Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dems ready to revel in '06 successes

Whereas Republicans viewed this year's state convention as a chance to regroup, state Dems go into their convo looking to celebrate.

"It's about celebrating '06," said Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairman Joe Wineke, who couldn't resist a dig at the GOP. "I tell you one thing -- we're not going to come out of our convention saying we need to 'rebrand ourselves.' I seem to remember the Republicans doing that."

"We have not been able to come together and celebrate," said Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee, the first vice chair of the state party. "The last time we got together we talked about what we wanted to do. This is actually the homecoming, the reunion where we say, 'This is what we did, and this is what's next.' I think it's going to be an exciting time."

The annual soiree takes place next weekend at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center. See details: http://www.wisdems.org/ht/d/sp/i/1015605/pid/1015605

Dems are hoping to ride the momentum from an '06 election that saw Gov. Jim Doyle become the first Democratic governor to be re-elected since the early 1970s, saw them re-take control of the Senate for the first time since 2002, saw them win the Republican-leaning 8th Congressional District and saw them narrow the GOP margin in the state Assembly to 52-47. The Democrats are giddy about their chances to take the presidency and the majority in the Assembly in '08.

"People can see what's happened in the Senate," Taylor said. "Knowing that we only need three seats in the Assembly, there's a desire to want to see a difference. People can see a difference already in how things are being done."

Dems see enough vulnerability to flip the three seats needed to swing the majority. Rep. Eugene Hahn won his '06 race by less than 1 percent, while Rep. Brett Davis is back with a one percent margin, and Rep. Lee Nerison won re-election with less than a 3 percent margin.

The convention comes at down time for state campaign activity, with Wisconsin's previously contentious presidential primary taking a backseat as other states leapfrog up the calendar. Plus, 2008 will be the first time in 18 years that there will not be a statewide contest in an even numbered year.

Unlike the Republicans, who were able to draw two second-tier presidential candidates to their event -- Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson -- the Democrats weren't able to draw any of the candidates from their presidential field. Instead, Gov. Jim Doyle will be the keynote speaker. U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Middleton, and Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton will also address the convention on Friday, along with state legislators. Congressional delegation members will speak over the weekend as their schedules permit. U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, Secretary of State Doug La Follette and state Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass will appear on Saturday.

"When it became fairly obvious that the major candidates for president were not going to states that have primaries after February 5, we wanted to move toward celebrating the successes we've had with the governor being re-elected, and taking control in the Senate and making big gains in the Assembly," Wineke said. "We could have gone out and gotten some name, some governor from somewhere or something, but that really didn’t fit our goal."

Taylor doesn't think the lack of a national figure will dampen enthusiasm.

"I don't think it will kill the enthusiasm, because we have some people to be very proud of. We saved SeniorCare. Just getting our own representatives to come and say, 'Woo-hoo, you saved SeniorCare' and get a standing ovation."

Introducing themselves at the convention will be two congressional candidates; Roger Kittelson of Lomira, who will announce he’s taking on U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, and Marge Krupp, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville.

Dem Rep. Gordon Hintz of Oshkosh, the party's 6th CD chair, said the party will continue to hit themes that relate to the middle class: affordable health care, wage fairness and the war in Iraq. The budget will also be a topic at the convention, he said.

"Most people are getting tired of an agenda that says, 'Cut taxes, get rid of government,'" Hintz said. "Most people understand there’s one side that's offering real ideas, and there's the other side that’s pandering to their base."

All the elected party officials are unopposed, though Wineke did weather a storm earlier this year when it was found he'd lobbied for AT&T. He eventually quit the lobbying job.

-- By Greg Bump

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New Convention Webcasts

See new webcasts from the weekend:

Gov. Jim Doyle speech to convention

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Lautenschlager, Ross & Feingold Favored in WisPolitics Dem Convo Straw Poll

Democratic activists voting in the annual WisPolitics.com Straw Poll this weekend favored Peg Lautenschlager for attorney general, Scot Ross for secretary of state and Russ Feingold for president.

Of the 548 delegates, alternates and guests who voted, 315 backed Lautenschlager for AG, or 57.5 percent, compared to 228, or 41.6 percent, for Falk. The rest did not express a preference.

In November, one of them will meet the winner of the Republican primary between former U.S. Attorney JB Van Hollen and Waukesha County DA Paul Bucher.

In the secretary of state primary, Ross was supported by 297, or 54.2 percent, compared to 205, or 37.4, percent for incumbent Doug LaFollette. The rest did not express a preference.

For president, Wisconsin’s junior U.S. senator overwhelmingly had the backing of the party faithful with 295 votes, or 53.8 percent. 2000 Dem nominee Al Gore was next with 55 votes, followed by Hillary Clinton (48) and John Edwards (41).

