In this update:
  • U.S. Senate Election
  • U.S. House Election
  • Gubernatorial Election
  • Attorney General Election
  • State Legislative Elections
  • Post- Session Updates

U.S. Senate Election

Ron Johnson significantly outraises Democratic opponents in first quarter

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) raised a total of $7.1 million in the first quarter of 2022, according to his report that was filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). Johnson raised $5.9 million through his campaign account. The remaining $1.2 million was raised through Ron Johnson Victory, his joint fundraising operation. He spent more than $4.8 million through his personal campaign account and finished the quarter with $3.6 million in the bank.

Candidates in the Democratic primary include:

  • Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, who raised $1.7 million, spent almost $1.2 million, and has $1.6 million in the bank.
  • Businessman Alex Lasry, who raised $3.9 million, spent $4 million, and has just under $1 million in the bank. Notably, he gave his campaign $3.45 million during the quarter and has now contributed a total of $5.8 million to his campaign.
  • State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, who raised more than $2.1 million, spent nearly $1.8 million, and has about $1.6 million in the bank. Godlewski gave her campaign $1.5 million in the first quarter and has contributed more than $2.9 million of her own money to the campaign.
  • Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, who raised $223,989, spent $158,099, and had $549,762 in the bank.


U.S. House Elections

Derrick Van Orden outraises Democratic field in 3rd Congressional District race

Derrick Van Orden, a former Navy Seal and Republican candidate for Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, outraised his Democratic opponents in the first quarter of 2022. Van Orden reported just over $900,000 in receipts and nearly $520,000 in expenditures. In total, he has $1.8 million in the bank and about $320,000 in debts. State Sen. Brad Pfaff (D-Onalaska) led the Democratic field in fundraising, receiving about $206,000 and spending nearly $225,000. In total, he has nearly $269,000 in the bank.

Other notable Democrats include:

  • Deb McGrath, a former CIA and Army officer, who raised about $169,000, spent about $151,000, and has nearly $236,000 in cash on hand.
  • Rebecca Cooke, a businesswoman from Eau Claire, raised about $120,000, spent about $58,000, and has just over $177,000 in the bank.
  • Mark Neumann, an alderman from La Crosse, raised about $24,500, spent just over $12,000, and has nearly $13,500 in the bank.


Fundraising Results for the incumbent Wisconsin congressional delegation

1st CD — Bryan Steil (R-Janesville): raised $543,000, spent $261,000, $1.6 million on hand

2nd CD— Mark Pocan (D-Town of Vermont): raised $100,000, spent $129,000, $1 million on hand

4th CD— Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee): raised $142,000, spent $115,000, $90,000 on hand

5th CD— Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau): raised $99,000, spent $86,000, $301,000 on hand

6th CD— Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah): raised $144,000, spent $179,000, $538,000 on hand

7th CD— Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua): raised $140,000, spent $114,000, $218,000 on hand

8th CD— Mike Gallagher (R-Allouez): raised $333,000, spent $173,000, $2.8 million on hand


Gubernatorial Election

Tommy Thompson decides not to run for governor

Former Governor Tommy Thompson announced that he will not run in the Republican gubernatorial primary. While Thompson said that former President Donald Trump encouraged him to run during a meeting in March, his family was against it. He also said that Trump did not disparage any of the other Republicans who are running in the primary. Similarly, Thompson did not endorse any of the candidates in the Republican primary. Thompson last ran for public office in the U.S. Senate election in 2012, losing to then U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin. He most recently completed a 21-month interim term as president of the University of Wisconsin (UW) System.


Rebecca Kleefisch endorsed by Right Direction Women

Former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch announced that she was endorsed by Right Direction Women, a national organization dedicated to electing female Republican candidates for governor. The organization recently announced that it had raised $1 million. It is led by Annie Dickerson, the founder of the Winning for Women Action Fund, and Marie Sanderson, the former policy director for the Republican Governors Association (RGA). Kleefisch is the group’s first endorsement.

