I’d love to hear our conservative readers defend REPUBLICAN vote fraud

Many conservatives are really really fond of accusing Democrats of engaging in vote/election fraud in order to win elections, despite multiple investigations showing vote fraud is not nearly as common a problem as conservatives say. In fact, some of the most prominent examples of vote fraud recently have seen Republicans engaging in vote fraud.

With that in mind I’d love to hear those of you who consider yourselves conservatives to defend yet another example of Republicans engaging in vote fraud.

The North Carolina Board of Elections on Thursday ordered a new contest in the Ninth Congressional District after the Republican candidate, confronted by evidence that his campaign had financed an illegal voter-turnout effort, called for a new vote.

The unanimous ruling by the five-member board was a startling — and, for Republicans, embarrassing — conclusion to a case that has convulsed North Carolina since November. And it capped a dramatic stretch of testimony that described how a political operative had orchestrated an absentee ballot scheme to try to sway the race, now the single undecided contest in last year’s midterms.

“It certainly was a tainted election,” said Robert Cordle, the state board’s chairman, who cited, among other issues, “the corruption, the absolute mess with the absentee ballots” when he moved for a new vote.

No doubt we’ll hear about and see more examples of Republicans choosing to engage in dirty tricks and outright fraud in order to win elections as their base continues to shrink, because a party so devoid of constructive ideas is going to have a hard time winning elections legitimately.

Mark Harris: Making sense of Wisconsin’s budget projections

On Thursday Winnebago County executive Mark Harris wrote an op-ed shedding some light on Wisconsin’s budget projections for the next biennium. Here’s an excerpt.

The Walker administration has, to a large extent, returned to the fiscal difficulties of four years ago, a forecast by the state Department of Administration suggests.

The DOA in November made projections of state revenue, spending and general fund balances. The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau will issue its projections later this month.

The projections are not so much an indication of where state finances will actually end up. They are an illustration of the magnitude of adjustments needed to comply with Wisconsin’s budget rules and to keep a positive balance in the state’s general fund. The adjustments are generally changes in tax policy and spending, or changes that push spending from one fiscal year into a subsequent year.

The press has significantly covered the DOA’s projection of a $2.2 billion deficit for the next two-year state budget. The more immediate problem, however, is the DOA projection for the general fund balance at the end of the current fiscal year, which is June 30. The projection is for the state’s general fund gross balance to be negative $132 million on that date.

This shortfall is not a large amount, compared to total projected revenue or projected appropriations for the fiscal year. But other factors should raise serious concerns. The fiscal year started last July 1 with a $516 million general fund balance. This means spending is projected to exceed fiscal-year revenues by $648 million, consuming all of the beginning balance and $132 million more.

Wisconsin budget rules do not allow spending to exceed revenue in the second year of a biennium, so the current fiscal year was specifically exempted from the budget rules.

Could Glenn Grothman give Democrats a chance in the 6th CD?

While the race to be the Republican nominee in the 6th Congressional district is far from over, Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thinks that Grothman as the Republican nominee could increase chances Democrats could gain control of the seat.

If his tiny victory margin in Tuesday’s GOP primary holds up, state Sen. Glenn Grothman will be the instant favorite this fall to replace 35-year congressman Tom Petri of Fond du Lac.

But he’ll be a favorite with an asterisk.

Grothman’s blunt persona and outspoken conservatism on hot-button social issues are wild cards in what otherwise should be an easy seat for Republicans to hold.

In style and substance, Grothman is a huge departure from the mild-mannered Republican that voters in Wisconsin’s 6th District have been sending to Congress since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. Petri largely avoided confrontation and controversy. For Grothman, being “politically incorrect” is a badge of honor.

“Democrats have very few opportunities across the country to take Republican seats,” says David Wasserman, who analyzes U.S. House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “But in this case the best thing they have going for them is an easily demonize-able Republican opponent. Why they don’t take advantage of that is a mystery to me.”

Is Grothman “demonize-able” enough to put a House seat in play that Republicans have held for the past 46 years?

