Monday, May 09, 2005

CONVENTION PHOTOS



322 Delegates and Alternates voted in the WisPolitics Straw Poll.


See more convo photos at the WisPolitics 2005 GOP Convention Photos page.


Saturday, May 07, 2005

CANDIDATES REACT TO STRAW POLL RESULTS

  • “I’m flattered to have the support of so many of the grassroots Republican leaders from around Wisconsin. Today’s victory is a great signal that our campaign is getting started on a strong note,” Mark Green said in a statement. “But we’re not nearly as concerned with polls as we are with translating that support into a solid organization flush with the resources we need to beat Jim Doyle next November.”

    “Today's straw poll shows that Mark is a favorite of the party faithful at this point of the campaign,” said Green spokeman Mark Graul. “But we know that polls are not going to win us this election and beat Jim Doyle. But we've started on the right track, and I think today shows we're the favorite of the party faithful.”


  • Statement from John Hiller, treasurer of Friends of Scott Walker:

    "Congratulations to Congressman Green and his supporters for their finish in the WisPolitics straw poll. They have spent the last three years wooing these 300 or so people and that effort obviously paid off. We are encouraged, however by the fact that a majority of the delegates in attendance have not made up their mind yet. But just ask Tom Barrett, who won two similar straw polls before being crushed three years ago -- these insider polls do not translate to victory in the primary. Scott Walker is running for governor of Wisconsin, not governor of the state convention. The statewide 14-point lead Walker currently enjoys in the race is indicative of his broad appeal among regular Republican voters. It was a great convention, and the nearly 1,000 activists in attendance are important, but to beat Jim Doyle Republicans know they need to field a strong candidate who can dismantle the Democrats' Madison-Milwaukee axis. Scott Walker IS that candidate."


  • “J.B. Is thrilled and thankful for the overwhelming support,” said Van Hollen campaign advisor Darrin Schmitz. “He also knows it's a long road ahead and he's looking forward to taking his message of restoring integrity in the Department of Justice across the state.”


  • Hundertmark spokesman Chris Lato said the campaign is appreciative of the support. “Jean worked really hard to meet all the delegates and shake hands and talk about her positive agenda,” he said. “This strong show of support is certainly an encouraging sign."

GREEN, VAN HOLLEN WINNERS IN WISPOLITICS STRAW POLL

Gubernatorial candidate Mark Green and attorney general candidate J.B. Van Hollen won a WisPolitics.com straw poll of GOP activists at the Wisconsin Republican Party convention this weekend.

Of the 317 ballots submitted for governor, U.S. Rep. Green tallied 182 votes, or 57.4 percent, to Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's 133 votes, or 42 percent. The race for attorney general wasn't as close. Of the 312 ballots submitted in that race, former U.S. Attorney Van Hollen received 261 votes, or 83.7 percent, to primary opponent Paul Bucher's 47 votes, or 15.1 percent. Bucher is the Waukesha County district attorney.

See the press release, including full poll results.

WISPOLITICS STRAW POLL QUESTIONS

Below are the questions from this year's WisPolitics convention straw poll. The polls have closed and the votes are being tabulated now -- more than 300 people voted this year. Come back soon for the results.

QUESTIONS:

Which politician would be your preferred GOP presidential nominee in 2008?
George Allen
Jeb Bush
Bill Frist
Rudy Giuliani
John McCain
Condoleezza Rice
Mitt Romney
Other

Which politician would be your preferred GOP gubernatorial nominee in 2006?
Mark Green
Scott Walker
Other

Which politician would be your preferred GOP lieutenant governor nominee in 2006?
Sheila Harsdorf
Jean Hundertmark
Other

Which politician would be your preferred GOP attorney general nominee in 2006?
Paul Bucher
J.B. Van Hollen
Other

GENERALLY SPEAKING ...

... Observers are saying that J.B. Van Hollen got the better of Paul Bucher on the dais, and Mark Green is receiving slightly higher grades than Scott Walker for his speech and overall organization.

GREEN CLOSES CANDIDATE ADDRESSES

U.S. Rep. Mark Green hit hard on his theme of "making Wisconsin great again," repeating the phrase at least four times in his address.

"There is a Wisconsin way of life, and while government didn't create it, government can do it great harm,"Green said.

