Former Bucyrus International CEO Tim Sullivan tells WisPolitics he has been approached by both Republicans and Democrats as he continues to weigh his options about a potential U.S. Senate run.
"I think it's already starting to get pretty crowded out there," Sullivan said. "But it's still very early."
Republican Mark Neumann and Democrat Tammy Baldwin are the only two declared candidates in the race, but former Gov. Tommy Thompson has signaled his intentions to get in and others are considering a run.
Sullivan said a decision would need to be made by the end of the year in order to have a chance.
"If it goes beyond the end of the year, then you're starting to run into timelines that could get a little tight."
If he does run, Sullivan was not sure whether he would pursue a party nomination or run as an independent.
"That's a great question," Sullivan said. "I think that I truly am an independent, but in the political environment that we’re in today it’s kind of hard to be successful being on your own."
Sullivan spoke Thursday at a press conference discussing the reformation of the Wisconsin Mining Association, saying he wants lawmakers to find a bipartisan way to change the state’s ferrous mining laws. He will serve as chair of the association's association’s board of directors.
Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson defeated longtime incumbent Russ Feingold on a platform of being a citizen legislator who would bring a businessman's rather than a politician's thinking to Washington.
Speaking as a guest of the Marquette University's Law School's “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” series on Thursday, Johnson said he saw no conflict in embracing traditional political roles in Washington.
Johnson has announced he will run for vice chair of the Republican Conference, a leadership position in the Senate GOP caucus. He said he decided to run for the position because it’s about communication.
Johnson has also created a leadership PAC called Strategy PAC.
"The idea behind those leadership PACs is to help fellow Republican senatorial candidates be able to win back the Senate. It's one of those Washington, D.C., customs and anything I can do to help that process, I'm willing to do it," he told WisPolitics afterward.
Asked by WisPolitics if he deplored partisanship as much as he said he did during his campaign last fall, Johnson said, "It's sad. I don't see it on the other side. When you have a president that needs to lead, and he's not leading ... so again, in order to work on a bipartisan basis, you need somebody that's negotiating in good faith, that's working in good faith, and currently we don't have that with this president."
Johnson also told the audience that "it's really pretty remarkable how President Obama has pretty well taken over and continued the policies of the Bush administration."
That doesn't mean the freshman Republican senator agrees with Obama on anything.
"We're not getting leadership out of President Obama," he said.
Johnson did not offer any endorsement of a possible GOP candidate to take on Obama, but said, "I will be begging Republicans running for president to run an issues campaign. Run on a mandate. Explain to the American people the extent of the problems, lay out for the American people your solutions to the problem so that when hopefully you get elected, the American people understand what you're going to do and then will support you to get it done."
But Johnson repeated his opinion that Obama's signature mandate -- a national health care plan -- should in fact, be repealed, along with other Obama initiatives. And he said Obama doesn't have a clue how to create jobs.
Johnson also expressed frustration with political inefficiency and bickering on Capitol Hill, calling the appropriations process, for example, unprofessional, and said it's far worse than he had imagined.
Johnson complained of not getting information until the day before the vote on a spending bill. Johnson, an accountant by profession, said he then had to ask his staff to "break numbers out of legislative language into a spreadsheet for me."
"I see now, how unprofessional, how out of control the spending process is," Johnson said.
Johnson said he would continue to block the nomination of Wisconsin Law School professor Victoria Nourse to the 7th District U.S. Court of Appeals.
Johnson said Obama had nominated Nourse before last fall's election when Democrats had a larger majority in the Senate, and said "they could have confirmed her when they had the chance."
"Elections have consequences," Johnson said.
"The day I was sworn in, President Obama re-nominated Nourse ... and he went ahead without consulting me at all," Johnson said. "The voters of Wisconsin who elected me should have equal say in who is nominated."
Johnson insisted her "nomination had expired" with the fall election and questioned her ties to Wisconsin and its legal community. He also said here politics were “certainly part of it. I've got all kinds of reasons."
Former GOP state Sen. Ted Kanavas announced this morning he will not run for the U.S. Senate, saying it would be too difficult to raise the money necessary to win.
Kanavas, R-Brookfield, said a four- or five-candidate field would make it tough to fundraise in hard economic times. What’s more, he said many donors have said privately that they would refrain from supporting anyone out of respect for Tommy Thompson’s political legacy in Wisconsin.
“I am not a multi-millionaire and do not have unlimited personal funds to put into this race,” Kanavas said. “I go to work every day like most of the people of Wisconsin. “
So far, only former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann has officially announced among Republicans. Thompson has filed the paperwork necessary to begin raising money, while Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and state Sen. Frank Lasee are also considering bids.
