Candidate Debates

  Less than 2 weeks until the primary elections in Wisconsin.  The most talked about race is the one for the Republican nomination for Governor.  News 19 recently took part in a debate, or Town Hall Meeting, featuring those candidates; Mark Neumann and Scott Walker.  The event was organized by the “Upfront with Mike Gousha” Milwaukee based weekly public affairs program.   Our station put together a group of about a dozen citizens to come up with questions for the candidates.  The format called for the candidates to be at the Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee with the Town Hall moderator and a live audience.  The moderator checked in with the different groups at different television stations around the state for their questions.  Our group came up with about two dozen issues of importance to their lives.  One was the high speed rail project and that was the question we asked.  Both candidates agreed they strongly oppose funding for the project that would initially link Milwaukee and Madison.  The issue is of interest in La Crosse because the next section would link Madison with the Twin Cities and would possibly come through La Crosse.  Supporters say the project would bring hundreds of manufacturing jobs to the state.  The federal government has awarded Wisconsin 820 million dollars for the first phase of the project.  But both Walker and Neumann believe the project would require Wisconsin to spend about ten million dollars a year in maintenance costs.  Both also believe the money could be better spent on road projects or to reduce the deficit.  Current Governor Jim Doyle strongly supports high speed rail as does Democratic candidate for Governor Tom Barrett. 


     There are two more town hall events scheduled.  The next one on October 15th will feature the candidates for U.S. Senate; incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold against Republican challenger Ron Johnson.  Johnson, a wealthy Oshkosh businessman, has spent about 4 million dollars so far on television advertising to Feingold’s 1.4 million.  A Johnson spokesperson told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Johnson will spend whatever is necessary to get his message out.  It’s a race the GOP will need to win if the party has hopes of winning control of the U.S. Senate. The final debate, er, Town Hall Meeting on October 22nd will feature the winner of the Republican primary for Governor; either Mark Neumann or Scott Walker facing off with Tom Barrett.  Look for the News19 group to get at least two questions in the final two debates.

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This post was written by shackworth on September 3, 2010
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Voter Turnout/Race Previews

    It may be meaningless, but I was somewhat surprised to see such a low turnout in La Crosse County for the April elections.  Voters seem much more energized this year but that enthusiasm didn’t carry over to the spring elections.  Only about 9% of registered voters cast ballots on April 6th. Compare that with 72% for the November 2008 elections.  Granted, that was a Presidential election year when Congressional races were also on the ballot.  I wonder how many voters will turn out for the “off-year” elections this November?  Voters certainly seem energized; especially the ones who believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.  Anger is a powerful motivator to go to the polls on Election Day.  The situation this year is similar to November of 2006 when President Bush was in office and Democrats were angry at the direction of the country.


    Despite the voter anger, only two incumbents lost their La Crosse County Board seats in April out of 9 contested races.  Granted, most of the voter anger is directed at Washington D.C. rather than at County and Local Governments, but a “throw out the incumbents” mentality did not seem to apply at the local level.  


    I was interested in the decision by Dick Leinenkugel to enter the race for U.S. Senate.  Leinenkugel is a former executive at the Wisconsin brewery that bears the family name. For the past 18 months he has served as Commerce Secretary under Governor Jim Doyle.  Even though Doyle is a Democrat, Leinenkugel will run as a Republican.  He becomes the 3rd Republican in the race and the one with the most name recognition.  The other candidates are two businessmen, Terrence Wall and David Westlake.  With more than one candidate in the race, they will have to face off in a primary in September with the winner advancing to face incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold. 


    Leinenkugel’s entry would seem to me to suggest that former Governor Tommy Thompson will not run or at least Leinenkugel believes he won’t run.  If Thompson gets into the race he immediately becomes the presumptive favorite for the GOP nomination.  Why would Leinenkugel want to spend his time and money and risk the prestige of his name in order to finish second or worse? A Thompson spokesman says the former Governor’s decision on whether to enter the race will have nothing to do with who else is running.   Also, Dick Leinenkugel might have some problems attracting the support of Republican primary voters since he agreed to serve as Commerce Secretary under Jim Doyle. He will have to answer questions about his political philosophy and whether he is a “true” Republican.  There’s no hurry for Tommy Thompson to decide on a possible run.  He already has very high name recognition and several polls show him already beating Feingold without having run a single ad or given a single speech. 

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This post was written by shackworth on April 13, 2010
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Election Year Heats Up

      Hello everyone!   Welcome to the first edition of my new blog.   I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts with our viewers on a wide range of topics.   Some of these posts will focus on news stories that we cover and the difficult decisions we make in covering them.   Others will deal with issues involving television news in general.  I am also a political junkie so a good proportion of my postings will deal with politics.  Since this is an election year I thought I would focus on political news first.

     All eyes are on former Governor Tommy Thompson right now as he reportedly considers a challenge to longtime incumbent Russ Feingold.  There are already two other Republicans in the race; Terrence Wall and David Westlake.  But neither has the name recognition that Thompson does.  Some recent polls show Thompson leading Feingold by five or so percentage points.  Those same polls give Feingold the lead over the other two candidates.  Wall has already started advertising on television and is said to have plenty of money to spend on his own campaign.  The top vote getter in the GOP primary in September will advance to take on Feingold.  With the political climate favoring Republicans right now, it would seem very tempting for Thompson to make another run.  I’m sure the national GOP is also encouraging Thompson to get into the race.  My guess is that he won’t.  At 68 years of age, he seems to be enjoying his current duties as a consultant to a number of companies.  He is also President of Logistics Health Inc. of La Crosse and is doing very well financially.   Submitting to the scrutiny of a major political campaign might prove to be more of a headache than he wants to endure.   Just an educated guess!

    The race between Ron Kind and Dan Kapanke might also turn out to be closer than some expect.  I noticed some national experts are giving Kind a very good chance of winning the race.  Most put it in either the “likely democratic” or “safe democratic” category.  But with the national mood right now favoring Republicans, combined with a very formidable candidate in Dan Kapanke, it could prove to be a very tight race. 

   Expect to see plenty of campaign ads on television this summer and fall!!!

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This post was written by shackworth on March 4, 2010