Monday, May 22, 2006

New Convention Webcasts

See new webcasts from the weekend:

Mark GreenTommy Thompson's speech to the convention

Rep. James Sensenbrenner's speech to the convention


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Doyle's Campaign Reacts to Convention

Doyle's campaign had a couple quick reactions to this weekend's convention.

First, the campaign's thoughts on Mark Green's speech: "Governor Doyle wakes up every day thinking about real middle class and working families in Wisconsin, and how to make their lives better. Those are the people he’s listening too and fighting for. Mark Green’s spent a career listening to, taking contributions from and defending the super rich, the big oil and the big drug companies."

And here are the campaign's thoughts on Tommy Thompson not appearing at the post-convention press conference with Mark Green: "It looks like all the posturing and happy rhetoric about Tommy embracing Green was just that — posturing and happy rhetoric."


Green-Thompson Show of Unity Energizes Base

Delegates said they were encouraged by the unity exhibited between former Gov. Tommy Thompson and gubernatorial candidate Mark Green.

"I think it was good for the delegates after all the talk and rumors that (Thompson's) going to run. It created a stir in the base," said Ryan Wrasse, Oneida County GOP chair. "It gave everyone an opportunity to see we're all united behind Mark Green."

Thompson had been flirting with the idea of coming back to Wisconsin to reclaim the governorship he held for 14 years. But Thompson announced last weekend that he would not seek the office, and threw his support behind Green, even going so far as to fly into Appleton today to introduce the congressman.

"Mark Green is the candidate who will bring Wisconsin forward again," said Thompson, who was greeted with overwhelming enthusiasm by the faithful.

RPW chair Rick Graber termed the event "a passing of the torch" from Thompson to Green. Delegates agreed.

"It looks like Tommy Thompson is lending his full support and creedence to Mark Green in his candidacy for the governorship," said Clark County chair Cliff Kutzner.

RPW treasurer Reince Priebus said Thompson "is the godfather of the modern Republican Party in Wisconsin," and said his support will be invaluable to Green.

"I think (Thompson) just looked at it and said getting behind Mark Green is the right thing to do for the party," Priebus said.

Kutzner said he thinks Thompson is focused on other areas in his life now, but did say he hoped TGT isn't done with politics. "I'd like to see a Vice President Tommy Thompson," he said.


Voight, Hundertmark Receive GOP Endorsements

Incumbent state Treasurer Jack Voight and Lt. Gov. hopeful Jean Hundertmark received unanimous endorsements from their party.

No endorsement was given in the U.S. Senate race, thought Robert Lorge received the most votes with 2,104.84. Marc Gumz got 62.6 votes.

Two-thirds of 6,021 delegate votes are needed for a candidate to be eligible for endorsement.

In the GOP race for Secretary of State, Sandy Sullivan received 1,639.91 and her primary opponent R. J. DeBaufer received 411.36.


GOP Votes No Endorsement in AG Race, But Van Hollen Receives More Support

Both Republican Attorney General candidates ended their convention speeches with reminders to delegates to vote no endorsement in the race, in accordance with an agreement forged between the campaigns.

For the most part, the delegates at this weekend's convention abided by the candidates' wish, but those who did cast their votes favored JB Van Hollen.

Van Hollen received 915.5 delegate votes, and his opponent Paul Bucher got 665.75, while 3423.86 voted no endorsement. A candidate needs to receive two-thirds of the delegate votes to be eligible for the endorsement. If all the counties are present, there are a total of 6,021 votes in all.

The AG campaigns agreed about six months ago not to seek the delegates' endorsement or participate in straw polls. Paul Bucher campaign manager R.J. Johnson said the agreement was made to avoid spending valuable resources on the backing of a small group of people as the GOP U.S. Senate candidates did two years ago.

They also followed the lead of Mark Green and Scott Walker, who at the time were running against each other in the gubernatorial primary. Walker dropped out of the race this spring.

Van Hollen general consultant Darrin Schmitz said the AG candidates decided to adhere to the same agreement the gubernatorial candidates reached and the wishes of the party.

"We wanted to follow suit for the best of the party," Schmitz said.


Allen, Thompson & Van Hollen Favored in WisPolitics GOP Convo Straw Poll

GOP activists voting in the annual Straw Poll this weekend favored JB Van Hollen for attorney general, Tommy Thompson for U.S. Senate and George Allen for president.

Van Hollen and Thompson were heavily favored by official convention attendees as the picks to represent Republicans on the November ballot, while Allen, with 61 votes, narrowly edged Rudy Giuliani (60), Newt Gingrich (53) and Condi Rice (50) as the current choice for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008.

Last year in Sheboygan, Secretary of State Rice won the presidential preference straw poll. And gubernatorial candidate Mark Green, lieutenant governor candidate Jean Hundertmark and Van Hollen won the straw poll of GOP activists at that Wisconsin Republican Party convention. In that straw poll, 322 total ballots were cast.

In this year's WisPolitics straw poll at the Wisconsin Republican Party convention in Appleton, 357 total ballots were cast by official convention attendees despite state Republican Party efforts to curtail voting by activists in the straw poll.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin and attorney general candidates Paul Bucher and Van Hollen, in a letter to WisPolitics earlier in the week, requested that an AG question be excluded from the WisPolitics straw poll because of an agreement between the competing attorney general campaigns to discourage straw polls and a convention endorsement vote. The letter was distributed to convention-goers. declined the request.

See the exchange of letters.

But Bucher and Van Hollen, and representatives of their campaigns, ended up voting in the WisPolitics straw poll this weekend, though it was not clear if they answered the question about AG preference. In all, 41 respondents left that question blank. Bucher is the Waukesha County district attorney; Van Hollen is a former district attorney and U.S. attorney. In November, one of them will meet the winner of the Democratic AG primary between incumbent Peg Lautenschlager and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.