Green made sport of the governor's budgeting tactics, saying he "tried to steal" nearly $2 billion from pots like the Patients Compensation Fund and breast cancer research.

"He's even tried to take money intended for Lambeau Field - ladies and gentleman, where I come from those are fighting words," he said.

"Being governor is about vision and passion and leadership," Green said. "And being governor is, at least if I'm blessed to be that man, being governor is about making Wisconsin great again."

WISPOLITICS STRAW POLL OBSERVATIONS

Most common joke: Do I need a photo ID to vote?

Second most common joke: Can I vote twice like the Democrats?

Common question: Who is George Allen?

Due to a surge of delegates following the late-running program, we have extended polling until 12:45.

Check back soon for results.

See the official rules.

WALKER: I LEARNED A LOT FROM A MAN WITH THE INITIALS TGT

Guv hopeful Scott Walker made his case for the party's nomination to take on Gov. Jim Doyle.

"I got into this race because Jim Doyle is the wrong governor for this state, and we need to elect a candidate who has the best chance of beating Jim Doyle next year," Walker said.

The Milwaukee County exec. touted his support in traditionally Dem areas. "I can win by eating into Jim Doyle's base," he claimed.

Walker said he learned a lot from "a man with the initials TGT." (That's Tommy G. Thompson to the uninitiated.)

He said his campaign focuses on "TVT - taxes, values and trust." He said he supports, among other things, the Lasee-Wood TABOR proposal, concealed carry, the gay marriage ban and school choice.

He said he's heard fellow Republicans say that Doyle is "not as bad as we thought he'd be."

"Not as bad as we thought he'd be? Our state motto's 'forward,' not 'stagnant.'

"We need a governor who shares our values, and not the ideals of a handful of liberals in Madison."

SPEECHIFYING

Many candidates are running over the five minute limit for their speeches, some topping the 10 minute mark. The program is running late, an unfortunate turn of events considering the stifling heat in the convention hall.

MICHELS THANKS THE FAITHFUL

A self-effacing Tim Michels thanked the delegates for their support in his failed bid to defeat Sen. Russ Feingold.

"Actually, I think this is the time when elected people are supposed to speak," he said as he came to the dais. He said that polls and national observers (including a close associate of President Bush) gave him a sense that he'd win the election last fall. "What does Karl Rove know about politics anyway?" he joked.

But Michels hinted his political future isn't over. "I am officially announcing that I am running for the office of the mayor of Elroy," he joked. Elroy is the town where former Gov. Tommy Thompson grew up, and Thompson has joked recently that he may return to politics with a run for mayor.

CONVENTION BLOGGING UPDATE

Brandon and Daniel at GOP3.com toured and evaluated last night's hospitalities. Scott Walker and J.B. Van Hollen topped their list, each receiving four out of five stars.

Owen at Boots & Sabers shared a list of rumors floating around the convention, some verified and some not.

Lakeshore Laments is live-blogging this morning's speeches.

NEARLY 700 ATTEND CONVENTION

Official attendance numbers from the party: 650 delegates and alternates, 25 registered guests.

150 people attended the women's luncheon.

600 attended last night's banquet.

150 at this morning's prayer breakfast.

EASY PATH FOR KOHL?

Names like former Senate candidates Mark Neumann and Tim Michels are popularly mentioned as possible challengers to Sen. Herb Kohl next year, but Republican insiders acknowledge the Bucks owner is one tough cookie.

In fact, a top GOP insider says if Kohl runs, Republicans may not put up much of a fight.

"Short of him stepping down, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a significant candidate," the Republican operative said, adding that the Kohl challenger would likely have to be a "self-funder."

VAN HOLLEN: A 'TEAMMATE' OF COPS

AG candidate J.B. Van Hollen was introduced by former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow and "Real World Boston" participant and current Ashland County District Attorney Sean Duffy.

"If you ask law enforcement if current the current attorney general will go to bat for them, the answer would be an emphatic no," said Van Hollen, a former U.S. attorney.

Van Hollen said he is a "teammate" of cops. "We have done what it takes to increase criminal prosecutions in this state and we will continue to do so when we take back the Department of Justice."

Van Hollen said as a U.S. attorney he demonstrated an ability to lead with integrity, vision and ideas. He said Lautenschlager has failed to provide that leadership.

"She has been advancing a liberal, environmentalist, activist agenda that is way out of line with the mainstream of Wisconsin, and we need to change that, and we're going to change that."