“I’m incredibly proud to be the first candidate Right Direction Women endorsed. Conservative women have a crucial role to play if we want to take back control of our state and country,” said Kleefisch. “At the end of the day, I’m still a mom on a budget. I know the struggles hard-working Wisconsin families face and will be a tireless advocate for a safer, more affordable Wisconsin.”


Attorney General Election

Josh Kaul says that Eric Toney needs to admit errors by his office

Incumbent Attorney General Josh Kaul said that Eric Toney, the current District Attorney for Fond du Lac County and a candidate in the Republican primary for Attorney General, should admit mistakes in a case in which Ruben Houston III, a nine-time felon, was released on $500 bail after killing an Appleton firefighter.

The dispute arose from criticism of John Chisholm, the District Attorney for Milwaukee County, after his office released Darrell Brooks Jr. on bail. Brooks then drove through the Waukesha Christmas Parade, killing six people and injuring dozens. Kaul argued Chisholm admitted that the bail that his office set for Brooks was “inappropriately low,” while Toney had not offered “ a willingness to take ownership” of the Houston case. Toney countered that Kaul was mischaracterizing the case and noted that Kaul later hired Timothy Filipa, the assistant district attorney who oversaw the case, for a position in the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ).


Republican candidate Adam Jarchow releases law enforcement plan 

On Wednesday, former Republican state representative Adam Jarchow released a multi-faceted plan to curb violent crime and help students with mental health issues. This comes as a response to primary opponent Eric Toney’s work at highlighting that he is the one with more prosecutorial experience. Additionally, Jarchow’s plan is the first major attempt at staking out ground when it comes to law enforcement issues.

In a statement, Jarchow explained that “[f]amilies across Wisconsin want to fund our police, get crime under control, end the low-bail travesties, and keep our kids and communities safe. As Attorney General, our brave men and women in uniform will have a strong ally — and together, we’ll fight the rise in violent crime and Make Wisconsin Safe Again.”

Jarchow’s plan looks to do the following:

  • Create programs at two and four year colleges to train more police officers
  • Waive tuition and forgive student loans for those entering law enforcement careers
  • Establish a grant program to help local police recruit and retain officers
  • Create a violent crime taskforce made up of DOJ agents and prosecutors that could help local law enforcement
  • Compile data on violent crime rates & violent offenders’ bail and custody status
  • Allow the Wisconsin DOJ to charge suspects in gun cases
  • Funding for the initiative is proposed through a surcharge on relevant cases

The plan does not include cost estimates or say where the DOJ will obtain grant money.


State Legislative Elections

State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukee) announced that he will not seek re-election to the State Assembly, instead deciding to run for the seat on the Milwaukee Common Council that is being vacated by outgoing Alderman Nik Kovac. Brostoff will run in a special election to serve the remainder of Kovac’s term through April 2024. Kovac was recently appointed as the City of Milwaukee’s budget director by Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

“I’ve lived in this community nearly my whole life and I am thrilled to continue to give back to the community that’s given me so much,” said Brostoff. “My grassroots campaign is focused on being a voice for Milwaukee and giving residents the care and attention that they deserve — stellar constituent services, ensuring that everyone within the district is heard, supporting community programs that have been proven to improve public safety, and continuing my work on disability rights and access at the municipal level.”

Brostoff is the 29th member of the State Legislature to announce that they are not running for re-election, these include:


  • District 15 – Janis Ringhand – Retiring
  • District 25 – Janet Bewley – Retiring
  • District 27 – Jon Erpenbach – Retiring
  • District 23 – Kathy Bernier – Retiring
  • District 19 – Roger Roth – Running for Lt. Governor
  • District 29 – Jerry Petrowski – Retiring


