Tag: Wisconsin Republicans

Three-judge federal panel orders Wisconsin state legislative maps redrawn. What happens now?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of this blog post is not an attorney and is not a Wisconsin resident.


Yesterday, a three-judge federal appellate court panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of the 7th Circuit ordered the Wisconsin State Legislature redraw the Wisconsin State Assembly map because the current state assembly map is deemed by the 7th Circuit panel to be such an extreme partisan gerrymander that it violates the U.S. Constitution. It’s not immediately clear if the Wisconsin State Senate map will have to be redrawn as well, although Article IV, Section 5 of the Wisconsin Constitution states, in part, “…no assembly district shall be divided in the formation of a senate district….”, although Katelyn Ferral of the Madison-based newspaper The Cap Times has interpreted the ruling as meaning that the state senate map would have to be redrawn as well:

The order is specific to Wisconsin’s Assembly map but essentially invalidates both the Assembly and Senate district maps because the Senate district map is based on the Assembly’s map. In November 2016, the court ruled that the state’s Assembly district maps were an unconstitutional gerrymander, a ruling that has gotten national attention. Wisconsin’s case is the first gerrymandering case of its kind to go to trial in 30 years, according to the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that has worked with the plaintiffs.

For the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to consider the possibility of state senate maps being redrawn as uncertain until and unless there is some kind of specific ruling from a federal court regarding that matter.

With the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature about to redraw Wisconsin’s state legislative maps, you may be asking yourself…what happens next?

One thing is for certain…the Republicans are going to try to get the U.S. Supreme Court, with or without a Donald Trump appointee on the bench, to overturn the federal appellate court’s ruling, which would result in the current maps being upheld and used for the 2018 and 2020 Wisconsin State Legislature elections.

Possibility #1: Legislature takes redistricting out of its own control and puts it in the hands of an independent process

While a number of Wisconsin Democrats have publicly called for making the redistricting process independent of the state legislature (see here and here for examples), and I think that it would be an awesome idea, I seriously doubt that Republicans would support this for two reasons. One, the court order directs the state legislature, not a governmental entity that has not (yet) been created, to redraw Wisconsin’s state legislative maps, and it’s not clear if a court would allow an independent redistricting body to redraw Wisconsin’s state legislative maps between federal Censuses instead of the state legislature. Two, the Republicans don’t want to draw any more Democratic-leaning districts than what currently exist, and they are probably going to completely disregard the rationale for the court ruling altogether.

Possibility #2: Legislature tries to draw an even stronger GOP gerrymander

As I stated above, I fear that the Republicans that control the state legislature are going to completely disregard the rationale for the court ruling altogether and attempt to draw an even stronger gerrymander. Regardless of whether or not the state senate map has to be redrawn, State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) is one state assembly member that could have her district, Assembly District 71, redrawn in such a manner to make it more favorable for a Republican challenger. Daily Kos Elections (DKE), the election analysis arm of the progressive website DailyKos, calculated that Hillary Clinton got a narrow majority of the vote in the presidential race in Shankland’s district (Shankland was unopposed in her state assembly race last year). It would not be unthinkable for the GOP to try to redraw Shankland’s district in such a manner that it becomes a Republican-leaning district, making it harder for Shankland to win re-election. State Reps. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), who represents Assembly District 54, and Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton), who represents Assembly District 57, could also find their districts redrawn to include more Republican-leaning areas, and a few other Assembly Democrats could find themselves in Republican-leaning districts as well if the GOP tries to draw an even stronger gerrymander.  Of course, doing that would be completely against the rationale of the court ruling.

If the state senate map is redrawn as well, the GOP could decide to…you guessed it, completely disregard the rationale for the court ruling altogether and try to draw multiple districts that are currently held by Democrats and make them Republican-leaning. State Senate districts 25 (held by State Sen. Janet Bewley (D-Ashland)), 30 (held by State Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay)), 31 (held by State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma)), and 32 (held by State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse)) could all be drawn to be made more Republican-leaning, and redrawing the state senate map to make it a stronger GOP gerrymander could open up Republican opportunities to draw even more Assembly Democrats into Republican-leaning districts.

Any attempt by the GOP to draw an even stronger gerrymander would probably be struck down by federal courts since they struck down the current state legislative districts, which are strongly gerrymandered.

Possibility #3: Legislature tries to reduce the size of the State Senate

There is a big wild card that the Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature could attempt to play, and that would be in the form of reduction of the size of the state senate. Article IV, Section 2 of the Wisconsin Constitution governs what sizes of each house of the state legislature are permissible:

The number of the members of the assembly shall never be less than fifty-four nor more than one hundred. The senate shall consist of a number not more than one-third nor less than one-fourth of the number of the members of the assembly.

