Tag Archives: primary

I-4 from Tampa to Daytona: This is where the election could be decided

The Interstate 4 corridor stretching from the Tampa Bay area through Orlando to Daytona Beach is a bellwether of the nation’s largest swing state, where candidates are campaigning vigorously.

North Florida is predictably Republican, and South Florida remains strongly Democratic, leaving a swath around Interstate 4 as the state’s primary battleground.

The 6.5 million residents living around the 140-mile highway reflect the diversity of the state, and they account for a third of Florida’s registered voters. The large bustling metros of Tampa and Orlando are broken up by the citrus and cattle fiefdoms of Polk County.

Kissimmee in suburban Orlando has become a destination for Puerto Ricans fleeing the deteriorating economy on the island. The suburbs of Orlando give way to the motors sports traditions of Daytona Beach and the gateway to the Kennedy Space Center.

More than a third of I-4 voters are registered Democrats, a third are registered Republicans and a quarter have no party affiliation.

John Long is looking for someone who will overturn the political apple cart, and sees Trump as the answer. He feels there are too many ties between Big Business and Washington politicians, and small businesses are overlooked.

Clinton is at the center of that nexus, and she hasn’t been held accountable for using a private email server as secretary of state, he said.

“That’s what I like about Donald Trump. He’s an outsider,” said Long, a former Kennedy Space Center worker, who now runs a bicycle shop on Florida’s Space Coast. “Hillary is too embedded in the political machine, in it for her own desire for power at the expense of the nation.”

Robert Thomas wants to do his civic duty and vote for president but finds shortcomings in both major-party candidates. So he is voting for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

Thomas, who is African-American, worries about some of the racist views of Trump supporters. But he feels the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama only “has paid a lot of lip-service” to middle-class economic recovery from the recession, and it’s not enough for him to vote for Clinton, even though he respects her experience.

“I’m not voting for either,” Thomas, a retired soldier from the elite 101st Airborne Division who has voted Republican most of his life, said while fishing on the Cocoa Beach Pier. “I’m going to vote for Gary. Put him on the ticket.”

Donna-Lynne Dalton, who is voting for Clinton, has two things on her mind: higher wages and better benefits for her workers.

Dalton, a business agent with Teamsters Local 385, who represents Walt Disney World workers, including costumed characters, worries that a Trump presidency would chip away at workers’ rights.

Workers “don’t have a lot of rights as it is, but a union contract does protect them,” Dalton said in her union hall office in Orlando. “Trump has made it clear that he’s not in favor of any of that.”

Robin Rowbotham insists she isn’t throwing her vote away by voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Rowbotham, who dances under the stage name “Tesla” at the famous Tampa strip club, Mons Venus, said she wanted to support Clinton but changed her mind after the debates reinforced her belief that the Democrat is dishonest. She calls Trump’s discussion about groping women without their permission unacceptable.

“As a dancer, I get guys say things but I do not condone it. I feel that if you say something, chances are you are going to do it,” she said in the club’s dressing room of the club. “Do we want somebody like that leading the country?”

Diana Font had been wavering about who to support for president.

The Orlando-area event planner and executive director of the local Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce was a supporter of Marco Rubio in the Republican primary and wanted to stay true to her party. But Trump’s multiple bankruptcies raised red flags about his ability to lead the country, and the allegations that he had groped women without their permission, also gave her deep pause. The last debate was the final straw, said the lifelong Republican, since she felt he was whining “that everybody is against him.” She is voting for Clinton.

At the DNC: Campaign to end superdelegates gains ground

UPDATE: At 3:45 p.m., at a meeting of the rules committee of the DNC, the votes were secured for a full-convention floor vote on the abolition of superdelegates in the Democratic Party. The final tally of supporters was 58, over the 25 percent threshold needed for a minority report and a vote on the floor of the convention this week.

A campaign to end the superdelegate system in the Democratic nominating process has gathered more than 50 cosponsors for a formal amendment — enough to clear threshold needed for “minority report” and floor vote at the convention.

On July 23, DNC Rules Committee members are set to join groups advocating for an end to the superdelegate system in a joint news conference before the rules committee meeting convenes in Philadelphia.

Rules committee member Aaron Regunberg is the amendment’s chief sponsor.

