Dear Clients & Friends-

We are pleased to share the March 18th edition of Capitol Insights by Michael Best Strategies, where we go over all things government and politics in Wisconsin.

In this update:
• End of Session
• Election Updates
• Upcoming Events

End of Session

Speaker Vos told My Pillow CEO that 2020 election cannot be decertified

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) spoke with Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow and a prominent conservative activist, about efforts to decertify the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin last week.

Angela Joyce, Vos’ spokeswoman, said that Vos told Lindell that decertification was not possible. Lawyers from the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) told Vos in a memo from November 2020 that the state Legislature could not legally decertify the election, but some conservatives — including former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman — have argued otherwise.

In a podcast hosted by Steve Bannon, Lindell said that he and Vos spoke for 90 minutes. However, Joyce disputed that claim and said that they had only spoken for 30 minutes.

Lindell has endorsed State Rep. Timothy Ramthun (R-Campbellsport) for Governor. Ramthun is a leader in the decertification movement and has publicly clashed with Vos over his claims of election fraud.

Representative Lisa Subeck Elected Assembly Democratic Caucus Chair

On Wednesday, State Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) was elected Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus. Subeck replaces Representative Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) who is leaving the assembly and position to run for State Senate. Subeck has represented the 78th Assembly District since 2015 and has served as vice-chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus since 2021. She will assume her new position on Monday, March 21.

“Thank you to my Democratic colleagues for the trust they have placed in me. It is an honor to serve as our next Democratic Caucus Chair… I look forward to advancing our shared values and priorities as we grow our caucus and move into the next legislative session bigger and stronger and ready to continue our work for the people of Wisconsin,” Subeck said on Wednesday at the Caucus Chair elections.

With Subeck’s new appointment, this rounds out a complete restructuring of Assembly Democratic Leadership following the retirements of Gordon Hintz and Beth Meyers, and with Dianne Hesselbein leaving the assembly to run for the 27th Senate District. The election of Subeck additionally leaves the Assembly Democrat Caucus vice-chair position open.

Election 2022 Updates

Gov. Evers Announces More Than $50 Million Investment in Safer Communities Across Wisconsin

As the primaries for the 2022 gubernatorial election draw closer, candidates have begun rolling out their plans to improve public safety across the state.

Incumbent Gov. Tony Evers has suggested to increase state aid towards local governments. He argues that declines in shared revenue since 2014 are directly linked to the reported 15% decrease in the number of the state’s law enforcement officers. In his two budget proposals, Evers suggested increasing shared revenue for municipalities, although Republican legislators removed them from their submission; Evers has pledged to propose a shared revenue increase again if he is re-elected. He also floated using the state’s current budget surplus for municipal governments.

Additionally, Evers suggested using shared revenue to address the state’s backlog in jury trials by hiring more prosecutors and judges. He also supports increasing state funding for violence prevention programs and the usage of a pretrial detention model that is similar to the federal model.

Former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R) has criticized Evers for his crime policies, calling for “a governor who is strong and decisive.” She wants to hire 1,000 more law enforcement officers by requiring municipalities to use funding from the state “to hire law enforcement officers.” Additionally, Kleefisch suggested the creation of a grant program that helps municipalities both recruit and retain officers.

Kleefisch also supports more stringent bail laws — such as the Legislature’s constitutional amendment — and the firing of Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. Chisholm has come under fire after the Waukesha Christmas parade attack, in which the perpetrator was released on bail in a Milwaukee County case just days prior.

However, like Evers, she expressed concerns with the backlog in jury trials. She said that Milwaukee officials should have used federal pandemic relief funding to address the issue.

Kevin Nicholson (R) also supports stronger bail and sentencing requirements, including “mandatory minimums for bail and for sentencing for violent charges and violent convictions.” He disagrees with the argument that stricter requirements would result in people being punished before they are proven guilty of a crime.