Given the requirement that assembly districts be nested within senate districts (this is the part of Article IV, Section 5 of the Wisconsin Constitution that I mentioned earlier), it would be permissible for the Republicans to reduce the currently 33-seat state senate (with a 99-seat state assembly) to as low as 14 seats (with a state assembly of 56 seats), although the Republicans could end up with a higher percentage of state senate seats with a 25-seat state senate (with a state assembly of either 75 seats or 100 seats). With a 25-seat state senate, it would not be unthinkable for Republicans to draw a map in such a manner that Republicans could have the same number of seats they currently hold in the state senate, 20, while reducing Democratic-leaning seats to only five: a district in the most densely-populated parts of Dane County, a Rock County/southern Dane County district, and three districts including the most Democratic-leaning parts of Milwaukee County. This would give Republicans 80% of the state senate seats in a state that gave Donald Trump a plurality of the vote.

However, there is a multitude of reasons of why the Republicans may not try such a plan. First off, it’s possible that federal courts may not permit the number of seats in either house of the legislature to be changed between federal Censuses. Secondly, federal courts are probably not going to permit anything resembling a stronger Republican gerrymander. Additionally, it’s not clear if federal courts would approve of a state senate redraw of any kind. Furthermore, Republican legislators don’t want their own district eliminated: for example, if the Republicans were to attempt a 25-seat state senate gerrymander, State Sens. Stephen Nass and Van Wanggaard, both Republicans from the southeastern part of Wisconsin, would probably be drawn into the same district in order to make the district of State Sen. Janet Bewley, a Democrat from the opposite end of the state, more favorable to a Republican opponent. This is because Southeastern Wisconsin would probably lose two or three state senate districts if the state senate is reduced from 33 seats to 25 seats.

Possibility #4: Legislature’s GOP majority actually abides by the rationale of the federal court ruling

Of course, it’s possible, although probably wishful thinking on my part, that the Republicans who control the state legislature actually decide to abide by the rationale of the federal court ruling and draws a state assembly map that is less gerrymandered than the current state assembly map. If the state senate map is not redrawn, one district that would likely be made more favorable to Democrats is the 26th Assembly District, which could be redrawn to include all of the City of Sheboygan and as many of the voting wards of Sheboygan County where, in the 2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial election, Mary Burke got at least 35% of the vote as possible. Currently, the district includes the southern five-eighths or so of the City of Sheboygan and heavily-Republican areas south of the city. Another district that could be redrawn to be made more favorable to Democrats is the Wausau-based 85th Assembly District, which currently extends from Wausau to the heavily-Republican eastern end of Marathon County. The district could be redrawn to make the district more compact and replace the areas along the eastern border of Marathon County with parts of north-central Marathon County, making the district slightly more Democratic-leaning. If the state senate map has to be redrawn as well, then there’s going to be at least 2 or 3 state senate districts that would be made more favorable to Democrats and several, if not a dozen or more, state assembly districts which would be drawn to make it more favorable to Democrats.

Possibility #5: A federal court redraws the map(s)

There is one scenario in which the feds would step in and redraw Wisconsin’s state assembly map, and, if a federal court deems it to be necessary, state senate map. If the state legislature and Republican Governor Scott Walker cannot agree on a new map or new maps by November 1, 2017, then it would be likely that a federal court would take over redrawing the map(s). Of course, there’s one last possibility.

Possibility #6: The U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 7th Circuit’s ruling and upholds the existing GOP gerrymander

The Republicans that control Wisconsin’s state government are currently trying to get the three-judge federal panel’s ruling overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), which will be either with or without a Donald Trump appointee on the bench by the time SCOTUS hears the Wisconsin redistricting case, along with a similar case regarding North Carolina’s Republican-gerrymandered state legislative maps. If SCOTUS overturns the lower court’s ruling in the Wisconsin case, the current, Republican-gerrymandered state legislative districts in Wisconsin would be upheld. If there’s still a single vacancy on the SCOTUS bench, and the justices split 4-4 in regards to the Wisconsin case, then the lower court’s ruling is upheld, meaning that the state assembly, and possibly the state senate, maps would have to be redrawn, although no major precedent would be set. However, the four liberal justices and one of the conservative justices (probably Anthony Kennedy or, much less likely, a Donald Trump appointee to the bench who turns out to be less conservative than originally thought to be) could rule 5-4 or 5-3 in favor of the lower court’s ruling, which would require a new Wisconsin State Assembly, and possibly a new Wisconsin State Senate, map to be drawn with precedent set for future redistricting cases before the federal judiciary.

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How Wisconsin GOP state legislators encouraged Mylan to increase EpiPen prices for the entire country

Thanks to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC), a group that maintains a database of political contributions to state candidates in Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin progressive group Citizen Action of Wisconsin, we now know that a political action committee (PAC) for Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that, among other things, makes the EpiPen that is used to treat severe allergic reactions, has publicly lobbied Republican members of the Wisconsin State Legislature to pass legislation designed to financially benefit the company. According to records from WDC, a total of ten members of the Wisconsin Legislature received campaign contributions from Mypac WI, the Wisconsin state-level PAC for Mylan’s political operations, seven of whom are still in the Legislature, and one of whom is now a member of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission:

Legislator Name Date Contribution Received House of Legis. At Time of Donation Amount
Last First Year Month Day
Edming James 2016 July 1 Wisconsin State Assembly $500
Craig David 2016 June 27 Wisconsin State Assembly $500
LeMahieu Devin 2015 November 17 Wisconsin State Senate $500
Vukmir Leah 2015 August 22 Wisconsin State Senate $500
Nygren John 2014 February 10 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
August Tyler 2014 January 18 Wisconsin State Assembly $500
Kramer Bill 2014 January 13 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
Severson Erik 2014 January 7 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
Steineke Jim 2014 January 7 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
Strachota Pat 2014 January 2 Wisconsin State Assembly $250
Name in italics indicates that individual is no longer a state legislator as of the writing of this blog post, but was a state legislator at the time donation was received; of the three who are no longer state legislators, Pat Strachota is now a member of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. Table was created using the HTML table generator available here.