Van Hollen said he is anti-abortion and pro-concealed carry.

BUCHER: WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET

A.G. candidate Paul Bucher was introduced by his wife Jessica, a UW-Milwaukee prof and former Journal-Sentinel reporter, who praised him for his integrity and crime-fighting abilities.

"She read it just like I wrote it," said Bucher, the Waukesha County district attorney.

"I not only walk the walk and talk the talk, what you see is what you get," Bucher said.

Bucher spoke of his support of concealed carry legislation and his anti-abortion stance, as well as his backing of the voter ID requirement.

He also said it was time to restore integrity to the office. "When the state's top cop got in that vehicle and drove intoxicated, she sent a dangerous message to our kids," Bucher said.

"I will be an active attorney general, not an activist attorney general," Bucher said, adding as an example that he would not implement the agenda of the Sierra Club or ACLU.

HUNDERTMARK MAKES IT OFFICIAL

"While my name is long, I have a short, sweet message for the people of Wisconsin - its time for Jim Doyle and Barbara Lawton go," said state Rep. Jean Hundertmark as she introduced herself to the convention and announced her candidacy for lieutenant governor.

"The Doyle-Lawton administration is a failed administration, and they are painfully out of touch."

See the announcement release

QUOTABLE

"I thought I was in a school in Muskego for a minute there."
--Assembly Speaker John Gard, commenting on the large plasma screen TV in his room at the Blue Harbor Resort.

"Jim Doyle acts like he's the governor of the People's Republic of Madison - not the state of Wisconsin."
--Gard, adding that it would be nice to have a governor who doesn't have to call Howard Dean each day for advice.

"The Doyle PSC at work."
--Gard again, when someone inadvertently hit the light switch in the hall.

THE COMEDY STYLINGS OF FUNNYMAN DALE SCHULTZ

Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz dug deep in his joke bag during his address to the Republican delegates.

"I'm not sure if you all of you saw this this morning in the papers, but a story in the papers is reporting new information on former president Jack Kennedy. Apparently in new de-classified documents, John Kennedy was on so many painkillers, and so wasted, his Secret Service code name was Ted Kennedy," Schultz said.

"They say the majority leader's job is a hard one, and I assure you it is. Like the time I had to have a heart-to-heart with Sen. Alan Lasee. I said, 'Look Alan, I know you love your kids, but Take Your Children to Work Day is just that. It only lasts only one day. It's time for Frank to go home,'" Schultz said.

"And for being one of our staunchest and most fiscal conservatives, I was surprised by and had to say no to Sen. Michael Ellis' tax exemption on hair pieces."

Another zinger: "Speaker John Gard and I met with our priests and said if the weather doesn't improve soon, we were going to consider a constitutional amendment."

On former Gov. Tommy Thompson's ambitions: "In fact, during the recent conclave to choose a new pope at the Vatican, a reporter called Tommy to ask for his thoughts. The former governor replied, 'Look at this point, I'm not ruling anything in or out.'"

On his first meeting as majority leader with Gov. Jim Doyle: "Of all the things he wanted to talk about, he asked me if I watched the TV show Seinfeld. It turns out he's a big fan. It got me thinking - this says a lot about the guy. After all, Seinfeld was a show about nothing. I think you'd agree -- Jim Doyle's term as governor has been about nothing."

QUOTABLE

"When Jim Doyle looks in the mirror, he sees WEAC and other special interest groups."
--RPW state chairman Rick Graber, describing what the Dem Gov. sees each morning.

"It's time for Wisconsin to become bright Badger red."
--Graber on changing Wisconsin's "purple state" status.

LATE TO BED, EARLY TO RISE

GOP faithful unwound at hospitality parties that ran late into the night. On the fourth floor of the Blue Harbor Resort, guv candidates Scott Walker and Mark Green hosted soirees, as did U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and RACC/CERS. The Green party had a tailgating theme, with an (unlit) Weber Grill in the center of the room and plenty of beer.



Walker's party had a Western theme. The Milwaukee County exec. was pushing the apple crisp that his wife and father-in-law baked for the occasion.






The RACC/CERS party was a hit, with free arcade games like "Golden Tee 2005." Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz stood outside most of the night greeting passersby.

On the third floor, lt. gov. candidate Jean Hundertmark and attorney general candidates J.B. Van Hollen and Paul Bucher entertained conventioneers.

