Quotes of the Week

My mindset has always been 5 o’clock is the witching hour. If it’s 5 o’clock and 1 second, you’re past the deadline. If that’s a finding of law that the commission made, I have a mind to agree with that.
– Brown County Judge John Zakowski on a key argument in entertainer Kanye West’s lawsuit to get on the November presidential ballot. The heart of the case is the meaning of the state’s deadline to file nomination papers of “not later than 5 p.m.” on the day they’re due. Zakowski said while he believes the cutoff is 5 p.m. and not one second after, he is reviewing state law to ensure that is the case. 

I hate the words fair and unfair but I find it unfair that Cou(nty) Clerks were/are put in this position of trying to make decisions when the courts are not acting expeditiously. This should not be happening the week before ballots are to be mailed out.
– Chippewa County Clerk Jaclyn Sadler in response to an Elections Commission query after the state Supreme Court ordered the halting of absentee ballot mailing as it considers whether to take up the Green Party’s lawsuit to get its presidential ticket on the November ballot. 

I share the disappointment and frustration of students and employees who had hoped we might enjoy these first few weeks of the academic year together. Before we started this semester, we knew that no plan would be risk-free in the current environment.
– UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who temporarily returned the university to all online classes in an attempt to curtail soaring positive COVID-19 cases in the student population. The move came after Dane County Exec. Joe Parisi urged Blank to send students home for the semester.

*Read more on how COVID-19 is affecting the return to the state’s campuses in a Stock Report item below. 

You can’t continue to riot for 100 days without having some sort of financial support. Possibly, some of our unemployment insurance in the CARES Act might be funding some of these people. … I don’t know what extent individuals are being funded but we also found out some of these protesters were staying in pretty swanky hotels in Washington, D.C.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, on those traveling to areas like Kenosha to participate in sometimes violent protests. He dubbed those traveling to participate in rioting and looting part of an “outside insurgency.”

It takes two to tango here. We’ll continue to try to connect the dots as best we can without legislative help. But… I need them in a desperate way to begin this process.
– Gov. Tony Evers calling on GOP legislative leaders during a WisPolitics.com-Milwaukee Press Club luncheon to “step up” and help address issues surrounding police brutality toward African Americans and other forms of racial inequality in the state. Watch the luncheon here

Political Stock Report

-A collection of insider opinion-
(Aug. 29 — Sept. 11, 2020)

Rising: Brett Ludwig, private schools

Mixed: State revenue, Tony Evers, budget vetoes, Donald Trump

Falling: Recalls, UW campuses, Ron Johnson, Kevin Shibilski


Brett Ludwig: The bankruptcy judge is confirmed for the federal bench in Milwaukee. And with an overwhelming margin in September of an election year no less. When Ludwig was nominated for the seat on the Eastern District bench, the big question for insiders was whether U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, would support the nomination and if there’d be time to get it through the Senate in an election year. The latter point wasn’t too much of a concern for some with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemingly intent on confirming judges right up until inauguration day if Republicans lose the presidency to leave no vacancy behind. The only hitch for Ludwig in that dynamic would be Baldwin withholding her blue slip. While Republicans no longer honor that power for home-state senators on appointments to the appellate court, they’re still showing deference — at least for now — on district court appointments. Insiders say Baldwin’s support was based on some simple factors. Ludwig is fairly moderate, he’s highly qualified and he fills a post that has been open for more than four years. Insiders say Ludwig is no firebrand compared to Gordon Giampietro, whose nomination Baldwin submarined after his comments critical of same-sex marriage, birth control and diversity came to light. Insiders point out another dynamic with the nomination. Wisconsin uses a nominating commission to identify candidates for federal appointments. Even if Joe Biden wins the presidency next year, that process will likely remain in place. And it’s hard to imagine the members — split evenly between picks from Baldwin and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh — producing a radically different pool of candidates. Legal observers also note that process is likely to fire up again during the next Congress. Judge William Griesbach, who sits on the Eastern District in Green Bay, took senior status on Dec. 31.  