357 total ballots cast

**Who is your choice in the GOP primary for attorney general?
_ Paul Bucher, 88 votes
_ JB Van Hollen, 228 votes
No response, 41

**Who is your choice to run against Herb Kohl for the U.S. Senate?
_ Marc Gumz, 3
_ Robert Gerald Lorge, 20
_ Tim Michels, 76
_ Dave Redick, 2
_ Tommy Thompson, 241
_ Write In, 6
No response, 9

**Which possible 2008 presidential candidate do you currently favor?
_ George Allen, 61
_ Sam Brownback, 11
_ Bill Frist, 8
_ Newt Gingrich, 53
_ Rudy Giuliani, 60
_ Chuck Hagel, 1
_ Mike Huckabee, 2
_ John McCain, 37
_ George Pataki, 4
_ Condi Rice, 50
_ Mitt Romney, 40
_ Tom Tancredo, 8
_ Write In, 7
No response, 15


AG Campaigns Call Delegates Leading into Convention

The campaigns of AG candidates Paul Bucher and J.B. Van Hollen called delegates in the week leading up to the convention, but both insist they had nothing to do with this weekend's WisPolitics straw poll or the party endorsement vote.

Van Hollen campaign consultant Darrin Schmitz accused Bucher of breaking a pact the campaigns had reached not to seek the support of voters in straw polls because the Waukesha County DA's calls asked delegates who they supported.

Van Hollen's automated calls to about 3,500 delegates and alternates invited them to his hospitality suite so they could talk.

"One campaign was holding true to the pledge that they signed onto," Schmitz said.

Bucher campaign manager R.J. Johnson said Van Hollen was trying to create smoke where there was no fire.

The 3,000 survey calls asked respondents who they were supporting in the primary and if they'd like to volunteer for the Bucher campaign. Johnson said that was done to better gauge how to use the campaign's resources to reach out to those who didn't know Bucher.

"There's nothing there," Johnson said. "It's obvious to anyone who looks at the text of the calls."


Van Hollen: This Is a Republican Year

JB Van Hollen told the delegates he is a candidate that sticks to his guns, particularly when it comes to firearms.

Van Hollen said he would never soften his conservative values to appeal to liberal voters. "I will not say one thing and then do another," he said.

As an example, he said his support for legislation allowing state residents to carry concealed weapons has never waivered, an apparent reference to primary opponent Paul Bucher's early opposition to the bill.

"I have been consistent on my support for concealed carry since Day 1," Van Hollen said.

Like Bucher, Van Hollen accused incumbent AG Peg Lautenschlager of trying to advance her own "liberal social agenda" through the Department of Justice.


Green's Tax Pledge

Mark Green is promising he wouldn't run for re-election in 2010 unless Wisconsin's tax burden goes down while he's governor.

But how he would measure that remains to be seen.

Green hasn't picked a method to make clear whether he lives up to his promise, campaign manager Mark Graul said. But he added voters will be smart enough to know whether their tax burden has gone down with Green in office.

"Give the taxpayers credit," Graul said.

Still, politicians have been known to find lots of ways to point out successes when it comes to Wisconsin's taxes.

According to the Tax Foundation, Wisconsin's state and local tax burden was fourth in the country when Dem Gov. Jim Doyle took office. The state dropped to No. 7 this year.

"It's not about our ranking. It's about our tax burden," Graul said.


Bucher: There's a New Sheriff Coming to Town

In his speech before the delegates, AG hopeful Paul Bucher poked fun at his reputation of being too intense and serious.

Bucher said dealing with thieves and murderers all day as Waukesha County DA requires he be serious and intense, but he's working on it.

"If you were in the hospitality room last night you saw that I did not have a suitcoat on, so I'm making progress," he joked.

Bucher said his vision for the Department of Justice will return it to being a premier law enforcement organization, and accused incumbent Dem Peg Lautenschlager of using the office to implement her personal political agenda. "Ladies and gentleman, the last thing we need in the Attorney General's office is another politician," he said. "Isn't that how we got in this problem in the first place?"

"As you know, this is not going to be an easy fight. I've asked Peg to leave several times and she keeps showing up for work," Bucher joked.

At the end of his speech, Bucher reminded the crowd that both campaigns are asking delegates to vote no endorsement in the AG race.


Green Ready for Campaign Trail

In a press conference after he accepted his party's nomination for governor, Green admitted he has a lot of work to do to get his message out, and said he plans to "be everywhere, all the time."
With Doyle agreeing to raise the school choice caps in Milwaukee, signing medical malpractice and his own property tax freeze, Green was asked if Doyle had taken the issues away from him. "Absolutely not," he replied.

One of the main areas where he and Doyle differ is on litigation reform, he said. "He has vetoed almost every litigation reform that has come to his desk," Green said.

He called on Doyle again to sign his clean campaign challenge, which includes reducing spending limits in the campaign to $1 for every person in the state. Green said his first reaction to a new third-party television ad aimed against him was, "Boy, I wonder where that money came from." (See the Greater Wisconsin Committee ad "Ethics" ).

Asked if he would try to prevent third parties from doing ads on his behalf, or denounce any that are aired, he again said Doyle must sign the clean campaign pledge.


Tommy Whisks In, Then Back Out of Appleton

Tommy Thompson was billed as a participant in a press conference to follow Mark Green's annointing as the GOP candidate for governor, but he was a no-show.

Instead, RPW chairman Rick Graber stood beside Green at the press conference. Green described Thompson as a great friend and mentor. "I think he's thrilled to see me one step away from trying to carry on his legacy," he said.

Thompson had a 4 o'clock flight to catch out of town. It was estimated that he was on the ground in Appleton for about two hours.

Graber said a new era was ushered in on the Appleton stage. "I do think we saw a passing of the torch today from Gov. Thompson," he said.

Graber said he hasn't heard what Thompson's plans are regarding the U.S. Senate race. The party has been trying to recruit him to run against Dem incumbent Herb Kohl. Graber said he expects to hear something in the next few weeks.


Text of Mark Green's Prepared Remarks

Thank you, Governor Thompson. I’m so proud to have your friendship, your advice … and your support.

Twenty years ago, you rescued this state and made us a national leader. You’ve inspired so many of us into public service. I promise you, we will not let you down. Will we?

Scott Walker … thank you … we always said we hoped our friendship would survive this process. I am fortunate to have you on my team, but even more fortunate to have you as a friend.

