• WisPolitics

Friday, April 30, 2010

 3:11 PM 

Jahn to return to UW-Madison after stint at USDA

WisPolitics has learned that former UW-Madison Dean Molly Jahn will return to her post as head of the university's College of Agriculture on Life Sciences on June 1 after serving in the U.S. Department of Agriculture since last October.

Jahn, who was originally appointed USDA Deputy Undersecretary of Research, Education and Economics, had been serving as Acting REE Undersecretary after Rajiv Shah was nominated as administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. Catherine Woteki was announced as President Obama's next nominee as Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics last week.

Jahn was originally granted a one-year leave to join USDA by UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin. Horticulture professor Irwin Goldman is currently serving as interim dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Jahn wrote in an e-mail to WisPolitics that her tenure in Washington has been an "extremely interesting and exciting time that will allow me to bring key experience and many new perspectives and relationships back to WI."

 2:58 PM 

Kohl touts USDA cranberry purchase

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will include $18 million worth of cranberry products in a puchase of goods for federal nutrition programs.

In addition to helping food programs, Kohl says the purchase will alleviate a cranberry surplus that has led to low prices for farmers. Kohl's office cites Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association statistics showing the state's cranberry industry -- the country's largest -- contributes $350 million to the state economy and supplies 7,200 jobs.

 10:24 AM 

State dept., feds reach agreement on TANF discrimination

The state Department of Children and Families has an new agreement with the feds to ensure the state won't discriminate in applications for participation in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Office of Civil Rights investigated complaints that DCF and the state DWD, which formerly administered the program, discriminated on the basis of race and disability in the administration of the W-2 program.

"This voluntary compliance agreement between OCR and the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families is a model for states in preventing unlawful discrimination in their TANF programs," said OCR Director Georgina Verdugo.

According to the release, a 2004 DWD report found that over a three-year period the Wisconsin TANF program had significant racial disparities in sanction rates for alleged failures to comply with program requirements, with Latino and African-American participants sanctioned at a rate higher than their white counterparts.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

 5:11 PM 

Kind returns Goldman Sachs contribution

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind has returned a $1,000 donation from Goldman Sachs.

Kind said in a statement he never requested the contribution and returned it once it was brought to his attention.

Kind’s campaign finance report shows the $1,000 donation from The Goldman Sachs Group PAC was received March 15.

“I voted for strong Wall Street Reform in the House and will continue to fight for strict regulation of big banks and Wall Street to ensure consumers and small businesses are protected from financial crises in the future," Kind said in the statement.

GOP opponent Dan Kapanke said returning the donation will do nothing to erase Kind’s “deep connections to special interests and Washington, D.C., money."

 11:19 AM 

Feingold, Senate Dems unveil legislative response to Citizens United

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold of Middleton joined a coalition of Dem Senators in unveiling the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act Thursday.

The legislation -- crafted with the Obama administration in response to the controversial Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision -- aims to increase disclosure of campaign spending by corporate interests. The Citizens United decision struck down a long-standing federal law prohibiting corporate contributions to political campaigns.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United was a tragic error. While the core of the McCain-Feingold law was left intact, the results of the decision are far reaching, giving big corporations greater power to sway elections and drown out the voices of average Americans," Feingold said in a statement. "While no bill can reverse the Court’s mistake, we need to make sure that the public can follow the money and see exactly who is behind the onslaught of political advertising that the decision has unleashed."

Backers say the bill would, in part, mandate that the leader of an organization sponsoring political advertisements to appear in the ads themselves, establish campaign accounts and reporting requirements for groups making political expenditures, and require that candidates who are attacked in ads can respond on the air by allowing them to purchase air time at the lowest possible rate in particular media markets.

In a statement responding to the bill, President Obama said, "I have long believed that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and this legislation will shine an unprecedented light on corporate spending in political campaigns."

 7:47 AM 

Sources: Oshkosh businessman Johnson to enter GOP U.S. Senate primary

GOP sources tell WisPolitics that Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson has decided to get into the U.S. Senate race and has been talking with operatives as he seeks to build a campaign structure.