Last year in Oshkosh, Falk had not yet declared for the race, but she edged the incumbent Lautenschlager by eight votes. Of 299 ballots cast in that AG preference poll, Falk tallied 152 total votes, or 50.8 percent, to AG Lautenschlager's 144, or 48.2 percent. At that convention, Feingold emerged as the top vote-getter on the presidential preference ballot with 98 votes, or 38.8 percent of the 299 total submitted for the presidential preference question. Hillary Clinton was next with 59 votes. There was no straw poll on the secretary of state's race at last year's convention.

See the press release for detailed results.

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Guests, Next Year

This year's convention attracted 907 registered delegates, alternates and registered guests.

Next year's convention will be held in Milwaukee.

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Feingold Steals the Show; Dems Say Gov Has Good Convention, Too

Russ Feingold got the star treatment. Jim Doyle took the steady approach.

Feingold, Wisconsin's junior U.S. senator, gave the party faithful what they wanted at this weekend's Democratic convention, delivering a speech full of red meat issues. He denounced an amendment to ban gay marriage and Vermont-style civil unions, pushed Dems to take a stand against an advisory referendum to bring back the death penalty in Wisconsin and said the president was "in the strike zone" of the high crimes and misdemeanors that the Founding Fathers wrote about.

Doyle took a more subtle approach, talking about fiscal responsibility, education, health care and stem cells.

"Russ is a rock star. He hits at the core of the party," one Dem said. "Jim has a different style."

Dems said the contrast was no shock considering Feingold and Doyle's personalities and history with the party. Feingold has cultivated the fire brand image, while Doyle has always been seen as the steady, prosecutor-type by the party faithful, they say.

Doyle also made no mention of the ongoing Georgia Thompson trial, which is expected to wrap up next week, and did not meet with reporters. He also made no mention about ethics reform in his speech to the delegates.

One Dem said there was no point for Doyle to talk about the trial.

"What's he supposed to say?" the Dem said, pointing out reporters will have their chance to grill Doyle about the outcome after it comes down, likely later this week.

Another said, "Of course they're nervous." But the Dem then followed with a persistent line from party members this weekend: They're confident Thompson will be found innocent and Doyle's reputation as an ethical person with the grassroots will remain intact.

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AG Candidates Talk Immigration; Issue Gets Little Play at Convention

While the immigration issue rages nationally, Wisconsin Democrats spoke sparsely on the topic during this weekend's convention. Gov. Doyle made a passing reference to those who "brought their values with them from other states and other countries" in his speech last night.

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., spearheaded the House legislation that would make illegal immigration a felony, along with other provisions. The Senate has passed a different version of the legislation, including a plan to allow the estimated 11 million or so illegal immigrants in the country now an avenue toward achieving legal status.

Illegal immigration has become an issue in the AG race after both Dem candidates -- Dane Co. Exec. Kathleen Falk and incumbent Peg Lautenschlager -- appeared at a pro-immigration rally earlier this spring.

GOP candidate Paul Bucher this week also said the state has paroled at least 77 illegal immigrants from the prison system in the last three years. He pushed a proposal for state law enforcement agencies to buy into a federal program designed to give local law enforcement officers the power to fully enforce federal immigration laws.

Falk and Lautenschlager sat down with WisPolitics to talk about their views on immigration. Both support the Senate version of the legislation and are opposed to Sensenbrenner's bill.

Falk defended a Dane County policy that prohibits public employees from inquiring about someone's immigration status unless required by state or federal law.

Hear her talk about it:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/Falk_1.mp3

She also addressed Bucher's proposal. Listen here:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/Falk_2.mp3

Lautenschlager said the national debate over illegal immigration is "creating a race war." Listen here:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/Lautenschlager_1.mp3

She also responded to Bucher's proposal. Listen here:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/Lautenschlager_2.mp3

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8th CD Dem Candidates Bash Bush, Iraq War

Each of the three 8th CD Dem candidates popped shots at the president and the war in Iraq Saturday morning. But Jamie Wall, a Green Bay businessman and former Department of Commerce hand, distanced himself from the pack, calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

"We’ve done everything we can do in Iraq and more. … It’s time for the
Iraqis to settle this; it’s time for us to bring our troops home," Wall declared to roaring applause.

Wall said he called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield to resign months before several retired generals went on the air demanding he step down. Wall also called the war a "mistake to begin with."

"We never had a plan in Iraq," he added.

Former mayor of De Pere and former Brown Co. Exec. Nancy Nusbaum continued the theme saying the U.S. needs "to bring home the brave men and women that George Bush sent into Iraq with no plan."

Nusbaum on Wednesday began airing her first TV ad in the race calling on the President to do just that.

"It’s time to bring fiscal policy back to Wisconsin and fiscal services back to our veterans," she said.

"We are ready to send (8th CD Republican) John Gard back to Sun Prairie," Nusbaum joked, referring to the Madison suburb where Gard owned a home before selling it this spring.

Steve Kagen, the allergist from Appleton jumped on board, saying "George Bush, Mark Green, John Gard, your hocus pocus magic show has ended. Now please exit stage right like Tom Delay."

Though he also said the U.S. must end its involvement in the "civil war in Iraq," Kagen focused his remarks on taking back control of Congress from the "corrupt" Republican leadership this November.