My family is here with me today. Sue, my wife and partner on so many adventures … UW-Eau Claire, law school, teaching in Africa, the State Assembly and Congress … and, most important, parenthood.

My kids really have a wonderful mom … between soccer games and swim meets, and basketball and piano, Sue Green manages to make it all work … and still have time to listen to me complain about how busy my day was!

Sue grew up on a farm down in Walworth County … where her parents and her brother still farm.

There’s a lot of talk these days about building urban-rural partnerships … about uniting the different parts of our state. Well, Sue and my urban-rural partnership has been going strong for over 20 years.

My three children, Rachel, Anna and Alex … they’re not only great kids, but they provide invaluable advice to me and the campaign. They’ve taught me how to work an iPod … and thanks to them, I know that a TomKat sighting doesn’t refer to a war plan.

Now Anna has a soccer game in a few hours down in Neenah, and if her dad doesn’t go on too long, she just might make it! Don’t worry, we’ll go with the two-hour version … not the three-hour one we practiced last night!

I tell you, I look around this room, and I walk around this convention, and I get a feeling … I get a feeling my friends … it’s been twenty years since we knocked out of office an out-of-touch Democratic governor, and I get a feeling it’s time to do it again!

Are you ready? I hope you are … because – just like 20 years ago – our beloved Wisconsin is sliding down the wrong track.

Read the rest of Green's speech


Gov. Green = Packer Super Bowl, Tommy Says

Is Jim Doyle to blame for the Green Bay Packers' pathetic performance in 2005? Former Gov. Tommy Thompson guarantees that a change at the Governor's Mansion will turn their fortunes around.

"The Green Bay Packers will return to the Super Bowl with Mark Green as governor, mark my words," promised Thompson.


A Wedding and a Convention

Bobbie Ort had a little more excitement before her wedding this afternoon than the normal bride.

As Republicans nominated Mark Green for governor, Ort and Gregg Kauftheil were getting married in a court yard just off the hallway to the convention center.

They also had a few more guests than they likely anticipated. Some conventioneers stood by a glass door looking out into the court yard to watch the proceedings.


Thompson Seizes Convention Stage

A fist-pumping Tommy G. Thompson hit the stage with a recording of the UW marching band playing "On Wisconsin" in the background.

There were shouts of "run for Senate" as the applause died down. Thompson began in his usual manner. "Isn't it a great day to be a Republican in Wisconsin?" he asked.

The former governor said those who say he has hatred for Gov. Jim Doyle are taking it too far. He said it's not personal, although Doyle is not a person he's likely to go out and have a beer with, Thompson admitted.

"My qualms are with his failure to capture the great potential of this state and its people," he said.

Thompson bragged that when he was governor, he used his veto pen more times than any other governor. It was used to combat a Democratic Legislature and reduce spending, he claimed, while Doyle uses his to increase spending.

"Republicans are the party of July 4 and Democrats, no matter how hard they try to hide it, are the party of April 15," he said.


The Suspense Is Over

Mark Green is the GOP nominee for governor.

Actually, it wasn't that suspenseful. Green received 5347.29 of the votes from the counties. There were 29 write-ins, and 25.71 votes for no endorsement.


Walker: Doyle Fundamentally Wrong for Wisconsin

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who dropped out of the governor's race in March, introduced Green as a man "with a plan to move the state forward."

Walker said if he would have stayed in the race, Gov. Jim Doyle would likely win reelection.

While he was in the Legislature, Walker admitted, he respected some of his Democratic colleagues "because they believed in something."

"Jim Doyle, on the other hand, doesn't believe in anything except his own reelection," said Walker.

Walker said Doyle "replaced a veto for a vision in Wisconsin."

The delegates are going through the formality now of casting their votes for Green. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson will do the honors and introduce Green shortly.


Bloggers Report on Convention Happenings

Here's a round-up of what bloggers in attendance have to say about the convention so far:


Green Speech Excerpts

The Green campaign is putting out portions of Mark Green's speech via periodic press releases. You can check out the excerpts on WisPolitics press release page.

Green is scheduled to speak at 2:30.


Honadel Humor

Rep. Mark Honadel was the first Republican in 75 years to win the Assembly District that includes South Milwaukee and Oak Creek. Heading into what will be his third term, he doesn't have an announced Democratic opponent for the fall, but if he did he'd probably be using this line on them.

"A lot of people ask where the Democrats have been. Democrats have been hiding in a CAVE - Citizens Against Virtually Everything," Honadel joked.

Honadel credits his deep roots in the south Milwauke community for his success. But he's still perplexed as to why he's unopposed.

"People on my own team are surprised, but we had such a resounding victory last time," he said.


Delegates Break for Lunch

Running ahead of schedule, the conventioneers were sent to lunch at 11:35. They'll return at 1:30.

Stepp announced that so far 540 calls have been made from the "Green Team" phone bank in the MacIntosh Room. Volunteers are given a green "Vote Mark Green" wristband for making 25 calls.

Green will speak at 2:30, and former Gov. Tommy Thompson is expected to be here to share the spotlight with him. A Green campaign representative said Green and Thompson will work the rope line together after the speech, then head across the hall for a press conference.


You Said It Senator

The delegates are taking care of some nuts and bolts work now, giving away awards to top district volunteers and passing resolutions.

The convention chair, state Sen. Cathy Stepp, says the program is a little ahead of schedule.

"When you have a whole bunch of Republican politicians speaking and you're ahead of schedule, it's an act of God," Stepp said, drawing applause from the audience.


Dem Counter Rally Draws 80

Democrats stole the spotlight for a bit this morning, drawing a large section of the media a couple blocks east to Houdini Plaza for a counter rally.

"It's a chance for some of the local Democratic candidates to come out and talk with some supporters and showcase their platform," said Dem Rep. Tom Nelson from neighboring Kaukauna. About 80 people attended, including the three Democratic candidates vying for the 8th Congressional District seat, Jamie Wall, Steve Kagen and Nancy Nusbaum.

