Wisconsin progressives: the original Tea Partiers

Over at The Atlantic, Michael Wolraich has an excellent article outlining how Wisconsin progressives like “Fighting Bob” La Follette were the original Tea Party challenging the political status quo.

If “Fighting Bob” were alive today, he’d be howling in the Capitol. A hundred years before the Tea Parties, Senator Bob La Follette of Wisconsin was the original Republican insurgent. In the early 1900s, he led a grassroots revolt against the GOP establishment and pioneered the ferocious tactics that the Tea Parties use today—long-shot primary challenges, sensational filibusters, uncompromising ideology, and populist rhetoric. But there was a crucial difference between La Follette and today’s right-wing insurgents: “Fighting Bob” was a founding father of the progressive movement.

A century ago, the country struggled with challenges similar to our own—economic inequality, financial instability, low wages, and environmental devastation. The two major political parties, both corrupt and dominated by corporations, crushed reformers’ efforts to remedy the nation’s problems. Even President Theodore Roosevelt was powerless to push serious reform bills through Congress.

Unlike Roosevelt, La Follette did not believe that reform was possible under the prevailing political order. He insisted that the system must become more democratic and the parties be made accountable to the people. His political insurgency began as a forlorn and hopeless campaign, scorned by the party establishment, mocked by the press, and dismissed by Roosevelt. A decade later, it brought the once-dominant Republican Party to its knees and initiated the greatest period of political change in American history.

Inside the numbers: the money race in the 20th Assembly district

As I mentioned in another post, Monday night was the deadline for campaigns across Wisconsin to file their campaign finance reports for the period spanning from January to July, and so I’ve been like a kid on Christmas morning.

Given my interest in the race in the 20th Assembly district, where three Republicans are vying to be their party’s candidate against incumbent Democratic Rep. Chris Sinicki, I figured I’d take a look at how much money each of the candidates raised and spent over the past six months.

Rep. Sinicki, the Democratic incumbent, raised just $375 in individual contributions during the reporting period, but she ended the reporting period with a cash balance of $11,094.

Among Sinicki’s Republican challengers, Mike Pierce raised the most in individual contributions, netting $17,975.69 in individual contributions. However, that total is deceiving, as $15,100 of that total came from Pierce’s own pocket in the form of loans and a contribution Pierce made to his own campaign. Pierce raised just $2,875 from individuals not named Mike Pierce, and he ended the reporting period with 9,048.91 cash on hand.

Factoring out Mike Pierce’s loans to his campaign, Cudahy Alderman Justin Moralez, seen by some as the best candidate to oust Rep. Sinicki due to the perception that he’s more moderate than his Republican opponents, actually raised slightly less money from individual contributions than Pierce. Moralez raised $3,407.75 in individual contributions, but $1,050 of that total came in the form of personal loans Moralez made to his own campaign. Moralez ended the reporting period with a cash balance of $635.29.

Molly McGartland, the perennial candidate who ran against Rep. Sinicki in 2010 and 2012, raised just $950 and ended the reporting period with a cash balance of just $455.66.

While there’s certainly more to winning a political campaign than raising money, the fact that the Republicans vying to unseat Rep. Sinicki have had such difficulty raising funds for their campaigns tells me that their chances of defeating her aren’t as good as some conservatives would think.

Mary Burke pulls ahead of Gov. Scott Walker in very close Marquette poll

The newest Marquette University poll came out today, and having seen the results, it’s no wonder Gov. Scott Walker has unleashed a barrage of negative attack ads against Democratic frontrunner Mary Burke.

Among likely voters, Burke led Walker, 47% to 46%.

While those numbers are still well within the Marquette poll’s margin of error (+ or – 3.5%), it’s notable that in the May Marquette University poll Gov. Walker led Burke among likely voters by 48% to 45%.

Obviously there’s a lot of time between now and November’s election, but the fact that Mary Burke has shown positive progress in the face of blistering attacks by Gov. Walker is certainly an encouraging sign.

Scott Walker’s flip-flop on outsourcing

Back in 2012, Gov. Scott Walker shared his thoughts about what he thought of President Barack Obama’s attacks on his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, over the issue of outsourcing.

At the time, Walker made it clear that he felt President Obama was attacking Romney on outsourcing to distract voters from President Obama’s poor job performance, saying, “The president’s team desperately does not want to run on his record, so they are desperately trying to have it about anything other than his record.”

Fast-forward to 2014, and Gov. Walker, in a desperate attempt to distract voters from his broken job creation promise, has started running ads attacking Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Mary Burke for supposedly profiting from outsourcing done by Trek.

It’s amazing what two years – and his own failed job creation record – will do to change Gov. Walker’s mind when it comes to outsourcing as a political attack.

What’s going on with Ismael Ozanne’s campaign finances?

Today was a little bit like Christmas here at Blogging Blue HQ. After all, last night was the deadline for campaigns to file their July 2014 Continuing Reports outlining their campaign contributions and expenses since January 2014.

Ismael Ozanne headshotAs I perused the July Continuing Report for Democratic Attorney General candidate Ismael Ozanne (pictured, left) I was left with questions.

For instance, according to the Continuing Report filed by Ozanne’s campaign in January 2014, his campaign had an ending cash balance for that reporting period of $50,930 – but his campaign curiously started the next reporting period with a cash balance of $61,564. Those numbers should match up, leaving me to wonder why there’s a discrepancy of $10,634 between those two numbers.

And speaking of discrepancies, Ozanne’s July Continuing Report included $19,262 in expenses itemized as checks or ATM withdrawals without any additional details outlining what those checks or ATM withdrawals paid for. That’s no small amount of money, and per Wisconsin campaign finance laws, campaigns must describe the specific political purpose of every expenditure. There are no descriptions for any of the checks or ATM withdrawals made by the Ozanne campaign, leaving unanswered questions about what those expenditures were used for.

And finally – and perhaps most telling – while the Ozanne campaign’s January Continuing Report listed J. Corkey Custer as the campaign’s treasurer, the campaign’s July Continuing Report lists Ismael Ozanne as the treasurer. It’s unusual to see a statewide campaign switch treasurers mid-race, and given the questions surrounding the Ozanne campaign’s most recent finance report, it’s all the more unusual.

I emailed the Ozanne campaign to attempt to get answers to some of the questions pertaining to the campaign’s most recent campaign finance report, but I have not received a response. If the Ozanne campaign does respond, I will be sure to provide an update.