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Fair Wisconsin Manager Urges Defeat of 'Evil' Amendment

Fair Wisconsin manager Mike Tate urged the state to make history in November by becoming the first to reject such an “evil” amendment as the one that would ban gay marriage and Vermont-style civil unions that’s on the ballot this fall.

Tate praised Democrats for being the only major state party in the country to take an official stance against an anti-gay marriage amendment.

He spoke passionately about lifelong gay couples who would be stripped of their rights to funeral and hospital visitation should the amendment pass.

“When the person you chose to spend your live with dies, the last thing you should worry about is whether you have the legal documents to visit them in the hospital,” Tate said.

”That is not how we treat people in Wisconsin”

Tate said Fair Wisconsin is a non-partisan organization, and joked that
the Republican Party must have forgot to invite him to their convention. The GOP has spearheaded the move to get the anti-gay marriage amendment on the November ballot, in what some call an effort to boost Republican base turnout.

Tate also spoke to the state Libertarian Party convention.

Introducing Tate was state party Chair Joe Wineke, who said under Tate’s leadership, Fair Wisconsin has amassed more than 7,000 volunteers and now has campaign coordinators in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.

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W. Virginia Gov. Keynotes Convention

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin implored fellow Democrats to tell their story to voters or risk having Republicans continue to do it for them.

"The Democratic Party is small town. That’s who we are," said Manchin, the convention’s key note speaker. He added, "You don’t have to pass a litmus test to be a Democrat."

Manchin, vice-chair of the Democratic Governors Association, recalled his upbringing in rural Farmington, W. Va., and encouraged Democrats to appeal to and protect all people.

He also praised Doyle in his speech to the delegation.

"If they’re not unbeatable, they should be," Manchin said of the Doyle-Lawton ticket.

In a meeting with reporters before his speech, Manchin said that retaining Jim Doyle as Wisconsin governor was critical for Wisconsin,.

"He’s the first person I look to," Manchin said. "It’s imperative that Jim Doyle is re-elected."

Manchin said the DGA is giving its full support to Doyle, as well as a proportional share of its fundraising money.

"Thank God Jim’s doing pretty well on his own raising money," Manchin said.

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Platform, Resolution Push for Impeachment

The party faithful approved a platform calling for the impeachment of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They also approved a resolution pledging to hold organizational meetings to get county and municipal referenda on impeachment and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

A section of the party platform reads:

We must do everything possible to prevent our enemies from attacking us, but we believe that this can be done without sacrificing the civil rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Therefore, we call upon Congress to begin impeachment proceedings immediately against President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.


Resolution 06-PG-03 reads:

WHEREAS, the DPW in 2005 passed "impeachment" and "expeditious withdrawal of US troops from Iraq" resolutions and now the high crimes and misdemeanors and war are much worse;

THEREFORE, RESOLVED, the DPW shall act on these resolutions by conducting organizing meetings throughout Wisconsin to get county and municipal referenda questions on impeachment and withdrawal on the 11/7/06 and 4/3/07 ballots; cooperate with other organizations seeking the same objectives; provide financial and legal assistance as necessary; and appoint immediately after the 2006 State Convention an implementation committee to see that this effort is conducted with serious determination.

See the party platform: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=64233
See the list of resolutions approved: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=64234

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Kohl: Thompson Candidacy Would Be Interesting

Dem. Sen Herb Kohl says a potential race against Tommy Thompson would be "interesting." But he’s confident in his record and is going to run on his accomplishments regardless of who he faces.

Thompson, who rejected a run for governor last month, has been pondering a bid against Kohl. Polls have suggested the race would be close.

"Every day, we do something that’s good for the people of this state," Kohl said. "I do not take it for granted."

Kohl used his Saturday morning address to delegates to delegates to stress the importance of retaking the national government for the Democrats in 2006 and 2008.

Kohl said the continued failures of Republicans at the highest levels of government necessitated a change. He said that years of irresponsible tax cuts and tilting bills to corporate interests has finally made the public aware of Republican mismanagement.

"We know now we have to take back the Congress, and we have to take back the presidency," Kohl said. "It’s unfortunate, it’s sad, it’s not something to exalt over, but it’s something we have to resolve."

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SOS Candidate Ross Talks Caucus Connections

Dem SOS candidate Scot Ross openly admits the political work he did as a member of both Democratic caucuses was wrong. But he says others have made mistakes, too.

SOS Doug LaFollette has had several scrapes with ethics rules in his almost three decades in office, including a $500 fine for allowing a group his wife ran to use his state office.

Ross, who had taxpayers cover $3,895 of his legal bills during the probe that resulted in the convictions of five lawmakers, spoke with WisPolitics this morning about his caucus ties and how he'll respond to any attacks over his connections to the illegal work.