Private schools: The state Supreme Court temporarily suspends a local health official’s order prohibiting all Dane County schools from offering in-person instruction to students in grades 3-12.  And the 4-3 conservative majority makes clear the temporary halt is likely to become permanent. Public Health Madison and Dane County issued the order last month as a step to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and after most public schools in the area had already declared they would meet virtually for at least the first quarter of the year. Three suits were quickly filed with the state Supreme Court by those whose children attend private, religious schools arguing health officials exceeded their authority. The court takes the cases, combines them into one and issues the order halting enforcement of the order. While the conservative majority says the court will delve into all issues presented in the case later, it concludes “that local health officers do not appear to have statutory authority to do what the Order commands.” Dane County Exec Joe Parisi laments the order comes as COVID-19 cases are spiking in the community, saying the court’s move “may lead to more illness and needless human suffering.” Meanwhile, the court’s three liberals argue the case should’ve gone through the lower courts first and knock their conservative colleagues for preaching local control in past considerations of measures to deal with COVID-19 only to undercut that authority in this case.


State revenue: The general fund is up about $100 million. The transportation fund is off about $100 million. And a complete picture of the 2019-21 budget won’t be available until November. That’s how budget watchers summarize the pandemic budget picture. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau says the transportation fund took in nearly $1.9 billion over the 2019-20 fiscal year — about $97.3 million less than expected when Gov. Tony Evers signed the budget in July 2019. The fund took two big hits: motor fuel taxes came in $69.1 million less than had been expected, a drop of 6.4 percent; and the state also took in $45.8 million less than it had projected for registration and title fees, a decline of 6.9 percent. But that’s to be expected, some say, when the economy is roiled by a pandemic and people are driving less for various reasons. But those shortfalls were partially offset by boosts elsewhere. For example, the transfer from the petroleum inspection fund, funded with a fee of 2 cents per gallon of fuel sold, was $16 million higher than expected. The accounting also showed $8.5 million more in miscellaneous department revenue, and the fund earned $3.4 million more from investments than projected. The recent reports from LFB have focused solely on revenues. Come October, the expenditure side of things for 2019-20 will come into focus. Then in November, the Evers administration will compile new revenue forecasts for 2020-21 and a look ahead to the 2021-23 budget. While the first year of the budget went all right, insiders note, the picture going forward could be more daunting depending on how the recovery is progressing, federal coronavirus relief and other factors.

Tony Evers: Insiders say the guv’s job approval ratings have defied gravity in recent months, especially in a state that’s been as polarized as Wisconsin. But his numbers start coming back to earth in the latest Marquette University Law School Poll, prompting the question of whether they’ve hit a floor or if this is just the first drop. Evers hit a high of 65 percent in March as the pandemic took hold, something insiders attributed to voters rallying around leaders in a time of national emergency. Then he stayed in the upper 50s even amid the legal fights over his handling of COVID-19, protests in Madison and various controversies in the Capitol. But insiders say the turmoil in Kenosha seems to have moved things with Evers now at 51 percent approval and 43 percent disapproval compared to a 57-37 spread last month. Voters’ views of how Evers is handling the pandemic haven’t changed much, so that draws insiders’ attention to his actions in Kenosha. Republicans had already knocked Evers for the number of National Guard troops he sent to Kenosha, while he countered he’d delivered on every request he received from locals. Critics ramped up the volume after he initially turned down federal assistance offered by the White House. And some Republicans have even sought to blame Evers for a 17-year-old Trump supporter from Illinois shooting three protesters, killing two — a charge that insiders on both sides say was over the top. Still, those on both sides also questioned why it took Evers four days to travel to Kenosha after the unrest broke out. And his insistence at a Milwaukee Press Club event that he has “no regrets” about how he worked with the White House strikes some as tone-deaf. Evers says the only thing he said no to was Homeland Security agents and he knew “that would not work” after what he saw in Portland. But with an estimated $50 million in damage to around 100 businesses in the city of 100,000, there is likely a better way to phrase things, insiders argue. The latest Marquette poll shows shifts among Republicans, Dems and independents in their views on Evers’ job performance. Insiders note former Gov. Scott Walker would’ve been thrilled with approval at plus-8. One challenge for Evers, insiders add, is that he’s been refraining from traveling the state during the pandemic as he has urged residents to take steps to limit the transmission of the coronavirus. On the one hand, Evers is practicing what he preaches. On the other, people want to see their guv making the rounds in the state. And those interviews with local media are a great way to connect with voters, insiders add. Meanwhile, former GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch continues to lay the groundwork for her expected run for guv in ‘22. Having already launched a PAC to help GOP legislative candidates, she’s now started a non-profit advocacy group to “produce the next conservative agenda for Wisconsin.” Insiders take particular note of the board of directors, which features GOP heavyweights such as former GOP chair and Ambassador Rick Graber and longtime donors like Kwik Trip CEO and President Donald Zietlow. Other Republicans will kick the tires on a bid, insiders say, but Kleefisch’s early moves are to give her a head start and maybe dissuade some others from getting in.

