeck said.

"There hasn't been a county chair who's been negative."

Reasbeck said he grew disenchanted with the GOP during his Texas race and vowed to run as a Dem if he ever ran for office again.

"I just didn't anticipate that the Obey seat would be opening up and I'd be running so soon," Reasbeck said.

-- By Greg Bump

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 11:32 AM 

Neumann crashes Dem party

GOP guv candidate Mark Neumann came to the Dem state convention today to make a point about Tom Barrett's spending.

He was greeted by a rowdy but mostly respectful crowd of about 60 Tom Barrett fans waving sign and chanting "Barr-ett, Barr-ett."

At first the crowd tried to chant him down, but then they let him take reporters' questions, as well as some questions from Barrett supporters.

"Politics in America is a great exchange of ideas, that's what it should be," Neumann said.

Afterward, he complimented the crowd on being well-behaved.



-- By Greg Bump

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 11:29 AM 

Hassett paints Van Hollen as partisan ideologue

Attorney general candidate and former DNR Secretary Scott Hassett painted AG J.B. Van Hollen as right-wing ideologue who puts politics above the law, while stressing his own record as a trial lawyer and protector of the environment.

Hassett criticized Van Hollen for suing over voter registration HAVA checks, refusing to defend the state's domestic partner law, for wanting to challenge federal health care reform, and for not trying a criminal case as U.S. attorney.

Hassett called Van Hollen “an incumbent whose loyalty is not the the law but to the dictates of his party and its most right-wing extreme base.”

Hassett vowed to keep the state safe from polluters, stand up for consumers, defend equal rights and protect the state from crime.

Hassett highlighted his experience as a trial lawyer, saying he was trying cases while Van Hollen “was looking for a prom date” and highlighted the DNR's $1.7 million fine against Menards for pollution under his leadership.

-- By David Wise

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 11:08 AM 

Barrett calls for substance over ideology

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett stressed the need for pragmatism and substance over ideology in helping to bring jobs to the state and fight a $2.3 billion structural deficit while preserving education, health care and public safety.



Barrett said the GOP candidates' tax policies will result in that deficit mushrooming to $4.1 billion “overnight” and questioned what the impact would be on education and public safety.

“It's amazing to me that when we have a S2.3 billion structural deficit they want to transform it overnight into $4.1 billion,” Barrett said.

Barrett pointed to his own economic plan and plan to cut state spending and called upon GOP candidates to detail cuts they would support.

Barrett said voters deserve candidates “who have substance and are willing to tackle the tough issues that face us right now.”

“These are real-world problems that we have to deal with and we have to deal with them now,” Barrett said.

Barrett promised attendees that he would do everything he can to attract, retain and create jobs in the state, vowed to protect education, healthcare and the environment and to boost agriculture in the state.

Barrett drew applause at several points in the speech when he characterized his GOP opponents as ideologues and called for a substantive, pragmatic approach to solving problems

“Some people like to have ideological wars. ... It's all about ideology. That's not who I am,” Barrett said. “This is too serious of a time. This is not the time for those ideological wars.”

“We need some mature leadership, some adult supervision to move this state forward,” Barrett said.

Barrett knocked Republicans, saying they drove the car into a ditch and that they are now complaining that Democrats aren't pulling it out fast enough. He said to laughs that if the GOP gets back in power, “that car is going to stay in the ditch forever and its going to start leaking oil.”

Barrett was introduced by his wife, Kris, who emphasized his frugality and commitment to family.

“He's going to work for women, he's going to work for children, he's going to work for families,” she said.


Listen to the audio: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100612BarrettSpeech2.mp3


-- By David Wise

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 10:47 AM 

Kohl expects to run again in 2012

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl tells WisPolitics he plans to run for re-election in two years.

"I expect to be running again, yes," Kohl, D-Milwaukee, said following his speech to delegates this morning.

Kohl, 75, would be seeking his fifth Senate term in 2012. First elected in 1988, he would be age 82 at the conclusion of the 2018 session.

-- By Andy Szal

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 10:44 AM 

Neumann to hold press avail

Not one to turn down a media opportunity, GOP guv candidate Mark Neumann will hold a press availability at 11 a.m. at the Mariott.

"I guess he's going to go to a convention he can actually get into," quipped one Dem.

-- By Greg Bump

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 10:26 AM 

Obey not slowing down yet

U.S. Rep. Dave Obey signed copies of his books and cds until nearly 1:30 this morning in his hospitality suite.

"He didn't move. He sat there the whole entire time," said aide Doug Hill.

But he didn't show signs of wear this morning, taking in well-wishes from admiring Dems as he walked the hallways at his last state convention as a U.S. Representative.

One of his remaining priorities is to pass a package of funding, possibly as much as $23 billion though the number is still being negotiated, to avoid teacher layoffs, Obey, 71, said this morning during an interview. He admits the fight to get the legislation passed has been a "tough slog."

