Friday, May 27, 2011

Let them eat brats

It's Memorial Day weekend, when people across the state celebrate the arrival of warm weather by spending the weekend grilling food and enjoying the outdoors. What is the activist community generated by Governor Walker's actions on collective bargaining up to? It's busy organizing not one, not two, but four alternatives to Bratfest, the annual celebration put on by Johnsonville Brats (whose executives have provided backing to recalled Senators) that raises millions of dollars for charity.

You can bet that the GOP doesn't mind this one bit. Rather than having activists in their districts this weekend, speaking with people who could potentially vote against them come July 12th, they'll be left alone to enjoy the weather with their families and constituents.

I recall hearing about alternatives to Bratfest as recently as the first week of the protests back in February. While it's important that activists set up something to get their message out on this, the focus by the Wisconsin State Journal and others makes the activist community look ridiculous. They are working to oppose not only Johnsonville but Metcalfe's, a union employer and heavy backer of Democratic candidates including Senator Jon Erpenbach. Frankly, activists need to get a clue and go knock on some damn doors if they want to stand any chance of winning a majority in the State Senate this July.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Date Set

As you've probably heard by now, July 12th will be the big day, officially. I had doubted it earlier, but the GAB has done a great job of addressing complaints and issues raised by all parties concerned and it appears everything will go as planned.

What are your thoughts? Predictions? Hopes and dreams?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Democrats sure in the 18th

I'm told that internal polling conducted on behalf of DPW in the 18th Senate district shows that Randy Hopper is a lock to lose his recall election.

The state's largest newspaper is covering his opponents criticisms. His opponent is also also raising a pretty large amount for an Act Blue fundraising campaign, and it should be only a substantial amount of what she's raising on her own. The next deadline comes in June.

The SSDC is so sure about this that they've not yet committed full resources to this race. Originally, the plan was to have a full staff of 8 set up in Fond du Lac and Oshkosh, but so far only 3 have been committed.

More gossip after the jump.

Monday, May 16, 2011

...Nusbaum to take on Cowles

Nancy Nusbaum, former Brown County executive and a 2006 congressional candidate who lost in a primary to former Rep. Steve Kagen, will run to replace Rob Cowles. Nusbaum is a strong candidate, maybe one of the strongest that could come out of Cowles' district.

I wonder if Langan dropped out to avoid a primary.

Sen. Cowles needs an opponent

Sen. Robert Cowles of the Green Bay area will no longer face County Supervisor Rich Langan due to an unexpected family problem arising in the last few days.

There's not an obvious candidate in the Green Bay area who hasn't declared. For Dems, it's too bad Tom Nelson isn't still around. He could have picked up this seat, which may be the most difficult target for recall, and then he could have led the Dem caucus in the Senate with Chavala-esque ability.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rep. Nygren to take on Sen. Hansen in Green Bay area recall

Rep. John Nygren, representative from the 89th Assembly district since 2006, announced that he would challenge 10-year Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay for the 30th Senate District Seat. This makes him the 2nd candidate to be challenging Hansen, the first being Brown County Board supervisor Mary Scray. It's my assumption that Rep. Nygren will dispatch Scray pretty quickly, but this means that the primary election for the republican recall nomination will be held July 12.

The District is decidedly right-leaning. All its Assembly districts are held by Republicans, including District 88, where two-term Democratic Rep. Jim Soletski was defeated by John Klenke by a 300 vote margin last fall.

However, Sen. Hansen is a moderate and a leader in his party, having served as the Assistant Majority Leader behind Russ Decker, and usurping Sen. Decker as a figurehead Majority leader when he voted to oppose contracts with state workers last December 15.

This is the district where rumors have circulated heavily that as many as 30-40% of signatures may eventually be ruled ineligible due to sloppy or fraudulent work by out-of-state canvassers. In a recall election that will be a referendum on the policies of Governor Walker, just as in the race that will play out between Sen. Jim Holperin and tea party candidate Kim Simac, its entirely possible a message about Sen. Hansen having left the state may not drive Republican turnout the way many on the right would hope.