Nicholson also points to law enforcement officer recruitment and retainment as an issue for “effective policing.” He told The Cap Times that he is open to using the state’s budget surplus to address the issue, but would not commit to the proposal without more information on the state’s long-term finances. He stressed the need to ensure that officers feel that they have the backing of their communities so they take pride in their jobs, saying that “…no one joins law enforcement or the Marine Corps because this can be a great paycheck.”

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce released a new ad hitting the Governor on tax hikes

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business group, released a new ad this week attacking Governor Tony Evers on the tax cuts he proposed.

At the same time, the Governor is campaigning for his re-election and is promoting the tax cuts the GOP-legislature passed and he signed earlier this year.

The focuses on inflation, the Governor’s “seeking to double the energy tax”, trying to “make us pay even more at the pump by hiking up the gas tax”, and wanting to tax manufacturing jobs “hurting worker’s paychecks.”

“Hard-working Wisconsin families just can’t afford Tony Evers’ billion-dollar tax hikes,” the narrator says.

This ad follows an earlier ad the group ran in Milwaukee saying that you “can’t trust Tony Evers” on taxes.

AG candidate Adam Jarchow announces new digital campaign targeting GOP opponent

As the GOP primary race heats up for who will take on Democratic incumbent Attorney General Josh Kaul, Jarchow’s campaign launched a new statewide digital ad campaign targeting primary rival, Eric Toney.

The new campaign calls out Toney, the Fond du Lac County District Attorney, for filing charges against those who violated Governor Tony Evers’ (D) original stay-at-home order at the onset of the pandemic in 2020. The ad describes Toney charging a restaurant owner, customer, and “even a waitress” for violating Evers’ order. Toney later dropped all charges filed in relating to violations of the stay-at-home order.

“That’s right. Grabbing a beer led to criminal charges. Wisconsin deserves better,” Jarchow says in the ad.

Alex Lasry releases seven-figure TV ad targeting Ron Johnson

Alex Lasry, the Senior Vice President of the Milwaukee Bucks and a candidate in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, announced in a press release that it has launched his third seven-figure ad buy of his campaign.

The ad will run throughout the state on broadcast and cable television. It will be supplemented with a separate, digital media ad buy.

The ad criticizes incumbent Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) for not working to persuade Oshkosh Corporation to construct a new fleet of up to 165,000 postal vehicles in Wisconsin. It also claims that he supports a Republican plan that phases out Social Security and Medicare and “increases taxes on middle class families.”

In contrast, Lasry says he wants to “get more money into working people’s pockets and cut their taxes.” He also touts his endorsements from multiple unions, claiming that he is “the strongest Democrat to beat Ron Johnson.”

Sarah Godlewski releases first TV ad of her campaign

Sarah Godlewski, the current Wisconsin State Treasurer and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, released the first ad buy of her campaign this week, touting her Eau Claire roots and targeting incumbent Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI).

The seven-figure ad buy will be run digitally and on broadcast and cable television in Wisconsin’s major media markets over the next several weeks. It comes after the most recent Marquette University Law School poll found that only 3% of Democratic voters said they supported Godlewski in the Senate primary, compared to 23%, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, 13% for Milwaukee Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry, and 5% Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.

In the ad, Godlewski notes issues concerning dairy farms, inflation, and the COVID-19 pandemic. She also criticizes Johnson over his past comments on the pandemic; she refers to a statement where he claimed that “standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus,” which was refuted by health experts.

Liberal group releases ad claiming that Ron Johnson “helped himself” at the expense of working families

Opportunity Wisconsin, a liberal organization that frequently criticizes Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), has released another TV ad that centers around his personal finances.

The new ad is part of a six-figure ad buy that will run on both digital platforms and broadcast and cable television in the Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, and Wausau markets. According to the group, it has spent more than $4.5 million on television ads that target Johnson since early 2021.