Though the parties were still in swing at 1 a.m., there was a full house for the prayer breakfast this morning.

Friday, May 06, 2005

ARI MEETS THE PRESS

Keynote speaker Ari Fleischer, the press secretary for President Bush throughout his first term, answered a few questions from reporters after addressing the convention.

The native New Yorker said the biggest failure of the press during his tenure was the coverage of the 2000 election. "Even the press acknowledged the safeguards of the system went woefully wrong," Fleischer said. The biggest success? "I believe the press has successes every day," said Fleischer. "We are a better and stronger nation because the press gets the facts right every day."

When it was pointed out that his flattering tone was in contrast to the public perception of his relationship with the press, Fleischer said, " I always enjoyed what I did, I've always enjoyed working with reporters, and there's always a level of contentiousness to it. It's part of our system and it's part of what keeps us a free democracy."

"And I never took it personal," he continued. That's was the other fun part of my job at the White House. I knew it was my job to clash at that podium. Helen Thomas and I clashed mightily, but we always got along privately."

The shifting demographics of the country could hold the key to future elections, Fleischer said. "If President Bush had won in 2004 with the very same states he won in 2000, instead of winning by one electoral vote he would have won by eight because the census of 2000 shifted votes more into the southwest Republican states and out of the Northeast and Rust Belt states. That trend's continuing, so it also means that 2008 is the Democrat's last best chance to get back the White House," he said.

Fleischer signed copies of his book, "Taking Heat," then left for Indiana shortly after for a family function. He is now heading a corporate communications firm, and says the sales of his book have been strong. "My publisher's happy and I'm happy," he said.





Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer addresses the press following his speech.

TALES OF THE "HUMAN PINATA"

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer shared stories of his experiences, personal and professional, with President George W. Bush.

“You can tell I’m not in the White House briefing room any more,” he said in response to the enthusiastic applause of the delegates. Fleischer, who said being the target of White House correspondents made him a "human pinata," gave shout outs to U.S. Reps. Mark Green and Paul Ryan. "He of course is the wonderful Ways and Means man," he said of Ryan.

He also mentioned Assembly Speaker John Gard, Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, national committeeman Terry Kohler, and national committeewoman Mary Buestrin.

Fleischer drew boos when he told the hall that he was raised a "very liberal Democrat" by "two very proud, principled Democrats who remain very proud, principled Democrats today." He said he was still a Democrat when he went to college in Vermont, but quickly won the crowd back when he said, "Thanks to Jimmy Carter and what I perceived as his weak foreign policy, I became a conservative.

"I think I became the only person in the history of the state of Vermont to enter it a liberal and leave a conservative. I realized Republicans made a lot more sense than Democrats," Fleischer said.

Fleischer told of playing catch with Bush on the White House lawn, helping the president warm up to throw out the first pitch on the first-ever opening day at Miller Park in Milwaukee, and how the Prez bounced the pitch in the dirt at Miller Park to Brewer manager Davey Lopes. "Right down the middle, right?" Bush quipped to Lopes.

He talked of being at the president's side all day on Sept. 11, and the trying days that followed. And he defended the decision to go preemptive in Iraq, saying that intelligence sources said Saddam Hussein was six months away from developing mustard gas agents and was working on nerve gas.

"I fear there would have been a World War III in the Middle East because (Hussein) had a history of using each and every weapon he'd gotten his hands on," he said.

Fleischer once said to Bush that he thought there were more nuances to the war on terror than the president recognized. "Ari, if this isn't good vs. evil, what is?" Bush replied.

"His morally declarative approach may leave tens of milions of people in this country, but it also makes tens of millions of people inspired."

DINNER WITH A SIDE OF FLEISCHER

It's a little steamy in the banquet hall as the delegates and their guests munch on their tossed greens, awaiting a main course of chicken marsala and a keynote speech from former George W. Bush White House flak Ari Fleischer.

A table outside the hall has a large stack of Fleischer's book, "Taking Heat," stack that doesn't seem to be disappearing too quickly. Maybe all the delegates already have copies? (Media reports indicate sales of the tome have been less than brisk.)


After his speech, slated to begin at 7:40, Fleischer will sit down with the press for five minutes. Roughly 30 media credentials were granted for the event but, probably to Fleischer's relief, Helen Thomas is not among the press contingent.