Click here to listen to part of the Ross interview with WisPolitics:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/Ross_Interview.mp3

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Masel Gets Speaking Spot After All

Ben Masel -- former Libertarian candidate for Congress, hemp advocate and now Dem primary opponent for U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl -- is getting a spot to speak at the state party's convention after all.

Masel had a little tiff with party officials this week after he wasn't listed on the agenda for speakers. Masel and party officials said state chair Joe Wineke had promised Masel a spot, but that pledge didn't find its way to organizers who set up the agenda.

Everything got worked out this week, and Masel got his spot right after lunch. Kohl was speaking at 10 a.m. to lead off Saturday's speakers.

"At least everyone will have a fresh attention span," Masel said.

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Tunes, Beer Flow for Dems

The hospitality suite of Dem Gov. Jim Doyle featured a full bar, plenty of beer and Chicago-based rock band Lockwood.

The band welcomed the guv and his wife into their suite late Friday night with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” After shaking hands with staff and supporters, Doyle delivered a brief speech praising the upbeat and optimistic mood of the convo-goers. He concluded his remarks with some props for Lockwood -- singling out front man Sam Jackson -- who previously worked for the guv’s office before moving to Chicago with his band last year.

Partiers danced late into the night as Lockwood played some original material, as well as covers that included The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” and Outkast’s “Hey Ya.”

Still, the Dems kept it straightforward in their hospitality suites for the most part.

8th CD Dem Steve Kagen’s suite featured an ice cream sundae bar with assorted toppings. Jamie Wall, another 8th CD Dem, had a sparse room with Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap.

AG challenger Kathleen Falk offered La Crosse City Brewery beer to visitors. Incumbent Peg Lautenschlager had a pre-party before the convention got rolling.

One of the hospitality suites drawing the most attention was the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin room, which was lit with red lights and a movie projector rolling pro-PPAWI shorts. The tables were lined with packets of free condoms and KY lubricant, while volunteers handed out T-shirts reading I (heart) EC, i.e. emergency contraception.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Doyle Talks Wisconsin Values vs. Washington Ways

Gov. Doyle got his biggest cheers Friday night when he pledged he would not turn his back on families confronting disease and disability who see hope in embryonic stem cell research.

Doyle's support of the research has been a central theme of his campaign. He said being governor of the state of Wisconsin, where the research was pioneered, means he has a special obligation to protect the work.

"I will not let partisan politics slam the door on hope for these families," Doyle said. "For as long as I am governor, Wisconsin will lead the nation in stem cell research."

Doyle opened his speech by contrasting what he said were Wisconsin values and Washington values, an obvious reference to his opponent, U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Green Bay.

"In five short months, Wisconsin voters will head to the polls. They will have a clear choice. A choice between the way we do things here in Wisconsin, and the way things get done in Washington. A choice between Wisconsin values and Washington values. A real choice."

Read the rest of Doyle's speech

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Feingold Fires Up Crowd

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold told the crowd Democrats can't win this fall if they're timid.

He took his own advice.

The Wisconsin Democrat railed against a proposed amendment to ban gay marriage and Vermont-style civil unions, the death penalty and the president's domestic wiretapping program.

"We will not win by default," Feingold implored the crowd. "We will not win by running out the clock."

Feingold recounted how one Republican U.S. senator held a news conference in which he bragged no one in his family had been divorced or had a homosexual relationship.

"We're not all born the same. Some of us make mistakes," said Feingold, who is twice divorced. "But we're still proud of our families."

The crowd cheered as he bragged Democrats had never tried to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution to torment people. He also predicted Wisconsin voters would reject the proposed amendment to the state constitution on gay marriage.

He did not call for the impeachment of President Bush over what he called his abuses of executive power. But he said the president was "in the strike zone" of the high crimes and misdemeanors that the Founding Fathers wrote about.

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Falk: Too Early to Say if She'll Use Peg Arrest in Campaign

After the speeches, Falk wouldn’t close the door on using Lautenschlager's drunk driving arrest in a campaign ad.

In an impromptu press conference with reporters following her speech, Falk accused Lautenschlager of starting a dirty campaign. Lautenschalger put out a release this week questioning Falk’s Democratic credentials.

But Falk gave mixed messages on whether she would run a clean campaign.

"Certainly, my opponent fired a very negative shot," said Falk, citing Lautenschlager’s release from Thursday.

"I have helped Democrats for as long as I can remember," she said, adding that she had never considered running for any office as a Republican.

"I run positive campaigns," she added. But when asked if she would bring up her opponent’s drunk driving arrest in a campaign ad, Falk said, "I don’t know. It is way too early to tell."

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AG Candidates Deliver Back-to-Back Addresses

Kathleen Falk warned fellow Dems of the danger of losing the AG’s office while Peg Lautenschlager ticked off her credentials in their speeches to the convention.

Falk got the opportunity to address convo-goers first.

"Can you imagine waking up in November with a Republican attorney general?" she asked. "J.B. Van Hollen and Paul Bucher would turn Wisconsin into South Dakota. Is that what you want?" she again asked, referring to the GOP candidate’s opposition to abortion.

