In this update:

  • A Look at the Week Ahead
  • ICYMI: Budget Address Recap
  • Pre-Primary Memos
  • Legislative Updates
  • Election Updates
  • Fundraising Opportunities

A Look at the Week Ahead

Spring Primary Election

Wednesday, February 21

ICYMI: Budget Address Recap

In case you missed it, on Wednesday night Governor Tony Evers delivered his budget remarks for the 2023-25 Biennial Budget. A full breakdown of the remarks & reactions to the address can be found in the Capitol Insights: Budget Address Alert.

Watch the Governor’s Full Address                          Watch the Republican Response

Top Lines from the Address


  • Cuts taxes by 10 percent for single filers at or below $100,000 in annual adjusted gross income and married-joint filers at or below $150,000.


  • $750 million for Broadband Expansion Grants.
  • Pays down $380 million in state debt in transportation revenue bonds.

Workforce Development

  • $500 million for programs designed to support local and regionally-based projects to help expand the state’s workforce, invest in healthcare infrastructure, and other capital projects.
  • $36 million for bolstering the justice workforce, including assistant district attorneys and public defenders.

Affordable Housing

  • $150 million to create Affordable Workforce Housing program.
  • $200 million into renovating and restoring existing residential properties, including providing low-interest and forgivable loans.

Funding Local Government

  • Sends 20 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue back to local communities for shared revenue.

Student-Athlete Health

  • $4.1 million in funding to local health departments to implement an EKG screening program for youths participating in athletics.

K-12 Education

  • $270 million over the biennium for the “Get Kids Ahead” initiative to ensure every student in Wisconsin has access to school-based mental health services.
  • $131.95 million to fully fund school breakfast and lunches for all children.
  • $10 million investment to bolster computer science education.

Child Care

  • $22 million for the Child Care Counts initiative to support partnerships between businesses and child care providers.
  • $240 million to provide private-sector workers in Wisconsin paid family and medical leave for 12 weeks.


  • Expands BadgerCare.

Driver’s Licenses

  • Provides driver’s licenses to all residents of Wisconsin regardless of citizenship and legal status.

Budget Resources

DOA 2023-25 Budget Homepage:

The Budget in Brief can be found here:

Likely Budget Process

Legislative Updates

JFC changes plan to spend federal transportation aid

This week, the Joint Finance Committee made changes to the Evers administration’s plans to spend $165 million in federal transportation aid. The administration’s plan included restrictions on money earmarked for easing congestion and improving air quality which the Department of Transportation recommended $4.2 million go to.

The motion passed by the Joint Finance Committee specifies that the congestion mitigation funds may only be used for right-of-way improvement projects or those which improve the flow of traffic. The motion also restricts money going into carbon reduction programs to projects replacing street lighting and traffic control devices with energy-efficient alternatives. The motion passed 11-3, with Democratic Rep. Tip McGuire joining Republicans in support.

Taylor and Wanggaard on “UpFront”

This week State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) sat down with WISN’s “UpFront” to discuss public safety after the fatal shooting of Milwaukee Police officer Peter Jerving. The two shared that there’s growing bipartisan agreement to send more state money to municipalities to address public safety. “For the first time in a long time, I think we’ve got both sides of the aisle willing to sit down and have the conversation,” Senator Wanggaard said.

Both legislators serve on the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and said while there’s an agreement to increase shared revenue, how the money is spent in key cities like Milwaukee is what will make or break negotiations. Senator Wanggaard also praised the ongoing negotiations and conversations with city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County leaders. “I gotta tell you, Chevy, Cavalier Johnson has been in my office three or four times in the last month, not just to ask for things but to come and talk about these issues,” Wanggaard said. “(Former Mayor Tom) Barrett was in my office, I think, once in the entire 12 years I’ve been in the Senate.”

Pre-Primary Memos

SCOWIS Race Memo









Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack is retiring from the bench in August and the ideological balance of the court for at least the next two years hinges on the outcome of April’s Supreme Court election. To determine which two candidates will be on the ballot in April, a primary election will be held next week on Feb. 21. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election.