Mylan has also spent a total of $66,500 since 2013 lobbying Wisconsin legislators on issues “…affecting the manufacture, distribution, or sale of prescription drugs and medical devices”, as well as on issues “relating to generic pharmaceuticals”. According to Wisconsin lobbying records, Mylan spent $42,000 and a total of 151 hours on lobbying efforts in Wisconsin during the 2013-2014 state legislative session, and Mylan spent $24,500 and a total of 103 hours on lobbying efforts in Wisconsin during the 2015-2016 state legislative session. In both legislative sessions, Mylan’s sole authorized lobbyist was listed as Robert Welch.

Two pieces of legislation, both of which are now Wisconsin state law, were heavily supported by, and were designed to financially benefit, Mylan: 2013 Wisconsin Act 239, and 2015 Wisconsin Act 35. 2013 Wisconsin Act 239 allows for the availability of, and, in appropriate emergency situations, the use of “epinephrine auto-injectors” in Wisconsin public, private, and tribal schools. 2015 Wisconsin Act 35 allows for the availability of, and, in appropriate emergency situations, the use of “epinephrine auto-injectors” “by certain authorized entities”, which include recreational camps, educational camps, colleges, universities, day care facilities, youth sports leagues, amusement parks, restaurants, businesses, and sports arenas. Neither of the two laws require Mylan to justify price increases to government officials in Wisconsin, even though the laws authorize state and local government entities in Wisconsin to purchase and maintain EpiPens at the expense of Wisconsin taxpayers. While the two pieces of legislation serve a public purpose, given that timely dispensation of epinephrine can save the life of a person having a severe allergic reaction, given that Mylan’s EpiPen dominates the marketplace for epinephrine auto-injectors, and that EpiPen prices have risen dramatically as recently as earlier this month, it’s clear to me that Mylan’s political lobbying efforts in Wisconsin are designed to financially benefit the company, as well as financially benefit the political campaigns of Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin.

I do not have any food allergies that require the use of epinephrine, but many Americans in all 50 states do. I find it disgusting that A) Mylan is drastically raising the price of a very important drug/device without any real justification and B) that, because of Mylan’s actions, taxpayers are being forced to spend more money than necessary on their medicine, which many people need. Furthermore, by not including any kind of accountability measure on Mylan that would have required Mylan to legally justify any kind of price increase to Wisconsin officials, Wisconsin Republicans have effectively encouraged Mylan to raise the price of EpiPens for the entire country.

Former Republican aide outs Republicans who were giddy about suppressing the Wisconsin vote

Todd Allbaugh, who was an aide to former Wisconsin State Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center), revealed the names of Republican members of the Wisconsin State Senate who were giddy about enacting a “voter ID” law designed to disenfranchise Wisconsin voters and make it easier for Republicans to get elected to public office in Wisconsin:

Former GOP aide Todd Allbaugh testified in federal court today members of the Senate Republican caucus were giddy in 2011 over the prospect of passing voter ID and its impact on their electoral hopes.

Allbaugh added some were “politically frothing at the mouth,” singling out Sen. Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa and former Sen. Randy Hopper of Oshkosh. He added Sen. Mary Lazich of New Berlin and then-Sen. Glenn Grothman were also among the most enthusiastic members of the caucus during a closed-door meeting in supporting the bills.
Of those four, only Lazich and Vukmir are still members of the Wisconsin State Senate. Grothman is now a U.S. Representative, and Hopper is no longer an elected official after being recalled from office in 2011 over his vote for the anti-union Act 10 law and his role in a sex scandal.
What Todd Allbaugh said in his testimony as a witness for the progressive One Wisconsin Institute in an ongoing court case regarding the Wisconsin Voter ID law clearly indicates that Wisconsin Republicans had exactly one goal in mind when it came to justifying their support for the voter ID law: suppress Democratic voters. That is flatly un-American.

My preview of the Wisconsin presidential primaries and the Wisconsin Supreme Court race

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Donald Trump is NOT supporting JoAnne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court…and that’s a good thing. An earlier version of this blog post did not make it clear as to whether or not Joe Donald or Donald Trump had endorsed Kloppenburg; Joe Donald has endorsed Kloppenburg; Donald Trump has, to my knowledge, not endorsed a candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court.