Johnson's candidacy has been widely expected following Tommy Thompson's decision to forgo a run as a Republican Senate candidate, as WisPolitics.com reported last week.

Asked for comment, Johnson responded in an e-mail, "I will only say that there will be an important announcement regarding my intentions within the next two weeks."

The sources said Johnson was holding off on an announcement until he could make some progress on assembling his campaign team. He'd join Terrence Wall, Dick Leinenkugal and David Westlake as republican candidates vying to opposes Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

 10:45 AM 

Kagen works to free credit for small businesses

U.S. Rep. Steven Kagen, D-Appleton, said today that he's working on new legislation to free up more credit for Wisconsin small businesses.

Kagen told reporters in a conference call this morning that while working with small businesses and local banks, he found that many reputable small businesses had trouble procuring loans despite having a financially sound history.

"The bank regulators are coming in and tightening people up even if they've never missed a payment on their loan," Kagen said. "The bottom line is that we have to do something to give small businesses access to credit."

Kagen also touted yesterday's House vote to extend programs in the Small Business Administration through July. Kagen said those programs allowed businesses in the 8th CD to receive 510 loans for $140 million in 2009. So far this year, 8th CD small businesses have taken in $130 million in 366 SBA loans.

 8:20 AM 

Biden, Geithner call for financial reform in Milwaukee

Vice President Biden and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Tuesday that new sweeping financial “rules with teeth, enforced by people who care” must pass to protect the middle class and prevent the current recession from morphing into a depression.

“This is an important cause; it’s a just cause, and this requires reform,” Geithner told more than 500 people at a UW-M meeting sponsored by the school's Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business.

Geithner said the components of the proposed "Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act" won’t satisfy everyone, “but they will fix what caused this crisis, and they will make future crises less likely and less damaging.”

Biden said he doubts anybody disagrees that Wall Street reform is needed, saying, “When one stretch of skyscrapers on one street in downtown Manhattan can bring down the entire economy, not only here but around the world, putting hard-working Americans out of work, through no fault of their own, I might add, I think it’s time the rules of the game change so we can update the rules for the 21st century.”

The two spoke as part of a series of meetings around the country by the White House Middle Class Task Force. At today’s meeting, sponsored by the UW-Milwaukee Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business, the pair reaffirmed their support for the proposed Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

See more WisPolitics coverage here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

 10:31 AM 

Kanavas won't run for U.S. Senate

State Sen. Ted Kanavas says he will not run for the U.S. Senate because he doesn't believe he can raise $5 million over the next six months.

The Brookfield Republican said he believed he needed to raise that much money to boost his name ID and give him a chance in the GOP primary and a general election fight against U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold. But after giving it some thought, he realized he couldn't raise the needed cash and doesn't have the ability to self fund.

"You don't get into a gun fight without bullets," Kanavas said.

Kanavas, who has represented his Waukesha County area Senate seat since a 2001 special election, said this was not the end of his political career and that chances are "very high" that he'll run again after a two or four-year break. He said he'll take a look at any statewide race that comes up.

"People were extremely excited to see me get in a race like that, and I was really humbled by the support," Kanavas said of the reception he received while considering a Senate bid.

Monday, April 26, 2010

 12:10 PM 

Poll: McCormick has slim lead in 8th CD primary; majority of voters still undecided

A poll released today by the congressional campaign of Terri McCormick shows the former Appleton state rep. with a slim lead in the 8th CD GOP primary with just over half of respondents still undecided.

Among the respondents with a preferred candidate in the primary, nearly 14 percent favored McCormick. State Rep. Roger Roth, R-Appleton, garnered 11.1 percent in the survey, with Green Bay physician Marc Trager taking in 10.3 percent and Kaukauna roofing contractor Reid Ribble receiving 4.5 percent. Nearly 10 percent of respondents favored "other" GOP candidates, whose ranks include Door Co. Supervisor Marc Savard, De Pere attorney Andy Williams, and Sayner conservative activist Kerry Thomas.

