Walker-backed candidate Shelley Grogan upsets sitting District II Appeals Court Judge Jeff Davis

A Milwaukee area municipal court judge with no appellate court experience but the backing of former Repulican Gov. Scott Walker defeated Jeff Davis, a sitting District II Appeals Court Judge, 149,104 (56%) to 117,740 (44%) on Tuesday. District II covers  Calumet, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha and Winnebago counties.

In Green Lake County, Grogan topped Davis, 1,500 to 1,238, with 19.10% voter turnout.

Underly, who opposes school vouchers, tops Kerr in battle for Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction post

Jill Underly, a candidate backed by many in the Democratic Party, defeated Deborah Kerr, the former Brown Deer School District Superintendent, who claimed to be a Democrat, Tuesday, in the fight to lead the state’s office of Public Public Instruction. 

Underly won relatively easily with 377,131 votes (56.9%) to Kerr’s 286,028 (43.1%). Up until the election, Underly has been superintendent of the Pecatonica School District 

In Green Lake County, Kerr topped Underly by 7 votes, 1,386 to 1,379. The voter turnout percentage for the race in Green Lake County was only 19%.

In theory the race was nonpartisan, but Kerr, who supports the controversial school vouchers program, gained support from the Republican Party and conservatives, while Underly, also backed by several teachers’ unions, was the clear choice of Dems and Dem-aligned voters and organizations.

According to Ballotpedia, “Wisconsin superintendents serve as the head of the state’s department of public instruction. The superintendent’s responsibilities include providing leadership for Wisconsin’s public school districts, providing the public with information about school management, attendance, and performance, licensing the state’s teachers, and receiving and disbursing federal aid for schools.

Republicans using Supreme Court to put $49 million in monthly federal food aid to low income residents in jeopardy

As is often the case, buried in the weeds is a kicker with very real consequences. The decision on Wednesday by the conervative-led Wisconsin State Supreme Court to invalidate Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate could result in the cutting off of nearly $50 million in federal food assistance to low-income people. 

According to an article in the Journal Sentinel, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau told Wisconsin lawmakers in January that the state’s Foodshare program could lose its extra funding if the state’s emergency were ended. Evers also suggested that this could happen when he issued his last emergency order.

But Republicans and conservatives don’t care. They never have. For them it is all about taking power from the governor, a Democrat. The court’s decision on Wednesday came after a major Repulican donor filed a lawsuit challenging the governor’s right to issue emergency orders. The way the law is currently written, no governor can issue successive emergency orders. This was cited by conservative Judge Brian Hagedorn who wrote the majority decision.

Absent that lawsuit, there would have been no case for the justices to review.

Think the Republicans/conservatives were not aware of this? Think again. This was and is still another case of the Republican Party, still stinging from its loss of the governorship to a Democrat, doing everything it can to block his efforts, regardless of the cost, both in terms of lives lost or harmed by the pandemic, and in providing food security to thousands of the state’s residents.

Conservatives on Wisconsin Supreme Court shut down Evers’ mask mandate

The ongoing battle between the state’s top elected official, Gov. Tony Evers, and state legislators took a turn Wednesday morning toward the GOP-controlled legislature, when the conservative-dominated Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Evers’ mask mandate was illegal.

The court, which ruled 4-3 in favor of a lawsuit brought by a donor to one of the court’s judges, Rebecca Bradley, said that while the Governor, a Democrat, had the power to put in place the mandate, it was time-limited to a 60-day period. That period expires April 5. It also means Evers can not extend the mandate.

What happens now? It appears that extending the mandate, if it is extended in some form or shape, is up to the Republicans. So far, most Republicans have not been supportive of the mask mandate and instead they have pushed for what they call “reopening the economy.” 

Bottom line? The top court’s ruling is a victory for the Republican Party. It remains to be seen, however, if this is a victory for public health and safety as in the last week many states have reported a surge in Covid infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Is Wisconsin next?

Read article from USA Today

Compare qualifications of Appeals Court candidates Jeff Davis and Shelley Grogan; Davis is obvious choice

There is no reason Shelley Grogan is on the ballot for the District II Appeals Court judgeship position now held by Jeff Davis.

None. Absolutely none, except, she is a conservative backed by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his family. Davis and Grogan face off in the April 6 election.

Davis’ experience and qualifications dwarf Grogan’s; there is no comparison. Don’t take my word for it. Check out their websites. Once you get past the expected fluff, check their qualifications, experience, and endorsements. 