Russ Feingold has announced Massachusetts Dem Elizabeth Warren is the first U.S. Senate candidate that his Progressives United PAC will endorse and support.
“I've known Elizabeth and her husband for years, and she's exactly the type of person who should be running for office,” Feingold wrote in an email to supporters. “Supporting her campaign for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts will be an absolutely crucial part of our fight against the nasty influence of corporate money in politics -- and she needs all the support we can give her before Friday.”
Friday is the close of the third quarter for federal fundraising reports. Feingold urged backers to make 1,000 contributions of $5 or more before the deadline.
Dem state Sen. Jon Erpenbach will not run for the open 2nd CD, saying the fight to protect Wisconsin's "programs and people is here in Wisconsin."
"So I will not be running for Congress next year," Erpenbach wrote in an email to WisPolitics.com. "Instead, I choose to stay here and fight. I will continue to meet every good intention on the part of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle with good faith of my own, because we can and must move forward. We must bring back to our state the rights and respect Wisconsinites deserve. A better, stronger Wisconsin for our kids and their families is at stake, and that is a future worth fighting for."
Erpenbach, D-Middleton, has frequently been mentioned as a possible candidate for guv if there's a recall of Scott Walker next year.
Dem state Reps. Mark Pocan and Kelda Roys and Dane County Treasurer Dave Worzala have announced for the race.
Former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann said he’s already started winning over GOP activists who were upset that he ran against Scott Walker for governor last year.
Appearing on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” Neumann pointed out he campaigned with Walker last year after losing the GOP nomination despite winning 44 counties in the primary. He said he’s won three straw polls already in southeastern Wisconsin and received a positive response from Republican voters.
“If I had a nickel for every person that said to me, you know, Mark, we told you to run for Senate before, glad you’re running for Senate now, or we like both you and Scott, we’re glad you’re running because we wanted to vote for both of you, I wouldn’t have to go out and fundraise for my campaign,” he said on the statewide TV newsmagazine produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has named U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan the chairman of the committee's Presidential Trust, which the former state GOP chairman said would be "tasked with raising the resources needed to directly finance an aggressive ground game and act as partner to our nominee in 2012."
"Having Congressman Ryan on board to lead this effort is a big win for our Party and I look forward to working with him to make Barack Obama a one-term president," Priebus said in a statement.
“Raising the resources necessary to get out the vote in 2012 will be the difference maker in determining what kind of future we will have -- an expanding grade-to-grave social welfare state and the resulting loss of our liberties or a renewed prosperity and pro-growth leadership that will only come if we send a Republican to the White House," added Ryan, R-Janesville.
“Ron is a successful businessman who knows how jobs are created and has quickly proven to be an effective and principled leader in the Senate," DeMint said in a statement. “He’s been a tireless advocate for working families that are frustrated with Washington’s failed attempts to micromanage our economy."
Roy Blunt of Missouri is considering running against Johnson for the vice chair post.
Wisconsin’s House delegation split along party lines over a continuing spending resolution designed to keep the federal government running past Sept. 30.
All but six Dems opposed the measure, and GOP leaders could not keep their caucus onboard as the bill went down 230-195. Forty-eight Republicans voted against the bill, but all five of Wisconsin’s GOP House members supported the legislation.
Kohl, the subcommittee chairman, added that the company's original mission may have changed as it moved from "a mere search engine into a major Internet conglomerate."
"As more and more of our commerce moves to the Internet, it should be the highest priority of antitrust policymakers that the Internet remains a bastion of open and free competition as it has been since its founding," Kohl said according to prepared remarks delivered at the hearing's outset.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says he'll run for vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.
Conference Chair Lamar Alexander of Tennessee announced yesterday he's stepping down from that post. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., has already said he will run to succeed Alexander. John Barrasso of Wyoming is now the conference vice chair, but could be in line to replace Thune as the chair of the Republican Policy Committee.
“I came to Washington because I believe that business as usual is bankrupting America, and it has to stop,” Johnson said in announcing his decision. “Every day I ask myself ‘what can I do to be effective – to have an impact?’ The position of Vice-Chair of the Republican Conference would be an important opportunity to address our fiscal crisis. As Vice-Chair, I would seek to communicate how urgent the problem is and work with the Republican Conference to develop real solutions.”
U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble is doing a fundraiser later this month for Mark Neumann’s campaign, but he says he’s not endorsing anyone in the race.
Ribble, R-Sherwood, is listed as the special guest for a fundraiser in Green Bay next week with suggested donations of $250 up to $5,000.