"A lot of people seem to think Herbert Hoover was right in the '30s," Obey said. "If you want to bring the deficit down, you have to attack unemployment and bring unemployment down."

Despite the stimulus, Obey said the economy still isn't out of the woods because the Bush administrations policies "were so damn stupid."

"The economy is like a patient just coming out of intensive care," Obey said. "It's slowly recovering. It's still weak, but at least it's not headed for the morgue like it was when Obama took over."

On state Sen. Julie Lassa, who is vying for his seat, Obey points out she has more experience as a legislator than he did when he first ran for Congress.

"She knows how to work a legislative body and get things done, and that's what it's all about," he said.

Obey has $1.4 million in his campaign account and said he is seeking a legal memo on what he can do with it.

"I assume in the end some of it will go to the DCCC, some if it will go to the state party, and some of it, I think, will have to be returned," he said.

Some Republicans have questioned if Lassa's selection as the Dem choice in the 7th CD was the product of collusion. Obey calls those accusations "nuts."

And he also took a rip at GOP frontrunner Sean Duffy.

"I think this guy wouldn't know much about job creation if you gave him an instruction manual," he said.

-- By Greg Bump

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 10:10 AM 

Secretary of State decries eliminating office as 'political gimmick'

Secretary of State Doug La Follette came to the defense of his office in an op-ed piece in this morning's Wisconsin State Journal.

"Every so often, a politician seeks to gain favor with cost-conscious voters by promoting the political gimmick of eliminating the constitutional office of the secretary of state," La Follette began, referencing a series of cost-savings proposals introduced by Dem guv candidate Tom Barrett earlier this week. He also noted that the State Journal "excitedly endorsed" the plan, which also included the elimination of the state treasurer's office.

"Barrett seems to think great amounts of money will be saved by moving the functions of the secretary of state to the lieutenant governor's office. But the office space and employees will still be needed to do the job," La Follette wrote. "I suppose my salary of $64,000 would be saved, but that is hardly the level of savings touted by Barrett and the State Journal."

The secretary, who served from 1974-78 and again since 1982, is at the convention this morning talking with convention goers in his trademark self-introductory vest.



-- By Andy Szal

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 9:47 AM 

Morning platform debate ends

Delegates have completed this morning's debate on the party's platform and resolutions, and have now moved onto the credentials committee report.

Platform debate is set to resume following the Democratic National Committee elections later this morning.

-- By Andy Szal

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 9:15 AM 

Media round-up

Here's a round-up of other media outlets covering the convention:

Green Bay Press Gazette: Feingold to target special interests

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Feingold proud of his independent streak

Appleton Post-Crescent: Obama staffer to state Dems: It's been a tough road

AP: Barrett makes surprise appearance at convention

AP: Obey bids Wisconsin Democrats adieu with a song

Wisconsin Radio Network: Dems praise health care and stimulus accomplishments

Wisconsin State Journal: Notes from the Democratic convention in Middleton

-- By Andy Szal

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 8:47 AM 

Dem convention: Day 2

Eager Dems are up and at 'em this morning. The conventioneers (well, a handful of them) are in the convention hall working on platform and resolutions.

An estimated attendance of 1,500 delegates and 300 guests are registered, but official numbers will come later.

Scheduled speakers today include gubernatorial hopeful Tom Barrett, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, and the lieutenant governor candidates.

-- By Greg Bump

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Friday, June 11, 2010

 10:41 PM 

Kaine challenges GOP to run on repealing health care

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine challenged Republicans to run on a platform of repealing heath care reform, saying they will be beaten “like a rented mule” should they do so.

The former Virginia governor pointed to benefits reform has already brought, such as banning denial of coverage for preexisting conditions, providing a rebate to seniors for the prescription drug “donut hole,” and providing coverage for children up to age 26, and questioned what the response would be if Republicans tried to take that back.

“I hope the Republicans run on repealing health insurance,” Kaine said. If they do so, he added, “We'll beat them like a rented mule come this November.”

Kaine spent much of his speech praising President Barack Obama

With the help of Democrats, Kaine said Obama expanded health insurance for children in his first month in office, guaranteed for equal pay for women, appointed Supreme Court Justice Sonio Sotomayor, signed the Post-9/11 GI Bill for veterans, is working to end “don't ask, don't tell,” and passing health care reform, which he held up as being as significant as the passage of social security and civil rights legislation.

He also said that by the end of 2010, more job will have been added under Obama than were under the eight years of President George W. Bush.

Kaine said the even though the midterms will be tough, he predicted Dems would do well in November because they have a successful president and strong candidates.

Kaine praised Doyle calling him an “excellent steward of the state in challenging times.”

He praised Dem guv nominee Tom Barrett, saying he has “heart and steel and backbone.”