Fleischer will sign copies for his book for conventioneers later.

"GO JEAN GO"

The official announcement is at 10:15 a.m. tomorrow, but the horse is out of the barn on Jean Hundertmark's campaign for Lt. Gov.

Red "Go Jean Go" t-shirts and stickers being passed out. Word is that former RPW communications director Chris Lato will be working on the campaign. Cynthia Lamphere is the treasurer.

Hundertmark's hospitality room theme is "It's Germanfest in Wisconsin." The flier for her party promises German beer, pretzels, brats and root beer.

BUCHER: "ARMED WITH INTEGRITY"

AG hopeful J.B. Van Hollen was at the convention early today, shaking hands and talking to delegates in the lobby and Conference Center.

Also schmoozing in the lobby was guv candidate Scott Walker, who along with primary rival Mark Green sat down to tape an interview for Wisconsin Public Television.





Van Hollen's primary rival, Paul Bucher, had a flier stuck in the doors of the guest rooms that played off his crime fighter image. "WANTED!" it screamed in big block letters across the top. "Bucher For Attorney General."

The flier continued, "Offense: 'Being Too Tough.'

"Last Seen:'In Court.'

"Armed" With Integrity & "Dangerous" To Criminals.

"Reward: Leadership."

Keeping with that theme, Bucher's hospitality room invites delegates "for a night of jailhouse rock." Amenities include a chocolate fountain, food and drink. "Watch out for the warden," the flier warns. "He has no sense of humor."



GLOOMY WEATHER GREETS GOP

A cold lake breeze and steady rain greeted Republicans at the Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan today. The GOP faithful milled around the handsome, year-old resort, with an indoor waterpark and a fabulous view of an overcast Lake Michigan.



Campaign stickers for guv candidates Scott Walker and Mark Green ("Green Team") were showing on lapels. T-shirts for the Walker and Green campaigns, as well as AG candidates J.B. Van Hollen and Paul Bucher, were on display as well. And, despite not making an official announcement until tomorrow, red t-shirts proclaiming the Lt. Gov. campaign of state Rep. Jean Hundertmark could be seen.

Information lined the corridors of the Conference Center from organizations like Freedom Group, Right to Life Wisconsin, Pro-Life Wisconsin, Americans for Prosperity, Republican Young Professionals, and Teenage Republicans. State Treasurer Jack Voight also had his own booth. Delegates and guests stopped by to pick up information, drinks in hand, as they await the 6 p.m. banquet honoring county chairmen.

About 140 county chairs and GOP faithful attended "Nuts and Bolts Seminars" earlier in the day, covering the topics "Communicating the Republican Message," "Writing Grassroots Plans,"and "County Chair Training."

GARD TOUTS LIST OF INFLUENTIAL SUPPORTERS

Just hours before the official start of the GOP convention, Assembly Speaker John Gard released a list of 400 people who have pledged to help him as he explores a run for Congress in the 8th Congressional District.

Among the most prominent names on the list are Terry Kohler, a nationally known conservative donor and one of Wisconsin's national committeemen and his wife Mary. Also present is former national committeewoman Helen Bie.

Even with this cadre of supporters, Gard said he's still not quite ready to make his run official, as he's focused on his job as speaker, shepherding the budget and other parts of his agenda through the Legislature.

The list of supporters includes current and former elected officials like current state Reps. Garey Bies, Jean Hundertmark, Dan Meyer and Phil Montgomery; Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt; former Rep. Dave Hutchison and former Sen. Joe Leean.

It also includes a tie to current 8th CD officeholder Mark Green, listing Green campaign manager Mark Graul and his wife as supporters. Gard dismissed rumors that he and Green planned to swap endorsements, with Gard backing Green's run for governor in return for support in the 8th CD race.

"Down the road we'll talk more about his views on the congressional seat," Gard said. "We both have to focus on our individual ventures here."

The list also includes a couple of people who share names with politicians that likely aren't supporting Gard's run. The Ed Thompson on the list is a De Pere businessman, not former Gov. Tommy Thompson's Libertarian brother. And the Gard-backing David Hansen is not the Democratic state senator from Green Bay.

"This is the good David Hansen," Gard said.

See the full list of supporters.

Gard said he was looking forward to a hospitality tonight that will be co-hosted by the Assembly and the Senate.