While Glenn Grothman may increase the chances Democrats could gain control of the seat in the 6th Congressional district, I’m not holding my breath for a Dmeocratic win in the 6th Congressional district. Mark Harris is a great Democratic candidate, but in a district that favors Republicans by 24%, it would take a miracle for Democrats to wrest control of the seat from Republicans.

What Mark Harris’ run for Congress could say about Wisconsin’s Dem Party leadership

This is an interesting read (emphasis added).

Winnebago County functions as a microcosm of the state, narrowly divided with the potential to swing between elections. In the 2012 recall election, 56% of Winnebago voters picked Walker. Yet, Obama carried the county with 51% of the vote later that year.

That’s a seven-point swing from June to November — those mythical Walker/Obama voters do exist! And they live in the general vicinity of Oshkosh! And Mark Harris found a way to get them to elect him.

I also like the way Harris can competently tear apart Walker’s policies, such as in this statement, in which he examines the inequities of the latest round of tax cuts.

Finally, it doesn’t hurt that Harris doesn’t have any connections to Madison. I know both U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and former Gov. Jim Doyle all won statewide office while connected to our city, but Walker and company made Act 10 into a Madison vs. “real Wisconsin” fight. Burke’s seat on the Madison school board gives Walker the opportunity to talk about how his “reforms” made tax cuts possible, while Harris would be able to talk about the pain felt by local governments throughout the state.

Despite Harris’ strengths, I’m not saying that it was necessarily a mistake for the Democratic Party to go with Burke as its candidate.

It is not uncommon for a state party to pick its preferred candidate long before a primary, even though it is rather enjoyable to poke fun at Dem chair Mike Tate’s handling of the issue. Last Monday morning, former Republican state Rep. Roger Roth announced he was running for state Senate. Walker and state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald both made statements endorsing Roth that same day.

There are also several areas where Burke is a stronger candidate than Harris. She has private-sector experience, worked extensively with the Boys and Girls Club, and is a woman in a state with a government that has gotten less friendly to women over the last three-and-a-half years.

Burke’s positions on things like raising the minimum wage show a candidate who is more aligned with progressives than Harris would have been. Harris’ moderate nature could have easily turned his campaign into a Tom Barrett redux.

The results in November will show if the state Dems made a good choice going with Burke over Harris. No matter the outcome, it will provide ample discussion for Wisconsin’s political armchair quarterbacks.

If Harris underperforms and Burke does well, it will be a redemption for Tate, whose record of winning elections that don’t feature Obama at the top of the ticket is abysmal. If Burke loses and Harris outperforms her in the 6th District, particularly if the 2014 Walker/Harris voters make up a similar percentage as 2012 Walker/Obama voters, it may signal it’s time for new Democratic Party leadership.

While I know there are many who believe Mike Tate has done a bang-up job of leading the Democratic Party of Wisconsin during his tenure as Chairman, I know equally as many who feel that now more than ever the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has adopted a “we know what’s best for liberal/Democratic voters in Wisconsin” attitude that has benefited the established political class in Wisconsin at the expense of the grassroots activists and “average people” whose votes will be vital if Democrats are going to seize back control of the Legislature and the governor’s office.

Mark Harris declines run for governor

Well, it looks like the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2014 is going to end up being Madison School Board member Mary Burke, as Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris announced earlier this morning that he won’t seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2014.

“Entry into the race as an underfunded candidate may not be helpful to bring the policy extremes of the current administration to an end,” he said in a statement emailed to reporters.

While I certainly understand that Harris would have faced some issues raising money given he doesn’t have the deep pockets of Mary Burke, I was intrigued by what I had read and seen of Harris. I think he certainly has a valuable perspective to add to the dialogue as Democrats look to unseat Gov. Scott Walker, and it’s a disappointment he chose not to run.

Harris’ decision gets Mary Burke one step closer to the uncontested Democratic primary that DPW Chair Mike Tate is hoping for.

H/T to Wisconsin Soapbox.