Ribble sent WisPolitics.com a statement saying he doesn't plan to endorse anyone in the race, but will help Republican candidates who come to the 8th. He said Neumann asked him to attend the event and would do the same for Tommy Thompson, Jeff Fitzgerald or any other Republican.
Ribble said he’s sent 11 bills to the Senate only for them to die and he’s “offended at the failure of action that’s come from that’s chamber and I’m committed to helping put an additional Republican in that body.”
“I’m not endorsing just one of them but saying that any of them are better than the iron wall that Harry Reid has put up in Washington today and if any of them want my help I’m happy to give it,” Ribble said.
The U.S. economy is sputtering and the public may be tired of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but former congressman Mark Green says it would be a mistake to disengage abroad
That was the message that Green, who served as ambassador to Tanzania, delivered to a global issues class at Edgewood High School earlier today.
"I don’t want to see the United States -- because we are rightly focused on domestic issues and jobs -- get to a place where we start to withdraw from the world,” said Green. He represented Green Bay for six years in the Wisconsin state Assembly, served four terms in Congress and ran for governor in 2006.
Green, who traveled to both Iraq and Afghanistan when he was in Congress, said he supported both wars. In response to a student’s question on pullback in Afghanistan, he said the United States must remain strong and predictable.
“These are challenging times in a lot of ways that we'll understand more clearly looking back on them,” he said. “The day when our men and women can come home safely and successful is a great day.”
Green is now a senior director at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a broad-based network of 400 businesses and non-governmental organizations. It also includes national security and foreign policy experts, business, faith-based, academic and community leaders who support what he calls a “smart power” approach of elevating development and diplomacy alongside defense order to build a better, safer world.
Green – who lived in Africa as a boy and whose father is from South Africa – said he supports efforts to rebuild the American economy and create jobs. But he reminded his audience that 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside the U.S. borders.
“To grow our economy, we need to export,” he said, noting that the Chinese have made major inroads into Africa. He said that continent’s overall economy is growing at nearly 7 percent annually “and we aren’t the only ones who know it.”
Moreover, he added, the United States can be a force for good in the world.
“We need engagement,” said Green, who served on foreign policy committees in Congress. “I’m doing all I can to encourage that.”
While in Congress, he helped craft legislation aimed at combating malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS in developing countries. In addition, he played a lead role in passage of the Millennium Challenge Act, which seeks to reduce global poverty by promoting sustainable economic growth.
Green, who taught school in Kenya for a year after he finished law school, told the Edgewood students he got into politics by accident and only because he needed a job.
But he said he soon came to enjoy developing answers to problems. And he was flattered, he said, when the state senator for whom he worked asked him his opinion on how he should vote on a bill.
When he returned from Kenya, he was asked to help run former Gov. Tommy Thompson’s campaign for governor. The two became friends and Green is now supporting Thompson in his run for the U.S. Senate.
Green lamented the harshness of today’s political discourse, and said he was dismayed by attacks on Thompson by the national branch of the Club for Growth, which portrayed Thompson as a “big spender.”
Green scoffed at the notion that Thompson is too moderate to be elected in 2012 and touted the former governor’s record creating jobs in Wisconsin while reforming welfare and education.
Green also praised the Tea Party for engaging more taxpayers in politics. But he said he is “nostalgic” for the days when politicians could disagree and still be friends.
He declined to discuss efforts to recall Gov. Scott Walker. He also said he couldn’t comment on President Obama’s deficit reduction plan because he had not yet read it.
Green encouraged the students to consider careers in public service.
“We live in exciting times and the world is shrinking,” he said. “You can make a difference. You can accomplish anything you want to.”
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan today said a "$1.6 trillion tax hike on job creators is never a good idea" after President Obama this morning proposed raising revenue -- largely by taxing wealthy Americans -- in an effort to fund his jobs proposal and rein in the federal deficit.
"Having overseen an unprecedented surge in government spending ... the President has finally admitted that he plans to send the bill for Washington’s reckless spending straight to American businesses and families," said Ryan, R-Janesville, in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menonomee Falls, responded, "Washington should be passing policies to encourage private sector growth, not punish it."
State Sen. Frank Lasee wrote to supporters this morning seeking their thoughts and help should he decide to enter the race for the state's open U.S. Senate seat next year.
The De Pere Republican said he'll consult with friends and colleagues and pray with his family over "the next couple weeks," but wrote that he's "seriously considering" the run.
"In order to keep my promise to help Get Wisconsin Working Again, I’m convinced we must change the direction our country is heading," Lasee wrote. "Wisconsin needs a strong voice, a determined leader and a proven conservative to work for us in the US Senate."
