Hamilton Political Tidbits – July 29, 2016

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Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
July 29, 2016

The Wisconsin primary election is less than two weeks away (August 9) and in this edition of Tidbits, the Hamilton Consulting Group has a preview of the races to watch. Also in this week's Tidbits, read about Governor Walker's appointment of Daniel Kelly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the latest numbers from the Marquette Law School poll.

With the national conventions wrapped up, we have a recap of the strong Wisconsin showing at the national party conventions. Lastly, in other state news, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a memo projecting the state will need $939 million to maintain current funding levels, reinitiating the public debate over the state's transportation funding. You can read about all this and more below. 

If you wish to receive additional information about a topic addressed in  Tidbits,  please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Hamilton Consulting Team.

Wisconsin's Primary Day to Be Held, Tuesday, August 9

Wisconsin's Primary Day To Be Held, Tuesday, August 9

August 9, 2016 will mark the earliest primary day in Wisconsin for fall elections in the modern era. Whether or not this will have an effect on turnout remains to be seen as summer vacation is still in full swing and the highly charged presidential primary elections have ended and switched their focus to November.

This is the third August primary election since the Wisconsin legislature moved the elections from September to August, and the earliest one of those three. Some areas of the state won't see much in the way of competitive races, but there still are a few races both at the federal level and the state level that are capturing some attention.

Notable partisan primary races to watch include:

U.S. Congress: 1st District Republican Primary, Incumbent Paul Ryan vs. Paul Nehlen

While it would be considered a titanic upset if Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan were knocked off, Speaker Ryan is still taking his challenger, Paul Nehlen a Delavan businessman seriously. As evidenced from former Congressional Majority Leader Eric Cantor being beaten in a primary in 2014, partisan primaries can be unpredictable for those in leadership. All available polling to this point shows Speaker Ryan with a comfortable lead, and he has significant buys running on television in the southern Wisconsin district. Nehlen, who is heavily focusing his campaign on anti-establishment and immigration issues, is also on television and he is aggressively going after Speaker Ryan on the issue.

U.S. Congress: 8th District Republican Primary open seat, Frank Lasee vs. Mike Gallagher

When Congressman Reid Ribble decided to retire from his seat it left one of Wisconsin's few competitive congressional districts up for grabs. A number of names swirled as possibilities on both sides of the aisle but in the end only three real candidates emerged. State Sen. Frank Lasee will take on retired Marine and market strategist Mike Gallagher. The winner of the primary will face off against Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.

Many are expecting a close race between Lasee and Gallagher but with low turnout, an early primary and only moderately known candidates, the outcome seems unpredictable. Lasee should have better name recognition going in from his years as a state legislator but Gallagher appears to have support from much of the district's Republican establishment including an endorsement from Congressman Ribble. Gallagher has also had markedly better fundraising numbers. Both are on the airwaves but it is hard to gauge how much of an imprint they are making during the summer months. Insiders are predicting that Gallagher has the upper hand (largely because of his fundraising haul), but a Lasee victory would only be considered a minor upset.

Read about more notable races in the state legislature to watch on August 9.

Walker Appoints Daniel Kelly to Wisconsin Supreme Court
Daniel Kelly

On Friday, July 22, Gov. Walker appointed attorney Daniel Kelly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice David Prosser. Gov. Walker selected Kelly over the two other finalists, appeals court judges Thomas Hruz and Mark Gundrum.

Kelly is a founding partner and commercial litigator at the Milwaukee law firm Rogahn Kelly. Before starting the firm, Kelly worked for 15 years as a lawyer at the firm Reinhart Boerner Van Duren.

The Waukesha attorney has litigated cases before the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the U. S. Supreme Court. Like outgoing Justice David Prosser and Justice Shirley Abrahamson, Kelly comes to the high court without any previous judicial experience.

Read more on the appointment.

Marquette Law Poll: Clinton and Feingold Maintain Leads

The latest Marquette University (MU) Law School poll was released on July 13, 2016. The views of Wisconsin's registered voters remained mostly unchanged from the last poll conducted in June. Donald Trump continues to trail Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold maintains a lead over Sen. Ron Johnson, and Gov. Walker continues to see weak approval ratings. The poll also shows high unfavorable ratings for both presidential candidates.

Presidential Election

In a survey of 1,405 voters conducted July 7-10, 2016, the MU Law poll found Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 43 to 37 percent in a head-to-head matchup. Eleven percent of responders say they will vote for neither candidate. However, when the poll included Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, the results shifted somewhat. Clinton still leads with 40 percent, followed by Trump with 33 percent, Johnson received 10 percent and Stein, four percent. To participate in the general election debates that begin in September, a candidate must receive 15 percent in an average of five national public polls. It is unclear right now whether the former Governor of New Mexico and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson will meet this threshold. Currently, Johnson is polling around eight percent nationally.

Senate Election

In the Wisconsin Senate election, polling found that among registered voters, Russ Feingold leads Sen. Ron Johnson 48 to 41 percent. When the metric was shifted to likely voters, however, the gap closes slightly and Russ Feingold leads Sen. Ron Johnson 49 to 44 percent. This gap was 51 to 42 percent favoring Feingold in a mid-June poll.