Falk spent a large portion of her speech railing off a long list of endorsements, as certain sections of the audience cheered in response. Then in what may have been a reference to her opponent’s troubled relationship with the governor, Falk said, "As your nominee, I will stand beside Gov. Jim Doyle (as he seeks re-election)."

"It’s not enough to fight the good fight; we’ve got to win," Falk said.

Lautenschlager quickly addressed her drunk driving incident saying,

"I have made some mistakes along the way … but I come before you knowing my core values have never, never changed."

She then spoke exclusively on her record since she has taken office, saying she has helped to lower meth usage in Wisconsin, to arrest Internet criminals who poach on children, to fight "horrible" legislation seeking to pollute state lakes and rivers, and to fight to keep gas prices down.

She pointed to the more than 30 suits she has filed against pharmaceutical companies.

"I have taken on the powerful," Lautenschlager said to a roaring response from the crowd.

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SOS Candidates Address Convention

Incumbent SOS Doug LaFollette hit on anti-voter suppression themes in his speech to delegates Friday night, while challenger Scot Ross questioned whether the party had asked too little of its secretary of state.

Ross has taken on the long-time incumbent, arguing the party needs energetic and enthusiastic leadership from its SOS.

LaFollette made an appeal to young voters, saying he has been active working with groups such as Rock the Vote and the United Council for UW Students to make sure that voter turnout is consistently high in Wisconsin.

He also said that while his office does not monitor elections, he has nevertheless been at the front lines when it comes to promoting the need and the right for all citizens to vote.

"The election process is clearly broken in places like Florida and Ohio," LaFollette said.

Ross told WisPolitics after his speech that LaFollette has not been effective in his position of leadership.

"There has been a lot of authority taken away from that office, and if we’re going to take back some of the authority we once had, we are going to need a change of leadership," Ross said.

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SEIU Mobilizes Straw Poll Support for Falk

Dane Co. Exec. and AG candidate Kathleen Falk made her grand entrance into the convo halls as more than 30 purple-clad SEIU members lined the entryway chanting her name and hoisting signs.

They also chanted “Whomp there it is.”

After Falk made here entrance, the SEIU members filed down the escalator directly to the WisPolitics straw poll.

“We’re voting for Falk,” exclaimed one SEIU member.

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Baldwin, Moore, Obey Miss Convention

Dem U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Dave Obey missed their speaking slots tonight because of votes in Congress.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore was absent as well because of a family commitment, according to the party.

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Wanna Buy a Raffle Ticket?

Vendor and candidate tables are packed wall-to-wall through the halls of the La Crosse Center.

One of the tables catching the attention of convo-goers is the DPW official raffle. Volunteers are selling $5 raffle tickets for the chance to win prizes donated from some of the candidates for federal and statewide races. They are also featuring a DPW credit card that automatically contributes funds to the Dem party with each credit card purchase.

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl’s campaign donated tickets to his private suite at the Bradley Center for a Milwaukee Admirals game. 8th CD Dem Nancy Nusbaum’s campaign donated two fifth-row tickets for a Dec. 21 Packers vs. Vikings game at Lambeau Field. Another prize being raffled off was a hand-delivered dinner for six, prepared by AG Peg Lautenschlager.

Also holding a raffle was the Waupaca Co. Dem Party, which was giving away a 12-gauge, semi-automatic Remington Model 11-97 shotgun; the retail value is $700.

"Some of our Republican friends believe we aren’t interested in hunting," said a volunteer selling tickets for $3.

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Competing Feingold Booths

Russ Feingold is so popular among Dem activists here, he has competing fan bases operating from two separate convo tables.

On the lower level is a Progressive Patriots Fund table supporting Feingold’s PAC. Take a quick trip up the escalator and you can find a Russ 2008 table supporting a potential Feingold bid for the presidency.

The volunteers at the Progressive Patriots Fund table say they aren’t working in collusion with the Russ 2008. But when asked if they supported a Russ prez run, one responded with an enthusiastic "Yes, I hope he runs."

Both tables have yellow flyers reading, "Don’t Spy on Me" in reference to the senator’s stance against the NSA wiretapping program.

"They’re stealing our slogan too!" joked the Progressive Patriots volunteer.

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SOS Candidates Work the Crowd

Secretary of State candidate Scot Ross, who will face longtime incumbent Doug LaFollette in the September Dem primary, is passing out chocolate silver dollars as he approaches activists in the hall.

Meanwhile LaFollette, sporting a wide-brimmed hat, is collecting signatures on the other side of the hall.

“I’ve got dozens of old friends coming up to me asking me if they can sign. I’ve got several hundred names,” said LaFollette, who’s sporting a vest that reads across the back, “Hello, I’m Doug LaFollette.”

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Doyle Makes Stops on Way to La Crosse

Gov. Doyle made the most of his trip to La Crosse today.

He first stopped at Camp Douglas on his way west to speak to the Wisconsin National Guard Leadership Conference and the opening of the U.S. Property and Fiscal Office at Volk Air National Guard Base.