  • District 5 – Jim Steineke – Retiring
  • District 6 – Gary Tauchen – Retiring
  • District 10 – David Bowen – Running for Lt. Governor
  • District 13 – Sara Rodriguez – Running for Lt. Governor
  • District 15 – Joe Sanfelippo – Retiring
  • District 19- Jonathan Brostoff – Running for Milwauke Common Council
  • District 27 – Tyler Vorpagel – Retiring
  • District 31 – Amy Loudenbeck – Running for Sec. of State
  • District 33 – Cody Horlacher – Running for Waukesha County Circuit Court
  • District 45 – Mark Spreitzer – Running for State Senate
  • District 46 – Gary Hebl – Retiring
  • District 52 – Jeremy Thiesfeldt – Retiring
  • District 54 – Gordon Hintz – Retiring
  • District 55 – Rachel Cabral-Guevara – Running for State Senate
  • District 59 – Tim Ramthun – Running for Governor
  • District 61 – Sam Kerkman – Won Kenosha County Executive Race
  • District 68 – Jesse James – Running for State Senate
  • District 73- Nick Milroy- Retiring
  • District 74 – Beth Meyers – Retiring
  • District 79 – Dianne Hesselbein – Running for State Senate
  • District 80- Sondy Pope- Retiring
  • District 82 – Ken Skowronski – Retiring
  • District 84 – Mike Kuglitsch – Retiring


State Rep. Samantha Kerkman sworn in as Kenosha County Executive

State Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem Lakes) was sworn into office as Kenosha County Executive on Monday after being elected to the position earlier this month. Current state law bars state legislators from simultaneously serving as county executives. She has sixty days from Monday to resign her Assembly seat, which she says will do sometime in June.

“I’m excited to hit the ground running,” said Kerkman. “I look forward to continuing a process of listening to stakeholders inside and outside of county government about their needs and concerns, and forging a productive path forward for the county.”


Post-Session Updates

Governor Evers announces Clean Energy Plan with the Office of Sustainability & Clean Energy

On Wednesday afternoon, Governor Evers announced his new Clean Energy Plan which aims to lower energy prices in Wisconsin, increase the state’s energy independence, and create new jobs. In a statement regarding the plan with the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy (OSCE), the Governor said that the plan will bring more money into the state for investments in clean energy. Evers stated that “[b]y expanding and speeding up production of cheaper, cleaner energy like wind and solar here in Wisconsin, we can keep our money here at home rather than relying on unpredictable markets often disrupted by foreign leaders and conflicts.”

The OSCE was created by Governor Evers in 2019, and at its inception it was tasked with creating a Clean Energy Plan. With the plan proposed Tuesday now on the table, the OSCE estimates that this plan could create more than 40,000 jobs by 2030. Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy Director Maria Redmond told there is no specific funding source planned for the project yet.

Some of the proposals under the plan include:

  • The creation of an Equity First Program to ensure those disproportionately impacted by climate change are benefitting from clean energy.
  • A pilot project which consults with tribal nations on clean energy issues.
  • The expansion of community solar power projects throughout the state.
  • Instituting recommendations for clean energy workforce development.

One of the goals under the plan is for the state to attain 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050. The Governor and the OSCE look to do this through the four major objectives in the plan. These are:

  • Speeding up the implementation of clean energy technology;
  • Increasing energy efficiency;
  • Updating buildings and industry; and
  • Supporting the switch to electric vehicles.

Wisconsin Senate Republicans have branded the plan as being “another hidden tax from Democrats,” pointing to the lack of potential costs or funding for the plan not being specified in the report given by Governor Evers and the OSCE. They also compared the plan to the “Green New Deal.” Republicans stated, “With historic inflation, soaring gas prices, & employers still recovering from shutdowns, importing @AOC-style Green New Deal policies would take WI in the WRONG direction.”

Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer & the Wisconsin Conservation Voters have both applauded the plan. You can read their statements of support below:

  • See Neubauer’s release.
  • See the Wisconsin Conservation Voters release.


Evers Vetoes 28 Republican Bills

On Friday, Governor Tony Evers vetoed 28 Republican bills— the second wave of Friday afternoon vetoes from the governor in two weeks. The previous Friday, Evers vetoed 43 other Republican bills. In his two legislative sessions as Governor, Evers has vetoed 126 bills. The Legislative Reference Bureau says that this is the most on record in modern Wisconsin history, with the second highest being 90 vetoes in 1927. In his veto message, Evers stated that he objects to the Legislature’s attempts to “inject partisan politics and rhetoric into public health practices.”