Kaine accidentally said Barrett would make a great governor of Virginia

“We could use him in Virginia, the guy we've got now has some problems,” he quipped after correcting himself.

-- By David Wise

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 10:27 PM 

Doyle praises Barrett, trashes Walker

In his final speech to a state Dem convention as governor of Wisconsin, Jim Doyle says the state needs the next governor to be a person of character, not just another naysayer.

"It's easy to be a Republican because their answer to every question is no," Doyle said.

Listen to audio of the speech here.

Doyle ripped Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, the GOP-endorsed candidate for governor. He said the state has had to step in to bail out Milwaukee County government time and again.

"If any other county in the state of Wisconsin was run as poorly as Milwaukee County is run, the voters in that county would have voted that county executive and any other county officials out of office," Doyle said.

Doyle said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett "a person of real character" and someone who takes decisions seriously.

Doyle also recounted how Barrett stood up to a man last year who was attacking a woman at State Fair Park. Barrett received serious injuries which continue to require surgery.

"The fact he never talks about it makes him even more a person of character," Doyle said.

Doyle touched on familiar themes, drawing applause from the crowd when he mentioned the repeal of the QEO for teachers, expansion of health insurance coverage to more state residents, and the statewide smoking ban that will go into effect July 5.

Doyle also praised U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, and U.S. Reps. Ron Kind, Gwen Moore, Steve Kagen and Tammy Baldwin, and urged the crowd to work for their re-election.

He called 7th CD hopeful Julie Lassa "a great candidate" and said Dems need to make sure that seat remains in their hands.

"We simply can't afford the Republican way," Doyle said. "We can't say no to everything."

-- By Greg Bump

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 9:57 PM 

Barrett makes a surprise appearance

Dem guv candidate Tom Barrett wasn't supposed to show up at the convention until tomorrow, but the Milwaukee Mayor made a surprise visit and got a standing ovation from convention-goers.

"I am delighted to be here," Barrett said, taking the stage briefly.

Barrett had been in Milwaukee for the 8th grade graduation of his youngest daughter.

Barrett vowed to get "spruced up" and return tomorrow.

"We're going to talk about how we are going to win in November," Barrett said.

-- By Greg Bump

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 9:40 PM 

Obey delivers final address to state convention

U.S. Rep. Dave Obey started what he declared would be his final speech to a DPW convention by cracking a couple jokes about his retirement announcement.

The longtime Wausau Dem said he's heard so many compliments from his former political opponents that he considered hiring Brett Favre as a consultant to reconsider his decision.

And he said he was equally surprised by the press reports recounting his nealy 50 years of serving in elected office.

"It was sort of like reading your obituary while you are still alive," Obey joked.

Obey then ventured into his past, recalling his first state conventions with Gaylord Nelson, Bill Proxmire and Bob Kastenmeier in the late 1950s before listing the immense issues he's dealt with in Congress.

He blasted Republicans for their near-unanimous opposition to federal stimulus and health care reform legislation, saying, "They have had a lot of practice in being on the wrong side of history."

He also took a swipe at WMC, saying the current political climate mirrors his first run for the Assembly in 1962, when he charged that big business was killing the state.

"Wisconsin has become less and less like Wisconsin and more like our southern neighbors," Obey said. "Mississippi is not so much a state as it is a condition."

Obey also urged Democrats to work hard this fall, and to "nourish" and "cherish" the party that he considered his family.

"Public service is a high calling but it is also a tough life," Obey said. "Tom Barrett and Barack Obama will need your help."

Obey closed his remarks with a solo from his famed harmonica.

Listen to the audio: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100611Obey.mp3
-- By Andy Szal

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 9:37 PM 

Feingold says election will be referendum on corporate influence

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold slammed Republican frontrunner Ron Johnson in an alternately funny and fiery speech, painting the Oshkosh businessman as being on the side of oil and insurance companies, not working people.

Feingold mocked Johnson for an appearance he made last month on the talk show of conservative Charlie Sykes, whom he called Johnson's "political mentor."

Johnson told Sykes he was inspired to run from watching pundit Dick Morris on Fox News.

"It wasn't a voice from on high or something in a dream. It was Dick Morris for God's sake," Feingold said.

Feingold also ripped into Johnson over his pledge to spend up to $15 million on his campaign to beat Feingold, saying Johnson has "a $15 million hole in his pocket -- it must be a terrible burden."

"It's almost as if the sight of a non-millionaire in the Senate offends Ron Johnson," Feingold said.

He also knocked Johnson for not laying out where he stands on issues.

"Even the Tea Party people are complaining they don't know where this guy stands," Feingold said.

Feingold said on a recent radio interview Johnson said he was "glad" there was global warming, and that he thought this was the wrong time to be hard on oil companies.

