State Government and Political Roundup: Big bucks expected to be spent on the upcoming Senate raceWisconsin News
-- The national Senate campaign committees plan to spend a combined 10-million dollars on the Wisconsin race.
The national Senate campaign committees plan to spend a combined $10-million on the Wisconsin race. It’s another sign of how significant the Thompson-Baldwin contest could be, in determining whether Republicans can win the majority in that chamber in November. Yesterday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said it was adding over two-and-a-quarter million dollars to its pot, for a total of five-point-two million in support of Tammy Baldwin’s candidacy. The Republican campaign committee has committed five-million to try-and-help Tommy Thompson win. Just over 11-percent of Wisconsin’s eligible voters took part in the Republican primary on Tuesday in which former Governor Thompson defeated three other hopefuls. Also yesterday, State Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate called on Thompson to release 10 years of his income tax returns – just like Baldwin did. But Thompson says he won’t do it. He says he has complied with the federal filing requirements for Senate candidates. Thompson is trying to become the first Republican since 1957 to take the Senate post that’s being given up by the retiring Herb Kohl – who has served for 24 years.
The two finalists for Wisconsin’s open U.S. Senate seat kicked off their fall campaigns yesterday, promising to focus on the economy, job creation, taxes, and health care. Republican Tommy Thompson, fresh off his primary win on Tuesday, toured Husco International of Waukesha which makes hydraulic control valves. Democrat Tammy Baldwin visited Helios Solar Works, which makes solar modules in Milwaukee. Baldwin said Wisconsin needs a champion for manufacturing. She pointed to a law she co-sponsored in the House with Sherwood Republican Reid Ribble, which allows U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports that are heavily-subsidized by China’s government. Baldwin said she would fight for middle class families, while accusing Thompson of partnering with special interests who want to quote, “write their own rules.” Thompson said that if people want more government rules and federal control over their health care, then Baldwin’s their candidate. Thompson said the Bush tax cuts need to be continued. He also called for fewer environmental laws, and an end to the Dodd-Frank financial industry reforms. Thompson’s campaign also agreed to debate Baldwin on TV. She wants three debates this fall, but Thompson’s camp says it’s too early to get into specifics.
Tommy Thompson can thank voters in the Madison area and west-northwest Wisconsin for his U.S. Senate primary victory on Tuesday. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analyst Craig Gilbert crunched the numbers yesterday, and found that the Republican Thompson out-polled second-place Eric Hovde by 2-to-1 margins in the Madison, La Crosse, and Eau Claire TV markets. And the former governor won by a 5-to-1 margin in the Duluth-Superior market – the only part of the state where Hovde did not buy TV ads to make himself known. Hovde dominated TV for most of the primary campaign. But Thompson scored points when he got high praise late in the campaign from Governor Scott Walker and vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Neither endorsed Thompson, and Walker refused to say yesterday who he voted for. Hovde only got 10-percent of the vote in Duluth-Superior. But he won in the Green Bay-Appleton market, 37-26 percent. Hovde also took the Wausau-Rhinelander region by three points. The four-way contest was most even in the Milwaukee market, where Thompson edged Hovde 32-31 percent – and Mark Neumann and fourth-place Jeff Fitzgerald had around 18-percent each. Neumann had his worst showing in the Milwaukee area, where he lives. Gilbert said Neumann’s intense primary battle with Walker in 2010 made him unpopular in the state’s largest metro area. Milwaukee was the only region where Fitzgerald got more than 10-percent of the vote.
A long-running John Doe investigation into Governor Scott Walker’s aides has gone beyond his time as the Milwaukee County executive – and it’s now dealing with state government. County prosecutors have spent over two years looking into allegations that reportedly include embezzlement, bid-rigging, and illegal tax-funded campaigning. Today, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that a Milwaukee prosecutor sought records from the governor’s office concerning over 20 professional staffers hired since Walker took over state government. And a day after seeking those records, an assistant D-A met with the chief legal counsel for state Administration Department. Walker spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster said she didn’t know why prosecutors made the inquiries. And she said there’s no indication of any impropriety at the state level. Five of Walker’s former Milwaukee County aides have been charged with offenses ranging from embezzlement to campaigning on county time. One pleaded guilty in exchange for cooperating with the probe. The other cases are still pending.
Wisconsin’s July unemployment rate and job numbers will be announced today. But in advance of that, Governor Scott Walker released a different federal report yesterday showing that the state added 37-thousand-500 private sector jobs during the year ending in March. But 93-hundred public sector jobs were lost in that stretch, so the total gain was about 28-thousand jobs, or one-point-one percent. The Republican Walker said he’d like to see more job growth, but it probably won’t happen until after the November presidential election. Walker released the latest job figures to the Associated Press. They come from a quarterly U.S. Labor Department survey of almost all Wisconsin employers. The Walker administration says it’s a lot more accurate than the preliminary monthly numbers like those we’ll hear later today. That’s because those figures are based on a survey of just four-percent of employers. Walker was criticized when he released the last quarterly figures just before he won his June recall election. He used them in his campaign ads, touting the fact that Wisconsin gained over 20,000 jobs while other reports showed losses. Critics said Walker jumped the gun to win votes, not waiting for the full national report to be released. The next such report is not due out until September 27th. But Walker says he’ll keep releasing the quarterly data for Wisconsin when it becomes available. State officials say it’s more in line with income growth, and what’s actually happening.