Pollster Tony Dane said that only voters who identified themselves as Republicans -- 160 of the 500 surveyed -- participated in the GOP primary question. No background information was given other than to identify McCormick as an "educator and businesswoman." Ribble was identified as a businessman, Trager as a physician and Roth as a state representative.

The poll also showed McCormick leading incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, in a hypothetical general election matchup. McCormick was favored by 44.6 percent of respondents to Kagen's 37.9 percent. The survey did not include general election polling for any other GOP candidates.

Dane said 26 percent of the likely voters in the general election survey identified themselves as Democrats. Self-identified Republicans comprised 32 percent of respondents, with 41 percent identifying as "other."

The poll, conducted by automated telephone survey by Dane and Associates and paid for by the McCormick Campaign, surveyed 500 registered voters on March 23 and 24. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for the general election question.

 10:09 AM 

Feingold Campaign launches first TV ad

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold plays up his opposition to the federal bank bailout in his first TV ad of his 2010 campaign.

Images of Wisconsin figures Walter Davidson, Gaylord Nelson, William Proxmire and Frank Lloyd Wright flash across the screen as the Middleton Dem talks about the state's motto "Forward" and how Wisconsinites weigh the consequences of decisions, "not just how it affects us today but how it impacts us tomorrow."

He says he's been tough on wasteful spending and people told him to get tough on Wall Street, which is why he opposed the bank bailout.

"I'm U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, and I approve this message because we need to move forward together."

Feingold's campaign said the ad begins statewide today.

Friday, April 23, 2010

 3:28 PM 

Feingold honored by Wis. PTA

The Wisconsin Parent Teacher Association today honored U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Middleton, with its Friend of Children Award for "his work to improve the education and quality of life of Wisconsin’s children."

He received the award after addressing the group's convention in La Crosse.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

 5:00 PM 

Poll: Feingold leads GOP opponents

Russ Feingold has leads on three of his expected GOP opponents in the latest Rasmussen poll. But he didn't break 50 percent against any of them.

The survey, the first publicly released poll since Tommy Thompson announced he wouldn't run, has Feingold up on Terrence Wall 49 percent to 43 percent. Three percent backed some other candidate.

Against David Westlake, Feingold was up 49-38 with 4 percent backing some other candidate.

Though Dick Leinenkugel hasn't officially announced, Rasmussen matched him against Feingold. It found 48 percent backed Feingold, 37 percent supported Leinenkugel and 7 percent preferred some other candidate.

Dems generally dismiss Rasmussen surveys as right-leaning.

 10:14 AM 

DSCC gives max contribution to Feingold; Leinenkugel set to announce

Congressional Quarterly reports that U.S. Sens. Russ Feingold of Middleton and Barbara Boxer of California received the maximum $42,600 from the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee during the first quarter of 2010.

The donation could be an indication of how the national party view Feingold's vulnerability this fall, but CQ notes that the contribution was made before former Gov. Tommy Thompson announced he would not enter the Senate GOP primary last week.

Feingold is currently facing Madison real estate developer Terrence Wall and Watertown small businessman David Westlake. And a source said this morning that former Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel is finalizing details about his likely Senate run, with a formal announcement expected next week.

 10:09 AM 

UWM grad nominated to serve as ambassador to Iceland

President Obama has nominated a UW-Milwaukee graduate to be ambassador to Iceland.

Luis Arreaga is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who currently serves as director of the Office of Recruitment, Examination and Employment in the Bureau of Human Resources.

He earned his master's degree in management and his doctorate in economics from UW-Milwaukee.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

 8:04 AM 

Doyle praises Wis. rail projects at Chicago hearing

Gov. Jim Doyle Tuesday lauded President Obama's "vision and investment" in awarding Wisconsin nearly $823 million for high speed passenger rail expansion and said the project will yield "tremendous economic benefits" and thousands of new jobs.

"(I)n 2013, Wisconsin could very well have the first high speed rail line built with Recovery Act funds up and running - a model for the future of high speed passenger rail in this country," Doyle told the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

The subcommittee met in Chicago to discuss the rail grants allocated under the stimulus act, which totaled more than $8 billion. The Recovery Act funding will largely pay for a high speed passenger rail line from Milwaukee to Madison with a study planned on hooking the line up to the Twin Cities.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

 11:56 AM 

Kagen announces federal contract to Marinette Marine

U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, today announced that Marinette Marine Corp. has received a $73.6 million contract to construct a new Pacific Ocean fisheries survey vessel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The contract is being funded through last year's federal stimulus legislation.