On Tuesday, April 5, Wisconsinites will go to the polls to vote for major-party (Democratic and Republican) presidential nominees and a state supreme court justice. Additionally, there are numerous local offices on the ballot in Wisconsin, including a couple of high-profile local races in Milwaukee (Milwaukee Mayor and Milwaukee County Executive), although this preview will focus on the three statewide races in Wisconsin on April 5.

Democratic presidential primary

Democrats Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton and Bernard “Bernie” Sanders are seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, and 52 pledged delegates allocated by congressional district, 5 alternate delegates allocated by congressional district, 19 pledged delegates allocated on a statewide basis, and 10 pledged party leader and elected official delegates allocated on a statewide basis are up for grabs (delegate plan here). Wisconsin also has 10 superdelegates, who can vote for any presidential candidate they wish. Currently, 4 Wisconsin superdelegates are supporting Hillary, while 6 Wisconsin superdelegates have not endorsed a presidential candidate; however, superdelegates can change their preferences at any time up until the vote for the Democratic presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention.

All recent polling in Wisconsin has shown Bernie with a slight lead either within the margin of polling error or just outside of the margin of polling error, with Bernie’s lead averaging around four percentage points. Due to proportional allocation of pledged delegates, either Bernie or Hillary would need to win by a large margin to get the vast majority of Wisconsin’s delegates. Bernie has about a 65% chance of receiving more votes statewide than Hillary.

Bernie is expected to run up a big margin in Madison, whereas Hillary is expected to run up a big margin in Milwaukee. The race is going to be decided in the Milwaukee suburbs (which, despite being one of the most Republican areas of the entire country in general elections, delivers a surprisingly high number of Democratic primary votes), as well as the rural northern and western parts of Wisconsin. To get a rough idea of the geographical dynamic at play in the Wisconsin Democratic primary, one could draw a line from Manitowoc to the middle of Lake Winnebago to Fond du Lac to Fort Atkinson to Janesville to Beloit, and anything south and east of that line should go to Hillary by a wide margin outside of some pro-Bernie pockets of support, and anything north and west of that line should go to Bernie by a wide margin outside of some pro-Hillary pockets of support. If Bernie is winning both the Milwaukee suburbs and the rural areas in the north and west of the state, then Bernie is likely winning statewide. If Hillary is winning both the Milwaukee suburbs and the rural areas in the north and west of the state, then Hillary is likely winning statewide. It’s worth noting that the expected swing areas in the Democratic primary are areas that tend to vote for Republican candidates in the general election.

Democratic congressional district delegates are allocated as follows:

  • 1st CD (Janesville/Racine/Kenosha/Lake Geneva) – 6
  • 2nd CD (Madison/Beloit/Middleton) – 10
  • 3rd CD (La Crosse/Eau Claire/Stevens Point) – 6
  • 4th CD (Milwaukee/Shorewood/St. Francis) – 9
  • 5th CD (Waukesha/West Bend/West Allis/Port Washington) – 5
  • 6th CD (Oshkosh/Fond du Lac/Manitowoc/Sheboygan) – 5
  • 7th CD (Wausau/Superior/Hudson) – 6
  • 8th CD (Green Bay/Appleton/Sturgeon Bay) – 5

Regarding the Democratic alternate delegates, the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 8th congressional districts are allocated one alternate delegate each, whereas no alternate delegates are allocated for the 1st, 3rd, and 5th congressional districts.

Based on the delegate allocations for each congressional district, here’s my predictions for the pledged congressional district delegates:

  • 1st CD – Hillary 2, Bernie 2, Hillary Favored 1, Up For Grabs 1
  • 2nd CD – Hillary 2, Bernie 6, Up for Grabs 2
  • 3rd CD – Hillary 2, Bernie 2, Hillary Favored 1, Up for Grabs 1
  • 4th CD – Hillary 5, Bernie 1, Hillary Favored 1, Up for Grabs 2
  • 5th CD – Hillary 2, Bernie 2, Up for Grabs 1
  • 6th CD – Hillary 2, Bernie 2, Bernie Favored 1
  • 7th CD – Hillary 1, Bernie 3, Hillary Favored 1, Up for Grabs 1
  • 8th CD – Hillary 1, Bernie 1, Hillary Favored 1, Bernie Favored 1, Up for Grabs 1

That’s a total of 17 Hillary, 19 Bernie, 5 Hillary Favored, 2 Bernie Favored, and 9 Up for Grabs in the congressional district delegate pools, representing anywhere from a 35 Bernie-17 Hillary to a 33 Hillary-19 Bernie delegate spread in regards to the pledged congressional district delegates. Anything outside of that range would surprise me. I have no clue as to how the alternate delegates would be allocated to the candidates.

Here’s my predictions for the two statewide pledged delegate pools:

  • Statewide pledged – 6 Hillary, 7 Bernie, 2 Hillary Favored, 2 Bernie Favored, 2 Up for Grabs
  • Party leader and elected official pledged – 3 Hillary, 4 Bernie, 1 Hillary Favored, 2 Up for Grabs

That’s a total of 9 Hillary, 11 Bernie, 3 Hillary Favored, 2 Bernie Favored, and 4 Up for Grabs in regards to the two statewide delegate pools, representing anywhere from a 20 Bernie-9 Hillary to a 18 Hillary-11 Bernie delegate spread in regards to the two pools of pledged statewide delegates. Anything outside of that range would surprise me.