The candidates for the primary election include two liberals and two conservatives; the liberal candidates are Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz and Dane County Judge Everett Mitchell. The conservative candidates are former state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly and Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow.

Read Michael Best Strategies’ SCOWIS pre-primary memo to get the full details on the race before next Wednesday’s primary.

8th SD Race Memo









Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) retired from the state Senate in December of last year, creating a vacancy in the 8th Senate District. Aside from losing a longtime member of the Senate GOP caucus, Senate Republicans also lost the supermajority they briefly held following November’s election results. A Republican primary election for the 8th Senate District will be held on Feb. 21, in which the top GOP vote-getter will advance to the general election to face the lone Democratic candidate, Jodi Habush Sinykin.

Three candidates are currently vying for the GOP nomination including state Rep. Dan Knodl of Germantown, state Rep. Janel Brandtjen of Menomonee Falls, and Thiensville Village President Van Mobley.

Read Michael Best Strategies’ 8th SD pre-primary memo to get the full details on the race before next Wednesday’s GOP primary.

Election Updates

Mitchell releases first ad

Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Everett Mitchell recently released his first ad in his bid for a seat on the state’s highest court. His campaign stated that the ad is part of a five-figure digital buy running in Madison and southeastern Wisconsin. The 30-second ad features images and videos of his family, work as a pastor, and activism. Judge Mitchell states, “Justice isn’t just what you say. It is also what you do. Moving our state forward takes progressive thinking and proactive leadership from our courts.”

A Better Wisconsin Together opposes Dorow in new ad

A Better Wisconsin Together Political Fund, a liberal group, released a new TV ad this week critical of conservative Supreme Court candidate Jennifer Dorow for the sentence she gave a man convicted of domestic violence. The group has now spent approximately $2.1 million on TV and digital ads opposing Judge Dorow.

Mitchell receives support from two groups

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Everett Mitchell now has two groups putting up funding for his State Supreme Court race. Freedom Action Now Inc. is spending $3,585 for a phone bank and an issue ad. BLOC PAC is spending $54,410 on door knocking and literature pieces. The literature references that Judge Mitchell would be the first Black justice on the State Supreme Court and says, “We need a justice on the Supreme Court that shares the Black Experience in America and can apply that experience when ruling on cases.”




Women Speak Out PAC supports Kelly

Women Speak Our PAC, a partner of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, recently announced that it plans to spend six figures in support of Former Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly. The group did not disclose an exact amount, but has so far reported spending $18,798 supporting Justice Kelly through phone and text outreach efforts. SBA Pro-Life America’s Director of State Public Affairs Kelsey Pritchard said, “We encourage Wisconsinites to show up to the polls next Tuesday to cast a vote for Justice Daniel Kelly. Lives will be saved or lost depending on the outcome of this election,” in reference to the issue of abortion that will likely face the court.

A Better Wisconsin Together releases finance reports 

Recently released campaign finance reports show multiple large donations to A Better Wisconsin Together. The group’s biggest donation was $500,000 from State Victory Action in Raleigh, North Carolina. Longtime Democratic donor Lynde Uihlein gave $250,000 to the group and Gaye Pigott, a Seattle retiree, also gave a large sum totaling $230,000. These donations came in January as the group prepared to spend almost $829,000 in ads again Supreme Court Candidate Jennifer Dorow. They also received $100,000 from the Toolbox Fund in Arlington, Virginia. Overall, the group reported nearly $1.1 million in receipts between January 1st and February 6th. The group spent $830,584 and had $417,456 in the bank to close the period.

8th SD candidates participate in Q&A

The candidates for the 8th Senate District special election – Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R), Rep. Dan Knodl (R), Thiensville Village President Van Mobley (R), and Attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin (D) – recently all sat down for interviews with WisPolitics where they discussed their stances on a variety of issues:


Rep. Brandtjen: In support of Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu’s proposal to create a flat 3.25 percent income tax. She has already signed onto the bill.