The show of unity was in contrast to the Republican candidates for the office, state Reps. John Gard and Terri McCormick, who have a notoriously chilly relationship. Gard has won the backing of the national party. Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman didn't mention McCormick in his comments to delegates and reporters last night, praising Gard and saying he needed to be the next congressman from the 8th CD. Gard is scheduled to speak to delegates, while McCormick won't get a turn at the podium.

The Dems all said they are focusing on running "positive" campaigns.

"Right now I'm running to win the race, and that means getting my message out. I'm not running against anybody. I'm running for something," Kagen said.

Nusbaum, a former Republican, said the party has taken a wrong turn. "The interests of the people who work hard and play by the rules need to be heard," she said. "This is about the heart and soul of our country."

Wall said the 8th is a "50-50 district in a year when people want change. It's to all our benefit if we work together to get the message out."

Also at the rally was state Senate candidate Jamie Aulik, and Assembly candidates Penny Bernard Schaber, Ron Gruett, Kelly Parson and Rich Langan.


Stepp Gives Pep Talk

Outgoing state Sen. Cathy Stepp, the convention chairwoman, kicked off the day with a pep talk for the GOP troops.

She said if Republicans are clear and consistent in their message, they will win this fall. And, she advised, the GOP should not look for support from the traditional media or unions.

“They will never support us. Let's come to grips with that," she said. “We should not apologize for our conservative philosophy,” she said.


Walker to Nominate Green for Guv at Convention

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, once a rival for the GOP's backing in the governor's race, will officially nominate U.S. Rep. Mark Green for the party's nomination today.

Walker dropped out of the guv race earlier this year, saying he did not like the campaign he would have to run to win the party's nomination and believed it would only make it more likely Dem Gov. Jim Doyle would win re-election.

Camile Solberg, a Hispanic activist and radio host, and Gerard Randall Jr., president and CEO of the Private Industry Council of Milwaukee County, will secod the nomination.


Dialing for Bracelets

Want a green, rubber "Vote Mark Green" bracelet? It'll cost you 25 phone calls.

The guv hopeful's campaign is offering the trinkets to anyone who makes 25 phone calls from its phone bank today or tomorrow. Volunteers are walking around the hotel with signs trying to attract callers and there are signs posted leading into the hall that read "Got Green?" and
"All the cool kids are wearing them ..."


Friday, May 19, 2006

Hospitality Suites Sweet for Conventioneers

After dinner, GOP conventioneers spread out across the hotel to the hospitality suites in search of free beer and snacks.

The two most popular suites seemed to be U.S. Rep. Mark Green's, fitting since he's running for the state's top office, and the joint CERS/RACC ice cream social, which was so thick with legislators that the crowd spilled out into the the hallway.

Green's room, as last year, had a sports theme and featured the most coveted piece of campaign memorabilia, little green footballs emblazoned with the "Green Team" logo. The Milwaukee Brewers game was on the television in the corner, and Miller Lite flowed from the tap.

"Everybody wants to be on the Green Team," explained Green campaign manager Mark Graul when asked about the room's popularity.

Green's congressional colleague, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, was said to have the best food, with hot and cold offerings in a buffet line.

The CERS-RACC room had the largest menagerie of politicos, and there were arcade games to keep the kids entertained.

Lt. Gov. candidate Jean Hundertmark may have had the classiest setup. Her "casino night" featured the vocal stylings of Frank Sinatra impersonator Ron Reynolds, a former Waupaca County GOP chairman.

Hundertmark had champagne available for her guests, along with Leinkugel Honey Weiss. The room was candlelit and the tables decorated with poker chips.

It was an interesting choice of theme considering the feud Republican lawmakers have had with Gov. Jim Doyle over the expansion of American Indian gaming and their push to have a say over compact negotiations.

"We're going to give Jim Doyle a run for his money," said Hundertmark, explaining the theme.

Live music was a popular choice in this year's suites. AG candidate JB Van Hollen had a jazz guitar player in the corner of his room. Guests noshed on fresh fruit and desserts and drank Miller Lite.

His AG rival, Paul Bucher, had a three-piece rock band cranking out hits such as John Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." and the Romantics "What I Like About You." He also had Miller Lite on tap, along with meatballs, finger foods and a cake decorated like an American flag in keeping with the room's red, white and blue theme.

The two 8th Congressional District candidates, John Gard and Terri McCormick, had more modest arrangements, holding their receptions in guest rooms instead of large meeting or conference rooms the others occupied. McCormick had a karaoke machine in her "Honesty Tour" room. Gard's "Up North" room featured a mounted deer head on the wall, chili and homemade cookies.

Two local elected officials, state Treasurer Jack Voight and Rep. Steve Wieckert, both of Appleton, chose to go alcohol-free in their suites. Voight's, though, did have a chocolate fountain, with marshmallows and strawberries for dipping. Voight also had tomato plants from his greenhouse, with donations suggested for his campaign.

Wieckert's guests were greeted at the door with a life-sized cardboard cut out of President Ronald Reagan, and the room was decorated with Reagan photos and memorabilia.


Doyle Campaign Responds to Green Talk of Stem Cell Research

Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign had a sharp response to Mark Green's talk about stem cell research today. Campaign spokesman Anson Kaye e-mailed the following response to WisPolitics:

The facts are clear: Mark Green is not a supporter of embryonic stem cell research. He may claim support of adult stem cell research, but as Jamie Thomson and just about every other expert in the field will tell you, embryonic stem cell research holds far greater promise to cure diseases than does adult stem cell. Far greater promise to bring a whole new frontier of good jobs to Wisconsin too.

Mark Green opposes measures to fund embryonic stem cell research, and has voted for legislation to ban and criminalize proven methods of stem cell research.

Lumping embryonic and adult stem cell together is misleading, and Mark Green knows it. But he also knows that he's way out of step with most Wisconsinites on the issue, so his verbal sleight of hand isn't very surprising.


Michels: Run Unlikely But Still Possible

For a second, some delegates thought Tim Michels' surprise appearance at the GOP convention meant he was going to announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate. No dice.

But he also isn't ruling it out. Yet.