Budget vetoes: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty won on principle in the fight over Gov. Tony Evers’ actions on the budget. In practice, the state Supreme Court ruling against the guv hasn’t had a dramatic effect. The Supreme Court this summer overturned three of Evers’ partial vetoes, ruling he had overstepped his authority in reworking budget provisions written by GOP lawmakers. That included: reworking $90 million Republicans had sent aside for local road work into $75 million for transportation and transit grants; turning a grant program for school buses into funding for electric vehicle charging stations; and expanding a tax on vapor products. The Evers administration had already designated a string of projects for the transportation and transit grants before the court issued the ruling in July, but it still found a way to fund the vast majority of them. The Department of Transportation tells WisPolitics.com it was still able to use the money Republicans had designated for road work to cover 92 percent of the grants it handed out in March after determining they were still eligible for the funding under the original budget framework. For the other dozen projects, the administration was working with sponsors to cover the roughly $4 million in costs, including $1 million for the city of Oconto for harbor improvements and $1 million for the Milwaukee County Transit System. While the court ruling nixed Evers’ plans to direct $10 million from a settlement with Volkswagen to electric vehicle charging stations, $3 million in grants for school buses haven’t been handed out. A Department of Administration spokeswoman says the agency is still assessing how district budgets will be able to support the matching fund requirement to receive the money. What’s more, many districts are now leasing buses rather than buying them, so DOA is assessing how that impacts the grants as well. Meanwhile, the Evers administration announces $18 million in grants from the Volkswagen money to help eight Wisconsin cities buy 34 buses. While the court ruling impacted how Evers wanted to use the settlement money for charging stations, the administration says it didn’t impact the transit grants. The court’s vetoes also restored $15 million for local road improvement projects that Evers had cut from the budget Republicans sent him. DOT plans project selection committee meetings later this fall to make recommendations on divvying up that money.

*See the list of transit projects awaiting funding here.

Donald Trump: If the president were ever going to dramatically change the trajectory of the presidential race in Wisconsin, Kenosha would seem like the ideal catalyst. But so far, only Republicans seem drawn to his law-and-order message, pollsters say. But that doesn’t mean the race is over, insiders warn. It just means it’ll likely be a slog for Trump to overcome a stubborn lead for Joe Biden since the pandemic took hold. The Marquette University Law School is one of a series of polls post-Kenosha that finds Wisconsin voters still favoring Biden and tilting against Trump’s handling of the protests and criminal justice issues. Marquette has the split 47 percent Biden, 43 percent Trump and 4 percent for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen, who was included for the first time. CBS News only explicitly asks about the head-to-head between the two candidates and has it 50-44 for Biden, while Fox News had it 50-42 with Jorgensen at 2 percent. And an AARP poll found 50 percent for Biden, and 45 percent for Trump. The polls are also consistent in the president receiving poor marks for his handling of the protests. Fox finds Wisconsin voters trust Biden more on police and criminal justice issues 47-42, while CBS finds registered voters prefer Biden’s handling of the protests 51-45 over Trump’s. Meanwhile, Marquette finds 36 percent of registered voters approve of the way Trump is handling the protests, while 54 percent disapprove. That’s a slight change from August, when 32 percent approved of his approach to the protests; in June, it was 30 percent. The Marquette poll was in the field while Trump visited Kenosha, and poll Director Charles Franklin noted Republicans moved significantly on the protest issue after Trump’s visit. But neither Dems nor independents did, suggesting Trump’s supporters rallied to his side rather than him changing anyone’s mind. Wisconsin insiders warn the race isn’t over in the state. If it weren’t close, some add, Biden wouldn’t have come to Kenosha just weeks after he stayed in Delaware rather than coming to Milwaukee to accept his party’s nomination. What’s more, both vice presidential candidates wouldn’t have made personal appearances in Wisconsin on Labor Day. The challenge for Trump, insiders say, is to break out of the low-40s. One remarkable thing about the Marquette poll is how stable the numbers have been. Biden’s lead among likely voters was 4 points in May, 6 in June, 5 in August and 4 in September. Meanwhile, Trump’s high over that period was support from 45 percent of likely voters and his low 43. Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 with 47 percent of the vote, but insiders doubt that mark will be good enough for a repeat. For one thing, third-party and independent candidates took nearly 6.3 percent of the vote in 2016, led by Libertarian Gary Johnson’s 3.6, a sign of how unhappy voters were with their main choices. This time, they expect the vote for third-parties and independents to be somewhere between what it was last time and the 1.3 percent they took in 2012. While Dems are happy to see Biden in the lead, they’re not going to relax until after Election Day. Republicans feel OK that the margin is just 4 points two months out.  Now the question is what changes things. The latest controversy in DC is Bob Woodward’s book and the tapes of Trump acknowledging he was downplaying the virus publicly. While it was prompted howls of outrage and deceit, insiders say it’s probably just more noise for the average voter.