Based on my pledged delegate predictions and not counting alternate delegates, anywhere from a 55 Bernie-26 Hillary to a 51 Hillary-30 Bernie delegate spread in regards to pledged delegates is possible. Anything outside of that range would surprise me, and, if I were to guess, the actual result is likely to be closer to the middle of that range than either end of the range.

Republican presidential primary

Republicans Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz, Donald John Trump, and John Richatd Kasich are seeking the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, and 24 pledged delegates allocated by congressional district, 15 pledged delegates awarded on a statewide basis, and 3 Republican National Committee (RNC) delegates bound to the statewide primary winner are up for grabs.

Recent polling in Wisconsin has shown Cruz with an average lead of four percentage points, with even larger leads in some of the more recent polls, so Cruz is favored to win the Wisconsin primary and win most of Wisconsin’s Republican delegates, although Trump and Kasich may also get Republican delegates from the Wisconsin primary. Additionally, polls have shown Trump in second place statewide, with Kasich in third place statewide. Cruz has about a 90% chance of winning at least a plurality of the vote statewide and about a 3% chance of winning every Republican delegate at stake in Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, the Republican presidential candidate who receives a plurality of the statewide Republican vote receives all 15 of the statewide pledged delegates and all 3 of the RNC member delegates, and the Republican presidential candidate who receives a plurality of the popular vote within a particular congressional district receives all 3 of said congressional district’s delegates.

For Cruz to win a statewide plurality, he would need to run up a large margin in the 5th, 1st, and 6th congressional districts, win or narrowly lose in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th congressional districts, and the 7th and 8th congressional districts wouldn’t play a factor for Cruz in regards to the statewide delegates. If Cruz were to receive at least a plurality of the vote in all 8 congressional districts, he would win either all 42 delegates.

For Trump to win a statewide plurality, he would need to run up very large margins in the 3rd, 7th, and 8th congressional districts (he would probably need to win the 7th by 40+ percentage points over the second-place candidate in that district), win by more than a handful of votes in the 2nd and 6th congressional districts, and not lose badly in the 1st, 4th, and 5th congressional districts. Trump doesn’t appear to have any chance of winning all 42 from Wisconsin; Trump’s best-case scenario would have him winning 30 delegates (statewide + 4 CDs).

For Kasich to win a statewide plurality, he would need to run up an extremely large margin in the 2nd congressional district (probably by 40+ percentage points over the second-place candidate in that district), win the 3rd congressional district by a very large margin, win the 6th and 7th congressional districts by more than a handful of votes, win or come in a close second place in the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th congressional districts (Kasich would probably lose at least three of these in his best-case scenario). Kasich doesn’t appear to have any chance of winning all 42 delegates from Wisconsin; his best-case scenario would have him winning anywhere from 30 to 33 delegates (statewide + 4 or 5 CDs).

Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court – Seat 6

Although seats of the seven-member Wisconsin Supreme Court bench are not officially numbered, I’ve chosen to number them based on the last digit of the year in which they are up for election. Since there is one Wisconsin Supreme Court seat up for election in 2016, seat 6 is up for election this year. The seat was held by moderate justice N. Patrick Crooks (I’ve never been able to find Crooks’s full first name) until his death in September of 2015. Republican Governor Scott Walker appointed Rebecca Lynn Grassl Bradley, a ultra-conservative who Walker has appointed to judgeships at every opportunity, to fill the vacancy on the state supreme court. Seat 6 would have been up for election this year regardless of whether or not the seat became vacant.

A non-partisan top-two primary, in which the candidates with the most and second-most votes advance to the non-partisan general election, regardless of whether or not one candidate receives a majority of the primary vote, was held in February of this year (primary results here). Bradley received a 44.61% plurality of the primary vote, with progressive candidate JoAnne F. Kloppenburg (I do not know what Kloppenburg’s full middle name is) receiving 43.16% of the primary vote. Joe Donald (not sure of full name) received 12.12% of the primary vote and failed to advance to the general election, with “scattering”, which is how Wisconsin classifies invalid write-in votes, receiving 0.11% of the primary vote. Bradley and Kloppenburg are running in the state supreme court general election, which is being held in conjunction with the Wisconsin presidential primaries. While the race is officially non-partisan, Bradley is the de facto Republican and Kloppenburg is the de facto Democrat.

I’ve created a spreadsheet here as a guide showing detailed primary results (including a Kloppenburg + Donald total from the primary, with red shading <45%, yellow shading 45%-55%, and green shading >55%), shading indicating Bradley plurality (light red), Kloppenburg plurality (light blue), Bradley majority (red), and Kloppenburg majority (blue) from the primary, the partisan lean of each Wisconsin county based on the Bradley and Kloppenburg + Donald results from the primary, and county-by-county baselines for a tied race between Bradley and Kloppenburg based on the Bradley and Kloppenburg + Donald results from the primary.