"I haven't said no," Michels told WisPolitics. "There could be a scenario or two where I would run. However, as I've told everybody, it's unlikely."

Michels declined to describe any details of those scenarios, saying he learned his lesson about discussing strategy in his failed bid against Dem U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold two years ago. But he insisted there was still time to get into the race and beat Dem Herb Kohl.

But one thing has to happen first; Tommy Thompson has to decide if he's in or out.

A source close to Michels told WisPolitics earlier this spring that he had been seriously leaning toward taking on Kohl until the former governor began musing publicly about another bid for public office, including the U.S. Senate. Thompson ruled out running for governor last weekend but has insisted he's still considering a Senate bid.

Michels declined to talk about Thompson.

"I think we all witnessed the reach Tommy has," Michels said.


11-year-old Covers GOP Convention

Gabriel Schlieve is easily the youngest credentialed journalist at the state GOP convention.

He's 11.

The Eau Claire fifth grader has a weekly show on public TV called "Kids Point of View." He's addressed a long list of issues, including voter ID, and has had politicians and other public officials on the show.

"I thought it would be good to give kids a voice rather that just sit back in the corner," said Schlieve, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheel chair for long distances.

Schlieve got in a couple of questions when Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman addressed reporters following his speech at the convention banquet. He asked when Mehlman thought kids should get involved in politics.

"You can't write a check until you're 18," Mehlman joked.

The RNC chair also told Schlieve he should be involved but hoped he was a Republican.

No problem, Schlieve said afterward.

"I would never want to be a Democrat," Schlieve said. "I wouldn't stoop down to their level."


Michels Opens GOP Banquet with Lessons from '04

Tim Michels reminded fellow Republicans tonight of some lessons learned in the '04 campaign.

He reminded the convention of the impact from having amendments banning gay marriage on the ballot, a move some believed drove up voter turnout among conservatives. Then he joked: "Would it actually be a gay marriage if Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank tied the knot?"

Baldwin of Wisconsin and Frank of Massachusetts -- both Democrats -- are openly gay members of Congress.

Michels, who lost his bid against Dem U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold two years ago, reminded Republicans how Dennis Kucinich showed one can run for president as a bachelor and John Kerry proved the benefits of having a rich wife behind your campaign. "This would explain the recent courting by Russ Feingold of Anna Nicole Smith," Michels joked.

Michels didn't hint at whether he will run for the U.S. Senate again, this time against Dem Herb Kohl. Michels called it the 800-pound elephant in the room but said this weekend was about the announced candidates.

"Let's focus on these candidates who have worked so hard. Let's make this weekend about them," he said.


Mehlman: The Stakes Could Not Be Higher This Coming November

Filling in for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who cancelled due to flooding in his state, Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman made the case during his keynote speech that this year's election is as important as any election in his lifetime.

With the war on terrorism, the challenge of a global economy, and "the very definition of our democracy under attack by activist judges," state and federal elections will have a deep impact on the direction of the country.

He said in Mark Green, Wisconsin has the opportunity to elect a true reformer. "It is critical that we all work to ensure that this good man becomes the next governor," Mehlman said.

He also said that it is critically important that John Gard win in the 8th Congressional District. "He is committed to cutting and reducing the size of government. Nobody does it better than Paul Ryan, and he needs an ally to help him with that important issue," Mehlman said.

National committeewoman Mary Buestrin introduced Mehlman as “the only Republican National chairman to visit Spooner, Wis.”

“I was in Spooner, Wis., and Madison, Wis., and the same number of Republican voters were in both places,” Mehlman joked. Mehlman visited the northwest Wisconsin town earlier this year.


Ziegler Works the Crowd at GOP Convention

State Supreme Court candidate Annette Ziegler is at the Republican convention, handing out literature and introducing herself to the delegates.

Ziegler, a Washington County judge, announced in March that she would seek the Supreme Court seat to be vacated by retiring Justice Jon Wilcox next year.

Asked about her judicial philosophy, Ziegler said she would not be an activist judge, and would apply the facts to the law. "Justice Wilcox and Justice (Diane) Sykes are pretty good role models, I think," she said.

The Supreme Court is a non-partisan office, and Ziegler said she would also attend the Democratic state convention in LaCrosse in June. "I need to. It's a statewide race and I'm a sitting judge. I think it's important," she said.


Green Meets the Press

GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Green said he will lay out his vision for Wisconsin tomorrow in his speech to the party convention, proposing a different course than the one Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle has laid out.

"What I want to talk about is how we can make Wisconsin great again," Green told half a dozen reporters. "The biggest difference between Jim Doyle and I ... is he wants to grow government, and I want to grow the power of the individual."

Green said his speech will address residents' concerns about taxes and the education system, areas he says Doyle has failed the people of Wisconsin.

Doyle's campaign and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin have been focusing on stem cell research as a major difference between the two candidates. Green responded, "He will focus on anything to try to change the subject."

Green said he has co-authored legislation on stem cell research and doesn't think Doyle is in a position of authority on the issue. Green said he supports President Bush's position on stem cells, adding there must be ethical controls on the research. "I don't believe any research should be entirely without any ethical lines," he said.

Unlike Doyle, Green said he supports the referendum to outlaw same-sex marriage and an advisory referendum on the death penalty, both of which will be on the fall ballot. "I believe it's appropriate to define marriage," he said. "It is an institution long treated differently than other types of institutions. I believe it should be defined in law."


Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment Opponents Lobby Delegates

Bob Wilson and Bruce Wachsmuth took their fight against a proposed amendment to ban gay marriage and Vermont-style civil unions to an unusual crowd -- the state GOP convention.

Republicans were the driving force in pushing the amendment through the Legislature, and many believe they targeted this November's election for the statewide referendum to increase turnout of conservative voters.

The two played up comments by First Lady Laura Bush that Republicans should not campaign on banning gay marriage this fall and opposition to the amendment by Vice President Dick Cheney. His daughter is gay.

They said they got mixed reactions. Some stopped to read the literature and crumpled it up. But one woman had encouraging words, telling them she has a gay son.

"Just like we thought, we can meet reasonable Republicans, too," Wilson said.