Groups presenting signatures supporting the rules change include: MoveOn.org, Demand Progress, Daily Kos, Social Security Works, Democracy for America, New Democrat Network, National Nurses United, The Other 98%, Courage Campaign, Progressive Kick, Credo, PCCC, Progressive Democrats of America, Center for Popular Democracy, Social Security Works and Reform the DNC.

These groups gathered more than 500,000 signatures from people supporting the campaign.

“This is a historic moment for the Democratic Party,” said Regunberg, a Rhode Island state representative. “Saturday we vote on whether to end the undemocratic superdelegate system. It’s time to restore democracy in the Democratic Party.”

“The super delegate system undermines the promise of one person one vote that is bedrock of democracy,” added Deborah Burger, co-president of National Nurses United and a rules committee member. “It was created to block the nomination of candidates who would challenge a political system that has for far too long been dominated by corporate interests and a wealthy elite. Ending this undemocratic selection process would be a strong step forward to making the Democratic Party more responsive to those thirsting for real change and a healthier America.”

Read on for additional comments on the “End Superdelegates” drive  from those who supported Hillary Clinton and those who supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries.

Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, former DNC staffer, who supported Hillary Clinton during the primary: “There are many reasons to end the practice of superdelegates in the Democratic Party. To me the most important is that it is discordant with broader and vital efforts by Democrats to modernize and improve our democracy. If we want the voice of everyday people to be louder and more consequential in our nation’s politics, it must also be so in our party.”

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who supported Bernie Sanders during the primary: “In my view, both as a superdelegate and a former DNC official, the nominee of our party should be decided by who earns the most votes —not party insiders, unelected officials, or the federal lobbyists that have been given a vote in our nominating process. The current system stands against grassroots activists and the will of the voters. We’ve seen a historic number of new voters and activists join our political process in the past year, many of whom are rightly upset at how rigged the political system can seem at times. If we want to strengthen our democracy and our party, we must end the superdelegate process.”

Joe Trippi, former Howard Dean campaign manager, who supported Hillary Clinton during the primary: “Of all the ideas to reform and improve the nominating process of the Democratic Party the core goal has to be to empower voices from the bottom up. The top down idea of superdelegates is obsolete and is a good place to start.”

Chuy Garcia, Cook County commissioner and rules committee member, who supported Bernie Sanders during the primary: “I’m proud of the progress this year by the Democratic Party on issues critical to the historically disenfranchised. But we still have further to go to achieve political parity within the party. The superdelegate system gives disproportionate power to party insiders over rank and file voters. The will of the people is best expressed through elected, pledged delegates. It’s time to reform the superdelegate system!”

Christine Pelosi, political strategist, who supported Hillary Clinton during the primary: “Let’s show America that as the Democratic Party, we believe in democracy and that leaders should never trump the will of the voters.”

Nina Turner, former Ohio state senator, who supported Bernie Sanders during the primary: “The 2016 presidential election cycle is a piercing reminder of what happens when absolute power runs amok. If we were not aware before, we are certainly aware now that the ‘superdelegate’ model within the Democratic Party is on its face undemocratic. It must be reformed to conform in tangible ways to the expressed values of equity, diversity and fairness enshrined in our party’s principles.”

On the Web

See one of the petitions and an open letter from 15 national organizations to the committee members calling for an end to superdelegates at Endsuperdelegates.com.

Milwaukee DA Chisholm focuses re-election campaign on crime prevention innovations

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm stands 6’6”, a physical stature that mirrors his outsized role as an innovative prosecutor. But it also mirrors what a large target he’s become as he seeks a fourth term.

Looking to ensure his defeat are two disparate groups: supporters of Republican Gov. Scott Walker and people sympathetic to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Beset from both ends of the political spectrum, Chisholm plans to focus his campaign on his record as the county’s top prosecutor, a record that’s made his office a national model for crime prevention.

Public health approach

Jeffery Toobin of The New Yorker spent three days with Chisholm last year to learn about his “public health” approach to crime prevention. Toobin highlighted Chisholm’s work in a laudatory May 11, 2015, article titled “The Milwaukee Experiment.”