"Can you think of a better time to be beating up on the oil industry?" Feingold asked incredulously. "What are you talking about?"

He warned that Johnson may soon call for drilling in Lake Winnebago.

"Beware ice fisherman!" Feingold said.

Feingold also warned that Johnson's top priority would be the repeal of federal health care reform.

"After we finally beat these (insurance) guys, he wants to undo it," Feingold said.

"Mr. Johnson needs to understand this election is a referendum on the power and influence of corporate special interests in Washington," Feingold said. "I do not believe the people of Wisconsin want a senator who will put special interests and corporations ahead of the common good."

Feingold touted his opposition to trade agreements like NAFTA and GATT, and said

"I tried to stop jobs from leaving our state in the first place," Feingold said while "Republicans relentlessly pressed for every one of those trade deals."


Feingold thanked Gov. Jim Doyle for his eight years as governor, called Dem guv candidate Tom Barrett "one of the finest people I have ever known," and said U.S. Rep. Dave Obey has had "one of the finest careers in the history of Congress."



Listen to the audio: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100611Feingold.mp3

-- By Greg Bump

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 9:01 PM 

Kagen says Dems need to get message through in 8th CD

U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen told delegates he ran for Congress to oppose a pair of wars being waged by "a president who couldn't think things through."

He said he wants to stay to fulfill the promise of health care reform and help rebuild the nation's economy. He stressed that he has voted "no to bailouts; yes to jobs," and said he was proud to deliver on a promise of leaving no patients behind with the passage of health care reform.

But he also said that his constituents are "confused," and he needs Democrats to help him in the 8th CD.

"They actually believe what they see on TV and think it's reality," Kagen said. "We have to work hard to get our message through."

-- By Andy Szal

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 9:01 PM 

Tate sets the record straight

While introducing Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, DPW Chairman Mike Tate pointed to Sheridan's work in “cleaning up Barack Obama's economic disaster.” After a media outlet reported the slip, Tate took the podium to set the record straight.

“I believe it is President Obama who is bringing us out of this mess.”

“And the mess, for the record, was created by George W. Bush and would be propagated again by people like Ron Johnson and Sean Duffy and Scott Walker,” Tate said to applause.

“So am I clear? Do you hear me? Barack Obama is fixing the economic disaster.

“My mom always told me I needed to enunciate better.”

-- By David Wise

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 8:51 PM 

Tate says attendance passes 1000

DPW chairman Mike Tate said that so far there are over 1000 delegates and guests in attendance.

Pointing to the large draw at the GOP convention this year -- the Republcians said there were more than 1,500 registered delegates -- Tate said the Dems were on track to meet that.

“How's that for momentum on the Democratic Party's side?”

-- By David Wise

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 8:48 PM 

Lassa touts legislative accomplishments

State Sen. Julie Lassa of Stevens Point -- who is running for the 7th Congressional District seat to be vacated by a retiring Dave Obey -- attributed her work ethic to growing up on her parents' still-operating dairy farm before running through a list of legislative accomplishments for delegates.

She touted her work on the state's BPA ban and children's health care, along with bills creating a fraud hotline, truth in contracting, and two jobs bills from the recent session: the C.O.R.E. Jobs Act, and a bill to pool federal stimulus bonding to help a Wisconsin Rapids wind turbine blade manufacturer.

"I will make sure that the voices and the values of the poeple of central Wisconsin are heard in Congress," Lassa said.

"With your help, I know we will win."

Listen to the audio: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100611Lassa.mp3

-- By Andy Szal

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 8:35 PM 

Moore: Voters this fall to ask 'Who was on my side?'

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee expressed confidence about the upcoming election season despite questionable prospects for Dems this fall.

She said that the coalition of voters who backed Dems in 2006 and 2008 won't be swayed by "nuance" or a "rhetorical flourish."

Moore said that on the national and state levels, Democrats have answered the bell for the American people. She particularly praised her city's mayor -- Tom Barrett -- as he runs for governor, saying he thinks in terms of the "jobs deficit" rather than just the federal deficit.

"The question is going to be, 'Who was on my side when the country was on the brink of disaster?'" Moore said. "And who was on the side of the top 1 percent in this country?"

Listen to the audio: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100611Moore.mp3

-- By Andy Szal

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 8:24 PM 

Baldwin lauds accomplishments despite inherited 'mess'

Saying she hoped to carry "just as big a stick" as the retiring Dave Obey in the next Congress, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Madison launched into Republicans over the state the country was in as Dems took over the federal government in 2008.

"It was not our mess, it was theirs," Baldwin said, recalling a flailing economy and two destructive wars. "We cannot let other people get away with rewriting history on this point."

Baldwin conceded that midterms generally aren't kind to the president's party, and acknowledged that the Democrats haven't been as loud or intense as Tea Party groups.

"This must change if we want to win in November," Baldwin said. "And we must win."