Wilson, of Appleton, said he's been with his partner for 32 years. Wachsmuth, of Green Bay, has been with his for 13 years.


Thompson Talk Time Still Up in Air

The state GOP knows Tommy Thompson is going to address delegates. It just doesn't know when.

Thompson was in California earlier this week before heading to Florida. RPW executive director Rick Wiley says Thompson's people have told party officials to expect the former governor before lunch on Saturday, but they're still not sure exactly when. Wiley says Thompson will likely speak in the afternoon.


Robson Takes to Video to Criticize GOP

Senate Minority Leader Judy Robson has a video press release criticizing Republicans, released to coincide with this weekend's convention.

In the two-and-a-half minute video, Robson chides Republicans for a "shockingly awful" performance during the legislative session, and says they failed Wisconsin families. She also touts Democratic moves on health care, excessive oil profits and the minimum wage.

See the video press release


'Green Team' Announces County Coordinators

On the eve of his speech to the convention, gubernatorial candidate Mark Green announced that he has volunteer coordinators in every Wisconsin county.

Among the notable names on the "Green Team" list: Barb Linton, the Democrat-turned-Republican who unsuccessfully challenged Dem. Rep. Gary Sherman in the last election; Patty Graul, wife of Green campaign manager Mark Graul; Jon Litscher, former state Secretary of Corrections; former state Rep. Loraine Seratti and former state Senate candidates Tom Tiffany and Roger Cross.

See Green's release
See the full list and bios of county coordinators


WisPolitics Straw Poll Open for Business

The 2006 WisPolitics Straw Poll is underway and accepting votes. The straw poll table is located outside the Grand Ballroom of the hotel.

Stop by and register your opinion!

See the straw poll rules.


Hospitality Suites Offer Refreshment to Thirsty GOPers

GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Green's "Green Team" hospitality suite, one of the most popular parties at last year's GOP convention in Sheboygan, will make a return this year in Appleton.

The congressman's green-and-gold themed suite will be housed in the MacIntosh Room at the Paper Valley Hotel. Festivities begin at 9 p.m.

Also offering hospitality suites are lt. gov. hopeful Jean Hundertmark, AG candidates Paul Bucher and JB Van Hollen, and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan. State Treasurer Jack Voight, an Appleton native, will also host a hospitality room.

The Republican Assembly Campaign Committee and the Committee to Elect Republican Senators will host a joint ice cream social in the Aspen Room beginning at 9 p.m.


WisPolitics Straw Poll Returns

WisPolitics is again conducting a straw poll at this year's convention, as an unofficial gauge of grassroots support for Republican candidates. This year's poll includes questions on the attorney general primary, the U.S. Senate race and the 2008 presidential election. The results will be counted by WisPolitics staff and released at on Saturday, May 20.

The straw poll is not officially sanctioned by the Republican Party of Wisconsin and is run solely by Further, the campaigns of the two attorney general candidates and the RPW asked WisPolitics to drop the straw poll this year because of a January agreement between the campaigns to ask delegates at this weekend's state convention to vote for no endorsement and to oppose straw polls at any Republican events. WisPolitics declined the request. See details: Convention Blog: AG Candidates Opposed to Straw Polls

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

Last year, gubernatorial candidate Mark Green and attorney general candidate Van Hollen won the poll.

Of the 317 ballots submitted for governor in 2005, 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, Van Hollen received 261 votes, or 83.7 percent, to primary opponent Paul Bucher's 47 votes, or 15.1 percent.

See more on last year's results.


--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 on Saturday, May 20.


Who is your choice in the GOP primary for attorney general?
_ Paul Bucher
_ JB Van Hollen

Who is your choice to run against Herb Kohl for the U.S. Senate?
_ Marc Gumz
_ Robert Gerald Lorge
_ Tim Michels
_ Dave Redick
_ Tommy Thompson
_ Write In ____________________

Which possible 2008 presidential candidate do you currently favor?
_ George Allen
_ Sam Brownback
_ Bill Frist
_ Newt Gingrich
_ Rudy Giuliani
_ Chuck Hagel
_ Mike Huckabee
_ John McCain
_ George Pataki
_ Condi Rice
_ Mitt Romney
_ Tom Tancredo
_ Write In ____________________


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ryan Predicts GOP Will Unite Behind Green

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan says despite speculation about a Tommy Thompson run for governor, this weekend's state GOP convention will be "a coming together of every faction of the Republican Party, from every corner of the state, coming behind Mark Green."

Ryan made the comments during a WisPolitics luncheon at the Madison Club on Monday. Ryan also said Thompson would be his preferred candidate against incumbent U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl ("I think that would be a tremendous match-up. And, I don't think Tommy's ruled that one out.") and said he thinks Republican John Gard will become Wisconsin's next member of Congress in November, defeating a Democratic opponent in a "competitive race."

See a webcast of the luncheon

An excerpt from the luncheon:

Jeff Mayers: So how did all that (speculation about Tommy Thompson) help Mark Green?

Paul Ryan:
How did all that help Mark Green? I think the announcement yesterday (that Thompson had decided not to run) helped him a lot. That helped him quite a bit I think [chuckles].

Mayers: Yeah, but how does all that speculation about Tommy Thompson running for governor fit into this?

You know what it did. ....Mark and I -- Mark's one of my best friends -- we were together, what, three times this weekend, I think. ....Looking at those numbers that Tommy had that where he was just beating Doyle by - what was it, 25 points? I don't even remember, I don't read that stuff too closely - Mark is tied in the polls with Jim Doyle, but his name ID is about half of Jim Doyle's. What this shows you is that Jim Doyle is the most vulnerable candidate in the country.

What all of this talk -- all of this excitement about Tommy, the poll numbers surrounding Tommy, this excitement about Mark, the poll numbers surrounding Mark -- shows you that the governor is extremely vulnerable. And that whichever of these two candidates runs against him, that they're going to win. ...

Mayers: So you don't think there's going to be an element of Republicans who are going to be disappointed it's Mark Green not Tommy Thompson?