Rep. Knodl: In support of Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu’s proposal to create a flat 3.25 percent income tax. He has already signed onto the bill.

Mr. Mobley: Primarily in favor of eliminating the income tax as a whole, but would support the flat tax proposal.

Ms. Habush Sinykin: Believes a flat tax only benefits the wealthy. She is interested in working on providing tax relief for Wisconsinites, but she feels Senator LeMahieu’s proposed 3.25 percent flat tax doesn’t do enough for those struggling with high taxes.

Marijuana legalization

Rep. Brandtjen: Not sure whether legalizing medical marijuana is the right move, saying “I have not seen anything from the medical professionals about value of medical marijuana.”

Rep. Knodl: In support of medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription. Against recreational marijuana.

Mr. Mobley: In support of medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription.

Ms. Habush Sinykin: In support of medical marijuana.

School Choice

Rep. Brandtjen: “Absolutely” supports Speaker Vos’ voucher system proposal.

Rep. Knodl: In support of a universal school choice voucher system, but worries Governor Evers will not allow one to pass.

Mr. Mobley: Supports expanding school choice, though he didn’t say if he would support the voucher system Speaker Vos proposed.

Ms. Habush Sinykin: Would support measures to create universal school choice vouchers, but believes it is important first to ensure public schools have the resources they need.


Rep. Brandtjen: Pro-life. Does not support exceptions and believes the more important discussion is how to make adoption easier and support women who give birth, such as creating what she called a bill of rights for mothers.

Rep. Knodl: Pro-life. Completely agrees with Speaker Vos’ idea of adding exceptions for rape and incest, adding he especially likes the proposal to require those seeking exemption to file a police report.

Mr. Mobley: Pro-life. Doesn’t believe exceptions are the best way to go about changing the 1849 law. He said he would entertain time limits for abortions.

Ms. Habush Sinykin: Thinks the 1849 law should be completely removed and new legislation needs to be brought about.

Mobley releases ad

Thiensville Village President Van Mobley (R) recently released a new TV ad for his 8th State Senate district campaign. The ad begins with Mobley citing that last year, 10,000 more families moved out of Wisconsin than moved to the state, and “not just because of weather.” He goes on to say, “People are moving to no income tax states like Florida while leaving income tax states like Illinois. Let’s join the winners without income tax and leave the losers in the dust.” The campaign did not say how much it spent on the buy, but the 30-second spot will air on local broadcast TV, radio and on streaming platforms in the district.

Trump endorses Brandtjen

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Representative Janel Brandtjen in the special election for the 8th Senate District on his Truth Social account. The former President called Rep. Brandtjen a “true patriot who will make Wisconsin great again” while referencing her “RINO” opponents saying “They are led by Liz Cheney … Cryin’ Adam Kinzinger, and RINO Robin Vos”.

President Trump’s endorsement comes as Democrats have sought to promote Rep. Brandtjen in the three-way primary, believing she gives attorney Jody Habush Sinykin the best chance of winning the long-held Republican seat.

Trump’s posts endorsing Rep. Brandtjen can be found here and here.

RPW, DPW fundraising numbers released

Democratic Party of Wisconsin                Republican Party of Wisconsin

$ Raised: $3.5 million                                     $ Raised: $56,061

$ Spent: $534,829                                          $ Spent: $27,280

Cash on Hand: $3.4 million                                Cash on Hand: $441,090

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) has raised $3.5 million in the first five weeks of the year. The majority of this comes from LinkedIn cofounder, Reid Hoffman, who donated $2 million. The party pulled in an additional half-dozen six-figure contributions including $190,000 from Edward Snowden, a theatrical producer in New York City; $150,000 from Deb Kern, a philanthropist from Fox Point; and $130,000 from Robert Price, a nurse practitioner in Gainesville, Florida.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) reported $56,061 raised in the same pre-primary reporting period. Notable contributions include a $20,000 donation from Pickett retiree John Mosling and $22,070 from the campaign of former State Senator Roger Roth (R-Appleton).

Fundraising Opportunities

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

Wisconsin Campaign Fundraisers


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