Chisholm posits that every criminal offense represents a missed opportunity to have intervened with the offender. His model of crime prevention is based on identifying individuals and neighborhoods at high risk of generating violent crime and then providing a host of supportive actions and services aimed at stopping that from happening. He describes the system as an “epidemiological”
approach — analogous to the work of experts who study the incidence, distribution and control of diseases. His approach reflects the work of Dr. Mallory O’Brien, herself an epidemiologist and the founding director of the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission.

This public health approach recognizes that the vast majority of violent crimes in Milwaukee occur in disadvantaged communities beset by what Chisholm calls “layers of adversity that have persisted for decades.” Without exactly saying it, he’s essentially asking, “What did you expect?”

“A shooting isn’t senseless in a neighborhood where everyone you know has been shot at or is carrying a gun and has been exposed to a lot of violence,” Chisholm explains.

It’s not only violence that begets violence, but also a “host of conditions that are often times beyond the control of the people who live there,” he says. Among those conditions, he points to deep, intractable poverty, a poor school system, low access to public health, empty buildings and a lack of grocery stores.

“There’s also physical things, like lead exposure and the quality of housing people are living in,” Chisholm adds. “And the negative consequences of many things in the penal system — fines, tickets and forfeitures — are compounding problems for people who are resource-challenged to begin with.”

Battling ‘toxicity’

Chisholm has responded to the layers of adversity that breed crime by “paying attention to the fundamental things that breed that toxicity.”

For instance, he says, “You could have a mentally ill person who’s disrupting the neighborhood who’s homeless and who’s got a drug addiction. You might work with law enforcement and family to find safe housing for that person and wrap some resources around (him or her).”

Another example is identifying a house that’s been abandoned and become a drug house. In that instance, the detoxifying action might be tearing down the building.

In an area with many blighted buildings, enlisting Habitat for Humanity and other organizations to revitalize the neighborhood can deter crime.

“One of the things we’ve seen is that if you change the look of the neighborhood and you change the feel of the neighborhood, you actually see a reduction in crime from that alone,” Chisholm says.

Assistant DA offices are housed in police stations located in at-risk neighborhoods. There, they work as a team with community organizations, public service providers and nonprofits that address factors that contribute to crime, such as homelessness and domestic abuse.

Chisholm says the “coolest thing we’ve done” is help to create the $21 million Sojourner Family Peace Center, which is modeled in part on the San Diego Family Justice Center. That facility was credited with helping to reduce domestic violence homicides by 95 percent in 15 years.

Opened late last year, the Sojourner Center brings together a wide array of partners, including the DA’s office, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Public Schools, Jewish Family Services and the Milwaukee Police Department. Located at 619 W. Walnut St., the 70,000-square-foot center is the largest of around 80 similar facilities that provide shelter, child protection and core health and legal services in one place.

The center allows DAs to intervene when a family’s been exposed to violence, just as epidemiologists would intervene to halt the spread of a disease outbreak.

Reducing crime and incarceration

In addition to the groundbreaking work he’s done in economically challenged communities to prevent crime rather than react to it, Chisholm’s office has a 95 percent conviction rate in homicide cases. He’s established the only dedicated firearms reduction unit in the state — and one of the few in the nation.

Chisholm says that he’s also proud of his success at reducing incarceration rates and arrests for nonviolent drug offenses.

In 2008 and 2009, Milwaukee saw its lowest violent crime rates in 30 years, along with lower rates of other crimes. Chisholm accomplished this while at the same time reducing incarcerations.

Although violent crime crept upward again in 2014 and 2015, Chisholm said it’s significant that he proved it’s possible to decrease crime without locking up massive numbers of people. During his tenure in office, he’s addressed the two issues simultaneously — reducing both crime and incarceration. He says the issues are connected in a way that counters conventional wisdom, and the groundbreaking way he’s addressed the connection is what prosecutors are emulating nationwide.

No good deed goes unpunished

Despite Chisholm’s record of innovation and achievement, groups at both ends of the political spectrum would like to see him defeated in his bid for re-election.

Gunning hardest for Chisholm are the dark money groups he investigated for the case popularly known as John Doe 2. Those groups were charged with illegal coordination of fundraising activities in conjunction with Walker’s recall campaign.