-- By Andy Szal

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 8:18 PM 

Kind urges Dems to work hard to replace Obey, Doyle

U.S. Rep. Kind lauded the state's most prominent retiring Democrats in his speech to the Dem convention, saying that although Dave Obey and Jim Doyle won't be replaced, the "right people" can be elected to continue their work.

Kind, D-La Crosse, said he knew that presiding over the House as it passed health care reform was a highlight of Obey's career, and that "it's such an honor to serve with him."

Kind said the decision on health care wasn't made in March, but rather in November, when Democrats showed up at the polls.

"It really was a big deal," Kind said, cracking that he was paraphrasing the vice president.

He urged Dems to work hard to elect Julie Lassa to the 7th CD, and pledged that "no one would work harder" than a Gov. Tom Barrett if their days in the House together were any indication.

Listen to the audio: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100611Kind.mp3

-- By Andy Szal

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 8:12 PM 

Lawton calls for more efforts to get money out of politics

Barbara Lawton, in her final convention speech as lieutenant governor, expressed regret that her promise to get money's influence out of politics has not been fully realized.

“Eight years ago I stood before you and I told you with a great sense of resolve and had every intent to deliver on, was that as your lieutenant governor I would make it my number one priority to restore integrity to government and get the money out of politics,” Lawton said. “And I couldn't do it alone. It just didn't happen.

“And in a very real sense we are still held hostage by a system that guarantees we will have government we will never afford as long as it is designed by special interests.”

Lawton encouraged attendees to demand candidates work to bring about campaign finance reform.

“Insist that they promise to provide leadership on full campaign finance reform,” Lawton said.

Lawton spent much of her speech discussing the need for economic development and for Democrats to tackle the tough work of financial and environmental regulation and fighting global warming through passing a clean energy bill.

Lawton said the state is facing a choice where it must either make cuts or increase revenues in order sustain its budget. Lawton pointed to cuts already made and questioned from where more could come. The solution, she said, is to increase revenues without raising taxes by promoting economic growth.

Doing so will require the state to go beyond investing in infrastructure such as roads and bridges and into investing in “21st Century infrastructure” such as broadband Internet and “human capital” through education geared toward boosting productivity.

Lawton, pointing to the oil spill in the Gulf, called on businesses to bear the cost of environmental damage they create.

“Can't we see now that businesses must simply carry the cost of environmental degradation on their balance sheet?” Lawton said to applause.

Lawton encouraged Dems to work to elect and support candidates.

“We have to reengage in the old-style retail politics that pulls people out of that swirl of anger and anchors them back in the story of what we can do together with a real vision of the future.”

Listen to the audio: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100611Lawton.mp3

-- By David Wise

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 8:11 PM 

Kreitlow warns Dems against complacency

Sen. Pat Kreitlow warned that Democrats will lose if they become complacent in the face of what he said will be non-stop Republican rhetoric as the campaign continues.

“Like so much sludge from a deep water pipe” Dems are going to face “months of rhetoric spewed by the right-wing noise machine,” said Kreitlow, a GOP-targeted incumbent this fall who's here representing Senate Democrats.

He warned Dems that the GOP would do the hard work of getting its message out and that they should not take anything for granted.

“We will lose if we are at all complacent about our successes in '06 or '08 and assume somebody else will do the work this time,” Kreitlow said. “Just as critical for everybody to hear: we will lose if we are disillusioned over what we have yet to accomplish.”

He pointed to a number of Democratic-led initiatives over the year, such as ending a “state loophole” that cut into veteran education benefits, making it easier for people to report fraud, waste and abuse, strengthening special education, expanding health care for families and taking Supreme Court elections “out of the gutter” with campaign fiance reform.

Kreitlow said Republicans, on the other hand, are seeking to bring back the polices that caused “utter chaos” when they last had power.

“It's not a revolution that they are selling; it's a rerun,” Kreitlow said. “It's a roadmap to economic ruin, part two, and we cannot let that message take root.”

-- By David Wise

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 8:01 PM 

White House aide praises Obama despite mic glitch

Mona Sutphen, Clyde Williams' wife, a Milwaukee native and the White House deputy political director, praised her boss for his accomplishments despite inheriting "an economy that was completely off the rails" and a government that was "completely rudderless."

"He never wavered from his view that health care reform was a necessity in this country," Sutphen said of President Obama. "He was willing to put everything on the line in order to achieve that."

"Already this law is delivering amazing benefits to the American people."

Sutphen's microphone cut out in the middle of her speech to delegates. After attempts at repairing the mic were initially unsuccessful, she continued to deliver her speech -- without amplification -- to delegates in the front rows to the occaisional smattering of applause.

The mic was eventually repaired, with Sutphen declaring "I'm back!"