Recalls: The effort to recall Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway failed, and insiders expect the same fate for those targeting Tony Evers, Mandela Barnes and Josh Kaul. Part of it, insiders note, is the state GOP is sitting this one out. And without a significant infrastructure, collecting more than 11,000 signatures a day for a 60-day window is a steep climb. Those trying to recall Rhodes-Conway find that out the hard way, and the guy behind the effort vows to try again this spring. Don’t bother, some say. You’re better off to focus on Rhodes-Conway’s possible reelection bid in 2023. Likewise, insiders say those going after Evers, Barnes and Kaul should focus on 2022. What’s more, Republican operatives consider the whole thing a distraction. The nomination papers are due in late October, meaning those putting their energy into gathering signatures aren’t focusing on the presidential race or legislative campaigns. That, some say, is the bigger issue than any of the three targets, who can raise unlimited amounts of money. Insiders still recall then-Gov. Scott Walker building a national fundraising network while pulling in one six-figure check after another as he prepared for the attempt to recall him in 2012. Don’t expect to see the same thing, insiders note. For one, campaign finance laws have been changed to allow political parties to collect unlimited donations and then transfer as much as they want to candidates. Evers and the others don’t need to go out chasing big checks. The state Dem Party can do that for them. What’s more, it’s not exactly an ideal time to be hitting up donors when they’re focused on the presidential race and other contests. Additionally, some note Walker was able to raise those national donations because the attempt to recall him was real. This one isn’t. Remember, insiders note, it wasn’t a ragtag group of volunteers that gathered the nearly 1 million signatures that were turned in to spark the recall election. It was a coalition that included the state Dem Party, labor unions and others. Without that kind of support, it’s hard to see those going after Evers, Barnes and Kaul getting very far. 

UW campuses: Turns out putting a bunch of college kids on campus amid a pandemic is trickier than administrators had hoped. Just a week into classes, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank directs undergrads to restrict their movements to “essential activities only” over two weeks in an attempt to stem the rise in COVID-19 cases. And she warns campus could close this semester if the trajectory on injections doesn’t change. But with cases continuing to rise, Blank takes steps to quarantine all residents in two dorms with just a few hours’ notice. She also moves all classes online. Things are bad enough in Madison that Dane County Exec Joe Parisi asked Blank and UW System President Tommy Thompson to send home all undergraduates living in campus housing, and Madison health officials warn anyone who lives or works downtown to assume they’ve been exposed. Other campuses may not be far behind. UW-La Crosse officials quarantine a residence hall amid a spike in cases citing “reports of large gatherings, folks failing to follow mask and distancing guidelines, and students choosing to dismiss quarantine and isolation instructions.” Administrators go on to warn students unless they “reverse these dangerous behaviors,” the semester will end online. UW-Eau Claire has also quarantined students after possible exposure. Meanwhile, the UW-Whitewater interim chancellor unsuccessfully pushed the City Council to implement limits on indoor gatherings of 10 people and outdoors at 25 to give the campus “teeth” to punish students who hosted off-campus events without the proper safety precautions. He warned UW-Whitewater was “not far behind” the Madison campus and called it a “last-ditch effort” to stem the viral spread, though it was already “probably too late.” As part of his pitch, the chancellor warned of the impact on Whitewater businesses if the campus went to all online classes. 