Here are several important points about the Wisconsin Supreme Court race:

  • Although Wisconsin voters can opt not to vote for a presidential candidate, but vote for a state supreme court candidate, very few Wisconsin voters will do that.
  • Bradley is going to get the vast majority of the Republican primary voters, and Kloppenburg is going to get nearly all of the Democratic primary voters.
  • Joe Donald has endorsed Kloppenburg, Hillary Clinton has publicly criticized Bradley, and Bernie Sanders has stated that he hopes that large voter turnout will help Kloppenburg win.
  • If an equal number of Democratic and Republican primary voters show up, Kloppenburg would need to get approximately 56% of Donald’s voters to vote for her in order to win.
  • If more Republicans show up to vote than Democrats, Kloppenburg would need an even higher percentage of Joe Donald’s voters, as well as Kasich/Kloppenburg and possibly Trump/Kloppenburg voters to win.
  • Bradley and her campaign have tried to tie Kloppenburg to Hillary and have attacked Kloppenburg for opposing big-money politics and supporting equal rights.
  • Bradley was found to have authored a series of hateful columns for the Marquette University student newspaper and student magazine during the early 1990’s.
  • Bradley has falsely compared contraception to murder.

I’m not going to attempt to make a prediction in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. The most recent poll (a Marquette University poll) had Bradley ahead of Kloppenburg by five percentage points, although there were a lot of undecided voters according to that poll.

Wisconsin GOP pulls cruelest April Fool’s joke ever

Republicans in the Wisconsin State Assembly have pulled a cruel April Fool’s joke on the people of Wisconsin by scheduling a closed-to-the-public committee hearing on redistricting.

Normally, closed-to-the-public legislative committee sessions are done at the federal level of this country, and done by a Congressional committee to discuss classified national security-related information. In no way should closed-door committee hearings be conducted by a federal, state, or local legislature in regards to something that doesn’t involve classified national security information, and a state or local legislature would rarely, if ever, have to deal with something like that. Redistricting of congressional and state legislative districts is something that is not of a national security interest, so the idea a closed-door committee hearing on redistricting is absolutely asinine.

State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly, sent out a multi-tweet response criticizing the closed-door redistricting hearing in Wisconsin:

I love it when politicians go on multi-tweet rants, especially if they’re standing up for progressive values while tweeting!

Anyways, Shankland repeatedly referred to State Rep. Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie), who chairs the Wisconsin State Assembly’s Campaigns and Elections Committee. Bernier issued a press release implying that the hearing was open to the general public; however, the hearing was not actually open to the public. Bernier has a “don’t question me” attitude about politics, and politicians having a “don’t question me” attitude about politics is one of my biggest pet peeves.

More corporate welfare is not the solution to Wisconsin’s growing job loss problem

Make no mistake about it, Wisconsin has a serious job loss problem. Most notably, Oscar Meyer recently announced that it was closing its Madison, Wisconsin factory that had been in operation since 1919.

However, more corporate welfare isn’t the solution to Wisconsin’s growing job loss problem, in fact, I’d argue that Scott Walker’s political agenda as a whole, including corporate welfare, is the main culprit behind the growing job loss problem in Wisconsin.

Under Republican rule, Wisconsin has become one of the worst states, if not the worst state, for business. From Act 10 taking away collective bargaining rights and a sizable chunk of take-home pay from Wisconsin public employees, to other laws eliminating workers’ rights protections that Wisconsin workers enjoyed for decades, to laws making Wisconsin open for corruption and graft, to the morbidly-corrupt Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin has become a state that is absolutely hostile to business. More corporate welfare would only make the problem worse, since what businesses in Wisconsin need aren’t more taxpayer giveaways to them, but rather a stronger middle class and more money in the pockets of Wisconsin consumers.

Wisconsin Republicans are delivering a kill shot to democracy

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a link to an article that includes an error. Specifically, Wisconsin State Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D) lives in Milton, Wisconsin, not Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, although Jorgensen did live in Fort Atkinson prior to the post-2010 Census gerrymandering of Wisconsin’s state legislative districts.


Republicans that control Wisconsin state government are delivering a kill shot to democracy by enacting a series of laws designed to effectively destroy democracy in Wisconsin.

The Progressive magazine columnist and Madison Common Council member Rebecca Kemble wrote a must-read article about Republican efforts to destroy democracy in Wisconsin, which you can read here.