While in LaCrosse, he handed out a $375,000 Transportation Economic Assistance grant for infrastructure to support a Kwik Trip plant expansion. The project is expected to create 166 jobs.

Doyle state spokesman Matt Canter said the governor's campaign would reimburse the state for part of the trip because it included political work.

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Jessica Doyle Touts Stem Cell Research

Flanked by two families who have found hope in the promise of stem cell research, first lady Jessica Doyle kicked off the 2006 Dem convention Friday afternoon speaking to reporters on the need for the "life-saving" research.

"We see great potential for cures with embryonic (stem cell) research," said Doyle, highlighting differences between her husband and his GOP opponent, U.S. Rep. Mark Green. The Republican opposes an expansion of embryonic stem cell research beyond the lines President Bush approved funding in 2001.

Doyle said many of the embryos used in the research are left over from in vitro fertilizations.

“These are cells that would be disregarded anyway,” said Doyle. “People chose to donate these.”

Green has complained Democrats are distorting his record on stem cell research.

See Green's release: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=64195

Jim Shatto, a quadriplegic with Type 1 diabetes was joined by his wife, Deb, at the conference, as were David Strom and his mother, Jane Oie.

Strom, 35, has had a new pancreas implanted, as well as three kidneys as a result of living with diabetes since he was 8 years old. He says the doctors never told him he would live past 20.

"I love being joined in the fight by Jim Doyle," said Strom, who added that only embryonic cells can be manipulated to find cures for certain diseases.

"To have some hope for him would be so wonderful," said Strom’s mother.

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WisPolitics Straw Poll Returns

WisPolitics is again conducting a straw poll at this year's convention, as an unofficial gauge of grassroots support for Democratic candidates. This year's poll includes questions on the attorney general primary, the secretary of state primary and the 2008 presidential election. The results will be counted by WisPolitics staff and released at www.wispolitics.com on Saturday, June 10.

The straw poll is not officially sanctioned by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and is run solely by WisPolitics.com.

As in past years, WisPolitics.com will allow all official convention attendees to vote. See below for full straw poll rules.

Last year, Kathleen Falk and Russ Feingold both emerged winners in a WisPolitics.com straw poll of activists at the Wisconsin Democratic Party convention.

Of the 299 ballots submitted for attorney general, Falk, the Dane County who unsuccessfully ran for governor in the 2002 Dem gubernatorial primary, edged incumbent AG Peg Lautenschlager. Falk tallied 152 total votes, or 50.8 percent, to AG Lautenschlager's 144, or 48.2 percent.

Feingold, re-elected to a six-year Senate term in 2004, emerged as the top vote-getter on the presidential preference ballot with 98 votes, or 38.8 percent of the 299 total submitted for the presidential preference question. Hillary Clinton was next with 59 votes.

See more on last year's results.

2006 STRAW POLL RULES

--A list of probable candidates will appear in alphabetical order on a paper ballot for each question. A blank-line labeled "Other, Please specify" may follow the names.

--All convention delegates, alternates, and official guests will be eligible to vote. Only one vote may be cast per person. WisPolitics staff will stamp or otherwise mark the credentials of all voters and use other means to ensure nobody votes more than once.

--Ballots with more than one name marked under a question will not be counted. Ballots with an illegible write-in name will not be counted. WisPolitics will be the sole judge as to whether a ballot should be counted.

--The results will be counted by WisPolitics staff and released at www.wispolitics.com on Saturday, June 10.

See the questions:

Who is your choice in the Democratic primary for secretary of state?
_ Doug LaFollette
_ Scot Ross

Who is your choice in the Democratic primary for attorney general?
_ Kathleen Falk
_ Peg Lautenschlager


Which politician would be your preferred Democratic presidential candidate in 2008?
_ Evan Bayh
_ Joe Biden
_ Wes Clark
_ Hillary Clinton
_ John Edwards
_ Russ Feingold
_ Al Gore
_ John Kerry
_ Bill Richardson
_ Tom Vilsack
_ Mark Warner
_ Other, Please specify:

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Green Responds to Stem Cell Slams

In the days leading up the the state Democratic Convention, the Doyle camp and DPW has been slamming Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green's stances on stem cell research, with the governor's re-election campaign claming Green will "shut it down" in a letter Thursday foreshadowing what to look forward to during the convention. A later DPW release says Green hopes to "criminalize" stem cell research methods.

See the latest DPW release: Mark Green Tries to Hide Opposition to Life-Saving Stem Cell Research

Green snapped back today in a series of releases, saying the real point where Green and Doyle disagree on is cloning. Green also disputes Doyle's implication that the Republican has not been supportive of diabetes research, saying he helped add more than $120 million in government spending for research.

Green also points to his co-sponsorship of the "Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005" that aids cord blood stem cell research. Green also talks of his support for the "Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act" allowing the NIH for testing of certain emryonic-like stem cells.