Ron Johnson: If the two-term U.S. senator is going to run for a third term, he won’t be launching his bid from a position of strength. The latest Marquette University Law School Poll shows his favorability ratings upside down in back-to-back months. Thirty-two percent have a favorable impression of him, while 36 percent have an unfavorable one, compared to 33-35 in August. That isn’t exactly an insurmountable gap, insiders are quick to point out. But they say it does highlight one of Johnson’s struggles while in office: he simply hasn’t connected with voters outside the GOP base in a high-profile way. Senators who get six years a term have a tough enough time as it is, some note, because they’re often not in the news back home as much as, say, governors. So the only time they’re really on voters’ minds is come election time. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, puts in more effort to show up in local media, and it shows. Her favorable-unfavorable mark is at 42-35, showing she’s also not nearly the mystery to voters that Johnson is; a third of voters hadn’t heard enough of Johnson to form an opinion or didn’t know, while 22 percent said the same of Baldwin. Meanwhile, Johnson’s fundraising has been shuffling along. He only had $390,267 in the bank in mid-July after raising just $41,102 in the second quarter. Baldwin, who isn’t up until 2024, had $830,943 in the bank and raised $480,627 during the same period. Johnson has deep pockets, and he could write a check to prime the pump if he got serious about running for a third term, insiders note. But he’s also not raising money while chairing a high-profile committee in the U.S. Senate. That’s a missed opportunity, some say. Johnson hasn’t said whether he’ll stick to his original pledge to only serve two terms, take a shot at the guv’s office or just go home to Oshkosh. Republicans say a number of factors will play in that decision. One, Johnson has noted he’s the last man standing for Republicans in terms of statewide office. That could be a factor for him. So could what the Senate looks like after the dust settles in 2020. If his 2022 race would be key in whether Republicans remain in the majority or win it back, that would influence his decision. But being in the minority to kick off a third term probably wouldn’t be all that appealing other than the opportunity to serve an oversight role with a new Dem administration. Insiders also note the rhythm of Wisconsin off-years over the last dozen years. As badly as the party in power in the White House has struggled in those races, a Joe Biden win would likely boost Johnson’s shot at a third term. Johnson backers note he didn’t exactly start his reelect with great numbers, either, having just $606,000 in the bank at the end of 2014. But that didn’t stop him from winning his rematch with Dem Russ Feingold, a race that also helped him build a grassroots network that he could fire back up for a bid at a third term. Dems, meanwhile, continue to be outraged over Johnson’s tone-deaf remarks and his involvement with an investigation into the Bidens that some have fretted play into the hands of foreign interests trying to influence the election. Dems say that’s behind his poor numbers.

Kevin Shibilski: The former Dem state senator falls from grace. Again. The U.S. attorney’s office announces a grand jury has indicted Shibilski, now 59 and living in Merrill, with storing and disposing of hazardous waste without a permit through his role as CEO of a Wisconsin company involved in recycling electronic waste. The indictment alleges Shibilski illegally stored and disposed of broken and crushed glass that was hazardous at facilities in Wisconsin and Tennessee. He’s also charged with eight counts of wire fraud for taking in nearly $5.8 million from clients, but failing to recycle over 8.3 million pounds of crushed glass from cathode ray tubes and instead stockpiling the material in warehouses. And he’s charged with defrauding the U.S. for failing to pay more than $850,000 in employment and income taxes. So far, his defense is that he’s a victim in the case and was misled by former business partners. A little more than 18 years ago, Shibilski was in prime position to become Wisconsin’s next lieutenant governor. Sitting on a stockpile of cash, he was poised to bring a combination of a blue-collar background, a passion for conservation and progressive credentials to the Dem ticket that fall. That was until he took a vote on the Joint Finance Committee. The committee was split 8-8 between Democrats and Republicans at the time and deadlocked over a plan to fix the state’s budget deficit in the wake of the economic blow from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. As the debate dragged on, it provided more fodder for Dems to beat up on then-Gov. Scott McCallum. But Shibilski broke the logjam with a dramatic vote that ended up being largely symbolic. While his siding with Republicans moved the budget repair bill out of committee, it then bogged down in the conference committee process, dragging things out until the summer. Liberal Dems recruited Barb Lawton to challenge Shibilski in the September primary, and she won the nomination with 54.1 percent of the vote. Newly elected Gov. Jim Doyle gave Shibilski a consolation prize as Tourism secretary, but that didn’t last long. In the primary to fill Shibilski’s seat, Dems howled about a mailer hitting then-state Rep. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, as she faced a little-known businessman, Alex Paul. Lassa beat him easily for the party nomination, and Shibilski denied any ties to the ad. But insiders didn’t buy it, and he left the cabinet to pursue other opportunities. Ahead of the federal charges, Shibilski sued his former business partners, claiming they used false records to lure investors. Now facing federal charges, he raises a similar defense as his lawyer claims he’s a “victim of fraud and not the perpetrator.”