No, I don't think so. I think people just want to see us win. I think they want to see us go in a different direction. Tommy seemed like a sure thing to people because he's such a known quantity and his familiarity is so high. But it will not be difficult for Mark Green to raise his familiarity. It won't be difficult for Mark to raise his name ID.

We're going to have a great convention, at the Republican convention this coming weekend, it's going to be basically a Boston Tea Party. You know, on TPA and other things. And it's going to be a coming together of every faction of the Republican Party, from every corner of the state, coming behind Mark Green. I was with Scott Walker Saturday night along with Mark Green at the Kenosha Lincoln Day and we had a great coming together. I think our party is as unified as I've ever seen it, and Tommy Thompson unified our party tremendously. That same unification is occurring right now under Mark Green, and we're really excited.

See a longer excerpt of the interview


Political Sightseeing in Appleton

If a state party convention isn't enough to quench your thirst for politics, Appleton offers the opportunity to visit one of Wisconsin's noteworthy politicians.

Anti-communist crusader Joe McCarthy is buried in a graveyard overlooking the Fox River.

Mike Bie, of, covered McCarthy in an edition of the Political Road Trip series, which he wrote for

See his McCarthy Wrap-Up.

(And if you're more interested in what the hotel has to offer, here's the Web site of the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, where the convention will be held.)


Romney Cancels; Mehlman Becomes New Keynoter

Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, who was due to address the convention Friday night, has pulled out due to flooding in his state.

See the RPW release

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, who had been scheduled to speak Saturday morning, is now giving the keynote address after 7 p.m. Friday.


Dems Plan Saturday Counter Rally

Democrats will hold a counter rally Saturday at Houdini Plaza, a couple blocks up College Avenue from the Republican festivities at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel. The rally begins at 10 a.m.

Speakers at the event will include 8th CD candidates Nancy Nusbaum, Jamie Wall and Steve Kagen, and Kaukauna state Rep. Tom Nelson.

According to state Dem spokeswoman Jessica Erickson, the rally will highlight the major difference between Democrats and Republicans on stem cell research, "especially the governor's record of promoting stem cell research versus Mark Green's record of doing everything he can to restrict stem cell research."

See a flyer to be handed out at the event


Graber Says Tommy Ready to Embrace Green

State GOP Chair Rick Graber says Tommy Thompson will come to the convention this weekend and embrace Mark Green. In a new interview with Editor JR Ross, Graber also says Thompson's public musings about running for guv were ``a bit of a distraction.''

An excerpt:

Ross: Did Tommy's public musings about the governor's office take anything away from Mark Green? Did it hurt him at all in your mind?

Oh, I don't think so. I mean it perhaps was a bit of a distraction for a period of time. But I think it really pointed out is just how vulnerable Jim Doyle is. Poll after poll -- whether it's Thompson versus Doyle or Green versus Doyle --showed Jim Doyle is a governor that's in deep, deep trouble in this state, and for good reason. So, I don't think Mark Green's campaign misses a beat here. I think this now truly unites our party at 100 percent behind Mark Green, and we have from now until November to make this case to the people of Wisconsin, and I think we will.


Tentative Speaker Schedule Set

A tentative schedule with approximate times has been set for the speakers at the convention.

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, who had been scheduled to speak Saturday morning, is now giving the keynote address after 7 p.m. Friday.

The party says Tommy Thompson is still due to speak Saturday afternoon, but hasn't said when he'll appear. Gubernatorial candidate Mark Green is due to lead off Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., with state Treasurer Jack Voight at 2:45 p.m., and lt. gov. hopeful Jean Hundertmark at 3:10 p.m. AG candidates Paul Bucher and JB Van Hollen will speak at 3:25 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.

On Saturday morning, Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. and Assembly Speaker John Gard at 10:30 a.m. U.S. Reps. Tom Petri, Paul Ryan and Jim Sensenbrenner will speak at 10:40 a.m., 10:50 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively. U.S. Senate candidates Robert Gerald Lorge and Marcus Gumz will speak at 4 p.m. Secretary of state hopefuls RJ DeBaufer and Sandy Sullivan speak at 5 p.m. and 5:20 p.m.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

AG Candidates Opposed to Straw Polls

The GOP candidates for AG reached an agreement in January to ask delegates at this weekend's state convention to vote for no endorsement and to oppose straw polls at any Republican events.

The campaigns and the RPW have asked WisPolitics to drop a planned straw poll at the state convention on delegates' preference in the AG race. WisPolitics has declined the request.

The campaigns say they reached the agreement on straw polls and endorsements to avoid spending precious resources pursuing support in both. RPW's Rick Wiley says the party leadership is split about whether to continue holding endorsement votes at state conventions.


County Chair Survey: Majority of Respondents Favor Van Hollen for AG

A majority of Republican county chairs who responded to a WisPolitics survey favor JB Van Hollen over Paul Bucher in the Republican primary for attorney general.

Of the 21 chairs who responded to the Web-based survey, 13 favored Van Hollen, with five picking Bucher and three undecided.

In a question on the 8th Congressional District primary, respondents favored John Gard over Terri McCormick by a margin of 13-4, with four undecided.

See the survey results:


Monday, May 15, 2006

Thompson: 'If It Was My Decision Alone, I'd Be a Candidate'

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson told WisPolitics today he was a "little down" after bowing to his family's wishes and opting against another run for his old office.

"If it was my decision alone, I'd be a candidate today," Thompson said by phone from California. "Instead of releasing (last night's statement), I'd say see you at the convention and expect a barn burner speech."

"My family loves the fact that I'm in the private sector and they don't want me to get back in the public arena, especially for governor at this point in time."

In his statement Sunday night, Thompson said he would not run because his family was unanimous in its opposition and because he has faith Mark Green is the person to lead the GOP against Dem Gov. Jim Doyle. The statement left open the door for a U.S. Senate bid, but Thompson said today he hasn't even considered it yet.

"I wanted to run for governor, and that was what I was looking at," Thompson said.

Thompson says he will only speak at the state convention this weekend if Green and the state party want him there. Green campaign manager Mark Graul said Thompson had a spot as far as the campaign is concerned.

