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Government and Political News; Gov. Walker promises to stay neutral during the GOP senate primary

Governor Scott Walker says he'll stay neutral as four Republicans square off in the August 14th primary for Wisconsin's open U-S Senate seat. Walker said yesterday he'll serve as a "referee" in the case the four G-O-P hopefuls start attacking each other too much. One of the candidates, former Congressman Mark Neumann, lost a spirited governor's primary to Walker in 2010. And the governor says he has nothing against Neumann, saying quote, "Primaries are primaries." A national reporter asked Walker if he thought former Governor Tommy Thompson had any blame for the state policies that Walker's been changing. But Walker defended Thompson's record. He said Thompson was a reformer and a favorite of conservatives across the country in the 1980's-and-'90's. And Walker said Thompson won't have a problem with basic Republican voters in the Senate race this fall. The governor said the primary will not be about who's the most conservative. He said the bigger question is who makes the most compelling case for what they'll do in Washington if elected. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and hedge fund manager Eric Hovde round out the G-O-P field. The primary winner will face Democrat Tammy Baldwin in November.


Two state lawmakers have asked a judge to let them make arguments in favor of keeping Wisconsin's voter I-D law. But they refuse to say how they're paying for their legal help - and that's raising some ethical questions. Racine County Republican Robin Vos and Manitowoc Independent Bob Ziegelbauer have filed court documents seeking to intervene in a lawsuit against the I-D law filed by the League of Women Voters. The case is now in a state appeals court, after a Dane County judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs earlier this year. We do know that taxpayers are not covering Vos's and Ziegelbauer's legal bills, because there was never a legislative request for that funding. That means they're either paying for the work from their campaign funds or out of their own pockets - or a third party is paying for it. Plaintiffs' attorney Lester Pines tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he believes that somebody else is covering the lawmakers' expenses - and that would be illegal, because they're not supposed to take anything of value from outsiders. Ziegelbauer says if there's a problem, he'll pull out of the case.


For years, Senate Democrat Herb Kohl has been Wisconsin's richest member of Congress. And of the state's House members, Kimberly-Clark heir Jim Sensenbrenner from Menomonee Falls has traditionally been the wealthiest. But this year's financial disclosure statements tell a different story, at least for now. Sensenbrenner and Wausau area Republican Sean Duffy were given extensions to file their reports. So Fond du Lac Republican Tom Petri is currently listed as the state's richest U-S House member with a net worth of between five-million-dollars and 45-million. It's tough to compare House members because they're allowed to list their wealth in wide ranges. But in general, Republicans are worth more than Democrats. G-O-P House members Paul Ryan and Reid Ribble each joined Petri in listing at least one-point-seven million dollars in assets. No Democrat reported more than one-point-six million, and that's the top range for La Crosse Democrat Ron Kind. Milwaukee's Gwen Moore reported no actual assets, other than capital gains and investment sales which are offset by her home mortgage.


We're expected to find out today whether state Senate Republican Van Wanggaard will ask for a recount in the recall election he lost last week. The Racine lawmaker has until five o'clock to officially ask for a recount. A canvass of the June fifth ballots showed that Wanggaard lost to Democrat John Lehman by 834 votes, or a margin of one-point-two percent. Wanggaard has said there might have been voter fraud. And Racine County sheriff's deputies said yesterday they're investigating two issues. One involved suspicious voter registration documents found in a trash bin at a building in Racine, and the other involved reports of voting irregularities at a Racine polling place. If Lehman wins, Democrats will become the majority in the state Senate at least until the November elections.


Governor Scott Walker says he'll use whatever national stature he gained during his recall battle to promote Wisconsin, and reach out to businesses to try-and-attract jobs. The Republican Walker has spent the last two days in Washington attending meetings of the U-S Chamber of Commerce, meeting with students at Marquette's Les Aspin Center for Government, and talking to national reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. The Washington Post called Walker's trip "a victory lap through Washington" following his election win over Tom Barrett 10 days ago. But the governor - who was derided by Democrats during the campaign as a traveling right-wing "rock-star" - said he wants to use his newfound celebrity status to promote Wisconsin and not himself. As Walker put it, "There probably aren't too many business leaders across America who won't take our call now." During his meeting with national reporters, the governor said Republican Mitt Romney could carry Wisconsin in November. But he would have to be clear about his economic goals, and appeal to more than just Republicans. Walker made another pitch for Romney to choose Janesville House member Paul Ryan as his running mate. And the governor predicted that Wisconsin would flip back-and-forth in the polls between Romney and President Obama all the way until November.