*See the U.S. attorney’s announcement of the indictment here.


Trump campaign quizzing municipal clerks on absentee ballot procedures

President Trump’s campaign is probing municipal clerks for information on how they handle absentee ballots and preparations to administer the November presidential election.

A 29-item questionnaire from the Trump campaign was sent to a handful of municipal clerks in mid-August. It was accompanied by a letter from a Trump campaign official couched in the language of an open records request: the subject line of the email read “Action Required – FOIA Request,” the letter cited Wisconsin state statute governing open records and asked for a fee waiver in requesting the information. 

The questionnaire focused heavily on the handling of absentee ballots before, on and after Election Day.

A number of municipal clerks told WisPolitics.com outreach to clerks ahead of an election is fairly standard practice for campaigns. But according to an Elections Commission spokesman, the records request marks a departure from the norm.

Spokesman Reid Magney said in an email that campaigns often reach out with “massive” records requests for polling place documents in the days leading up to an election in anticipation of a recount. But Magney said those campaigns often “back off” when results of the election aren’t close or when they realize the information they are seeking is available during a recount.

“This effort by the Trump campaign is different in that we haven’t seen a comprehensive effort like it to reach out to clerks so far in advance of an election,” Magney said.

A copy of the questionnaire and the accompanying open records request obtained by WisPolitics.com carries a date of Aug. 17 and indicates Trump campaign operative Ashley Krause initially reached out to municipalities before that date.

Krause declined to comment when reached by WisPolitics.com. Trump campaign Deputy National Press Secretary Thea McDonald later reached out to WisPolitics.com explaining the campaign was seeking “a detailed understanding of voting processes — and the similarities and differences that may exist in different jurisdictions.” 

Magney expressed frustration with the request because much of the information it demanded is “easily learned about from manuals and other documents on the WEC website.” He said he reached out to the president’s campaign to let them know where the information could be found, but the campaign in turn told him it was “trying to build relationships with clerks.”

It’s unclear how widespread the relationship-building campaign was. 

Magney said in an email he recalled the Trump campaign saying the records requests were targeted to some of the state’s larger cities, but could not say with certainty how many received it.

A handful of municipal clerks in the state’s largest cities confirmed they had received the request, though officials in Waukesha, La Crosse and Eau Claire told WisPolitics.com they did not. Wendy Helgeson, who serves as clerk for the Town of Greenville and president of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association, was also in the dark.

“When something new comes out that affects our group as a whole we’re excellent about communicating it,” Helgeson said. “I have not heard or seen it personally or heard of any of our membership receiving it.”

Helgeson said an open records request from a different group sent to clerks ahead of the state’s August election had quickly sparked conversation and questions in the municipal clerk distribution list and Facebook group. She said if the Trump campaign request was sent broadly to clerks, she likely would have heard about it. 

Krause declined to comment on how widely she distributed the records request and McDonald did not return an email asking the same question.

A spokesman for the Biden campaign was not available for comment.

See the questionnaire here.

See the records request document here.


Biden, pro-Biden groups combine to outspend Trump, Trump backers on Facebook ads in Wisconsin

Joe Biden and groups supporting him are outspending President Trump and his allies on Facebook ads in Wisconsin by 88.5 percent. 

A WisPolitics.com review of Facebook political ad buys this year, collected by the watchdog organization OpenSecrets.org, found as of late Thursday Biden and his allies have spent some $4.3 million in the state since Jan. 1.

Meanwhile, Trump and his allies so far spent $2.3 million, according to the watchdog.

