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State Government and Political Roundup: Santorum, Ann Romney scheduled to visit Wisconsin

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Pierce County Herald
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With all the recall fever in Wisconsin, the state's voters have hardly had time to focus on the April 3rd presidential primary.

But that will change today, when Ann Romney visits Middleton and Milwaukee. The wife of Republican candidate Mitt Romney will appear at a diner in each city. Romney's main challenger, Rick Santorum, is due in Saturday for a conference in Milwaukee put on by the Americans for Prosperity. Recent polls show Santorum leading in Wisconsin. But Wisconsin GOP strategist Mark Graul - who's not involved with either campaign - says Romney still has the edge. Graul said the former Massachusetts governor had a major head start in setting up his Wisconsin organization. It's been forming since January, with leaders in every major county. State Senate Republican Alberta Darling of River Hills and former state Senator Ted Kanavas of Brookfield head the state's Romney organization. Nick Lauren is the state director for Santorum's campaign - and he believes his man has the best grass-roots operation in Wisconsin with chairs in all 72 counties.

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Milwaukee voters will know before Election Day whether-or-not their mayor plans to run for governor. Tom Barrett has token opposition in his bid for another term as mayor - and he's been widely speculated as a possible Democratic challenger in the expected recall election against Governor Scott Walker. Barrett says he'll announce before the April third mayoral election whether he'll take the plunge. But he wants to wait until after the state Government Accountability Board decides whether enough valid petition signatures have been filed for the recall vote. That decision is due a week from tomorrow. A recall primary is tentatively set for May eighth, with the general election on June fifth. Barrett lost to Walker in the last gubernatorial contest in 2010.

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Governor Scott Walker has signed what his office called "reasonable changes" to Wisconsin's landlord-tenant laws. But critics say it scales back tenants' rights. The Republican Walker signed that measure and 18 others in a private ceremony in Madison yesterday. Under the new law, landlords can deduct money from a renter's security deposit for unpaid utility-and-rental payments. Landlords can assume that all personal property left behind by tenants was abandoned and can be disposed of. Medical items are the only exceptions. Tenants would get a check-in sheet when they move in, to vouch for a detailed description of their home's condition. And they'd have to notify landlords in writing about any repairs or maintenance that's needed before they can complain to government officials. Also, local governments cannot block tenants from being evicted. Milwaukee Senate Democrat Chris Larson says the new law takes away power from both renters and local officials and it quote, "tilts the balance in favor of irresponsible landlords."

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