"This project will not only benefit the economy of Marinette County, but also benefits our scientific research community as it will greatly enhance our understanding of our ocean resources," Kagen said in a statement.

Monday, April 19, 2010

 10:49 AM 

Trager named to NRCC watch list

Wisconsin now has four GOP candidates on the National Republican Congressional Committee's watch list for its "Young Guns" program

Green Bay physician Marc Trager has joined the program's "On the Radar" list -- the first of three steps in the Young Guns program -- after pacing the 8th CD GOP field in fundraising for the first quarter of 2010. Fellow 8th CD candidate Reid Ribble, a Kaukauna roofing contractor, made the "On the Radar" list last year; Ribble and Trager are headlining a crowded field of Republican candidates looking to challenge U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton.

"The NRCC is committed to working with Marc Trager as he continues to meet the rigorous goals of the Young Guns program," NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions said in a statement. "Marc is an accomplished, independent leader who will fight to create jobs and rein in government spending."

La Crosse state Sen. Dan Kapanke also made the "On the Radar" list last year as he challenges Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind of La Crosse, while Ashland Co. DA Sean Duffy reached "Contender" status -- the second level of the program -- as he looks to take on U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wausau.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, co-founded Young Guns with House GOP colleagues Eric Cantor of Virginia and Kevin McCarthy of California.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

 11:14 AM 

Kanavas to consider Senate run if Thompson bows out

State Sen. Ted Kanvas says he'll consider a run for the U.S. Senate if former Gov. Tommy Thompson announces he's out of the race today.

Kanavas, R-Brookfield, announced earlier this year he would not run for re-election for his state Senate seat. At the time, he said he was not planning to run for anything else, but did not close the door on a possible campaign.

He said he will take the next 10 days to consider his options before making a decision. He said he is not worried about the $4.3 million that Feingold has in his warchest because he believes the Middleton Dem is vulnerable on a number of issues.

"Can we ramp up a campaign fast enough that we can create the name ID necessary to be compete and to win a primary and go and defeat a sitting U.S. senator?" Kanavas said. "We've had some preliminary discussions about that. But that's the challenge."

 11:13 AM 

NRCC ad takes on Obey

The NRCC is running a TV ad that suggests Obey should be held accountable for President Obama's spending.

The spot, which began today, says Obama is building onto an "overwhelming national debt" and reminds viewers that Obey, D-Wausau, chairs the Appropriations Committee.

"Obama's spending gets Obama's stamp of approval," the narrator says. "It's a Niagara Falls of money flowing out of Washington. Call David Obey. Remind him it's not Washington's money. It's your money."

The NRCC declined to say what markets the spot was running in or how long it would be on TV.

 11:09 AM 

U.S. Reps., challengers report fundraising totals

With first quarter congressional fundraising numbers due to the Federal Election Commission today, 7th CD GOP candidate Sean Duffy raised $219,500 over the period and has $339,400 cash on hand.

Campaign manager Matt Seaholm told WisPolitics today that Duffy, the district attorney for Ashland County, put no personal funds into the campaign. The campaign spent $100,000.

Ninety percent of donors gave under $200, and 96 percent of the contributions were from individuals and 68 percent of the contributions were in-state, Seaholm said. Duffy is challenging long-time incumbent U.S. Rep. Dave Obey.

Among current members of the Wisconsin delegation, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin reports raising $196, 071 during the first quarter.

Baldwin, D-Madison, spent $105,405 over the reporting period. She had $729,202 cash on hand as of March 31.

Her GOP opponent, Madison teacher Peter Theron, reported just $1,015 raised, $1,293 spent, and $3,442 cash on hand. Another GOP candidate, Mt. Horeb businessman Chad Lee, does not yet have his campaign finance report posted by the FEC.