"We're going to celebrate our largest majority in 50 years," Gard said. "It gets more enjoyable after every election because we keep picking up seats. ... We need to keep getting a bigger room."

If he runs for Congress, Gard said competing in a primary with fellow Republican Reps. Terri McCormick and Steve Wieckert wouldn't bother him.

"We're giving people a reason to rally behind me," Gard said. "I'll give people a reason to vote for me, not against someone else."

OTHER BLOGS AT THE CONVENTION

Owen Robinson of Boots and Sabers is already there, but says there's no news to report yet.

Sheboygan-based Lakeshore Laments plans to start covering the convention around 4 p.m.

And Lord Ben, of Lord Ben's Meandering Diatribes, will be volunteering with Scott Walker's camp this weekend and said he may save his substantial posts until after the convention.

We'll have standing links to these bloggers in the right-hand column of this blog throughout the convention. If you know of any other bloggers planning to attend and write about the convention, please contact bump@wispolitics.com and we'll add them to the list.

WisPolitics reporter and blog editor Greg Bump is scheduled to arrive at the convention this afternoon, along with blog photographer John Link. You should be able to meet one or both of them by stopping by the WisPolitics Straw Poll table tonight. Voting starts at 4 p.m.

UPDATE: Brandon Henak and Daniel Suhr from GOP3.com The Triumvirate will also be blogging the convention.

8TH CD FIELD MAY BE EXPANDING

Rep. Steve Wieckert, R-Appleton, gave strong indication this week that he will pursue a run for the 8th Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Mark Green. "Absolutely yes," was his reply when asked if he would run, before saying he will officially announce his decision in the next few months.

He recently sent out 20,000 questionnaires via his Exploratory Committee '06 Web site, http://www.wieckerttowashington.com/, to constituents and said he received more feedback and positive support than he expected.

"I also have a legislative agenda, and I don't want to detract from that," he said. "I don't want to do two jobs in one;I want to do both of them justice."

Also seen as likely candidates are Assembly Speaker John Gard and Rep. Terri McCormick of Appleton.

Meanwhile on the Dem side, former Brown Co. Exec. Nancy Nusbaum said she is "looking at it (the race) very seriously. There are things I have to consider - my family, I'd have to leave my job (at the state Department of Justice). But I'm looking at it seriously. But there are some steps I have to take before I get truly serious."

Nusbaum told WisPolitics last month that she'd defer to state Sen. Dave Hansen should the Green Bay Democrat decide to run. But officially took himself off the list of hopefuls two weeks ago. The only declared Dem is Green Bay businessman and former Doyle administration official Jamie Wall.

Nusbaum said she'd give herself about a month to make her decision.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

GOP SAYS CONVO ALL ABOUT THE GRASSROOTS

The state Republican Party says the goal of this weekend's convention will be to "celebrate the accomplishments of the November 2004 election and gear up for the 2006 election cycle."

From a press release previewing the convention:

"This weekend is really about paying tribute to our volunteers who made our grassroots efforts such a success last year and learning how to build upon those tremendous endeavors," said Republican Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Rick Wiley.

...

"Our gubernatorial candidates are top notch," said Wiley. "It will be exciting to watch them in action and get the party geared up for the goal of defeating Doyle and taking back the governor's office."

To help in that effort, delegates will be trained on how to communicate the Republican message in various "Nuts & Bolts" sessions.


The GOP is predicting roughly 1,000 people will attend this weekend's events.

See the GOP press release previewing the convention: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=36421

'BLUE-COLLAR DEMOCRATIC TOWN' READY FOR GOP

In a Sheboygan Press preview of the convention, newspaperman Bob Petrie said the "blue-collar Democratic town" was "ready to roll out the red carpet for the Republicans" this weekend.

So why did the GOP pick a town that John Kerry won easily last year?

From the article:

(GOP Executive Director Rick) Wiley said part of the reason for choosing Sheboygan for the convention was because the county went for Bush over Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 election, 55-44 percent. However, Wisconsin went to Kerry by 50-49 percent, and the city of Sheboygan also supported the Democrat, 56-44 percent.

"It's always nice to go into an area that's friendly, but if you go in and make a good splash in an area, the base gets energized and they'll be more apt to knock on doors," Wiley said.