Lasee told WisPolitics earlier this month that the only factors that would hold him back from a run were "internal."
Still, he told supports that if now isn't the right time to jump into the U.S. Senate fray, he'd gladly continue serving the 1st Senate District.
"I truly want to serve Wisconsin in a greater capacity," Lasee wrote.
Former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann is already in the race on the GOP side, while former Gov. Tommy Thompson, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and former Sen. Ted Kanavas are considering bids.
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind will announce later this morning that he will not run for the U.S. Senate, Dem sources tell WisPolitics.com.
The sources said Kind has been notifying supporters that he will not challenge Tammy Baldwin in next year's Dem primary. One source said Kind, D-La Crosse, stressed that he did not believe a divisive primary would help create jobs and would not help Wisconsin families.
UPDATE: 10:35 a.m. -- Kind's campaign has released an official statement, in which he declares, "Now is not my time to run for the U.S. Senate.
"I remain unwavering in my focus on growing the economy with good paying jobs while developing a long-term plan to get our fiscal house in order without jeopardizing the future of our children. The issues are just too pressing right now.
"Furthermore, at this time a divisive primary contest will not serve the interests of the state or the real needs of families. It will not create one job, help one family pay for college, cut one dollar from our state or federal deficit, protect one senior citizen’s Social Security and Medicare, or help one of the thousands of veterans in Wisconsin who served our country. Most certainly it will not reduce the hyper partisanship that is needlessly tearing apart our state and country."
Dane Co. Treasurer Dave Worzala today joined the Dem primary field for the open 2nd Congressional District.
The former Dane Co. supervisor announced his candidacy at Wingra Park on Madison's near-west side, touting his work on fiscal issues in both state and federal government.
“The Republican/Tea Party solutions to the Federal debt are a recipe for failure and unfairly place the burden of solving the nation’s financial woes on the backs of the elderly, sick, and disadvantaged," Qorzala said in a statement. "I relish the opportunity to bring Wisconsin’s values of pragmatism and fairness to the nation’s spending priorities.”
Madison state Reps. Mark Pocan and Kelda Roys have already entered the race; Waunakee state Sen. Jon Erpenbach is also considering a bid in the Dem primary.
GOP U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble this afternoon pushed back against complaints that he no longer lives in the 8th CD, saying any questions over his personal ties to the area “are just ridiculous.”
Ribble has a home in Sherwood, which is just outside of the 8th CD that covers northeastern Wisconsin. He said in a statement he put the home up for sale last year, but it has not sold and is being pulled off the market until things turn around.
Under the redistricting maps Republicans drew this year to cover the 2012 elections, Ribble's Sherwood home will be in the newly configured 8th CD.
State Dem Party chairman Mike Tate asked in a statement whether Ribble had ever lived in the 8th and whether he interfered in the redistricting process to include his family's home in the new district.
"Clearly, he has taken steps to hide the truth about his residency," Tate said.
Ribble’s office pointed out in a statement that the U.S. Constitution does not require lawmakers to live in the district they represent.
“Northeast Wisconsin is my home and always will be, and that fact has made serving the people of Wisconsin more meaningful than words can describe,” Ribble said. “I said last year when asked from time to time about this issue that the Constitution doesn’t care where I sleep at night -- and with my schedule that’s about all I’m doing at that house … sleeping."
Wisconsin’s congressional delegation and the guv sent a letter today to the Air Force secretary to correct what they say is an inaccuracy about his branch’s assessment of Dane County’s Truax Field.
The base’s score is part of the Air Force’s evaluation for where it should station the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
According to the letter, the Air Force has already revised Truax Field’s score because of data entry errors. The guv and the delegation also believe it was erroneously listed in an “attainment/maintenance area” for sulfur dioxide. They requested Secretary Michael Donley’s assistance in correcting that.
They also asked if the new score improved Truax’s chances of landing the F-35s.
Wisconsin's delegation largely split along party lines reacting to President Obama's Thursday evening address on jobs to a joint session of Congress.
U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, said the address contained "some good, some bad and some rather indifferent" ideas, and that some of the president's initiatives targeted toward helping states wouldn't benefit Wisconsin very much.
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Ashland, argued that lawmakers should "push forward quickly on areas in which we all agree," saying, "Regulatory reforms, free trade agreements, tax reform that closes loopholes, and streamlining of infrastructure projects would be a great start."
But U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, charged that the speech "would simply double down on already tried -- and failed -- policies."
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, said the president's proposals would move the country in the right direction, arguing, "Our struggling economy is the biggest contributor to rising budget deficits."
And new Dem Senate candidate and Madison U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin praised the president's "strong demand for action."