The group has previously claimed that Johnson’s wealth has doubled since he took office in 2011. They have also cited a Congressional Integrity Project investigation that claims he pushed a “special tax loophol00e that benefited his own family’s business.

The new ad echoes these arguments, with a woman saying that ”Ron Johnson should be helping families like us, but he seems to have helped himself again.”

Adam Jarchow says he’s raised $200,000 for his AG campaign since January

Adam Jarchow, a former member of the Wisconsin State Assembly and a candidate in the Republican primary for Attorney General, announced in a press release that he has raised over $200,000 since he launched his campaign in January.

Jarchow also claims that he has raised more than double than what his primary opponent Eric Toney, the District Attorney for Fond du Lac County, raised in 2021 and more than five times what Toney raised in the second half of 2021.

“We continue to demonstrate that our campaign has the message and organization needed to fire Josh Kaul in November, and I’m humbled by the outpouring of support from across Wisconsin,” said Jarchow. “Kaul’s liberal, weak-on-crime policies have led to cities burning, crime rates skyrocketing, and a target on the back of our first responders. As attorney general, I will fight crime and ensure that law enforcement has the resources needed to be effective.”

Tim Ramthun says he’s raised more than $100,000 in last three weeks in gubernatorial bid

State Rep. Tim Ramthun (R-Campbellsport) announced in a video posted to TikTok and Twitter that he has raised over $100,000 from over 1,000 donors in the past three weeks.

In the video, Ramthun said that he set those benchmarks so that Republicans would view him as a viable candidate for Governor, adding “we exceeded both numbers big time.”

State Rep. Rachel Cabral-Guevara (R- Appleton) becomes the third Republican to enter the race for the 19th Senate District

Representative Rachel Cabral- Guevara announced on Thursday morning that she will be running for the 19th Senate District seat which is currently held by Sen. Roger Roth (R- Appleton). Roth announced he will no longer be running for the seat and launched a lieutenant governor bid last month.

Cabral- Guevara joins two other Republicans in the race, Tony Phillips and Nate Gustafson. Tony Phillips, a former cancer physician and President of Fox Valley Hermatology and Oncology (FVHO), announced his campaign for the 19th State Senate District via press release on Tuesday.

“I’ve worked closely with families for decades throughout the Fox Valley, and I’ve always been impressed with the Valley’s strength of character and resolve. We can continue to thrive If we adhere to the conservative values of keeping taxes low, holding the line on government spending, and reducing regulations and bureaucratic red tape so we can create more jobs,” Phillips said.

Nate Gustafson, an Epic Analyst at NOVO Health Technology Group has also filed to run as a Republican, and Mark Scheffler, a financial advisor as a Democrat. State Representative Dave Murphy (D-Greenville) have also hinted at a potential run.

Cabral-Guevera in her announcement described herself as a staunch conservative and “the only candidate so far in this race who has a record to run on.”

She is the 14th member of the Assembly to announce plans to retire or run for another office.

Current Members of the State Legislature Retiring or Running for Other Offices:

State Assembly
State Representative Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna, 5th AD); retiring
State Representative Gary Tauchen (R-Bonduel, 6th AD); retiring
State Representative David Bowen (D-Milwaukee, 10th AD); running for Lt. Governor
State Representative Sara Rodriguez (D-Brookfield, 13th AD); running for Lt. Governor
State Representative Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton, 31st AD); running for Secretary of State
State Representative Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit, 45th AD); running for State Senate
State Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac, 52nd AD); retiring
State Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh, 54th AD); retiring
State Representative Rachel Cabral-Guevara (R-Appleton, 55th AD); running for State Senate
State Representative Tim Ramthun (R-Campbellsport, 59th AD); running for Governor
State Representative Jesse James (R-Altoona, 68th AD); running for State Senate
State Representative Beth Meyers (D-Bayfield, 74th AD); retiring
State Representative Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton, 79th AD); running for State Senate
State Representative Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin, 84th AD); retiring

At least two more will not be returning to the State Assembly:

State Representatives Barb Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc) and Dan Knodl (R-Menomonee Falls) have been paired in the newly drawn 24th Assembly District.