Some Republicans have openly fretted that having Thompson at the convention had the potential to steal the spotlight from Green once again. But Graul said that wasn't a concern.

"It's our understanding and expectation that he'll be there, and we're looking forward to it," Graul said.

The party was still working out details of a Thompson speaking spot.


Friday, May 12, 2006

GOP Support Mixed for Tommy Bid

A WisPolitics survey of GOP county chairs found little support for a Thompson gubernatorial bid. Twenty-one county chairs responded to the e-mail survey sent to all 72; only three wanted Thompson to run for his old office.

Most of the responses contained similar themes: Thompson should take on Kohl instead, a gubernatorial bid would split the party and Green has the backing of the grassroots.

Seventeen of the county chairs surveyed said they would vote for Green over Thompson in a GOP primary.

"Too late. Green is our guy, teams are in place, new folks all know him. It would split our party and be very hard on a lot of people who like both of them. Besides, Tommy can beat Herb, then we have the ultimate dream ticket!" one county chair wrote.

One Republican operative said some activists feel Thompson's time has passed.

"I think they all love Tommy. Everybody loves Tommy and really appreciates what he did for the party and how far he brought us along," the operative said. "Some of them are intrigued by the possibility of him running. I just think people are looking forward to supporting Mark Green because he's been out there for a year-and-a-half."

See the poll results:

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who dropped out of the race for the GOP nomination to take on Doyle, said he now puts the chances of a Thompson campaign at better than 50-50.

But if Thompson calls, he said he'd counsel him that he's a superstar who should be thinking of running for president, not his old job, or to continue making his fortune in the private sector. He'd also tell him he's sticking with Green and would back him in a primary, as he'd expect many Green supporters to do.

Still, Walker admits Thompson could leapfrog the entire party system if he wanted to run again, possibly endearing himself even more to voters as an outsider.

"Here we are talking about Tommy Thompson and we're not talking about Mark Green," Walker said. "Mark needs the headlines. Mark needs people to know him in other parts of the state and why he's better than Jim Doyle."


Tommy Talk Heats Up

In March, longtime Tommy Thompson aide Jim Klauser dismissed any talk of his old boss returning to Wisconsin to run for governor as "silly."

This week, Klauser spoke with WisPolitics about Thompson's motivation to do it, how easy it would be to raise money and the possibility he could run a Bill Proxmire-type race, focusing on shaking the flesh rather than the money trees.

Klauser's comments are just one more example of how the chatter about a possible Thompson bid has heated up over the past 10 days, spurred in part by a poll showing the longtime governor faring well against incumbent Gov. Jim Doyle and GOP candidate Mark Green. Another driving factor has been Thompson's own musings as he's bounced ideas off a series of his former confidantes to feel things out. Sources say things have reached the point that contingency plans have been drawn up to guide the opening steps of a potential campaign, including getting through next week's GOP state convention.

More meetings are planned this weekend as he weighs a decision, sources say.

Many observers have long dismissed any talk of a Thompson bid without the support of Klauser, often called the deputy governor during Thompson's administration and the architect of many of his initiatives. But Klauser signed on early to the Green campaign.

Klauser said Thompson is concerned that Doyle is dismantling his legacy on everything from welfare reform to the structure of the state's budget.

"He just thinks the administration is trying to turn his record upside-down," Klauser said. "That's a lot of motivation."

Klauser couches his own musings about a possible run as part of a "parlor game" he likes to play conceptualizing a campaign and what needs to be done. He dismisses how easy some Thompson backers think it would get a statewide campaign up and running on short notice, saying a lot of them "have never run a campaign. They think they have (run one) or been around campaigns," Klauser said, adding anyone who suggests it would be easy is demonstrating a lack of experience.

But in the next breath, he says "there's no question in my mind that Tommy would win with the right campaign."

And in the next: "I'm not troubled about fundraising, and he wouldn't need as much money because he's already well-known. People know his record. He would not have to do that sort of thing."

One Tommy associate said the time Klauser has obviously put into thinking about another Thompson campaign suggest how serious things really are.

Talk of a Thompson campaign heated up recently with the release of a Strategic Vision poll that found respondents gave him a significant lead over Green in a Republican primary and against Doyle in a head-to-head race. It also showed him with a slight edge over Dem U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl.

One Dem mused this week Thompson's motivation is really about his long-held desire to run for president. The Dem said Thompson knows the only viable platforms from which he can run for president are as a sitting governor or U.S. senator.

"And the governor's office is a sure thing to him," the Dem said.

A former Thompson operative said Thompson's decision will come down to three factors: what makes sense for him, what is in the party's interest and "who and how we beat Jim Doyle." Any presidential aspects are also part of the picture.

"It's hard not to ignore," the former operative said.


Green in Awkward Spot

The odd man out in all of the Tommy-for-guv speculation is current candidate Mark Green.

One Thompson operative said what would happen to the Green Bay congressman should he run has not been a central focus of talks. Multiple GOP sources said Thompson's open flirtation with another bid is hurting Green's cause by taking away valuable attention needed to build his name recognition around the state.

Said one: "One of the huge benefits for Green when Walker got out was that he had the field to himself. For the last month, it's been Tommy Thompson, Tommy Thompson, Tommy Thompson with Green not part of the public equation. While that's good for Tommy, it's not good for Mark Green."

Green's camp insists the talk is not a distraction, he still believes he'll be the GOP nominee come September and Thompson's flirtation is actually a help because it underscores the unhappiness many feel with Doyle. One campaign source said if Thompson were truly serious about a run, he would have been on the campaign trail months ago.

"I think ultimately we know how this is going to end; it's going to end positively for Mark Green," the Green source said.

Doyle's camp is just as adamant the Thompson talk hasn't affected how the governor is approaching this campaign or his focus on Green.

"The more people are talking about Tommy, the more Green looks and feels like the last resort choice," a Doyle source said.

One Dem strategist pointed out if Thompson runs, it would simply set up the election many expected would happen four years ago.

"I'm sure Doyle would prefer that TT not run, but when Doyle announced he was running for governor the first time, he expected to be running against Tommy," the Dem said.