"What's very essential to the president's success is ensuring we have partners ... on the state and local level," Sutphen continued. "We really just can't afford a bunch of naysayers who want to just sit on the sidelines."

Listen to the audio: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100611Sutphen.mp3

-- By Andy Szal

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 7:49 PM 

Williams: Exceed '08 Dem energy

DNC Political Director Clyde Williams called on state delegates to be as energized this fall as activists were in 2008.

"A party's only as strong as the people who are part of that party," Williams said, praising delegates for their work electing Democrats and delivering the state for Barack Obama.

He added that he believes the Democratic Party is still growing nationally, mocking Republicans for generating headlines due to women at the top of their tickets in California and South Carolina.

"We need to define ourselves, and we need to define Republicans for who they are," Williams said. "And who they are is a party that doesn't stand for anything."

Listen to the audio: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/100611Williams.mp3

-- By Andy Szal

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 7:11 PM 

Sheridan says state GOP "sat on the sidelines" during recession

Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan knocked state Republicans for sitting on the sidelines as Democrats helped the state get through a recession he said resulted from GOP policies.

Sheridan aid Republicans created a financial “mess” and criticized them for not joining in efforts to fix it.

"It would have been a real chance to put politics aside and people first," Sheridan said.

Sheridan pointed to comments by Assembly Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald about the the state budget problems during the recession being the Democrats' problems and that what the GOP will be focused on will be winning back the majority.

“With historic challenges facing us they sat on the sidelines,” Sheridan said.

As a result of Dem efforts, Sheridan said unemployment rates are dropping and businesses are creating jobs.

He accused Republicans of being the “party of no” and for wanting the president, Congress and Dems in the state Legislature to fail so they can get back into power. “That is wrong.”

Sheridan questioned what would happen if Republicans had that attitude during WWII.

Sheridan encouraged attendees to work to elect candidates to preserve progress Democrats have made.

“This year the stakes have never been higher,” Sheridan said.

-- By David Wise

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 7:00 PM 

Tate: You ain't seen nothin' yet

Party Chairman Mike Tate promised to keep up the pressure on Republicans heading into this fall's election.

Tate said the party under him has had an “aggressive communications strategy” and told those who've criticized his frequent strong critiques of GOP candidates and politicians “you ain't seen nothin yet.”

He punctuated that statement with a stinging critique of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, whom he said called Democrats un-American in a recent speech.

Tate pointed to Ryan's wealthy upbringing and accused Ryan of wanting to pull up the ladder of success to keep success for the “privileged few.”

He said the policies Ryan supports would lead to teachers, firefighters and crossing guards being laid off and said there's “nothing American” about that.

Ryan called it frustrating that Democrats are called un-American for supporting health care for all, backing the president's efforts to save the country from “another Great Depression.”

And while Tate said the Dem party may not defeat Ryan this election cycle, he pledged that that would happen by the time his tenure is up.

-- By David Wise

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 6:40 PM 

GOP crashes convo with fortune cookies

Two Republican volunteers handed out fortune cookies outside the Mariott late this afternoon.

When opened, the cookies had anti-Dem messages like, "Dem Spending Binge. Americans Cringe. GOP Wins," and "Julie's record: Lassa taxes."

Republican Party of Wisconsin executive director Mark Jefferson, who did a press availability outside hotel, said the stunt was all in good fun.

"What's a convention without both sides of the story?" Jefferson asked.

"There's lots of excitement on the Republican side," he said. "We want to convey that message as often as possible."

Dem Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski wasn't amused.

"I don't get it," he said.

"(The Republicans) have a lot of cash, so whatever makes them spend it, that's fine," Zielinski said. "As long as someone is getting employment by what they're doing, I'm happy. Hopefully the fortune cookies are made in Wisconsin."



-- By Greg Bump

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 6:29 PM 

Local pols welcome conventioneers

Middleton Mayor Kurt Sonnentag, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Dane County Board Chair Scott McDonell welcomed attendees to the area and invited them to visit the many local attractions and businesses.

Cieslewicz pointed to Madison's history of progressive, liberal governance and said to show for it is one of the nation's lowest unemployment rates, highest standards of living and strongest economies.

-- By David Wise

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 5:29 PM 

Lt. guv candidates active

Tom Nelson and Henry Sanders are working the crowd early, shaking hands and gathering signatures for nomination papers.

Sanders supporters are urging delegates to vote in the straw poll.

Nelson, the Assembly Majority Leader, says he's been getting a good reception and that most of the convention-goers are familiar with his story. He said the first question on their minds is which candidate can most help the top of the ticket. Nelson, of Kaukauna, says coming from the Fox Valley and having a history of winning tough elections in his district give him the edge.

"I can help make that difference between winning and losing," Nelson said.

Sanders, a Madison businessman, said he's also gotten positive feedback. He has 20 or 30 volunteers at the convention, gathering nomination signatures, passing out stickers and urging participation in the straw poll.