Walker supporters also are steamed about John Doe 1, which looked into the felony misappropriation of county time and resources by Walker’s staff members, who were investigated for helping to run his gubernatorial campaign from the Milwaukee County executive’s office. Many Wisconsin Republicans insist that case was bogus, even though it netted six convictions.

The special interest groups aligned with Walker are armed with a formidable cache of dollars and they’re yearning for vengeance. They’ve been behind efforts to launch a recall campaign against Chisholm.

Walker supporters have lumped the John Doe cases together and dismissed them as a partisan witch-hunt. They’ve said Chisholm was out to get revenge on Walker for curbing teachers’ unions, because Chisholm’s wife is a fourth-grade teacher.

In reality, the decision to prosecute John Doe 2 was made by five DAs, including two Republicans. It was ultimately Fran Schmitz, a Republican and a respected former U.S. district attorney, who took the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

There, justices who’d received millions of dollars from the defendants — but who refused to recuse themselves — ruled retroactively that the law broken by the defendants was unconstitutional. Then they fired Schmitz and ordered him to destroy the evidence.

An appeal of that decision is on the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to the right-wing, dark-money crowd, Chisholm also has angered some people involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. They’re outraged about decisions made by Chisholm’s office not to seek indictments for excessive use of force against unarmed black men.

Chisholm declined to prosecute three men who piled on top of Corey Stingley, an African-American teen, after they caught him trying to steal alcohol from a convenience store in 2012. Stingley died as a direct result of their assault, but Chisholm determined the facts of the case could not support a criminal conviction.

Chisholm also decided not to issue an indictment against MPD officer Christopher Manney, who gunned down Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed black man, in Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park in April 2014.

Chisholm stands by the Manney decision, saying the law leaves no ambiguities over his ability to prosecute in such scenarios. Witnesses said they saw Hamilton strike Manney with the officer’s baton, an action that qualifies as use of “deadly force” under the law. In such situations, officers are allowed to shoot, regardless of the strongly criticized missteps taken by Manney that precipitated Hamilton’s response.

Manney was fired for those errors.

The Manney decision notwithstanding, Chisholm says he’s not timid about prosecuting police officers, noting he’s charged over 60 in the last 20 years, both as DA and an assistant DA.

Chisholm is stoical about the political repercussions of those cases, saying they go with his position as top county prosecutor.

“No one’s ever going to be happy with a decision like (the Hamilton case),” he says.

Despite the political target on his back, Chisholm’s forward-thinking approach to crime has won him a lot of fans, including officials from law enforcement and unions, as well as elected leaders.

“In 10 years, John Chisholm has led a steady transformation within our criminal justice system,” said state Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, in a prepared endorsement. “District Attorney Chisholm has created specialized teams within his office, and he’s done so without utilizing more tax dollars. This has allowed Milwaukee to establish treatment, alternative, and diversion programs, teams to prosecute domestic violence and sexually motivated crimes, and to place prosecutors in communities throughout Milwaukee to better address neighborhood challenges. Despite these important improvements. … He will continue to fight to make Milwaukee’s criminal justice system more fair and effective for everyone. That is why I am endorsing him for another term.”

On the Web

Learn more about John Chisholm and his Democratic primary challenger Verona Swanigan.

League of Women Voters surveying 275 Wisconsin candidates

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin has sent questionnaires to 275 candidates running for state Legislature and Congress.

“The best government is one with strong participation by informed and active citizens,” said Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. “It’s the League’s mission to help voters make well-informed choices in our elections. We call on all candidates to participate in the VOTE411 voter guide, so voters will know where they stand on the issues.”

The league sent the questionnaire to all candidates, regardless of whether their names will be on the ballot in the Aug. 9 primary.

All candidates have the same deadline of July 6.

“We are barraged everyday during election season with ads produced by political campaigns and independent groups, and Wisconsin doesn’t have good laws requiring disclosure of the funding sources behind the independent communications,” Kaminski said in a news release. “Our best advice for voters is to be skeptical of 30-second ads and instead rely on other sources for information about the candidates. VOTE411.org is one place where voters will be able to read candidates’ views in their own words.”

Voters also are encouraged to attend candidate forums sponsored by the league and other nonpartisan groups.