Governor Walker

The poll found continued low approval ratings for Gov. Walker, with 38 percent approval and 58 percent disapproval. In June, he had a 39 percent approval rating and a 57 percent disapproval rating. Walker credits his short-lived presidential run for his low approval rating and cites that he is still viewed more favorable than both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in Wisconsin. 

LFB Memo Shows Transportation Shortfall in Next Biennium

On July 27, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released a memo projecting the Department of Transportation (DOT) will need an additional $939 million in revenue to maintain current transportation funding levels in the 2017-19 budget.

The memo was requested by Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee (JFC). Along with the release of the LFB memo, Nygren issued a statement, calling on legislators to find a "sustainable solution" to the transportation fund without relying on bonding. In the 2015-17 biennium, Republican lawmakers and Gov. Walker settled on $850 million in bonding to fund road projects.

In a conference call with reporters this week, Nygren stated that he prefers increasing the gas tax since it impacts all drivers. He is open to exploring additional options, such as vehicle registration fees. In a separate analysis requested by Nygren, LFB compared Wisconsin's gas tax and vehicle registration fees to neighboring states. 

Wisconsin Representation at National Party Conventions  

Both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions saw a strong showing of Wisconsin elected officials at their respective conventions. In addition to nominating their presidential candidates, both parties tried to stir excitement and build party unity in an election season highlighted by continued dissonance in both parties.

The Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio was chaired by Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus. Other Wisconsin speakers at the convention in Cleveland included Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, and Gov. Scott Walker. 

Gov. Scott Walker

DHS to Expand Family Care and IRIS Statewide

On July 28, the Department of Health Services (DHS) announced the expansion of Family Care and IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct) program statewide. In their press release, DHS stated that the expansion will be completed by the first quarter of 2018.

Currently the Family Care and IRIS programs provide long-term care services to frail elders, and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities in most, but not all of Wisconsin's 72 counties. This expansion will bring these services to the final seven counties, including Adams, Dane, Florence, Forest, Oneida, Taylor, and Vilas counties. 

Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance Wins National Award

The Governmental Research Association has presented the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) its annual Most Distinguished Research award. The award was given at the Government Research Association's annual conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The award was for WISTAX's 2015 publication " Evaluating Wisconsin's Approach to Determining Prevailing Wages." The report studied how Wisconsin calculated prevailing wages for public sector projects, and was even featured in The Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

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News Clips 
Economic Development
Wisconsin bank CEOs confident in economic conditions: Milwaukee Business News, July 28, 2016.
SABMiller suspends integration work for beer merger with AB InBev: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 27, 2016.
Caterpillar Inc. says more job cuts are coming this year: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 26, 2016.
No Fed rate hike expected this week, but September increase possible: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 26, 2016.
Highlighting Wisconsin's aerospace brand: Oshkosh Northwestern, July 25, 2016.
Job fairs proliferate as economy improves, but be prepared: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 25, 2016.
Wisconsin exporters could see 'Brexit' fallout for years to come: Milwaukee Business News, July 25, 2016.

Green Bay is "ground zero" for invasive reeds: Green Bay Press Gazette, July 29, 2016.
FEMA assessing flood damages across northern Wisconsin: Wisconsin Public Radio, July 28, 2016.
Estabrook Park dam in limbo over funding question: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 27, 2016.
Former park chief hits DNR on planned Kohler golf course: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 27, 2016.
DNR mine report criticized: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, July 27, 2016.
DNR reinterprets boathouse placement rule: River News Online, July 26, 2016.
Uihlein, DNR set for land swap: River News Online, July 26, 2016.

Survey: Wisconsin ranked 3rd in nation for health care: Wisconsin Public Radio, July 27, 2016.
FluGen begins clinical trial on universal influenza vaccine: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 27, 2016.
City approves Aurora health clinic: Oshkosh Northwestern, July 27, 2016.
Health care in Wisconsin ranks among best in nation: Milwaukee Business News, July 26, 2016.
Obama signs bill addressing opioid addiction as health issue: Wisconsin Public Radio, July 25, 2016.

Worker's compensation insurance rates set to decrease: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 26, 2016.
Walker appoints Justice Daniel Kelly to Supreme Court: Wisconsin Public Radio, July 25, 2016.
Wisconsin AG fights feds with new 5-lawyer unit: Chippewa Herald, July 25, 2016.
Scott Walker picks Daniel Kelly for Supreme Court : Wisconsin State Journal, July 23, 2016.
Scott Walker names Daniel Kelly to high court : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 22, 2016.


Utilities & Energy
Alliant plans to invest $1 billion to expand Iowa wind power : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 28, 2016.
Earnings more than double for WEC Energy Group : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 27, 2016.
Enbridge pipeline forum highlights many concerns : Lake Mills Leader, July 27, 2016.
Judge set to decide on $15B Volkswagen settlement : Winona Daily News, July 26, 2016.
PSC to review utility rates in Superior : Superior Telegram, July 26, 2016.
Howard lends itself $1.3M for infrastructure : Green Bay Press Gazette, July 26, 2016.
MMSD earmarks $14.1 million for work in flood control area : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 26, 2016.

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