"I think people are tired of politics as usual," Sanders said. "It's an anti-incumbent year. People want a candidate with progressive values who also knows about getting people back to work."

Sen. Spencer Coggs of Milwaukee has four or five volunteers circulating his nomination papers. He said he's been getting a "great reception," especially from labor types.

"People like the fact that I'm the most experienced candidate," said Coggs. "When you compare the candidates, I'm the most experienced and prepared to be lieutenant governor."

James Schneider, a former Lodi alderman, is also at the convention, but has a lower profile.

In the hotel's lobby bar, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is hosting a packed reception.

-- By Greg Bump

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 5:28 PM 

Kreitlow will stand in for Decker

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker won't be attending the convention due to a long-standing committment in his district, his office said.

Standing in for his speech to the convention tonight will be Sen. Pat Kreitlow of Chippewa Falls.

-- By Greg Bump


 5:03 PM 

WisGOP using Dem convention to spur fundraising

State GOP chairman Reince Priebus sent out a fundraising appeal today, urging supporters to contribute and "help us take the fight to the Democrats."

The "Democrat" convention has three goals, according to Priebus: annoint Tom Barrett as heir to Jim Doyle; shower praise on ultra-libral Russ Feingold for continuing to raise taxes and defend "Obama-care"; and to "further strengthen their Liberal Agenda for the continued takeover of our state and it's values."

The email also touts the billboard the GOP purchased to welcome Dems to the Madison area.

"This an example of the fight we need to continue through November," Priebus said.

-- By Greg Bump

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 12:00 PM 

Straw poll rules and questions

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

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

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

-- Only ballots 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 http://www.wispolitics.com on the Saturday of the convention.

2010 STRAW POLL QUESTIONS

If the Democratic primary were held today, whom would you support for lieutenant governor?

-Spencer Coggs
-Tom Nelson
-Henry Sanders
-James Schneider
-____________________
Write In

If the Democratic primary were held today, whom would you support for
treasurer?

-Daniel Bohrod
-Dawn Marie Sass
-____________________
Write In

If the Democratic primary were held today, whom would you support for
secretary of state?

-Doug La Follette
-Jeremy Ryan
-____________________
Write In

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett has proposed eliminating the offices of state treasurer and secretary of state to streamline state government. Do you support such a move?

-Yes
-No
-No preference

-- By WisPolitics.com Staff

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 11:43 AM 

GOP billboard to welcome Dems to convention


The Republican Party of Wisconsin and GOP guv candidate Scott Walker have gone all out to tie Tom Barrett to Jim Doyle.

In the latest effort, the state GOP rented a billboard that features Gov. Doyle's head electronically manipulated onto Mayor Barrett's body.

The billboard is intended to welcome Dems to the Madison-area this weekend. It reads, "A third Doyle term? Wisconsin can't Barrett." The billboard is located on the Beltline at Rimrock Road.

The Milwaukee County Dem Party rented a billboard in advance of the GOP state convention last month. That billboard read: "Scott Walker has failed Milwaukee. Don't let him fail Wisconsin."

-- By Greg Bump

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 9:32 AM 

DNC's Kaine to WPR: Tough campaign battles ahead for party

Wisconsin Public Radio interviewed Tim Kaine, chair of the Democratic National Committee, in advance of his keynote speech tonight at the state Democratic convention.

Here's an excerpt:
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine says Wisconsin Democrats will have a tough fight on their hands this November. But, he says it's one they can win on every front.

Kaine will be the keynote speaker Friday night at the state Democratic Convention in Middleton. He comes at a time when the party is in charge of Congress, the White House, and in Wisconsin both U.S. Senate seats, most Congressional seats, the governor's office and the state legislature.

That’s a lot of ground to defend. And Kaine concedes that historically, mid-term elections are tough on the party in charge. That’s why he's telling Democrats that they need to go into November with the assumption that they have an uphill battle.

Read the full story

Listen to the audio report

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

 11:59 AM 

A look at the Dems' digs

This weekend's convention will be held at the Madison Mariott West in Middleton.

The party had planned to originally hold the convention in Eau Claire, but decided to move it to Madison because of some difficulties in finding an appropriate venue for the event.

You can see the hotel and convention center here.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

 11:37 AM 

Kaine, national Dems to speak Friday at convention

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, DNC Political Director Clyde Williams and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Mona Sutphen highlight the Friday speaking schedule for this weekend's annual Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention in Middleton.

Also speaking Friday night will be U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin, Ron Kind, Gwen Moore, Steve Kagen and Dave Obey. State Sen. Julie Lassa, who is vying for Obey's seat, will also get a Friday night speaking slot.


Doyle
Gov. Jim Doyle will wrap up the Friday night list of speakers.