“There is no better indicator of a candidate’s ability to think independently and interact with others than when he or she stands in front of an audience of citizens and answers tough questions,” Kaminski said.

The league will publish the candidates’ answers online at VOTE411.org in mid-July for those candidates whose names will be on the primary ballot.

The league will change the guide after the primary to include the responses from the candidates that advanced to the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Ready for the election?

Are you registered to vote for the upcoming elections in Wisconsin? Click here to find out about registering or to check your registration status.


Sierra Club endorses Clinton for president

The Sierra Club has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, saying she is an environmental champion needed to lead the country.

The environmental group’s endorsement was explained by executive director Michael Brune, who said Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, has referred to climate change as a hoax, a con job and a “concept crafted by the Chinese.”

The following is Brune’s statement:

“We firmly believe Secretary Clinton will be the strong environmental champion that we need to lead our country, which is why the Sierra Club is proud to endorse her and her vision for America.

“Over the last eight years, our country has made enormous advancements in cutting carbon pollution, transitioning away from dirty fuels, and increasing clean energy deployment. Secretary Clinton has a long record on the environment and is the leader we need to build on this progress made by President Obama and the climate movement. She has listened to the grassroots and crafted detailed plans to safeguard our climate, air, water, and public lands, to protect the most vulnerable from environmental injustice, and to continue the rapid expansion of our clean energy economy.

“Senator Bernie Sanders and his millions of supporters ran a hard-fought campaign and helped elevate climate change and protecting our environment while reducing inequality as key issues in the Democratic Primary. Senator Sanders and his supporters brought the passionate, principled advocacy that we need, and we are eager to work together to raise these issues in every campaign–not just the presidential race.

“Together, Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton made this an election about the issues and finding real solutions. Solutions like protecting our oceans and public lands from fossil fuel development; rejecting dangerous trade deals such as the Trans Pacific Partnership; and transitioning onto 100 percent clean, renewable energy.

“Contrasted with that, we have a reckless and misinformed candidate in Donald Trump, who has called climate change a ‘hoax,’ a ‘con job’ and a ‘concept created by the Chinese.’ Trump’s record setting contradictory statements includes his “energy plan.” Trump claims he’ll protect clean air and water but has pledged to dismantle the EPA. He offers vague promises to create jobs but would stifle growth in wind and solar, which are among the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy. And when he gets to specifics, Trump makes rash promises, like ripping up the Paris Climate Agreement, a landmark agreement that brought 196 countries together for the first time in history. The gap on environmental and climate issues between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump is the largest in U.S. political history.

“The Sierra Club, like so many Americans, not only wants to protect President Obama’s legacy — we want to expand it. That is something we can accomplish with a Clinton White House, and it’s why the Sierra Club’s members and supporters will work tirelessly to make sure she’s elected this November. We have a historic opportunity to build a clean energy economy that puts millions of people to work, and there’s no turning back.”


As Clinton secures enough delegates, she urges voters to the polls

With the Democratic presidential nomination effectively wrapped up, Hillary Clinton’s campaign still urged supporters to vote in June 7 nominating contests and bring a definitive end to her protracted primary battle against Bernie Sanders.

Clinton secured enough delegates to win the nomination before the June 7 voting, U.S. media outlets reported on June 6.

But Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said they were pushing supporters and volunteers to “stay at this” for the contests in New Jersey, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico and California — where she still risks a loss to Sanders.

A former U.S. secretary of state, Clinton would be the first woman presidential candidate of a major U.S. political party.

“We’re on the verge of making history, and we’re going to celebrate that tonight,” Mook told CNN. “There’s a lot of people we want to make sure turn out today. We do not want to send a message that anybody’s vote doesn’t count.”

California is the biggest prize on June 7 — the last and largest state to vote in what became a surprisingly tough Democratic primary race to pick a nominee for the Nov. 8 presidential election.

If Sanders, who was trailing in polls in California until recently, won the state, it could hamper Clinton’s ability to unify the party ahead of its convention next month. Clinton is anxious to turn her full attention to the general election campaign against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“We will look forward tonight to marking having reached the threshold of a majority of the pledged delegates,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon told CNN, referring to delegates won in primary contests. “And at that point, Bernie Sanders will be out of our race.”