And U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, reported raising $43,401 during the first quarter.

Sensenbrenner spent $44,911 and had a warchest of $426,099 according to his latest filing. His Dem opponent, Menomonee Falls small business owner Todd Kolosso, raised $3,750 and spent $12,177 over the period. Kolosso reported $33,553 cash on hand, bolstered by a $20,000 candidate loan during the period.

See more at http://fec.gov/

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

 6:01 PM 

Carr nominated as Eastern District U.S. Marshal

President Barack Obama has nominated Milwaukee Co. Sheriff's Department Inspector Kevin Carr to the position of U.S. Marshal in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Carr has served in the Sheriff's Department since 1980. He was nominated along with Marshal candidates in five other states.

"I am proud to nominate these outstanding public servants to serve as U.S. Marshals," Obama said in a White House statement. "Throughout their careers, they have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice, and I appreciate their continued willingness to serve and protect the American people."

 5:05 PM 

Appeals court nominations may be holding up Butler confirmation

Volume rather than ideology may be what's holding up the nomination of Louis Butler Jr. to the federal bench in Madison.

Butler, has been awaiting a confirmation vote in the full Senate, but sources said Tuesday it remains unclear when that vote will be held given that appeals court nominations are the Senate's priority right now in terms of confirming judicial appointments.

The former state Supreme Court justice was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee late last year for a spot on the Western District of Wisconsin. But a backlog of judicial confirmations persists, leaving the schedule for Butler’s final confirmation vote unclear.

Some conservatives have also raised concerns over Butler's nomination, tagging him as a liberal activist and pointing out Wisconsin voters rejected him in 2008 as he tried to retain his seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He cleared the Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday that moving on Obama's nominations is a priority of his during the current work period, which runs through Memorial Day. But Senate sources said U.S. Circuit Court judicial nominees are a priority over U.S. District Court nominees, casting doubt on the likelihood of Butler getting confirmed any time soon.

 2:56 PM 

Wall reports more than $1 million cash on hand

Madison developer Terrence Wall is reporting more than $1 million cash on hand following a quarter in which he pumped $1.3 million of his own cash into his campaign for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination.

Wall said he has doubled the number of contributions and donors from the 4th quarter of 2009. Total cash on hand is up nearly $700,000 from the previous quarter, totaling $1,037,172.

"My campaign's strong first quarter report shows that I am committed to running a competitive race that will hold Russ Feingold accountable for his misguided votes in Washington," Wall said in a statement.

The average contribution to Wall is about $150, and 97 percent of donors are from in-state, the campaign said.

Feingold, the Dem incumbent, reported more than $4.3 million cash on hand at the end of the 1st quarter.

 11:02 AM 

Sources say Thompson bid unlikely

Tommy Thompson hasn't definitively made up his mind about a run for the U.S. Senate. But family reservations about a campaign make a bid unlikely, Thompson sources say this morning.

WTMJ-TV's Charles Benson reported Wednesday morning that Thompson won't run. But Thompson told the AP he doesn't know what he's going to do.

Sources tell WisPolitics no final decision has been made, but serious family reservations about a bid make a campaign seem unlikely. Anything was possible, they said, because Thompson wants to run.

Thompson is scheduled to speak at tomorrow's Tax Day Tea Party rally in Madison. A Thompson spokesman declined to comment on the former guv's plans, but said his intentions will be clear by the end of tomorrow's speech.

See more WisPolitics coverage here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

 8:25 AM 

Feingold has almost $4.3 million in warchest

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold raised more than $1.34 million in the first quarter of 2010 and had almost $4.3 million in the bank at the end of the reporting period, his campaign said.

His total includes more than $255,000 raised online, and Feingold's campaign says his average donation was $51.

"I'm proud of the strong grassroots support we have earned from people across Wisconsin," Feingold said in a statement. "The strength of our campaign is unmatched, and we will continue to build our grassroots effort in every community in our state. That's the way we have always done it and that's the way we will do it again this election."

Monday, April 12, 2010

 4:13 PM 

Wis. RNC members back Steele as chairman

Wisconsin's GOP national committee members are among those who signed onto a letter expressing confidence in RNC Chair Michael Steele.

