Capitol Notes

Althouse

A group led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder worked to elect Democrats in last week's special elections in Wisconsin.  One of the two open legislative seats went to a Democrat, while a Republican captured the other.  

Now, another big Democratic national organization is getting into the mix.  It's a group formed by former President Obama.  The organization says it's targeting Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November.  It's also trying to get a Democrat elected to the seat currently held by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

ALTHOUSE

Voters in De Pere, WI will select a new state senator Tuesday. Meanwhile, voters in Lodi will choose a new member of the Assembly. Special elections are being held to fill two vacancies.

Observers are wondering whether the elections could be a litmus test for the “blue wave” in Wisconsin, in this midterm election year.

Democrats are campaigning hard to win the seats, while Republicans are fighting just as hard to keep them.

Wispolitics.com Editor JR Ross talked about the special elections and other issues in this week’s Capitol Notes segment.

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The August primary elections are coming up quickly. Yet there's still no Democratic front-runner in the Democrats' bid to prevent Republican Gov. Scott Walker from winning another term in November.

The number of candidates is in the double digits. However, a few of them could be pulling ahead, according to a straw poll that WisPolitics.com conducted at last weekend's state Democratic Party convention.

Althouse

Hundreds of delegates are expected to gather in Oshkosh this weekend for the annual state Democratic Party convention.  This year's focus will be on the governor's race, as more than a dozen Democratic candidates have announced their intention to run against Republican incumbent Scott Walker in November.  But first, they'll have to get through a crowded Democratic primary in August.

In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com, just how fired up delegates at the convention will be.

The slate of candidates is set in special elections for two vacant seats in the state Legislature, after primaries last week.  Republican Jon Plumer advanced to take on Democrat Ann Groves-Lloyd for an Assembly post, north of Madison.  GOP state Rep. Andre Jacque will face Democrat Caleb Frostman, for a Green Bay area Senate seat.  

After weeks of suspense, U.S. Senate hopeful Leah Vukmir won the endorsement from delegates at the Wisconsin Republican Party convention over the weekend.  She snagged the party's backing from her opponent in the GOP primary -- Delafield businessman Kevin Nicholson.  The two are vying for the chance to face Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin in November.

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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson caused a stir last week, when he refused to apologize for remarks he made regarding veterans who support the Democratic Party.  A group of Republican veterans demanded an apology, after Nicholson told a local radio host he doesn't understand the "cognitive thought process" of democratic veterans.  

Althouse

The contest between the Republicans hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is getting ugly.  Sparks flew late last week, as state Sen. Leah Vukmir and political newcomer Kevin Nicholson met for their first debate.  

The two argued, when Nicholson accused Vukmir of not respecting his military experience.  Nicholson is a former Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Vukmir accused Nicholson of dealing a low blow, and demanded an apology.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett raised many eyebrows last week when he said he's thinking of running for governor -- again.  It would be his fourth bid, and Gov. Walker has beaten him twice. 

Barrett would also be getting into a crowded Democratic field, as at least nine candidates are running active campaigns.

In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com, about the likelihood of Barrett entering the race for governor this fall.

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Speculation is swirling over who'll run for Paul Ryan's seat -- now that the longtime Wisconsin congressman has said he is not seeking reelection this fall. 

Two Democrats, Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers, already were actively campaigning before the Republican's announcement last week. 

But, now that it's an open seat, more people from both parties are testing the waters.  In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com, how he thinks the race will shape up, in coming weeks.

Althouse

The U.S. Senate race between Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir and Delafield businessman Kevin Nicholson heated up late last week.  The two will face each other in a GOP primary in August.  The winner will take on Democrat Tammy Baldwin in November.  

Nicholson released the results of internal polling, that shows he is 18 points ahead of Vukmir.  In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti MIkkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com, whether he thinks the Vukmir camp should be worried.

It was a wild week at the State Capitol, as Gov. Walker scrambled to get a court to overturn a Dane County judge's order that he call special elections to fill two vacant legislative seats. 

A second Dane County judge and a Wisconsin Appeals court refused to delay the order.  Walker was thinking about getting the state Supreme Court but in the end, decided not to, and went ahead and scheduled the elections. 

After much hand-wringing, President Trump last week announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.  Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized the move -- calling it risky, amid fears it could spark a trade war.  

This was the first time that Ryan has wavered in his support for Trump's policies.  In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com if Ryan's backing away from Trump could be an issue, in the congressman's reelection bid.

Althouse

Gov. Scott Walker says he opposes President Trump's idea to arm teachers.  Instead, he talked last week about calling a special session to pass a comprehensive school safety agenda. 

This would mean the state Assembly, which has already adjourned for the year, would have to come back into session. 

In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com -- what are the chances of that happening?

JR Ross of Wispolitics.com talks about developments in Madison each Monday with WUWM's Marti Mikkelson.

This week, they discuss the recent flurry of activity in the Legislature.

One significant measure lawmakers approved was the passage of tighter restrictions on so-called "straw" gun sales. Those are sales to people buying guns for others, who are forbidden from owning the weapons.

Some Milwaukee leaders have fought for the restrictions for years. Marti asked JR what tipped the scales in Madison on this occasion.

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