Clinton secured the endorsement on June 7 of Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California, who withheld her support until voting day.

President Barack Obama was eager to start campaigning, the White House said, but wanted to give voters an opportunity to cast ballots before weighing in on the Democratic race.

Despite growing pressure from party luminaries to exit the race, Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont who describes himself as a democratic socialist, has vowed to continue the fight until the party convention that formally picks the nominee.

He has commanded huge crowds in parks and stadiums, galvanizing younger voters with promises to address economic inequality. But Clinton has continued to edge him out, particularly among older voters with longer ties to the Democratic Party. Her more pragmatic campaign has focused on building on Obama’s policies.

Will Dove, 50, a startup business owner from Princeton, New Jersey, said Sanders’ policy proposals were simply too ambitious and unrealistic.

Dove, speaking outside his polling place in New Jersey, where Clinton is expected to win by large margins, said Clinton was the “only practical candidate we’re left with” despite her flaws and added that he would be “mortally embarrassed” if Trump prevailed in November.


After the Associated Press and NBC reported on June 6 that Clinton had clinched the number of delegates needed to win the nomination, a Sanders campaign spokesman castigated what he said was the media’s “rush to judgment.”

Under Democratic National Committee rules, most delegates to the party’s July 25-28 convention are awarded by popular votes in state-by-state elections, and Clinton has a clear lead in those “pledged” delegates.

But the delegate count, where Clinton’s support outnumbers Sanders’ by more than 10 to 1, also includes “superdelegates” – party leaders and elected senators, members of Congress and governors – who in theory can change their mind at any time.

For that reason, the DNC has echoed the Sanders campaign, saying the superdelegates should not be counted until they actually vote at the Philadelphia convention.

In practice, superdelegates who have announced their intention are unlikely to change their minds. The AP and NBC reported that Clinton had reached the 2,383 delegates needed to become the presumptive Democratic nominee with a decisive weekend victory in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, and a burst of last-minute support from superdelegates.


Clinton faces a challenge to win over Sanders supporters.

They have become increasingly resistant in recent months, with fewer than half saying they would vote for her if she becomes the party’s nominee, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll in May.

Last month, 41 percent of Sanders supporters said they would vote for Clinton if she runs against Trump in the general election. That was down from 50 percent in April, and 52 percent in March.

Those who have decided not to support Clinton are split on what to do if Sanders quits the race. Some may cross party lines and vote for Trump, but many others appear to be interested in a third-party candidate. Some 27 percent of Sanders supporters said in May that they would vote for neither candidate or another alternative.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll included 2,919 Sanders supporters during the month of May and has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 2 percentage points.

The prospect of a Trump presidency may influence some Sanders supporters to get behind Clinton.


Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson, , Amanda Becker and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Jonathan Allen and Chris Kahn in New York and Joseph Ax in New Jersey; Editing by Frances Kerry

Primary battles in 4 Wisconsin congressional districts

Candidates in four of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts look headed for primaries on Aug. 9.

An early look

  • The highest-profile race is in southern Wisconsin’s 1st District, where House Speaker Paul Ryan faces a challenge from inventor Paul Nehlen of Delavan. U.S. Army veteran Ryan Solen of Mount Pleasant and plumber Tom Breau of Janesville, face each other in a Democratic primary. The Republican and Democratic survivors will meet in the November election.
  • In east-central Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District, Michael Slattery of Maribel and Sarah Lloyd, a Wisconsin Dells farmer, will face off in a Democratic primary. The winner will advance to face incumbent Republican Glenn Grothman in November.
  • Four Democrats — Mary Hoeft of Rice Lake, Phil Salamone of Schofield, Joel Lewis of Wausau and Ethel Quisler of Wausau — are vying in the primary in northern Wisconsin’s 7th District to take on incumbent Republican Sean Duffy in November.
  • Three Democrats and two Republicans are running to replace retiring Republican incumbent Reid Ribble in northeastern Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District. The Democrats include Jerry Kobishop of Sturgeon Bay, Wendy Gribben of Wausaukee and Tom Nelson of Appleton. The Republicans are Gary Shomburg of Lakewood and Terry McNulty of Forestville. The winners in each primary will face each other for the seat in November.