Notice that Grogran is a municipal court judge and that Davis is a sitting Appeals Court judge. It is like comparing a second-string quarterback on a Division III football team with Aaron Rodgers. Which one do you want on your team?

Additionally, Davis has extremely strong bipartisan support. That should tell you something right there. Grogan’s support is almost exclusively from conservatives and Republicans. They are attacking Davis because Davis was “handpicked by Tony Evers” for the Appeals Court post back in 2019. What they and Grogan conveniently don’t tell us is that Groagn was a candidate for that appointment, despite her lack of experience and qualifications. 

Her current television ad also misleads by stating that she is endorsed by Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly. Whoops. Kelley is not a sitting Supreme Court Justice. He is a former Supreme Court Justice, appointed by Scott Walker.

Grogan is on the ballot because the Republicans, once again, are not putting forth qualified candidates for election. All you need are conservative bonafides and a desire to support the conservative/Republican agenda.

Consider former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly. Appointed to the bench in 2016 by Walker, Kelly no experience as a judge–none. But he was a supporter of the conservative agenda and that was enough for Walker. Thankfully, Wisconsin voters saw the folly of Walker’s appointment and in 2020 voted out Kelly. Voters instead elected Jill Karofksy. 

Don’t let another miscarriage of justice happen. Vote on April 6 for the most qualified candidate. Vote for Jeff Davis.

Be prepared; last minute misleading ad campaign against Jeff Davis may be coming from Scott Walker camp

It is coming; look for a last minute smear campaign against Jeff Davis by conservative outside black money sources.

History suggests that if it hasn’t happened already in the state’s major media markets, we’ll soon start to see a campaign by conservatives and Republicans to discredit sitting District II Appeals Court Judge Jeff Davis. 

There is a history of their doing this. When Appeals Court Chief Justice Lisa Neubauer ran for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2019 against fellow Appeals Court Judge Brian Hagedorn, there was a flood of last minute misleading ads attacking Neubauer. 

The ads came from out-of-state black money sources. And they may have cost Neubauer the election. Hagedorn’s camp denied that they played a role in the ads, but the damage was done. Hagedorn won in an extremely close race, 606,414 to 600,433 (50.2% to 49.7%). To be fair, liberal-leaning organizations, including those from outside the state, actually outraised Neubauer, but the timing of the pro-Hagedorn ads appear to have made a difference.

Republicans/conservatives, unlike the Dems, have figured out that if you can’t beat them at the ballot box, beat them in the courts. Hence the makeup of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court: conservatives dominate.

Because the Republican Party/conservatives recognize the power that they gain when conservative courts rule in their favor, at all levels, they are willing to do whatever it takes to elect conservative judges. And in today’s hyper political environment, that means mislead and misinform. 

To aid in spreading this garbage, groups like the Republican State: Leadership Committee has spent  more than $2.2 million in election activities to support conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates in 2020, 2019, and 2016. 

Is Deborah Kerr a Dem or a Republican? She says Dem, but Scott Walker has endorsed her. Something fishy here, for sure

It is quiz time and since Deborah Kerr, one of two people seeking election on April 6 for the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction post, is a teacher, she should ace this, right?

The question: Why do you have both financial support and endorsements from conservatives, including former Gov. Scott Walker, yet you consider yourself a Democrat?

Huh?

Sorry, this does not make sense. Yes, I know that officially the election is nonpartisan, but Deborah, according to an article in the Journal Sentinel by Daniel Brice, you ran in the primary as a “pragmatic Democrat.” It also says you are telling people you voted for President Joe Biden.

Ok, so Scott Walker is now supporting Democrats? Wow. That is news. And when I look at the list of people who have sent you money, it includes $15,000 from “conservative mega-donor and voucher supporter Arthur Dantchik and $2,000 from George and Susan Mitchell, former leaders of School Choice Wisconsin.”

Something is not right here. And then last week it was reported that your campaign manager and legal counsel, both with strong ties to the Democratic Party in Wisconsin, resigned. Hmm.

Sorry, Deborah, you’ve failed the test. It appears you are trying to hoodwink voters by telling them you are a Democrat while at the same time hauling in money and endorsements for the conservative, pro-voucher folks. If voters buy into this, you have the best of both worlds: support from Dems and Republicans.