One last thing to keep in mind is that this is means a primary in the 30th District. If we have a bunch of elections on July 12th and an odd number (1 or 3, I'd guess) of primaries, there's a chance things could come out to a tied Senate, where the balance hangs in races which held July 12th primaries. That's when things could get really interesting.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Weakness of Holperin opponent stands out

With what we've seen so far, the GOP seems to be unable to field candidates with the same qualifications and political experience as the Dems who have already announced.

With State Assembly Dems lining up against 3 different GOP recall candidates, the tea party activists and county board supervisors that have so far announced they will run against recall-eligible Dems should have a much harder time turning seats (which is not to say it will be easy for Dems).

One candidate who jumps out as especially bad in these races is Northwoods Patriots tea-party group leader Kim Simac. Simac is a children's book author and mother of nine who helped to organize the recall efforts against Senator Jim Holperin. Her husband Butch owns Great Northern Water, a company that provides plumbing and water services and takes in between $500,000 and $1m a year, according to tax documents. While she may have the money, she doesn't appear to have the campaign experience - she's still got no website, 5 days after announcing, and she's never run for office in the past.

The real worry for her should be message - while there are many in Wisconsin who are angry that the 14 Democratic Senators left the state for a prolonged period, railing against this action is not likely to win the election for an extremist like Simac with no elected experience. These recall elections will be a referendum on Scott Walker and his action against public employees and collective bargaining, not a debate on whether or not the senators should have fled to Illinois. In that environment, I don't see any possible message Simac might try to convey really breaking through to an electorate.

Below, see some examples of Kimac in the public spotlight in recent years.

Discussing home-schooling and the separation of church and state:

Featured on Glenn Beck:

Speaking in Madison on the day of the tea-party rally:

Edit: Illusory Tenant has a post on Simac up at his (her?) informative blog.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - great Campaign Finance Rundown

You can read about the big donors that are getting involved because of the special rules in place for recall elections here.

It's worth noting that the Dems don't seem to have any major financial backers, other than the state party, which is donating what I would assume is an aggregation of smaller amounts contributed by the rank and file in February and March in response to the Budget Repair Bill. It should be interesting to see if they can bring in any major money.

Holperin draws an opponent

WJFW in Rhinelander informs us that Kim Simac, leader of the Northwoods Patriots tea party group, will oppose Senator Jim Holperin in his upcoming recall election.

This is great news for Holperin. In the statement given to WJFW, Simac rambles without much focus, and videos of her announcement show a rag-tag group of supporters. Simac has no real political experience and, as the leader of a tea party group, is likely the kind of extremist candidate that Holperin will make quick work of.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The lineup

Here are the races we have so far, now that all filing deadlines have past (edit: except Julie Lassa!)

In the 18th Senate District, Republican Senator Randy Hopper v. Jessica King, Oshkosh alder and attorney.

In the 32nd Senate District, Republican Senator Dan Kapanke v. Democratic State Rep. Jennifer Shilling.

In the 8th Senate District, Republican Senator Alberta Darling v. Democratic State Rep. Sandy Pasch.

In the 10th, Republican Senator Sheila Harsdorf v. Shelly Moore, a teacher and WEAC representative to the NEA.

In the 14th, Republican Senator Luther Olsen v. Democratic State Rep. Fred Clark.

In the 2nd, Republican Senator Bob Cowles, who will face former Brown County Executive Nancy Nusbaum.

In the 12th, Democratic Senator Tim Holperin, who will face Kim Simac, head of the Northwoods Patriots tea party organization. See my analysis here.

In the 22nd, Democratic Senator Bob Wirch will face Kenosha County Board Vice Chairman Fred Ekornaa in the event of a recall. The late Judge Bill Pocan, father of Assemblyman Mark Pocan, was found to have signed a recall petition from beyond the grave. This is certain to draw attention to all the signatures filed.

In the 30th, Democratic Senator Dave Hansen hasn't yet drawn an opponent. Loud rumors abound that after a review of signatures is complete, as many as 40% of the signatures may be invalidated.