Judge: Voting rules won’t change for August election

There will be no change to Wisconsin’s voting laws before the August primary, including the requirement that photo identification be shown at the polls, a federal judge hearing a challenge to more than a dozen election laws said in late May.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson told attorneys at the beginning of the final day of testimony in the two-week trial that he will make a ruling by the end of July, which won’t leave enough time to enact any changes he may order before the primary where the field of candidates running for a host of state and federal races will be winnowed.

“Obviously I feel urgency in getting the decision out,” Peterson said, adding that he didn’t think it would be realistic to have it done before the end of July. He scheduled final arguments for June 30.

Two liberal groups and voters are challenging more than a dozen voting-related laws signed by Gov. Scott Walker and passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in the past five years. That includes provisions of the voter ID requirement, particularly the process used to grant free IDs to people who don’t have the required documentation, limitations on early voting times and places and the elimination of straight-ticket voting.

The plaintiffs argue that the laws discriminate against the poor, racial minorities and younger voters who are more inclined to vote Democratic. The state Department of Justice, which is defending the laws, argues that they have not suppressed turnout and the state works hard to ensure everyone who needs a free ID to vote gets one.

At least five primaries in congressional races are expected in the Aug. 9 election, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican challenger Paul Nehlen and contests on both sides in the open 8th Congressional District in northern Wisconsin. There will also be at least 23 state Assembly districts and seven state Senate races. The deadline for candidates to submit required paperwork to get on the ballot was this week.

The winners will face off in the Nov. 8 general election.

“There’s no way the decision will have an impact on the August election,” Peterson said. He also said he expected his ruling to be appealed to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but didn’t say whether he would put it on hold until there is a final determination, perhaps by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I’m sure whatever I do will make one side or the other unhappy,” Peterson said. “There’s a god chance everyone will be unhappy, which I guess will be justice.”

Testimony in the case has relied heavily on experts on both sides presenting conflicting evidence about the effect of the laws on turnout both generally and among minorities. The former chief of staff to then-Sen. Dale Schultz, a Republican, testified that GOP state senators were “giddy” about passing the voter ID law because they saw it as increasing their chances of winning elections.

Defenders of the law, including Walker and Republican lawmakers, have said publicly that their goal was to make elections more secure and combat voter fraud. But evidence presented at trial showed there are very few documented cases of voter fraud. Election clerks from Republican parts of the state also testified that they experienced no significant problems running elections under the new laws, including the photo ID requirement.


No love lost as Boehner calls Cruz ‘Lucifer in the flesh’

Former House Speaker John Boehner unloaded on Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz during a talk to college students, calling the Texas senator “Lucifer in the flesh.”

Speaking at a town hall-style event at Stanford University last week, Boehner called front-runner Donald Trump his “texting buddy,” but offered a more graphic response when asked about Cruz.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

His comments were first reported by Stanford’s student newspaper.

Cruz, campaigning in Fort Wayne, Indiana, ahead of the state’s May 3 primary, responded by saying Boehner was letting his “inner Trump come out” with his remarks. He attempted to turn the criticism into a slam on Trump.

“John Boehner in his remarks described Donald Trump as his texting and golfing buddy,” Cruz said. “So if you want someone that’s a texting and golfing buddy, if you’re happy with John Boehner as speaker of the House and you want a president like John Boehner, Donald Trump is your man.”

Both Cruz and Carly Fiorina, who was campaigning with him after he named her as his running mate Wednesday, referred to Boehner’s comments during the rally.

In 2013, Cruz joined forces with tea party conservatives in the House in triggering a partial, 16-day government shutdown over demands to undo President Barack Obama’s health care law. There was no chance Obama would agree to such a step, and Republican leaders like Boehner saw the move as a fruitless effort that only hurt the GOP politically.

Two years later, the same House conservatives challenged Boehner’s leadership, and the speaker decided to step down rather than allow a very public fight.

Boehner’s successor, House Speaker Paul Ryan, said at his weekly news conference Thursday that he has “a much better relationship than that with Sen. Cruz.”

“My job is to help unify our party,” Ryan said, when reporters pressed him on Boehner’s comments. “I have a very good relationship with both of these men, and I’m going to keep it that way.”