"To try and paint me as opposed to medical research is not just over-the-top politics, it is an insult to me and the people I care about who are suffering with illness," Green said in the release.

See Green's medical research fact sheet:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/060609GreenMed.pdf

See the Green release:
http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=64146

Conservative pseudonymous blogger Dennis York has also taken issue with Doyle and the Dems over stem cells: Doyle's Despicable Stem Cell Charade

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WPT Plans Live Interview with Doyle

Wisconsin Public Television's "Here and Now" is visiting the state Democratic Party Convention in La Crosse for an interview with Gov. Jim Doyle tonight.

"Here and Now" airs on Wisconsin Public Television at 7 p.m. Friday. It will re-air at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. WMVS-TV in Milwaukee will air this edition of Here and Now at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 11.

See more about tonight's show.

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Convention Locations and Speaking Schedule

Courtesy of the Democratic Party

This year’s convention will be held at the La Crosse Center in downtown La Crosse. Hospitality suites will be located in the Radisson Hotel next door.

The convention opens on Friday at 5 p.m., with the speaking program beginning at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, the convention will reconvene at 9:30 a.m., with speeches beginning at 10 a.m.

Governor Doyle will provide the keynote address on Friday night at 9 p.m. West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III will give the keynote speech on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

SPEAKING SCHEDULE FOR THE 2006 DEMOCRATIC STATE CONVENTION

Friday, June 9
6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Welcome: La Crosse County Party Chair Bob Johnson
State Chair’s Report – DPW Chair Joe Wineke
First Vice Chair, Lena Taylor
Candidate for Secretary of State, Scot Ross
Secretary of State Doug LaFollette
Candidate for Attorney General, Kathleen Falk
Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager
State Assembly Democratic Leader Jim Kreuser
State Senate Democratic Leader Judy Robson
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin
Congressman Dave Obey
Congressman Ron Kind
Senator Russ Feingold
Governor Jim Doyle (keynote address)

Saturday, June 10
10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Senator Herb Kohl
Ruth Bradley, candidate for the 1st Congressional District
Don Hall, candidate for the 1st Congressional District
Steve Herr, candidate for the 1st Congressional District
Dr. Jeff Thomas, candidate for the 1st Congressional District
Bryan Kennedy, candidate for the 5th Congressional District
John Curry, candidate for the 6th Congressional District
Dr. Steve Kagen, candidate for the 8th Congressional District
Nancy Nusbaum, candidate for the 8th Congressional District
Jamie Wall, candidate for the 8th Congressional District
Mike Tate, Executive Director or Fair Wisconsin
Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton
West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III (keynote address)

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Wineke Touts Dems' Election Agenda

In a new interview leading up to the state Democratic convention in La Crosse, state Dem Party Chair Joe Wineke portrays Gov. Jim Doyle as a strong fiscal manager and Republican opponent Mark Green as a partner with George Bush in running up "huge budget deficits" to finance an unpopular war.

Wineke also discusses potential fallout from the trial of Georgia Thompson (it won't affect the race in November, he says) and the value of primary challenges in statewide and legislative races.

See a webcast of Wineke's full interview with WisPolitics.com Editor JR Ross.

Webcast highlights:
*4 minutes, 11 seconds - Discussion of the death penalty referendum and the gay marriage ban amendment
*8:20 - The Democratic message this year
*12:25 - Wineke says he doesn't see any November fallout from the trial of Georgia Thompson, running this week in Milwaukee
*15:00 - Sen. Herb Kohl's race
*16:25 - Primaries in the attorney general race and the secretary of state's race
*19:10 - Discussion of the primary challenge to Dem Rep. Dave Travis and other legislative races.

Read an excerpt of the interview.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

AG Questions Falk's Dem Credentials

Peg Lautenschlager's re-election campaign issued a scathing release this afternoon, accusing primary opponent Kathleen Falk of having "soft" Dem credentials. The release says Falk delayed joining the party until she was 45 years old, and had been mentioned by the Green Bay Press-Gazette as a potential Republican candidate for governor in 2002, alongside Lt. Gov. Scott McCallum.

See the release: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=64103

Falk campaign spokesman Adam Collins had this response:

"To question the Democratic values of Kathleen Falk is to question the Democratic values of those who have endorsed her. Call Jim Kreuser the Assembly Democratic leader, call John Richards the assistant Democratic leader, call (State Rep.) Jennifer Shilling, call AFSCME, call SEIU, call the hundreds of Democrats across the state who have endorsed Kathleen…and believe she is the best candidate."

A release from the Falk campaign later said the attack "shows how desperate Lautenschlager is."

See the release: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=64110

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Sanders Plans to 'Make a Splash' at Convo

Democrat Henry Sanders, challenging long-time Madison incumbent Rep. Dave Travis in a primary this year, says he plans on making a splash at the convention, and he's criticizing Travis for saying he won't attend.

"Dave Travis says he wants to take back the majority, but does he fight for it? No, he stays home," Sanders said. "This is all-hands-on-deck time, and he stays home. Sitting on the sidelines while other people roll up their sleeves to fight for working families is not leadership."