OpenSecrets.org says it gathers its data from weekly spending totals on political advertisements gathered from Facebook by the Wesleyan Media Project, a broadcast and digital political ad tracker.

For both candidates, their respective joint fundraising committees — organizations where the campaigns work together with state and national political parties — were the top spenders in their favor. 

Biden’s JFC spent more than $1.2 million in the state since the start of the year, while Trump’s spent $944,738. 

Former Dem presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg’s committee still spent the most out of any campaign this year with $1.3 million. Biden and Trump’s JFCs ranked second and third, respectively. 

As for the candidate committees by themselves, with no allies or parties, Trump outspent Biden over Facebook $943,230 to $508,450. 

Spokesmen for the campaigns didn’t immediately respond to requests to confirm the numbers. 

Additionally, the liberal super PAC Priorities USA so far has spent $648,930 over Facebook this year in the state, more than Biden’s campaign. Out of all 50 states, Wisconsin ranks fourth in Priorities’ spending, right behind Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida. 

Both Biden and Trump spent the vast majority of their money on ads through their respective official candidate pages. 

But while the Biden camp ran nearly 100 percent of his ads through his own page, Trump ran only about 80 percent out of his own page. 

The remainder split mostly between pages for Vice President Mike Pence and Team Trump. But the campaign also bought ads through pages like Women for Trump, Latinos for Trump and Black Voices for Trump, among others. 

According to OpenSecrets, another $19.7 million in Facebook political ads ran in the state so far this year outside of what either campaign or their committee allies spent. That’s more than triple the $6.5 million both Trump and Biden allies spent combined. 

In the November race for Congress, Wisconsin’s candidates so far this year spent $309,402 in Facebook ads as of this afternoon. 

Those challenging incumbents make up 77 percent of the total spent, according to OpenSecrets. 

Of the state’s incumbent House lawmakers, 3rd CD U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, spent the most with $33,256 this year. His GOP challenger Derrick Van Orden spent $78,039, the most in Facebook ads out of any Wisconsin House candidate so far. 

Other House spending includes: 

*1st CD: U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, spent $7,221, and Dem challenger Roger Polak spent $57,612. 

*2nd CD: Both U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, and his GOP challenger Peter Theron haven’t run any Facebook ads, according to the watchdog. 

*4th CD: OpenSecrets did not list any Facebook ads by GOP challenger Tim Rogers or U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee. 

*5th CD: Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, so far spent $2,982 over Facebook in his bid to replace outgoing longtime incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. Dem challenger Tom Palzewicz, in his second bid for the seat, spent $4,768 over Facebook this year. 

*6th CD: Incumbent U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, spent $15,709, but his Dem challenger Jessica King has $300 in ads listed, according to the watchdog. 

*7th CD: So far this year, Dem challenger and Wausau School Board President Tricia Zunker spent $62,947 in Facebook ads, while U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, who won the seat in a May special election, so far spent $14,307 over Facebook. 

*8th CD: Incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, so far hasn’t spent anything over Facebook this year, according to OpenSecrets. But his Dem challenger, state Rep. Amanda Stuck, of Appleton, so far spent $32,561. 


Political TV

(Check local listings for times in your area)

“UpFront” is a statewide commercial TV news magazine show airing Sundays around the state. This week’s show, hosted by ADRIENNE PEDERSEN, features Dane County Exec JOE PARISI; Milwaukee Health Commissioner JEANETTE KOWALIK; UWM Student Association President EMMA MAE WEBER; and UW Associated Students of Madison representative BRANDON SPRINGER.
*See more about the program here: http://www.wisn.com/upfront/
*Also see a recap of the show online each Monday at WisPolitics.com 

“Rewind,” a weekly show from WisconsinEye and WisPolitics.com, airs at 8 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. on Sundays in addition to being available online. On this week’s episode, WisPolitics.com’s JR ROSS and WisconsinEye’s STEVE WALTERS discuss lawsuits seeking access to Wisconsin’s presidential ballot, the Marquette University Law School Poll and this week’s campaign stops.
*Watch the show here.