The 28 bills vetoed included:

  • Measures to dissolve the Milwaukee Public School District
  • Making private voucher schools available to everyone regardless of income
  • Preventing certain COVID-19 vaccine mandates
  • Making it more difficult to obtain unemployment benefits
  • Limiting liability for gun and ammunition manufacturers and sellers
  • Prohibiting the teaching of “critical race theory” at UW System Schools & Wisconsin Technical College System Schools
  • Allowing parents to determine what names and pronouns their children are referred to at school and allowing children to sit out of lessons parents deem “objectionable” (AKA “Parental Bill of Rights”)
  • A package of bills impacting Medicaid & unemployment benefits
  • Tying the number of unemployment benefits available to the state’s overall unemployment rate
  • Requiring DHS to enforce a federal work requirement for people who receive benefits under the state’s FoodShare program
  • Preventing discrimination against someone who refuses to be vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Prohibiting the tying of government services to vaccination or requiring proof of vaccination (AKA “Vaccine Passports”)


Sen. Kapenga (R) & Rep. Vorpagel (R) announce seven Study Committees 

On Wednesday, Senate President Chris Kapenga and Majority Caucus Chair Tyler Vorpagel announced seven Study Committees that will meet over the summer.
The topics of the study committees include:
  1. The Commercial Building Process
  2. Increasing Offender Employment Opportunities
  3. Occupational Licensing
  4. Shared School District Services
  5. Uniform Death Reporting Standards
  6. Wisconsin National Guard Sexual Misconduct Procedures
  7. State Tribal Relations


GOP-authored medical marijuana bill sees first hearing

On Thursday, the Senate Insurance, Licensing, and Forestry Committee held a hearing on the Republican proposal to legalize medical marijuana (Senate Bill 1034). The GOP-authored plan would allow for doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners to recommend marijuana in liquid, oil, pill, tincture, or topically applied forms for patients with qualifying medical needs.

The bill authored by Senator Mary Felzkowski (R- Tomahawk) and its Assembly counterpart (Assembly Bill 1067) authored by Representative Pat Snyder (R- Schofield), would create the Medical Marijuana Regulatory Commission to be a regulatory body over the medical marijuana program. It also gives insight on who qualifies as a registered patient or caregiver that may receive a “recommendation.” Additionally, it establishes regulation for licensed producers, processors, transporters, dispensaries, and laboratories, it sets the medical marijuana tax at a rate of 10% of the sales prove on each wholesale sale, and establishes new decriminalized provisions in regard to medical marijuana. Senator Felzkowski, who also chairs the committee, said she’d be taking a closer look at other medical conditions that could be covered, ways to support “micro-businesses,” and at modifying a provision barring people convicted of a drug violation from licenses needed to work in the industry.

Those in support include:

  • Rep. John Macco (R- Ledgeview): “It’s beyond time in Wisconsin for us to legalize medical marijuana,” Macco said. “I want these resources to be available to other families and individuals that are fighting tough battles across our state.”
  • Rep. Pat Snyder (R- Schofield): “Y’know Mississippi for goodness sakes just put it in, I think that we should be able to follow suit.”

Those opposed include:

  • Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R- Oostburg): “If the federal government delists it and it goes through FDA testing, then it should be treated like any other drug.” (via a verbal statement at the Wispolitics Luncheon)
  • State Senator Melissa Agard (D- Madison): “We cannot settle for half-baked, insufficient legislation that is nothing more than a political ploy to give folks false hope on the prospects of cannabis legalization here in Wisconsin. We must put our efforts behind full cannabis legalization.” (via Press Release)
  • Representative Dianne Hesselbein (D- Madison) & Senator Jon Erpenbach (D- West Point): “This bill does not allow people to legally grow small amounts of cannabis for their own medicinal use—meaning many rural patients will be left out if they don’t have a dispensary near them or cannot afford Big Pharma’s prices.” (via joint statement)


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