Sanders is also touting more than a dozen endorsements from current and former Madison-area elected officials, including past school board president Juan Jose Lopez; current school board president Johnny Winston; Madison alders Paul Van Rooy, Brian Benford, Lauren Cnare and Zach Brandon; county board supervisors Dorothy Wheeler, Richard Brown and Vern Wendt; former county board supervisor Jim Mohrbacher; former Wisconsin Heights school board member Terry Moyer; and Waunakee trustees Sue Springman and Al Rabin.

In a new WisPolitics interview, DPW Chair Joe Wineke said he doesn't get personally involved in races, but said his wife would be giving money to Travis before the primary.

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Trial Distracting Some Attention from Convo

The state Dem convention begins in La Crosse tomorrow with attention centered on Gov. Jim Doyle's bid to win a second term, the AG's primary race between Peg Lautenschlager and Kathleen Falk, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl's re-election bid, U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold's national aspirations and hopes of Dems to take back the state Senate.

But a lot of politicos this week have been watching what could be a pivotal federal trial in Milwaukee involving DOA employee Georgia Thompson and allegations involving political involvement in a state travel contract.

See the latest trial news in the WisPolitics Courtwatch Blog:
http://blogs.wispolitics.com/legal/index.html

State Dem Party Chair Joe Wineke, in a new WisPolitics.com interview, called Doyle "the most ethical person I've ever known'' and rebuffed suggestions the trial would dampen Dem enthusiasm this weekend.

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Doyle Plans Focus on Stem Cells

The centerpiece of Gov. Jim Doyle's convention speech in La Crosse tomorrow will be his support for various stem cell initiatives, according to his campaign.

Jody Montgomery, a Verona mom, whose four-year-old daughter, Madeline, suffers from Type 1 diabetes, will introduce the governor Friday night for his keynote address at the convo. Doyle is expected to highlight his support for embryonic stem cell research, an issue that separates him from GOP opponent U.S. Rep. Mark Green.

Earlier in the afternoon, First Lady Jessica Doyle has plans to hold a 4 p.m. press conference outside the La Crosse Center with other families affected by stem cell initiatives.

The guv's camp also plans to use its campaign blog to provide pro-Doyle spin on the latest news from the convention.

* See the blog

* See a Doyle-Lawton release on stem cell initiatives

* See a DPW release comparing Doyle and Green's positions on stem cells

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Kind Says Troops Should Leave Iraq in Event of Civil War

U.S. Rep Ron Kind, whose hometown is La Crosse, recently discussed his thoughts on the war in Iraq at a WisPolitics luncheon at the Madison Club.

Kind says that if the situation in Iraq deteriorates into all-out civil war, U.S. troops would need to be pulled out.

"I don’t think it’s our troops' mission to be there and babysit a civil war," he said at a recent WisPolitics luncheon at the Madison Club.

Kind said the barrage of Iraq images and news stories "constantly in front of people’s faces" reminds them of the failed policies of the GOP-controlled government and the need to vote for change. Though he hasn’t endorsed a specific date for troop withdrawal, Kind, who has visited Iraq three times since the war began, said, "this has to be a crucial transition year."

Kind, a Democrat who has represented western Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District since 1996, spoke on Iraq and other issues that may influence fall elections during the luncheon. The luncheons are co-sponsored by WHD Government Affairs and Sonic Foundry.

See a webcast of the luncheon
See WisPolitics coverage of the luncheon

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Challenge to LaFollette

Scot Ross says he's taking on Secretary of State Doug LaFollette in the Dem primary because he wants to re-invigorate the office, make the position more of an advocate for voting rights and help his fellow Democrats.

Call it a youth movement.

But Ross' decision to take on LaFollette is puzzling to some, considering the party activist is little known outside Dem circles and is trying to unseat a longtime incumbent who has one of the most famous political names in Wisconsin history and hasn't had a close race in years.

They wonder whether Ross' challenge is unofficially sanctioned by party officials, but several Dems insist Ross made the decision on his own without the party's involvement.

While various Dem strategists question whether Ross can pull off a victory, one said it's a sign of the discontent some young party activists feel with the old guard. There is a feeling that the party has lost its vitality and focus and needs a fresh blood rather than having the "same legislators and same cast of characters you rotate out and take turns losing races."

LaFollette insists he's only considered low-profile because the media focuses on other offices and says he's been active in the party. He says he has been endorsed by Gov. Jim Doyle and Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, the top two Democrats in the state (the Doyle-Lawton campaign did not return calls for confirmation of that endorsement today). He said he has done a "very good job" and does not understand why he's being challenged by a fellow Democrat.

"I think there's only two reasons to do such a thing: One, if the incumbent is not doing a good job or, B, if you have a motivation personally to just get your name in the paper because you're planning future political activities," LaFollette said. "That's legitimate. People have a right to do that. But I don't understand it as any logical reason for it."

Read more on the Ross v. LaFollette primary: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=63495

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