Check out WisPolitics.com’s Midday, a daily podcast offering insights into the top news of the day.
*Listen to the podcasts here

“The Insiders” is a weekly WisOpinion.com web show featuring former Democratic Senate Majority Leader CHUCK CHVALA and former Republican Assembly Speaker SCOTT JENSEN. This week, the two handicap each party’s chances in races for state Senate and Assembly.
*Watch the video or listen to the show here

Wisconsin Public TV’s “Here and Now” airs at 7:30 p.m. Fridays. On this week’s program, anchor FREDERICA FREYBERG interviews Marquette Law School poll director CHARLES FRANKLIN, UW-Madison Chancellor REBECCA BLANK and Reps. SHELIA STUBBS, D-Madison, and JIM STEINEKE, R-Kaukauna, co-chairs of the Speaker’s Task Force on Racial Disparity.

“Capital City Sunday” airs at 9 a.m. Sunday on WKOW-TV in Madison, WAOW-TV in Wausau, WXOW-TV in La Crosse and WQOW-TV in Eau Claire. Host EMILEE FANNON Dr. JEFF POTHOF, of UW Health; state Rep. SHELIA STUBBS, D-Madison; and UW-Madison Law Prof. HOWARD SCHWEBER.

Week Ahead

Monday: Vice President Pence campaign event.
– 11 a.m.: Holiday Inn Conference Center, Janesville.

Wednesday: WisPolitics.com virtual discussion to preview top Assembly races.
– Noon: Virtual event.

Friday: President Trump campaign event.
– 7 p.m.: Central Wisconsin Aviation, Mosinee.

Names in the News

*Top Assembly leaders preview the top races to watch in November in a Sept. 16 WisPolitics.com virtual lunchtime discussion. Assembly Speaker ROBIN VOS, R-Rochester, and Assembly Minority Leader GORDON HINTZ, D-Oshkosh, will be part of a moderated discussion on the state of the election before fielding questions from the audience. Husch Blackwell, American Family Insurance, Xcel Energy, Walmart, AARP Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Hospital Association are all sponsors for the event. See more here

*A Sept. 22 WisPolitic.com virtual luncheon features author DENNIS DRESANG on his book covering the life of PATRICK LUCEY, a former Wisconsin Dem governor, U.S. ambassador to Mexico and vice presidential candidate. Dresang joins a panel of those who knew Lucey, including LAURIE LUCEY, his daughter and a voting rights attorney, JOE SENSENBRENNER and JIM WOOD, both Lucey advisors. See more here.

*An Oct. 2 WisPolitics.com virtual discussion features UW-Madison La Follette School of Public Affairs issue experts MENZIE CHINN, GEOFFREY WALLACE, GREG NEMET and CHRISTINE DURRANCE. The panel will go over the state of the economy, healthcare, the environment and criminal justice inequalities. See more here.

*WisPolitics.com stages the second annual Midwest Polling summit on Oct. 8 and 9. The first day features a look at top election issues with CARROLL DOHERTY, director of political research at Pew Research Center. AARP pollster AMY LEVIN will also go over the organization’s swing state polling. The second day features a five-person panel to review the state of the presidential race, both locally and across the country. Panelists include: CHARLES FRANKLIN, Marquette University Law School poll director;  RAY BLOCK, Penn State political science professor; EMILY SWANSON, AP director of public opinion research; SARAH SIMMONS, Purple Strategies polling expert; and BARRY BURDEN, director of the UW-Madison Elections Research Center. See more and register here.

The Association for Equity in Funding named JOHN HUMPHRIES to serve as its new executive director. AEF President JOHN GAIER praised Humphries’ experience as a school district administrator and his “central office leadership experiences.” In a statement, the organization said it plans to continue its work to remedy inequities in the school system. 

Endorsements: The following is a list of recent endorsements, based on emails received by WisPolitics.com: 

1st CD

BRYAN STEIL: Operating Engineers Local 139; North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters; Wisconsin Laborers’ District Council

3rd CD


7th CD

TRICIA ZUNKER: American Federation of Government Employees


JOE BIDEN: EARNELL LUCAS, Milwaukee County sheriff; DAVID MAHONEY, Dane County sheriff; JOHN CHISOLM, Milwaukee County DA; TIM  GRUENKE, La Crosse County DA; ISMAEL OZANNE, Dane County DA, NOBLE WRAY, former Madison police chief. See more law enforcement endorsements here.

Lobbyist Watch

Sixteen changes were made to the lobbying registry in the past 10 days.

Follow this link for the complete list.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email