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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

 9:21 AM 

Wis. reaction to State of the Union mixed

GOP members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation expressed disappointment in the president’s State of the Union address. Dem U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, though, praised the president of his focus on manufacturing.

“The President also recognizes that education is the foundation of our country’s future, whether it means providing all students access to a quality education or ensuring that workers have opportunities for job retraining,” Kohl said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to grow our economy and job market."

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, said the president missed an opportunity to lead and noted it’s been 1,000 days since Senate Dems produced a budget, which he called “a legal and moral failure by elected leaders.”

“The President rightly highlighted the need for a ‘renewal of American values.’ Yet the results of his failed policies and divisive rhetoric do just the opposite. Centralizing more power in Washington is antithetical to the American Idea, which promotes economic freedom and upward mobility for each and every citizen. It is critical we work together to advance a reform agenda that applies our timeless principles to the challenges of today.”

See more reaction.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

 9:44 AM 

Senate approves bill authorizing St. Croix River bridge repairs

The U.S. Senate voted Thursday night to approve the St. Croix River Crossing Authorization Act, which would allow for the long-sought renovation of the bridge between Houlton and Stillwater, Minn.

The project to repair the 80-year old bridge must first be exempted from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which the Senate backed by unanimous consent.

"Constructing the St. Croix bridge is important for both economic activity in western Wisconsin and the drivers that use the bridge," said U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in a statement. "The people of Wisconsin and Minnesota have waited far too long for this replacement."

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, called the vote "just the momentum we need to get this long-overdue project across the finish line."

"I’m pleased the bill received bipartisan support and hope that it will receive the same in the House of Representatives," Kind said in a statement. "I’m calling on the House to not wait any longer -- to take up and pass this legislation that is so vital to the economic and transportation needs of the St. Croix River Valley.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

 3:03 PM 

DCCC chairman expects three Wis. challengers to be among top pick-up opportunities

Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Israel said Friday that Green Bay business consultant Jamie Wall is "now considered one of the most competitive candidates in the country" by the group, and that he expects two more Dem challengers in Wisconsin to join him on that list later this year.

In a conference call with Wisconsin reporters, Israel, D-N.Y., said Wall has built the necessary local campaign infrastructure and fundraising base in the 8th CD to reach the DCCC's "Red to Blue" list. That list of the committee's top pick-up opportunities included Wall in its initial rollout of candidates Wednesday.

Israel also derided incumbent U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, as an "unvetted, 2010 wave year candidate" who's vulnerable after voting for the House GOP budget last year.

Israel added that Pat Kreitlow and Rob Zerban are also on their way to "Red to Blue" status, though both candidates are currently listed among the DCCC’s less competitive "Emerging Races."

"We're very confident that Pat will be a Red to Blue candidate," Israel said of the former Chippewa Falls state senator.

He said the same of Zerban, the Kenosha Co. supervisor who's taking on U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville.

"We don't want to overload the first list,” Israel said. “At the end of the day, we may have about 50 candidates on Red to Blue. We like to announce them in waves.”

 10:10 AM 

Johnson summarizes first year in office

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson today released an eight-page report chronicling his first year in office, including his work on legislation, in committees and with constituents.

Johnson's office said the Oshkosh Republican introduced four bills during 2011 and co-sponsored 73 more. He had a 100 percent voting attendance record and was "personally involved in over 300 meetings with Wisconsin constituent groups," including visits to schools, manufacturing plants and medical facilities.

The report also notes Johnson's December bid for vice-chairman of the Senate GOP conference.

"He was not successful, but the very close 25-22 vote is worthy of note as an indicator of the positive progress Senator Johnson has made in a very short time frame," the report says.

 6:56 AM 

UW professor withdraws from federal appeals court appointment

UW law professor Victoria Nourse tells WisPolitics.com that she has withdrawn her name from consideration for an appointment to the 7th District Court of Appeals.

The president originally nominated Nourse to the post to replace Judge Terence Evans in July 2010. But the Senate failed to act on Nourse’s nomination that year and in 2011 as well, and it was sent back to the White House in December.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, raised objections to Nourse’s nomination, complaining he was not consulted before the White House resubmitted the nomination last January after he won his seat. He also argued she was not well known in Wisconsin legal circles.

Nourse wrote in an email that she sent the president a letter yesterday asking to withdraw her name from Senate consideration.

She previously served as senior counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee when Vice President Joe Biden was chair, worked in the appellate division at the U.S. Justice Department and served as special counsel to the Senate Iran-Contra committee.

“The highest calling anyone could have is to serve their nation; I have served under two Presidents, one Democratic, the other Republican,” she wrote in the email. “I am honored to have been asked to serve my nation again.”

She said she had nothing else to say about her decision except to refer to a letter sent by legal experts from around the country who complained that her nomination was being held up.

“To quote Chief Justice Roberts, ‘the system is broken,’” she wrote.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

 11:32 AM 

Kohl to study proposed PIPA changes

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl's office says the senator is planning to consider a series of forthcoming changes to the controversial Protect IP Act in the wake of widespread outcry over the legislation in recent days.

Kohl, D-Milwaukee, is a co-sponsor of the bill, which aims to crack down on online copyright infringement. But critics -- including a number of prominent websites currently engaged in protests -- say the bill, along with the House's Stop Online Piracy Act, amounts to censorship of the Internet.