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl will speak on Saturday, as will Dem guv candidate Tom Barrett.

See the schedule.

-- By Staff

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 10:06 AM 

New Barrett ad: Time to put Madison on a diet


In a TV ad unveiled a few days before the start of the state Democratic convention, Tom Barrett promises to put "Madison and state government" on a diet.

In the spot, which began today in multiple markets following announcement of a plan to save $1.1 billion, Barrett is sitting at a diner counter and says "when it comes to spending, the politicians in Madison aren't counting their calories."

Barrett says the state has "boards and commissions we don't even need" and "we pay for Cadillac health care for convicted felons."

He says it's "all got to stop" as he directs viewers to go to his Web site to see his plans for cutting the size of state government.

A waitress then walks up and asks, "Tom, how about some pie?"

"Sounds great, but I'm cutting back," Barrett says.

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Monday, June 07, 2010

 11:18 AM 

Tate remains on offense one year into term as DPW chair


Tate
Mike Tate has a straightforward approach to being chair of the state Dem Party.

“If you’re not punching your opponent in the face, it’s much easier for him to hit you,” the 31-year-old Tate told WisPolitics.com in his pre-convention interview.

The bombastic Tate is approaching his one-year anniversary as state party chair heading into this weekend’s convention in Middleton. When he was elected as the youngest state chair in the country last year, Dems were fresh off re-taking full control of the state Legislature for the first time since the early 1990s and still giddy over Barack Obama’s election. And Republicans were trying to re-organize after back-to-back losing elections.

But things have changed dramatically since then with polls showing a damaged Dem brand and Republicans openly talking about taking back the U.S. House and possibly the Senate, along with the state Legislature and the guv’s office.

While acknowledging the voter angst, Tate isn’t buying any of the doomsday predictions. He attributes that to two things: the quality of Dem candidates and the strength of the party’s organization.

“I would stack up our organizational know-how in the Democratic Party infrastructure against anybody,” said Tate, who was supplanted earlier this year as the youngest state chair in the country. “I think here in Wisconsin we know how to get our voters out, we know how to identify our voters. We know how to use the more sophisticated tools that are available for campaigns and elections, and we are going to put all of that to task, bring all of these efforts to bear in bringing enough Democrats out to get Tom Barrett elected governor, send Russ Feingold back to Washington, keep our congressional delegation as it is and hold the Senate and the Assembly.

"I’m very confident about that, and it’s absolutely going to come down to who‘s going to vote on Election Day, and I think that’s where our strength is going to be.”

As an example, Tate points to Feingold’s campaign, which he said now features some 40 staffers, has field offices across the state and has already knocked on thousands of doors in what he says will be the Middleton Dem’s “biggest effort ever.”

Tate, who turned 31 in March, has earned a reputation for blasting opponents on a daily basis through DPW press releases and has shown no signs of backing down despite complaints from Republicans and conservative talk radio that he goes too far.

Tate said none of his attacks have prompted any worried calls from elected Dems that he’d stepped over the line, adding he feels he has nothing to prove to Wisconsin Dems in spite of his youth. Having worked for numerous campaigns and third parties in the state, Tate says he has earned it.

“If they didn’t take me seriously, it was for other reasons” than age, Tate cracked.

Read more.

-- By JR Ross

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Friday, June 04, 2010

 3:32 PM 

Feingold's sloppy joes on tap for Dem convention delegates

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold will once again provide sloppy joes to Democratic delegates and backers in his hospitality suite as the state party's convention heads to his native Middleton next weekend.

The state party didn't have details on the other hospitality suites lawmakers and candidates will host next weekend. But those putting them on include Gov. Jim Doyle; Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who's running to replace Doyle; and U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin of Madison, Ron Kind of La Crosse, and retiring Dave Obey of Wausau.

Stevens Point state Sen. Julie Lassa, the Dem frontrunner to succeed Obey in the 7th CD, headlines the candidates hosting hospitality suites, which also include lt. guv candidates state Rep. Tom Nelson of Kaukauna, state Sen. Spencer Coggs of Milwaukee and Madison businessman Henry Sanders.

Menomonee Falls small businessman Todd Kolosso -- challenging fellow Menomonee Falls native and longtime GOP U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner -- is also set to host a suite at the convention's Madison Marriott West.

-- By Andy Szal

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

 9:10 PM 

Coverage of GOP state convention

WisPolitics also covered this year's Republican state convention in Milwaukee.

See complete coverage
- Straw poll results: RPW conventioneers favor Pawlenty for president, support endorsement process, Tea Party

WisOpinion links:
- That's Debatable: Scot Ross and Brian Fraley preview the GOP convention
- That's Debatable: Fraley and Ross discuss Ron Johnson and the value of convention endorsements
- Steve Walters: GOP convention confronts endorsement minefield


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Editor: JR Ross
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