State Rep. Kelda Roys of Madison this morning became the first Dem to join the race for the now-open 2nd Congressional District.
In a press release, Roys said the country needs "bold, energetic leaders who will set the right priorities."
"There is a vacuum in the next generation of progressive leaders in Washington, D.C.," Roys said. "Congress has become less responsive to the public, and especially, to the concerns of middle class families."
Fellow Madison Dem Rep. Mark Pocan is expected to announce his candidacy for the seat, which is being vacated by incumbent Tammy Baldwin's Senate bid, later this morning. Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, has also expressed interest in the race.
UPDATE -- 11:03 a.m.: Pocan declared his candidacy this morning at his sign business on Madison's south side.
He vowed to fight for "everyone who struggles to make ends meet, who worries about job security, who wonders whether they can pay their child’s tuition bill and keep paying the mortgage and for those of you who have tried and tried but still cannot find work."
"If standing up to Scott Walker was the first battle, standing up to Paul Ryan and his brand of anti-government radicalism may well be the defining one,” Pocan said in a statement.
Seven conservative bloggers from Wisconsin have joined together to urge national conservatives to reconsider their support for Mark Neumann's U.S. Senate campaign.
Last week, the national Club for Growth endorsed Neumann's candidacy for the GOP nomination, while U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint's PAC asked its supporters whether the group should back Neumann as well. The email appeal stopped short of an endorsement, but sang Neumann's praises while taking a veiled swipe at former Gov. Tommy Thompson.
"This is not only a choice of ideology but of character, and it is our responsibility to bring Mark Neumann's lack of character to your attention," the bloggers wrote in an open letter to the head of the Club for Growth and DeMint. "While we do not question Neumann's past contributions to conservatism while he was a Congressman, his actions during last year's campaign are completely unbecoming of a conservative candidate."
The letter goes on to ask the recipients to "talk to true Wisconsin conservatives to find out what they think of Neumann before attempting to foist their choice upon Wisconsin" and to "trust in the faith of Badger State conservative activists."
"The middle class is really getting slammed right now and is fighting for its very survival," Baldwin told reporters in a conference call.
Baldwin is the first Dem to get into the race, and many have tabbed her as the favorite in the primary because of her appeal to the party's liberal base. But she has faced questions over whether she can win a statewide campaign.
She hinted at those questions in a video announcement sent to supporters, saying people doubted her in 1998 when she won her House seat. But she said she campaigned hard and won. She also mentioned Dem U.S. Herb Kohl, who she's seeking to replace, and former Dem U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, who announced last month that he would not run in 2012.
Baldwin highlighted her opposition to the repeal of financial regulations that she led to the current economic crisis, touted her opposition to the war in Iraq and said the money now being spent in Afghanistan should be used to cut the deficit once American troops are brought home.
"People are yearning for public officials who listen and understand their struggles," Baldwin said. "I do. And that's why I'm running for U.S. Senate."
The national Club for Growth has endorsed former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann in the race for the state's open U.S. Senate seat next fall, calling the southeastern Wisconsin homebuilder "one of the most principled congressmen to serve in decades."
"Mark has won numerous awards for his efforts to cut government spending and would be a strong ally for fiscal conservatives in the United States Senate," the group said in its endorsement. "Mark's primary opponents would not demonstrate nearly the same leadership on spending."
Neumann declared his candidacy Monday. Other candidates likely to enter the GOP field include former Gov. Tommy Thompson, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and state Sen. Frank Lasee.
CFG has criticized Thompson's prospective candidacy and ran a TV ad ripping his record on state spending and health care reform. That led to a charge from Thompson's team that Neumann allies were behind the CFG attacks.
The Wisconsin chapter of Club For Growth said Wednesday that it has not taken sides in the race and that it was not consulted about the national group's ad.
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Ashland, says he will now participate in Wausau's Labor Day parade after union leaders changed their position and decided to allow Republicans to participate.
Local labor officials had officially banned Republicans from the event following what they said was an assault on workers' rights. But the Wausau mayor threatened to withhold resources unless they changed their position, and union leaders said they didn't want other groups affected.
"The unfortunate truth is Wisconsin's political environment has become so toxic these days that even parades are seen as a chance to take political swipes at each other. But working together, I know we can repair these relationships and find common ground," Duffy said. "The Wausau Labor Day parade is a great family-friendly event and I hope it stays that way. I intend to participate and am looking forward to bringing my kids to walk with me. Unfortunately, this parade has received a lot of negative attention, but I trust now we can show people across the country who are simply spoiling for a fight that Wisconsinites can come together, have fun, be friendly, and set politics aside for this holiday celebrating the great American work ethic."