The problem here is the Dems and the Republicans do not see eye to eye when it comes to public education. Not the use of the word “public.” Republicans, especially Scott Walker, have gutted public education in Wisconsin. State funding is now dramatically reduced, and many public school districts have had to resort to costly referendums just to get needed dollars to keep their systems alive. 

Plus, and this clearly is the 800-pound Gorilla in that too-small seat in the back of the classroom: Republicans, under the guise of fiscal responsibility and free-market economics, favor voucher schools, which drain dollars from the public schools, further putting public education in peril. 

Would Scott Walker, the Mitchells, and Arthur Dantchik support a candidate who did not support the voucher program? I think not, but go to Kerr’s website and you won’t find any mention of her support for vouchers. So how did Walker, etc., come to the conclusion that Kerr is pro-voucher? Could it be that when she is not in public, Kerr tells Dems one thing and Republicans something else?

Kerr’s lack of transparency and her not-so-obvious attempt to play both sides is disturbing, disingenuous, and dangerous. She has, so far, misled everybody and we can’t have this in such a critical position. Vote for Jill Underly on April 6..

View WISN interview with Jill Underly and Deborah Kerr.

Looks like a lot of Dems (and maybe Republicans) want to replace GOP Senator Ron Johnson

Two Dems have already announced that they intend to challenge Republican U. S. Senator Ron Johnson in 2022: Alex Lasry and Tom Nelson. But wait, they may be more Dems. Sarah Godlewski, the Wisconsin State Treasurer, has publicly expressed interest in entering the race but she has not formally announced.

Additionally, there are at least four other Dems who are potential entrants: Mandela Barnes, the current Lieutenant Governor; Josh Kaul, the current Attorney General; Ron Kind, the 3rd District Congressman;and Chris Larson, a Wisconsin State Senator for the 7th district since 2011.

Additionally, Mark Pocan, a U.S. Representative from the 2nd District, has had supporters, but for now, he has declined to run.

The big question, of course, what Republican will seek the post in the U.S. Senate. Johnson has the seat now, and he has filed his paperwork for reelection, but that doesn’t mean he will run. If he doesn’t there are a number of Republicans willing to step into the fray. Three of them are or were reps in Congress; Sean Duffy, who represented the 7th Congressional District until 206; Mike Gallagher, represents the 8th CD, and Bryan Steil, who represents the 2nd CD. 

Other potential Republications seeking the seat include David Beth, the Kenosha County Sheriff, and Kevin Nicholson, who finished second in the 2018 Republican primary for the seat Baldwin won in 2018.

Democrat Tammy Baldwin, who holds the second Wisconsin seat in the Senate is not up for reelection until 2024.

GOP state senators tell Dems they have to attend sessions in person and masks are not needed

By Malcolm McIntyre

This is insane: GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin last week refused to allow Democratic members to participate virtually insisting that they attend sessions in person. Plus, they did not require that those in attendance wear face masks or social distance.

Apparently they don’t believe that we are in the midst of a pandemic that has killed more than a half million Americans and roughly 7,000 in Wisconsin. So masks aren’t needed, even if they have been proven to reduce infections and lessen the spread of the virus.

This makes absolutely no sense. Their stance doesn’t reflect our collective need to protect public safety. I’ve never understood those who use “personal freedom” for justifying their refusal to wear masks and practice social distancing. Their personal freedom is killing people and it is crippling our healthcare system as it struggles to address the pandemic.

The actions, or rather inactions, of many in the GOP has nothing to do with personal freedom. It is all about politics. It is all about pandering to former President Trump’s “me-first” philosophy, and retaining political power. 

It is also all about a concerted, nationwide effort on the part of the GOP to oppose everything that Democrats favor. It is not about protecting you and me. It is not about proposing responsive legislation, even when the majority of the county favors the legislation. It is obstructionism. Instead of coming up with solutions to the challenges we all face, the GOP spends time and political capital opposing common sense–like wearing face masks when in close quarters.

Please email Joan Ballweg to ask how the actions she and her colleagues have taken protects our health. Ask her if what she and the GOP has done, and continues to do, isn’t counterproductive, petty politics. 

Fundraising letter from Tonette Walker attacks Jeff Davis; his mom was not pleased

Remember Jeff Davis, the incumbent Milwaukee-area Appeals Court Judge who was our featured “speaker” at the February Green Lake County Dems & Friends meeting? Davis is seeking reelection to his seat on the District 2 Appeals Court, which includes Green Lake County. During Davis’ “talk” via zoom, he stressed that he did not want the race to be viewed as a partisan effort, and officially, the race is nonpartisan.