Cruz told reporters that he had never worked with Boehner.

“The truth of the matter is I don’t know the man,” Cruz said. “I’ve met John Boehner two or three times in my life. If I have said 50 words in my life to John Boehner, I would be surprised. And every one of them has consisted of pleasantries, ‘Good to see you, Mr. Speaker.’ I’ve never had any substantive conversation with John Boehner in any respect.”

Cruz said he was rebuffed by Boehner when he asked to meet with him during the government shutdown.

Cruz said Boehner’s comments reflect his frustration with Americans who stand with Republicans who want to hold members of Congress accountable for their campaign promises to repeal Obama’s health care law and pursue other conservative goals.

“When John Boehner calls me Lucifer, he’s not directing that at me,” Cruz said. “He’s directing that at you.”


In Philly, candidates face the crucial cheesesteak test

Five-point plans, engaging speeches and star endorsements are all important in a presidential campaign, but how well do candidates really know the cities and towns where they’re wooing voters? The supreme test in Philadelphia: ordering a cheesesteak.

Just ask Secretary of State John Kerry, who was roundly mocked in 2003 for passing up the more traditional Cheez Whiz on his cheesesteak for Swiss cheese.

“Don’t come into Philadelphia and try to cater favor with us and then order Swiss cheese, which no one does in Philadelphia,” Ed Rendell, former Pennsylvania governor and Philadelphia mayor, said.

Hillary Clinton, he predicted, will make no such gaffe. Bill Clinton “would always order a cheesesteak with onions and Cheese Whiz,” Rendell said. “That is the only way to order a cheesesteak.”

Competitive races in both parties have sustained the intensity of the primary face-offs far beyond their usual seasons this year, increasing the spotlight on candidates and the requisite local know-how.

Most recently, in New York City, Ohio Gov. John Kasich took flack for eating pizza with a knife and fork.

Hillary Clinton was mocked for struggling to use a Metrocard to ride the subway.

Bernie Sanders revealed he thought the subway still took tokens, which were phased out in 2003.

Wading into the local sports arena can also go poorly. A month before the Iowa caucuses, former Republican candidate Carly Fiorina was criticized for tweeting that she was supporting the University of Iowa in the Rose Bowl over her alma mater, Stanford. She later told CNN she was only having a “bit of fun.”

Republican front-runner Donald Trump recently tried to rally a crowd at Penn State University about the school’s legendary football coach. “How’s Joe Paterno?” Trump asked the audience. “Are we gonna bring that back? Right? … How about that whole deal?”

Paterno died in January 2012 just months after he was dismissed, a result of the child sex abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, his former assistant coach. A campaign spokeswoman later said Trump wasn’t talking about Paterno himself but about his statue, which was removed from outside the football stadium four years ago, angering students and many alumni.

Sometimes a simple fashion choice can set tongues wagging, like when former GOP candidate Marco Rubio wore a pair of stylish ankle boots in Iowa over the winter, triggering some teasing.

Whether or not these moments are disqualifying, they can reinforce an unwelcome perception about a candidate. Mo Elleithee, who served as Clinton’s spokesman in the 2008 race, said that the problem is when things go badly and “it feeds into a narrative that already exists. For example, he said with Kerry, the “narrative that was hounding (Kerry) is that he’s not relatable.”

Political history is full of such faux pas. In 2007, Republican Mitt Romney drew derision from the crowd at the Iowa State fair when he flipped a pork chop off a grill, picked it up and put it back on. In 1992, George H.W. Bush was ridiculed when he seemed wowed by electronic price scanners, suggesting he had barely ever set foot in a grocery store.

Still, Elleithee, now the executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, said there is also an upside to getting the candidates out there.

“You do those types of events, you do those types of photo ops if you want to show the candidates in everyday settings,” Elleithee said. “There’s a natural barrier between presidential candidates and the public. They become caricatures. Campaign staff is constantly looking for ways to help them see the other side.”

Admittedly, this is not always easy. In Philadelphia, as if ordering the cheesesteak is not enough, Rendell said he also offers advice on how to eat what can be a messy sandwich.

“You have to do what’s called a Philadelphia lean,” Rendell said. “You have to lean over to make sure the juice goes on the pavement.”