A Kohl spokeswoman wrote in an email to WisPolitics that the senator supported the bill "because we need to give law enforcement new tools to combat foreign websites that are dedicated to stealing American intellectual property and defrauding consumers."

"Senator Leahy, the lead sponsor of the Protect IP Act, announced that he plans to make major modifications to address these latest concerns," the spokeswoman continued. "Senator Kohl will be studying them to see how they square with the concerns we’re hearing."

U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, and Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, have announced their opposition to the SOPA.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

 2:24 PM 

Wall's 8th CD bid advances in DCCC program

Green Bay business consultant Jamie Wall's bid for the 8th CD has been added to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Red to Blue Program, his campaign announced today.

The DCCC program currently highlights 18 Dem challengers in GOP-held districts and "offers them financial, communications, grassroots, and strategic support."

“The early strength we have demonstrated by being named to the Red to Blue program means we have the support, confidence, and momentum it takes to win in November," Wall said in a statement.

Wall, who's challenging U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, is the lone Wisconsin candidate in the Red to Blue Program, but former state Sen. Pat Kreitlow and Kenosha Co. Supervisor Rob Zerban are among 12 candidates in "Emerging Races" -- GOP districts classified as becoming increasingly competitive.

Kreitlow, of Chippewa Falls, is challenging U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy of Weston, while Zerban has filed against U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Janesville.

 9:25 AM 

Neumann raises $518,000 during latest campaign finance period

Former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann raised $518,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011 in his bid for the U.S. Senate, his campaign told WisPolitics.com.

The campaign said the three-month total pushed his total raised since getting into the raise to $820,000 from 7,460 donors. None of the money came from Neumann, who self funded his 2010 guv campaign.

“People support me because I’m the most conservative candidate in the race. I’m honored that thousands of people have contributed to my campaign,” Neumann said in a statement to WisPoiltics. “I’ve won five straw polls and have collected thousands in small dollar donations because I’m a conservative with a plan to balance the budget and repeal ObamaCare. And people have responded.”

The campaign said 92 percent of the contributions in the fourth quarter were $100 or less.

Campaign finance reports in the race are due later this month.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

 2:46 PM 

CWA ad targets Duffy over FAA reauthorization

The Communications Workers of America today announced a new 60-second radio ad targeting U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy over the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The CWA ads accuse Duffy, R-Weston, and U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., of blocking FAA reauthorization because of their concerns over the election rules of the National Mediation Board. A shutdown of the administration looms at the end of the month.

An announcer in the spot says Duffy, GOP leadership and Delta Airlines are "again putting special interest politics over the needs of the American people."

"They're weighing down this important bill with an unrelated, controversial provision," the spot says, saying the FAA bill would create jobs and improve the country’s airports.

Friday, January 13, 2012

 1:24 PM 

Ryan reports $4.6 million warchest

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan reported more than $4.6 million in the bank at the end of 2011, according to his latest filing with the Federal Elections Commission.

The Janesville Republican and House Budget chairman raised more than $460,000 during the final three months of the year, while spending some $140,000 during the period.

Ryan is the first member of the Wisconsin delegation to disclose his fourth quarter totals, according to the FEC website. Quarterly reports are due at the end of the month.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

 8:59 AM 

Kohl backs Baldwin in race for his Senate seat

Declaring that "she and I have been in constant cooperation with each other since she came to Washington," U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl officially endorsed fellow Dem U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin to take over his Senate seat when he retires.

"I would have no one else as my successor, so you better get elected," Kohl told Baldwin last night at the opening of her Senate campaign headquarters in Milwaukee.

"She is really an example of what I regard as the highest and best kind of public servant."

Baldwin promised she'd be a fighter for Wisconsinites, who have become increasingly frustrated with "the disconnect between the debates that we're seeing unfold in Madison and in Washington, D.C."

"People cannot believe that disconnect, day after day," Baldwin said. "I see it in the House of Representatives and some of the tea party extremists who've taken over there. What the people of Wisconsin want is someone who's going to fight for them, not for Wall Street, not for the Tea Party, but for them."

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore and former Gov. Pat Lucey were also at the event.

Monday, January 9, 2012

 9:22 AM 

Ribble travels to Israel

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble says he's traveled to Israel as part of a congressional trip sponsored by the American Israel Educational Foundation.

The Sherwood Republican said in a statement that he's set to meet with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials, as well as leaders within the country's business community.

“I am interested in learning more about the latest tools and technology that Israel is using in its fight against terror,” Ribble said. “I also plan on discussing the efforts for a lasting peace in the region with a wide variety of leaders across the spectrum -- Israelis, Palestinians, religious figures, opposition members, and ordinary citizens."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

 2:15 PM 

Baldwin kicks off jobs tour, receives Kagen endorsement

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin kicked off a “January Jobs Tour” across Wisconsin with a stop Wednesday at the Mayo Clinic Franciscan Healthcare building in La Crosse.

The Madison Dem and U.S. Senate candidate is in Eau Claire today; she'll head to Milwaukee, Manitowoc, Green Bay, Appleton and Wausau over the next week.

In addition, former U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, once mentioned as a possible Senate candidate next year, sent out an email to supporters urging them to back Tammy Baldwin.

In the email, sent last month, the Appleton Dem urges backers to contribute to Baldwin’s campaign.

“Tammy is just like us ... and she will always protect your job and your family,” wrote Kagen, who’s also been mentioned as a possible candidate in a recall election of Gov. Scott Walker.

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