State Government and Political News: Walker raises $13 million for recallWisconsin News
-- Governor Scott Walker’s campaign has about eight times as much money on hand as his four Democratic challengers combined. That’s with five weeks to go before Walker’s recall election, and one week before his Democratic opponent is determined in a primary.
MADISON - Governor Scott Walker’s campaign has about eight times as much money on hand as his four Democratic challengers combined. That’s with five weeks to go before Walker’s recall election, and one week before his Democratic opponent is determined in a primary.
Reports filed yesterday show that the Republican Walker has just under five-million-dollars left, after raising $13-million since January and $25-million over the last 15 months. Those fund-raising totals are both records for a Wisconsin governor’s candidate, shattering the $10-million Walker raised to win his job in 2010. Kathleen Falk, who entered the Democratic race first, raised $977,000 and has $118,000 left. Tom Barrett, who leads most polls, raised $831,000 and has the most on hand among the Democrats with $475,000. Doug La Follette raised $118,000 and has eight-thousand left. Kathleen Vinehout has $13,000 on hand, after raising $44,000.
Walker was helped by a state law that lets recall targets raise unlimited individual donations before an election is certified. That covered about two-thirds of the January-through-March reporting period. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said only about a third of Walker’s donations came from Wisconsin voters during the period. The rest came from his numerous out-of-state fund-raising trips and speeches to conservative groups throughout the country. His largest Wisconsin donation came from Diane Hendricks, co-founder of ABC Supply in Beloit. She gave a half-million, along with Houston home-builder Bob Perry.
The group Wisconsin for Falk said it raised four-and-a-half million dollars, two-thirds from the state’s largest teachers’ union and much of the rest from national unions in Washington. Other groups are helping candidates in both parties, some of which don’t have to report their spending. The liberal Greater Wisconsin Committee has run ads attacking Walker. And Walker has gotten ad support from the state’s largest business group and the Republican Governors Association.
State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser said his constitutional rights were violated when the Judicial Commission investigated his alleged ethics violations. Prosser filed a response yesterday to three charges the commission filed in March. They’re connected with last June’s incident in which Prosser put his hands around Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s neck. Prosser has said he was defending himself after Bradley pushed toward him first. The complaint also said Prosser called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a derogatory name in 2010. In his response, Prosser said the commission’s investigation was improper because the panel quote, “may not investigate or prosecute protected speech, advocacy, and etiquette of Wisconsin Supreme Court justices when they are deliberating in confidential closed conferences.” Prosser also said the Judicial Commission violated the constitution’s separation-of-powers as an outside agency. He said complaints like the one against him deny justices the right to defend themselves without violating court confidentiality rules. And he called the complaint “frivolous” because all the justices saw or participated in one of the incidents – and therefore, they cannot carry out their roles as the final decision-makers in the case.
Two of the four Democrats running in the governor’s recall election say they would agree to let the Natural Resources Board choose the DNR secretary. Kathleen Falk called for a return to that arrangement yesterday, when she said that Governor Scott Walker’s appointee – Cathy Stepp – should be fired. Falk was responding to the Wisconsin State Journal’s report that the DNR last year issued its smallest number of violations to environmental permits since 1999. One of the other Democratic candidates, Secretary of State Douglas La Follette, agreed that the Natural Resources Board should go back to appointing the secretary. And he said the governor should also lose his power to appoint the Veterans Affairs secretary. The Republican Walker responded to Falk by defending Stepp’s job performance as the DNR chief. Spokeswoman Julie Lund called Stepp a “vital member” of the cabinet, and she said the DNR’s new focus is quote, “encouraging job creation, not discouraging it.” Lund said Stepp is carrying out a quote, “common-sense balance that encourages growth while effectively safeguarding our environment.” Former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson started appointing the DNR secretary in the mid-1990’s. Former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle first promised to give the appointment power back to the board. But he did a flip-flop several years later, saying a governor does a better job of making the DNR leader more accountable.
Three new members of the University of Wisconsin Board-of-Regents are about to begin their terms. Regina Millner of Madison and John Behling of Eau Claire were recently given seven-year terms, and Tracy Hribar of UW-Parkside is coming on board as a new student representative. Millner serves on several boards in the Madison area. Behling is a vice president for a law firm in Eau Claire. Both had earned their law degrees from UW-Madison. Hribar is studying business administration at Parkside. She’s one of two student members and 16 regular members of the Board-of-Regents, which sets policies for all 26 UW campuses.
]Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch had $420,000 in her campaign fund at last word – and she had raised $540,000 since January. The Republican Kleefisch released those numbers today, the deadline for filing the last campaign finance reports before next Tuesday’s recall primaries. None of the Democratic hopefuls had filed by mid-afternoon. Kleefisch will run against the winner of the Democratic primary which includes state fire union president Mahlon Mitchell, private detective Ira Robins, and fake Democrat Isaac Weix. The general election is on June fifth. Also today, Senate Republican Van Wanggaard of Racine filed a campaign report stating that he had $191,000 on hand, and he raised $157,000 since January first. Wanggaard is expected to face former Senate Democrat John Lehman on June fifth. But first, Lehman must beat fake Democrat Tamra Varebrook in next Tuesday’s primary. Four Senate contests are being held in the spring recalls, along with the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s races.
A former state Senate Democrat who’s trying to win his old job back only has about half as much in the bank as his opponent. New state reports show Racine Democrat John Lehman has around $94,000 on hand, while Republican Senate incumbent Van Wanggaard has about $191,000 available. Lehman lost to Wanggaard in 2010. But Wanggaard faces a recall election on June fifth for supporting the law which virtually ended collective bargaining for most state-and-local public employee unions. The state reports show that Lehman raised $104,000 from mid-January through last Monday. That’s more that what Democrats raised in three other Senate recall contests. But Wanggaard raised about a-third more than Lehman, around $157,000. Democrats in all six recall contests have primaries next Tuesday and general elections five weeks from today.
A physical therapist from Rhinelander said today he would drop out of the Republican race for Herb Kohl’s U.S. Senate seat. Kip Smith plans to make his formal announcement tomorrow morning in front of the Oneida County Courthouse in Rhinelander. Smith was nothing more than a long-shot candidate, but he did get to share his views at a few forums with the other and better-known GOP hopefuls. Smith’s platform included cuts in federal spending, and repealing the federal health care reform act. In a statement, Smith called his effort “an amazing campaign on a true shoe-string budget.” But he said he cannot continue the campaign and quote, “risk the financial future of my family.” Smith’s departure leaves four Republicans in the race – former Governor Tommy Thompson, ex-Congressman Mark Neumann, state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, and hedge fund manager Eric Hovde. They’ll square off in a primary August 14th, and the winner will face Democrat Tammy Baldwin in November for the Senate seat to be given up by Kohl, who’s retiring after 24 years in office.
Wisconsinites are putting their money on President Obama for the fall election. Records from the Federal Election Commission show that the Democratic president raised almost $678,000 from individual donors in the Badger State in the 15 months ending March 31st. Republican front-runner Mitt Romney raised almost $194,000 from Wisconsin donors. GOP hopeful Ron Paul raised $149,000. Over 2,700 people from Wisconsin have contributed to the presidential candidates during 2011 and the first three months of this year.