(Sheboygan County Republican Party chairman Drew) MacEwen said the county is "solid Republican," adding, "We're still working on the City of Sheboygan, and it will come over."

Read the Sheboygan Press story: GOP descends on Blue Harbor

GREATER WISCONSIN COMMITTEE 'WELCOMES' DELEGATES TO SHEBOYGAN

Conventioneers arriving in Sheboygan may get a surprise if they turn on the radio this weekend -- a critical ad aimed directly at them.

The Greater Wisconsin Committee, a progressive issue advocacy group, is sponsoring the ads to highlight Republican opposition to raising the state's minimum wage from $5.15 an hour.

See the description from the GWC press release:

The commercials, on a Sheboygan station, feature an exchange between a Republican convention delegate and a young woman working in a coffee shop. When he gives her a $5 tip, she says that is almost as much as she makes per hour, and he calls it "slave wages."

The commercial ends with her encouraging her Republican customer to talk to his fellow Republicans about the issue at this weekend's convention.


Listen to the ad: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/TIP.mp3

GOP CHAIR SAYS PARTY'S FOCUS ON DOYLE

State GOP Chair Rick Graber told Wisconsin Public Radio that the guv's race is the No. 1 priority for Republicans in this election cycle.

He says Dem Gov. Jim Doyle's record is "inadequate'' on many fronts and says Doyle is conflicting with the public on many issues, especially photo ID for voters. He calls Doyle's opposition "complete arrogance.''

He countered a caller's criticism of multiple Republican-sponsored constitutional amendment plans on photo ID and other issues by saying a constitutional amendment vote means "It's up to the people. ... I don't see any problem with that at all.''

GUV CANDIDATES VIE FOR SUPPORT

For the first time since the mid-1980s, there's a full-fledged race for the party's guv nomination.

Two GOP guv hopefuls and their teams will be working the convo hard. Milwaukee County Exec. Scott Walker had been the only declared Republican candidate since January, but U.S. Rep. Mark Green announced his intention to seek the GOP nomination with a statewide swing on Sunday and Monday.

Green and Walker will deliver keynotes at the Federation of Republican Women luncheon Saturday of the convention. They also were scheduled as of Friday morning to be on the Wisconsin Public TV show ``Here and Now,'' which airs at 7 p.m. Friday in most markets.

One top GOP official predicts that with Doyle's poll numbers sliding, the race will be targeted nationally. Another sign: Karl Rove's recent speaking swing through the state.

HOSPITALITY SHOWDOWN

One of the places candidates will try to outdo each other is on the party circuit.

The hospitality showdown begins Friday night after 9:30. "There's always a competition to see who has the best hospitality suite," the GOP's Rick Wiley says. In addition to guv candidates Scott Walker and Mark Green, Assembly Speaker John Gard, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, and AG candidates Paul Bucher and J.B. Van Hollen will also provide hospitality suites.

Also word this week that Rep. Jean Hundertmark is planning a hospitality suite, too. It's speculated that the Clintonville Republican will announce her intention to run for lieutenant governor this weekend. Sen. Sheila Harsdorf also is said to be eyeing a lt. gov. run.

Walker detailed his plans in the latest edition of his campaign newsletter, the Walker Weekly:

W Corral Gates Open Friday at 9:30

We'll be turning Sheboygan County into Walker Country THIS FRIDAY as we host a reception at the "W Corral" during the Republican Party of Wisconsin state convention. The convention is at the Blue Harbor Resort and we are bringing in plenty of western/"W" items for the Round Up. Of course, we can also use plenty of volunteers for the Walker Country Round Up and for the day of the convention. ... We hope to see y'all there!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

VAN HOLLEN AND BUCHER BRAG ABOUT ENDORSEMENTS

Former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow endorsed GOP AG candidate and former U.S. Attorney J.B. Van Hollen on Wednesday. See the release: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=36257

His opponent, Waukesha County D.A. Paul Bucher, shot out a release that afternoon pointing out he's been endorsed by 20 district attorneys. See the release: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=36318

Bucher partisans are also touting their candidate's performance as Waukesha County DA in the prosecution of Ted Oswald. Oswald's original conviction was overturned, but recent appeals court rulings have cleared the way for a retrial, and cleared Bucher of any wrongdoing in the original trial. The charges against Oswald relate to a crime spree that included the murder of Waukesha police officer James Lutz.