Well, Jeff, good luck with that. Davis’ opponent, Muskego Municipal Court Judge Shelley Grogan, recently sent out a fundraising letter attacking Davis. Actually, the letter came from former Giv. Scott Walker’s wife, Tonette. Tonette and Scott have both endorsed Grogan.

In that letter, according to an article in the Journal Sentinel, Davis was attacked because he is “backed by ‘Madison liberals who favor a far-left agenda.’ “ Ouch.

That did not sit well with Davis’ mom, who ripped off a letter a letter to the Walkers suggesting that they were disingenuous in their effort, given that Davis’ parents have been generous supporters of Republicans to the tune of more than $250,000 in donations to federal and state Republicans, including $25,000 to Walker. Ouch again. Don Davis, Jr. Is the former CEO of Rockwell Automation, headquartered in Milwaukee.

We have not seen a response from Jeff Davis, and we probably won’t as he has so far worked hard to keep the politics out of the campaign, but the Walkers, with their letter, have certainly made it a political issue now. Davis does have support from Republicans, including two current Wisconsin State Supreme Court judges, but he also has support from Democrats. 

You can learn more about Jeff Davis on his campaign website. Check out his credentials and list of endorsements.

GOP bills in Wisconsin legislature seek to limit voting; another ploy to keep Dems from voting

This stuff just doesn’t make any sense. Once again, Republicans in the state legislature are working hard to make it even more difficult for us to vote. Why? Shouldn’t their goal, our collective goal, be to make it easier for citizens to vote? 

Photo by Fred Moon on Unsplash

Nope. Republicans, as part of a nationwide effect launched years ago, don’t want higher levels of voting. Why? Because strategists within the GOP are concerned that higher voter turnout will result in more votes for Democrats. Paul Weyrich, a UW grad and one-time leader of the American Legislative Exchange Council, an conservative organization behind much of the legislation that shows up on the desks of legislators, is quoted in “The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Bastion and the Future of American Politics,” as saying, “They want everyone to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote.” He adds, “ … our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Here is Wisconsin, the GOP has taken this to heart and legislation like the bills introduced this week, cloaked in the righteous “to restore faith in our elections” mantra, are a bogus attempt to limit the number of people voting. 

Don’t take our word for it: read this article from the Wisconsin Examiner, and this one from the Journal Sentinel.

Then let Allex Dallman (our 41st State Assembly rep), and Joan Ballweg, (14th State Senate rep) know that these bills represent solutions to nonexistent problems and that the supposed “lack of faith” in our elections was created by the unsubstantiated lies and misinformation churned out by the Republican Party.

Rep. Alex Dallman
State Capitol, Room 412N
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708
Toll-free (888) 534-0041 or (608) 266-8077

Email: Rep.Dallman@legis.wi.gov

Sen. Joan Ballweg
Room 409 South
State Capitol
PO Box 7882
Madison, WI 53708
Telephone: (608) 266-0751

Email: Sen.Ballweg@legis.wisconsin.gov

Maybe now Wisconsin’s Republican Party will finally end its unsubstantiated, frivolous fight to invalidate Biden’s win over Trump

In a ruling on Monday, the U. S. Supreme Court and its conservative majority declined to hear a case involving challenges to the state’s election laws.The ruling is consistent with the court’s apparent unwillingness to address issues pertaining to the November election, which saw Joe Biden make former president Donald Trump a one-term president.

At the same time, as an article from the Journal Sentinel points out, a federal judge, nominated to the bench by Trump, has referred the lawyers who represented two Republican lawmakers and others who challenged the election results to a court grievance committee. The judge, stated the article, “determined their lawsuit was meritless and consisted of political grandstanding.”

To date more than 60 lawsuits have been filed by Republicans across the country seeking to overturn the election results. Notably, these lawsuits only are attacking the results of the presidential election; they do not seek to invalidate other elections that were won by Republicans, including many who signed onto the lawsuits. None has succeeded and many have been attacked by the courts, including those overseen by Republicans, for their weaknesses.

Democrat Alex Lasry joins fight for Ron Johnson’s U.S. Senate Seat; second Dem to announce for 2022 election

Earlier this month, Democrat Alex Lasry, the son of one of the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks, announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Ron Johnson. Johnson, from Oshkosh, has not revealed his plans for the 2022 election.

Alex Lasry, spoke to the crowd at the JFK dinner in Ripon in 2019.