The RNC members wrote in the letter that Steele's "record at winning elections has been stellar, his fundraising ability has been solid, and he has honed our Victory programs' ability to identify and deliver voters for Republican candidates."

Steele has been under fire on a host of fronts during his tenure as chair, most recently for nearly $2,000 the RNC spent at a strip club in West Hollywood as part of a fundraising effort. Some national party figures have called on Steele to resign, but he has refused to do so.

National committee members Mary Buestrin and Steve King were among the members to endorse Steele.

Friday, April 9, 2010

 1:09 PM 

Kohl, Feingold react to Stevens' announcement

Wisconsin U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold commended Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens today after the court's longest-tenured member announced he would step down this summer.

"Justice Stevens has served on the Supreme Court with the utmost integrity, honor, and Midwestern sensibility," Kohl said in a statement. "I thank Justice Stevens for his lifetime commitment to public service; he will be greatly missed. I look forward to confirming a nominee that will carry on his distinguished legacy."

Feingold added in a statement that Stevens "provided wisdom and steadfast leadership" over his tenure.

Both senators serve on the Judiciary Committee, which will be responsible for questioning and taking the first vote on President Obama's eventual nominee to replace Stevens.

 11:33 AM 

Feingold renews call for Afghanistan timetable

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold is renewing his call for a flexible timetable to begin removing American combat troops from Afghanistan.

Feingold, D-Middleton, issued a letter to the president Thursday asking for the timetable, along with U.S. Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Walter Jones, R-N.C. Feingold first proposed the timetable in August 2009.

"We are very concerned that the United States' military strategy in Afghanistan is not in our best national security interest and makes us dependent upon an unreliable partner in the Afghan government, as recent events highlight," the congressmen write, a reference to the erratic behavior of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "An open-ended, military-centric nation-building campaign in Afghanistan is risky and not necessary to protect the United States, and it undercuts our ability to pursue al Qaeda's global network."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

 12:09 PM 

Kapanke reports raising $150,000 in first quarter

Republican 3rd Congressional District candidate Dan Kapanke's campaign is reporting nearly $150,000 raised in the first quarter of this year.

The campaign has $218,000 cash on hand, according to a press release.

Kapanke, a state senator from La Crosse, is challenging Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind. First quarter reports are due to the FEC by April 15.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

 5:11 PM 

Ryan raises $287,000 in first quarter of 2010

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan is the first Wisconsin House incumbent to report his first quarter fundraising totals.

Ryan, R-Janesville, reported raising nearly $287,000 during the three-month reporting period. Nearly $195,000 of that total came from individual contributors, with $92,000 contributed by PACs and other groups, FEC reports showed.

He spent $109,000 over the period, and reported more than $1.7 million cash on hand as of March 31.

 11:08 AM 

Sources: Leinenkugel to seek GOP Senate nomination vs. Feingold

Outgoing Doyle administration Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel is expected to announce later this month that he's running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican, sources say.

Asked for a comment Tuesday night, Leinenkugel responded Wednesday morning: "I will be making an announcement on my future plans within the next two to three weeks. Thanks for checking back with me."

Leinenkugel announced Tuesday that he was leaving his post at the end of this week to pursue a new opportunity. Leinenkugel said in an interview late Tuesday afternoon that he couldn't announce what he was doing next for another two to three weeks, but said he was "tremendously excited" and it was something he couldn't finish out his term and pursue.

At that time, Leinenkugel declined to comment on speculation that he may run for public office.

But sources told WisPolitcs that Leinenkugel will run for the Senate, seeking the GOP nomination to take on U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Middleton. He'd join Madison-area developer Terrence Wall, Watertown businessman David Westlake and maybe former governor and national health secretary Tommy Thompson if he decides to jump in. Thompson would still be the favorite -- even with Leinenkugel's entrance into the field, political observers said.

A Thompson supporter said the former governor is aware of Leinenkugel's intentions to get into the primary, but said it won't affect his decision.

