politics

If it seems to you that political tensions are always hot in Wisconsin, your grandparents might have thought the same thing.

Politics here have frequently been volatile and sometimes formative.

They range from the origins of the Republican Party to Progressive politics to Socialists running Milwaukee.

And residents have long split their votes along interesting lines.

Pedro Szekely / Flickr

After three years of negotiating, Colombia’s government is set to sign a peace agreement with the FARC rebels later this month. The treaty could put an end to the armed conflict in the country, which has been going on for more than 50 years.

As of 2000, Colombia was in danger of becoming a narco-state, a country controlled by drug lords.

Mitch Teich / WUWM

The Democratic candidates for president have long moved on from Wisconsin since debate at UW-Milwaukee. But while they – and the Republican candidates - vie for votes in Nevada and South Carolina, the campaign lives on - nationally, in the news and on social media.

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders sparred over a variety of issues last night at UW-Milwaukee. It was their first debate since Sanders’s big win in the New Hampshire primary.

The debate covered issues ranging from mass incarceration to regime change. But throughout, Sanders tried to stick to his message about taking on Wall Street, while Clinton pointed to her broad agenda as the more fiscally responsible one.

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President Obama delivered what will be the final State of the Union address of his presidency Tuesday night before a joint session of Congress.  There was much build-up to the speech, both in the national media, but also from the White House itself, which advertised the address as diverging from how previous speeches to the nation have gone.

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Controversy continues to swirl around Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the United States in the wake of the violence in Paris and in Southern California.  

Some GOP leaders, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, have condemned Trump’s idea. But Ryan and others have stopped short of saying the comments should disqualify Trump from holding the highest office in the country.

Dave Reid, flickr

There have been some major policy issues debated in Wisconsin over the past few months – from changes to the board that oversees elections, to the future of the education and the state’s role in economic development. Most, if not all, of the changes coming from Madison have been made along partisan lines, as Republicans control both houses of the legislature and the governor’s seat.

That makes for a challenging period for Democrats in the legislature, including Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, who represents La Crosse and other parts of western Wisconsin.

Milwaukee County

Previously on Lake Effect, County Executive Chris Abele commented on the county’s budget for the coming fiscal year.  The County Board passed an amended version that restores cuts to the budget for the Sheriff’s office, and includes an increase in the county’s tax levy.

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The second scheduled debate among the Democratic candidates for president is scheduled for this Friday in South Carolina. 

Many political analysts have said that former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeals to the broadest spectrum of Democratic voters, but Rick Perlstein, a national political reporter, says many of his colleagues have missed the part of the story surrounding Bernie Sanders.

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Why has the selection process for speaker of the House as well as the Republican Presidential race been so heated when so many Republicans agree on so many issues? 

"I see this as sort of a division over purity. And also a kind of emphasis on using the primary process to kind circumvent party elite," says Marquette University political science professor Julia Azari.

Bryan Wolf, flickr

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill late last week, which prevents John Doe probes of lawmakers.

The probes are secret investigations conducted by prosecutors who suspect wrongdoing.

The technique was used twice to investigate dealings regarding Walker. The first looked into activities in his office when he was Milwaukee County executive. The probe turned up a variety of violations, including staff campaigning while on county time. About a half dozen of Walker's aides or associates faced criminal charges. Walker was never charged.

Walker
Andy Manis / Getty Images

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker ended his campaign for President yesterday.  Walker had until recently polled at or near the top among GOP hopefuls, both nationally and in key states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, and had attracted international media attention.  But after some missteps and limited success in two Republican debates, Walker’s poll numbers had fallen to near zero in the last few days.

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While the large field of Republican candidates for President is grabbing most of the headlines, it will be one of the Democratic hopefuls making a case to voters in Milwaukee today. Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State, former U.S. Senator and former First Lady, will speak at an event at UW-Milwaukee late this afternoon.

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One candidate who was not a part of last night’s debate was James Webb.  That makes sense, since he’s a Democrat.  The DNC announced its primary debate schedule yesterday, which includes a total of six debates, including one in Wisconsin.  Webb announced his candidacy just before Independence Day, which Lake Effect essayist Art Cyr thinks is significant:

Webb’s Vietnam War novel “Fields of Fire,” published in 1978, is generally recognized as one of the best to result from that war.

Kari / Flickr

Political analysts describe Wisconsin as purple – neither liberalism’s traditional blue, nor conservatism’s typical red.  The state’s deep political divides are well-documented, but often in terms of political party or philosophy.

A Wisconsin researcher is looking at a divide of a different kind. Kathy Cramer, a political science professor at UW-Madison, has been researching the rural-urban gap and how it affects Wisconsin politics.

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