Regardless, most observers expect the election to be one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the county. Johnson, in his second six-year term of office, was chair of the Homeland Security Committee in the Senate last year, Now 65, Johnson has been and continues to be an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump. Like many of Trump’s supporters, Johnson claims that the November election was “stolen” from the former president. 

After President Joe Biden won the election, Johnson refused to say so until after the January 20 inauguration. He also gained a lot of notoriety for using his committee to go after Biden’s son Hunter for Hunter’s business ties to China and a power utility in the Ukraine. Johnson also, when he questioned, despite video footage and photographic evidence, whether an armed insurrection occurred at the U.S Capitol building on Jan. 6. “This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me,” Johnson said

Lasry, who is 33, is a senior vice president for the Bucks. He was one of the speakers at the 2019 JFK Dinner, held at Ripon College. At the dinner, Lasry was credited with being one of the forces behind the awarding of the 2020 Democratic Party National Conference to Milwaukee. Because of the Covid-10 pandemic, the event was transformed into a nationally televised virtual conference. He is taking a leave of absence from the Buck while runs for the Senate.

View his extremely well done, professionally produced campaign video

Lasry is the second Democratic to announce for the seat in Washington. He joins Outagamie County Executive Director Tom Nelson who was the first Dem to announce he is joining the battle to unseat Johnson. Nelson is set to be the primary speaker at the March 6 Green Lake County Dems & Friends virtual meeting.

Lasry made unwelcome news recently when it was revealed that despite not being in an eligible group, he received a vaccine shot. Lasry said he had been contacted by a religious leader who had extra does that were in danger of not being administered and thus wasted That, explained Lasry, is why he was able to be vaccinated.

Lasry has been an outspoken advocate for social justice causes; he also has voiced support for unions. He was quoted in the Journal Sentinel, as saying, “What we’ve had for the last 10 years is a senator who hasn’t been representing the people of Wisconsin, who has been more interested in peddling in conspiracy theories and appealing to our worst instincts and impulses.” 

Lasry’s father, according to the Washington Post, “is a hedge fund billionaire.” Green Lake County Dems & Friends Chair Linda Wilkens says that she is working to have Lasby at one of the group’s future meetings. 



People’s Map Commission seeking voter input on nonpartisan redistricting; hearing set for the 6th CD on Feb. 25

The 6th Congressional District hearing for the People’s Maps Commission will be held Thursday, Feb. 25, time TBA.  

Hearings are conducted virtually, via Zoom. Those wishing to provide oral and/or written input, or watch past recorded hearings, can find information at the following website: https://govstatus.egov.com/peoplesmaps/hearings-meetings

Preparation assistance for residents wishing to give oral testimony is available virtually on Saturday, February 20th at 3 p.m. through registering at  https://bit.ly/FM6thCD. 

View the People’s Map Commission website for more information.

Background

The 6th Congressional District

In January, 2020, Governor Tony Evers ended his State of the State Address with the announcement of an executive order that would create a nonpartisan redistricting commission called The People’s Maps and giving it the mission to “visit every congressional district, hear directly from folks across our state, and draw fair, impartial maps for the Legislature to take up next year.”

That year has passed and the People’s Maps Commission has been busy fulfilling its mission. After hearing directly from residents of six of the eight congressional districts in the state regarding the issue of redistricting since October, the People’s Maps Commission will soon be turning its attention to the 6th Congressional District, which includes Fond du Lac and Green Lake counties, for input from local citizens. 

The issue of redistricting is a timely one in 2021. Every ten years a census of the US population is taken, as directed by the Constitution. Final census results are expected to be delivered to the federal and state governments in coming months. These updated population numbers form the basis of the process referred to as redistricting. In this process, the “maps” of governmental units are reevaluated to adjust for the new census information. 

In so doing, the boundaries that define the governmental units themselves may be changed, or redrawn. As these maps carry with them many implications for voters and elections, the process by which redistricting decisions are made has come under increased scrutiny.

The 2011 redistricting process in Wisconsin culminated in years of costly lawsuits that carried the issue to the US Supreme Court in 2017. Legal arguments centered around the concept of partisan “gerrymandering” or the practice of manipulating map boundaries with the deliberate intention of establishing an unfair political advantage for one party over another. 

If you want to better understand how gerrymandered voting districts work in Wisconsin, check out this article from the Journal Sentinel. While the article is dated, it is still relevant today. 

Here is another more recent article.

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