The Republican efforts to destroy democracy in Wisconsin consists of the following three pieces of legislation:

  • 2015 Wisconsin Act 64 – While bribery and many forms of political corruption are still illegal in Wisconsin, this law effectively decriminalizes bribery and corruption in Wisconsin by removing the only effective tool in Wisconsin state law to prosecute bribery and corruption: the John Doe investigation. Republican Governor Scott Walker, himself the target of two John Doe investigations that led to a total of six of his associates either being convicted or pleading guilty to various crimes, has already signed this bill into law.
  • Wisconsin Assembly Bill 387 – This legislation, among other things, allows coordination between non-federal candidates for public office in Wisconsin and outside groups like SuperPACs, ends the legal requirement that candidates disclose their campaign donor’s employers, and eliminates campaign contribution limits in Wisconsin. When this bill was voted on in the Wisconsin Assembly, not a single member of the Assembly voted against the legislation. That’s because, in one of the most ridiculous political stunts that I’ve ever seen, Democratic members of the Wisconsin Assembly recused themselves from voting on the legislation citing a conflict of interest, but the conflict of interest statute they cited specifically exempts state legislative votes on legislation to change state laws and regulations.
  • Wisconsin Assembly Bill 388 – This legislation would abolish the officially non-partisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB), which is composed of six retired judges and is responsible for both state-level election administration and enforcing state ethics laws in Wisconsin, with separate state elections and ethics commissions composed of political appointees of major-party state legislative leaders and the governor. If this bill were to become law, major-party state legislative leaders could legally appoint themselves or other elected officials to the state elections commission in Wisconsin and remain in elected office, which would be a brazen conflict of interest.

The Wisconsin GOP’s effort to destroy democracy in Wisconsin reminds me a lot of the right-wing Fidesz party in Hungary entrenching itself into power by gerrymandering electoral districts to benefit Fidesz and other right-wing politicians, as well as amending the Hungarian Constitution to undermine civil liberties and entrench Fidesz into power in Hungary. The kind of partisan takeovers normally seen in places like Eastern Europe is taking place right here in the United States, specifically, in Wisconsin.

Republicans and corporate media launch racist attack against Wisconsin Democratic Chair Martha Laning for having occassionally interesting personality

Daniel Bice, a “watchdog” columnist for the far-right Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, wrote this racist hit piece attacking Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) Chairwoman Martha Laning, who is a white woman from near Sheboygan, for trying to emulate the accent of DPW First Vice-Chairman David Bowen, who is a black man from Milwaukee. Laning’s remarks were recorded by a right-wing tracker at a local Democratic Party meeting in Door County, Wisconsin earlier this year.

Laning was trying to do a half-ass impression of Bowen’s accent at a Door County (WI) Democratic Party meeting while talking about her attendance at a President Obama event in La Crosse earlier this year, and Bowen was not offended by it at all, saying that “there is nothing wrong about our Democratic Party embracing diversity.” If Bowen isn’t offended by Laning trying to do a half-ass emulation of his accent, then I’m not offended by it.

Apparently, having an occasionally quirky personality is a political crime in the eyes of Wisconsin Republicans. I don’t have a problem at all with politicians having interesting or occasionally interesting personalities, in fact, I’m more likely to personally like a politician whose personality is quirky or occasionally quirky than a politician with a very boring personality. Given that Tommy Thompson, a longtime Wisconsin Republican politician who was elected four times to the governor’s mansion, was notorious for having an unusual personality, I find it hypocritical that Wisconsin Republicans would bash Laning for having a quirky personality.

Although I endorsed Laning in the DPW Chair’s race earlier this year, let me make it clear that I’ve not been impressed by Laning’s performance as chair. Since Laning was elected to be the head of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, she’s tried to sabotage Russ Feingold’s U.S. Senate campaign with controversial remarks about his last name, and she’s a staunch supporter of Scott Walker’s corporate welfare giveaway to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. However, Laning has been somewhat better as chair than, for example, how Jason Rae, who got the second-most votes in the DPW Chair’s race earlier this year, would have been as chair had he been elected. As noted by an unnamed person who posts under the Data, Facts, and Logic moniker at Cognitive Dissidence, Rae once tried to claim that he understood the challenges that black people in Wisconsin face because he’s a gay white guy while speaking to a predominantly-black audience during his campaign.

The bottom line is that this attack by Republicans and the corporate media against Martha Laning for having an occasionally quirky personality is racist and absolutely disgusting. I believe that Daniel Bice, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and the Republican Party of Wisconsin owe Martha Laning, David Bowen, and the people of Wisconsin an apology.

Wisconsin Republicans want to take the opportunity for cures away from people across America

In response to the recent release of heavily-edited videos by a right-wing smear group as part of a political witchhunt against Planned Parenthood, Wisconsin Republicans are pushing to enact an outright ban on the use of tissue from aborted fetuses in medical research.

Make no mistake about it, banning fetal tissue from being used in medical research would be disastrous, not just for Wisconsin, but the entire country. Not only would Wisconsin lose jobs if this legislation were to be enacted, the entire country would lose out on research, conducted by the University of Wisconsin System, that seeks to find cures for serious ailments like Parkinson’s disease, heart defects, various forms of cancer, and multiple sclerosis, just to name a few. This would make it far more difficult for researchers to find cures for serious ailments that affect millions of people in this country. I don’t think that there are any colleges or universities outside of Wisconsin that do medical research with fetal tissue, but I could be wrong about that.

The right-wing political witchhunt against Planned Parenthood and other pro-women groups is incredibly short-sighted. In Wisconsin, the right-wing witchhunt against Planned Parenthood has officially turned into a full-on attack against sick people and medical research.