And Representatives Cody Horlacher (R-Mukwonago) and Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego) in the newly drawn 83rd Assembly District).

Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem Lakes) is on the April ballot for Kenosha County Executive.

Rep. Patrick Snyder (R-Schofield) is considering a run for the State Senate to succeed retiring State Senator Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon).

State Senate:
State Senator Dale Kooyenga, 5th SD); redistricted out of office
State Senator Roger Roth (R-Appleton, 9th SD); running for Lieutenant Governor
State Senator Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville, 15th SD); retiring
State Senate Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie, 23rd SD); retiring
State Senator Janet Bewley (D-Mason, 25th SD); retiring
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point, 27th SD); retiring
State Senator Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon, 29th SD); retiring

Two State Senators hoping not to return:

State Senator Brad Pfaff (D-Onalaska, 32nd SD); running for Congress, 3rd CD.

State Senator Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point, 24th SD); running for Lieutenant Governor.

William Penterman to relocate to 38th Assembly District due to redistricting

State Rep. William Penterman (R-Columbus) announced in a press release that he will seek re-election in the 38th State Assembly District.

Penterman, a former legislative aide who won a special election in July 2021, made the decision after the Wisconsin Supreme Court implemented legislative maps that were proposed by Gov. Tony Evers, turning the solidly Republican 37th State Assembly District into one with a +27% Democratic advantage.

Penterman was previously undecided on whether he would stay in his native 37th District or move to the 38th District. He ultimately decided to move, but accused Evers of “trying to redistrict me out of the heart of my district.”

“If the US Supreme Court does not ultimately overturn the Evers maps, I am declaring my intention to run in the new 38th Assembly District, which comprises a majority of the current 37th Assembly District. I look forward to the opportunity to continue serving these areas,” he said.

Republican Mayor Brent Jacobson to run for 29th Senate District

Mosinee Mayor Brent Jacobson has announced his campaign for the Republican nomination for the 29th State Senate District after incumbent State Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) decided to retire.

Jacobson is currently serving in his fourth term as mayor. He also serves on the Marathon County Board and maintains a full-time law practice.

In his release, Jacobson said he “intends to bring small town values to Madison” and that his “record of success in reviving his community is a proven example of the type of leadership he hopes to bring to Madison for all residents of Central Wisconsin.”

Loren Oldenburg to seek re-election to 96th Assembly District

State Rep. Loren Oldenburg (R-Viroqua) announced that he will be seeking re-election to the 96th State Assembly District.

Oldenburg was first elected to the Assembly in 2018 by a margin of about 800 votes. He won re-election in 2020 by a margin of nearly 3,800 votes.

Oldenburg is the current Chair of the Assembly Committee on Small Business Development and the Vice-Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture.

“Over the last two terms, it has been an honor to serve the people of the 96th, and help them with issues that come before them” he said. “I am looking forward to continuing to advocate for agricultural policies, youth apprenticeships, environmental issues and flood resiliency efforts. I have enjoyed working with my colleagues to provide tax cuts for Wisconsin’s families and businesses, while crafting two fiscally responsible budgets for the State of Wisconsin.”


Upcoming Events

Virtual Luncheon with AG Josh Kaul discussing top issues such as crime, election management, and environmental protection

When: Wednesday March 23, 2022
Where: Virtual– register below.
Itinerary: Program to run from 12:00-1:00 PM, with a moderated discussion followed by audience questions.
Register: Wispolitics Luncheon Registration

Upcoming Fundraisers

A list of all upcoming fundraiser opportunities can be found below. For any questions or more information, please do not hesitate to contact your Michael Best Strategies contact.

MBS Upcoming Campaign Fundraisers – Click Here