Thompson is on vacation with his family this week as he weighs whether to get into the primary. The ex GOP guv and HHS secretary has said he planned to discuss a bid with his family during the trip to gauge their support.

"Frankly, it doesn't matter who's considering it," said former Thompson aide and Commerce Secretary Bill McCoshen. "That won't have any impact on the governor's final decision."

Leinenkugel took shots Wednesday from both parties over his decision.

The Wall Campaign got in a shot in a press release welcoming Leinenkugel to the race by noting Wisconsin's unemployment doubled while he has been Gov. Jim Doyle's Commerce secretary. Wall also tied Leinenkugel to Doyle tax increases and the state's no-bid contract for a Spanish company to build high-speed rail cars for Wisconsin.

The Dem Party, meanwhile, noted Leinenkugel headlined a fundraiser for Dem state Rep. Andy Jorgensen just four months ago and questioned if the GOP would welcome "a cheerleader for the stimulus that they oppose."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

 1:44 PM 

Duffy names new campaign manager

Ashland Co. DA Sean Duffy announced today that Matt Seaholm, a staffer in Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's office, will take over as the campaign manager for his 7th Congressional District race.

Seaholm takes over for Chris DeRose, who left the campaign last month to return to his law practice in Scottdale, Ariz.

"Matt knows Wisconsin politics and is an incredibly hard worker. There's no question that he has the experience to guide this campaign the rest of the way," Duffy said in a statement. Duffy and Rudolph farmer Dan Mielke are vying for the GOP nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wausau.

Seaholm added, "While it won't be easy to take out a powerful Washington insider with unlimited access to special interest money, this isn't an ordinary election year and Sean is not your typical candidate."

 10:44 AM 

Obey: Prioritize 'jobs deficit' above federal deficit

U.S. Rep. Dave Obey says the nation faces a series of issues more pressing than the federal deficit -- including a "jobs deficit, an income deficit, and an opportunity deficit."

"We must address the debt and budget deficits for the long-term health of our nation," Obey acknowledged in a report by The Hill. But the Wausau Democrat added that the massive federal stimulus legislation -- which he helped craft as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee -- accounts for less than one-tenth of the overall deficit.

"We need to distinguish between deficit spending that is simply a form of short-term gratification versus deficits that are run in the short term to finance investments that will strengthen the economy over the long haul," Obey told The Hill. "Policymakers are supposed to be able to distinguish between the two."

Obey also criticized opponents of the stimulus bill, saying Dem efforts are beginning to have an effect on the economy. The federal jobs report released last week showed a net gain of 162,000 jobs last month.

"Some naysayers say that the Recovery Act has not saved a single job," Obey said. "If they cannot see that assertion is not true it is simply because they don't want to see."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

 1:58 PM 

Pawlenty endorses Duffy

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's political action committee -- Freedom First PAC -- has named Ashland Co. DA Sean Duffy among its first seven congressional challenger endorsements.

"We need to help good people running for office who understand that the federal government is overreaching and are willing to stand up and say, 'Enough!,'" said Pawlenty, who will serve as a keynote speaker at next month's state GOP convention. "These candidates share my common-sense approach to governing, and will work to stop the out-of-control spending in Washington."

"I'm proud and honored to have the endorsement of Governor Pawlenty," Duffy said in a statement. "He's a commonsense conservative who has been a great leader for Minnesota. He has a great message about getting our country back on track by reducing government and promoting individual freedoms, and I really appreciate his support."

Duffy, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wausau, had previously touted his status as the first congressional challenger to be endorsed by former Alaska gov. and vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

 1:05 PM 

Kind to announce obesity bill in Badger State

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind will use his spring recess period to unveil a comprehensive anti-obesity bill on Tuesday.

The La Crosse Democrat will make the announcement of the Healthy CHOICES Act on the UW-Eau Claire campus, but a videoconference of the event and additional speakers will bring the press conference to Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, River Falls and Platteville.

Kind says the legislation brings together government, grocers and the health care industry to increase education, improve access to nutritional information and update nutritional guidelines. The bill also focuses on bringing healthier food and greater opportunities for physical activity to rural and low-income urban areas.

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