Wisconsin State Assembly votes to gives taxpayer money to millionaire NBA team owners

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly voted to give millions of dollars taxpayer money from ordinary Wisconsinites the owners of professional basketball’s Milwaukee Bucks in order for them to build a new arena by a 52-34 vote, with 5 members not voting at all, 4 members casting paired votes in favor, and 4 members casting paired votes in opposition.

Here’s the Wisconsin State Assembly members who voted for the Milwaukee Bucks corporate welfare giveaway:

  • Scott Allen (R)
  • Joan Ballweg (R)
  • Peter Barca (D Minority Leader)
  • Mandela Barnes (D)
  • Janel Brandtjen (R)
  • Robert Brooks (R)
  • Bob Gannon (R)
  • Evan Goyke (D)
  • Gordon Hintz (D)
  • Rob Hutton (R)
  • John Jagler (R)
  • Adam Jarchow (R)
  • La Tonya Johnson (D)
  • Andy Jorgensen (D)
  • Robb Kahl (D)
  • Terry Katsma (R)
  • Samantha Kerkman (R)
  • Frederick Kessler (D)
  • Joel Kleefisch (R)
  • Dan Knodl (R)
  • Dale Kooyenga (R)
  • Jesse Kremer (R)
  • Mike Kuglitsch (R)
  • Tom Larson (R)
  • Amy Loudenbeck (R)
  • Cory Mason (D)
  • Jeffrey Mursau (R)
  • John Murtha (R)
  • John Nygren (R)
  • Alvin Ott (R)
  • Jim Ott (R)
  • Kevin David Petersen (R)
  • Warren Petryk (R)
  • Jessie Rodriguez (R)
  • Dana Rohrkaste (R)
  • Joe Sanfelippo (R)
  • Michael Schraa (R)
  • Christine Sinicki (D)
  • Ed Skowronski (R)
  • John Spiros (R)
  • Mark Spreitzer (D)
  • Jim Steineke (R)
  • Lisa Subeck (D)
  • Rob Swearingen (R)
  • Paul Tittl (R)
  • Tyler Vorpagel (R)
  • Robin Vos (R Speaker)
  • Dana Wachs (D)
  • Leon Young (D)
  • JoCasta Zamarippa (D)
  • Josh Zepnick (D)

In addition to those, Mark Born (R), Dianne Hesselbein (D), Bob Kulp (R), and Tom Weatherston (R) cast paired votes in favor of the Milwaukee Bucks corporate welfare deal. However, under Wisconsin Assembly rules, paired votes, which can only be recorded if members casting the paired votes have an excused absence, do not officially count as votes in favor or in opposition to legislation, but are officially recorded as paired votes in the official vote tally. Personally, I think the paired votes rule should be repealed in any jurisdiction that allows paired votes, since it seems  like a relic of the pre-automobile era, when it was very difficult for a state legislator who lived a long distance from the capital city of a particular state to get to the state capitol building.

This deal is a terrible deal for Wisconsin taxpayers from every corner of Wisconsin, and it would have been cheaper for the State of Wisconsin to let the Milwaukee Bucks leave for another state than to keep the team by way of corporate welfare for a new arena.

While proponents of the deal have claimed that the deal will pay for itself over time, the fact of the matter is that the deal would certainly not pay for itself. Over a 20-year period, the State of Wisconsin will pay $3.5 million annually to the Bucks, which will play 41 games per year (not counting any preseason or postseason games) in the new arena, starting with the 2017-2018 NBA season. It would require the Bucks to have an average home game attendance of 170,732 or greater to make up for the money that the state gave the Bucks owners to build the arena through the 50¢ cut of a $2/ticket surtax that the state receives. Since the maximum spectator capacity of the arena is going to be roughly somewhere between one-tenth and one-eighth of the break-even attendance figure of 170,732, it’s absolutely unrealistic to expect the state portion of deal to pay for itself over time.

By the way, here’s how I calculated the 170,732 figure for determining break-even attendance for the state portion of the deal:

  • State portion of expenditures to the Bucks is $3,500,000/year
  • There are 41 home regular season games for each of the 30 NBA teams, including the Bucks
  • The portion of the Bucks ticket surtax that the state receives is 50¢/ticket
  • 3,500,000/41/0.5=170,732, rounded up to nearest whole number

In fact, if one were to factor in every revenue and expenditure factor of the deal, such as any tax revenue created or saved by the Bucks deal and the costs that taxpayers in Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee are on the hook for, the break-even attendance figure for the entire Bucks deal would probably still be more than any reasonable estimate of the maximum spectator capacity of the new arena. This is for two reasons. First, the portion of the money going to the Bucks owners that Milwaukee County and City of Milwaukee taxpayers are going to be on the hook for is in the low nine-figures. Second, there isn’t a ton of tax revenue that will be created or saved by the deal due to a large number of tax exemptions associated with the deal. To put all of that another way, the deal isn’t going to pay for itself. Even if the state portion of the deal repays itself and them some, it would still short Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee a large amount of taxpayer money that could have been better used for local government services that serve a public purpose and that Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee are legally responsible for.