WISPOLITICS STRAW POLL TO GAUGE GRASSROOTS SUPPORT

WisPolitics.com will stage another straw poll at this year's state Republican convention in Sheboygan.

This year's straw poll balloting will take place from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on May 6 and from 8 a.m until noon on May 7. As in past years, WisPolitics.com will allow all official convention attendees to vote. Official convention guests will vote in a separate line to allow delegates, alternates and elected officials to vote more quickly. WisPolitics.com will report the totals of all votes plus sub-totals in the separate categories.

The results will be announced on Saturday, May 7.

The straw poll is not officially sanctioned by the Republican Party of Wisconsin and is run solely by WisPolitics.com. WisPolitics.com is the state's premier online government and political news source and operates these companion sites, WisOpinion.com, WisBusiness.com and IowaPolitics.com.

See the official rules.

CONVENTION DISTRACTIONS

The annual convention is a big event for Republican faithful, a chance to reconnect with friends, get close to statewide candidates and unwind at hospitality events. This year, however, some delegates may be distracted by other occasions.

As a top Republican consultant said, "What the hell is the GOP scheduling a convention on opening fishing (day) and Mother's Day weekend?"

Fishing season opens Saturday and Mother's Day is Sunday.

PURPLE FINGER PAINTING

Guv candidate Mark Green says he's bringing purple finger ink to the convention as a "sign of support for the young democracy in Iraq and the U.S. troops whose sacrifice made that democracy possible."

Iraqis who voted earlier this year dipped their fingers in permanent ink as a way to ensure they voted only once.

When his announcement tour visited Milwaukee, Green highlighted voter fraud issues and made photo ID for voters one of his top campaign platforms.

See Green's release: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=36244

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

WHO WILL CHALLENGE KOHL?

The state's Republican congressional contingent gets a chance to address the convention Saturday morning, along with the various state candidates.

Also planning to speak to the conventioneers is Tim Michels, who is expected to thank everyone for their support in last year's failed bid to unseat incumbent Dem Sen. Russ Feingold. Michels' name continues to circulate as a possible return statewide candidate, and another old Feingold rival, former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann, is gathering some buzz as a potential opponent to Sen. Herb Kohl next year. Neumann will be the keynote speaker at Saturday's prayer breakfast.

"We're still actively looking for a candidate (for Senate)," says Brad Courtney, chairman of the convention and first vice-chair of RPW. "Two years ago, there were only whispers of Bob Welch, and we didn't have anyone lining up to run against Russ Feingold. We'll have a good candidate."

FORMER BUSH FLAK FLEISCHER TO KEYNOTE

Party officials are touting their keynote speaker, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. The former Bush mouthpiece will hit the dais at 7:45 p.m., then stick around to sign copies of his book, "Taking Heat."

"I think Ari Fleischer is a great speaker, and I think there'll be a lot of interest to hear his behind-the-scenes White House stories," says Rick Wiley, the party's executive director.

Monday, May 02, 2005

FROM PURPLE TO BRIGHT RED: A GOP CONVENTION PREVIEW

With the '06 election campaign well underway, this weekend's state GOP convention in Sheboygan is taking on more importance than the typical off-year session. There's excitement about primaries next year in the race for guv, AG and perhaps lieutenant guv, a search for a challenger to U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, and a mission to return to winning statewide.

Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Rick Graber says the goals of the '05 state convention are as follows: 1) get a head start on electing a Republican governor and attorney general, and 2) give the 72 county chairs the "nuts and bolts" to make goal one a reality. Much of the focus will be on training and outreach for a party that's had success on a local and regional level, but has lost a series of statewide races dating back to 2000.

"It's how to turn Wisconsin from a purple state to a bright red state," Graber vows. "We're close. We're very, very close.''

Bush narrowly lost Wisconsin in November, but it was part of a pattern that extends back several election cycles; while they've come close the previous two cycles, Republicans haven't won at the presidential level since 1984, when Ronald Reagan won re-election. And not since Tommy Thompson's 1998 re-election have Republicans won a marquee partisan, statewide race (State Treasurer Jack Voight is the only statewide Republican office-holder). They're dominating the legislative races but that success is not translating to statewide success.

"We want to keep building on the tremendous grassroots success we've had over last few cycles. We made tremendous strides as a party in 2004," says Graber, who will run unopposed for his fourth two-year term chairing the party.