TO: Clients & Friends 

FROM: Nick Probst

DATE: October 29th, 2018

SUBJECT: Weekly Political & Legislative Update
Final debate for Walker, Evers
Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tony Evers squared off in the last debate of the gubernatorial race. Both Walker and Evers sought boosts from their respective party's biggest names on the campaign trail. Walker was on the campaign trail with President Donald Trump earlier in the week, while Evers hosted former President Barack Obama on Friday before the debate.

The battle lines in the race have been drawn with Walker touting his successes on creating a better business and tax climate in Wisconsin and Tony Evers pushing for more funding for schools, healthcare, and roads. The final debate; however, afforded the candidates an opportunity to delve into other topics such as UW System tuition.

The race for Governor remains too close to call with polls and prevailing opinions believing the race is within the margin of error.
Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democrat Tony Evers battled Friday over health care, the minimum wage, tuition and climate change in their second and final debate. 

The one-hour forum at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee took place just hours after Evers attended a rally with former President Barack Obama and two days after Walker got help from President Donald Trump.

Evers, the state schools superintendent and a member of the UW Board of Regents, said he would support putting more tax money toward UW schools and cutting tuition.

"I think tuition's too high," Evers said. "I believe we can make tuition even lower than what it is."

Walker touted his six-year freeze on in-state tuition and said he would keep it in place if he is re-elected. 

"I want to do it for the next four years," Walker said.

He also touted his plan to give tax breaks worth $1,000 a year for five years to new college graduates who stay in Wisconsin.
MEMO: Legislative outlook


SUBJECT:     2018 Legislative Election Outlook
Heading into Election Day 2018 we are already looking at above average turnover for the Legislature. Since 1994, on average 20 new Lawmakers are sworn in at the beginning of the new session. Heading into Election Day 2018, there are already 20 lawmakers who will not be returning to the Legislature for the 2019-2020 Legislative Session:
·        16 members of the State Assembly will not be back next session
o     8 are retiring
o     5 are seeking or have sought different elected office and did not seek re-election
o     2 were challenged and defeated in Democratic Primaries in August
o     1 was appointed into the Walker Administration
·        4 members of the State Senate will not be back next session
o     2 are seeking or have sought different elected office and did not seek re-election
o     1 was appointed into the Walker Administration
o     1 retired

Control of the State Assembly:

Republicans in the State Assembly currently enjoy a 64-35 majority, the highest majority for Republicans since the 1950s. With this level of a majority, Republicans can lose 14 seats and still maintain control of the Assembly.

Republican view :

Because of their overwhelming majority, Assembly Republicans are only playing Defense during the 2018 Election. They feel there are 9 seats that are the most vulnerable this cycle

·       96 th Assembly District: Incumbent Representative Lee Nerison (R-Westby) is not seeking re-election. Republican Loren Oldenburg is facing Democrat Paul Buhr. Nerison won re-election in 2016 with 61% of the vote, but this District is much more competitive at the top of the ticket; in 2014 Governor Walker received 50.2% of the vote and in 2016 President Trump received 51.6% of the vote. Democrats have targeted the 96 th as an open seat pickup following the Nerison departure, but the race between dairy farmers Buhr and Oldenburg will come down to the wire.
·       51 st Assembly District: Representative Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville), who is also the mayor of Dodgeville, was first elected in 2014 by a slim 59 vote margin. Novak was re-elected in 2016 against Democrat Jeff Wright, 51% to 49%. Novak and Wright are having a rematch on the 2018 ballot. Neither Walker in 2014 nor Trump in 2016 carried the 51 st Assembly District. Novak again will have to significantly outperform top of the ticket Republicans as Evers and Baldwin are expected to win the district. Wright is the Assistant Superintendent of the Sauk Prairie School District. 
·       50 th Assembly District : Representative Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg) is retiring and not seeking re-election. Republican Tony Kurtz and Democrat Art Schrader will be facing each other on the November ballot. Schrader challenged Rep. Brooks in the 2016 election and was defeated 59% to 41%. In 2016, Donald Trump received 57% of the vote and in 2014 Gov. Walker received 53% of the vote. The GOP numbers for this election are not expected to match Trump’s 2016 performance which will keep this seat in the toss up category on election night. Kurtz is a farmer and veteran. Schrader is a community banker and veteran.
·       92 nd Assembly District: Representative Trieg Pronschinske (R-Mondovi) was the surprise win in 2016, defeating incumbent State Representative Chris Danou (D-Black River Falls). Pronschinske won 52%-48%. Pronschinske earlier this year lost his re-election as Mayor of Mondovi. In 2016 President Trump received 54.3% of the vote in the 92 nd and in 2014 Governor Walker received 52.5% of the vote. Pronschinske is being challenged by Democrat Rob Grover, the owner of Winghaven Pizza and former employee at the Trempeleau County Sheriff’s Department. The 92 nd looked to be an easy pickup for the Democrats in November; however, the belief in GOP circles is that Pronchinske’s prospects have risen over the last month and the incumbent has pulled the race back in reach.
·       13 th Assembly District:  A surprising addition to watchlists is the 13 th Assembly District. The 13 th has been a strong district for the GOP; however, like other SE Wisconsin races, Trump has not been popular and raises concerns even for GOP incumbents. WisPolitics reports that Representative Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield)does not have the name ID in his district, but will work to align his numbers to Walker at the top of the ballot. 
·       68 th Assembly District: Assembly Representative Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie) is not seeking re-election and is instead running for the State Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls) who is not seeking re-election. Republican Jesse James and Democrat Wendy Sue Johnson will face off on the November ballot. Johnson is an attorney and a plaintiff in the Gill v. Whitford case, currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging Wisconsin’s legislative district maps. James is the Altoona Police Chief. Both President Trump and Governor Walker carried 54% of the vote in this district in their last elections. Bernier held her seat despite strong efforts by the Democrats to take the 68 th . James is polling very well according to GOP sources who expect the seat will remain Republican.
·       85 th Assembly District: State Representative Patrick Snyder was first elected in 2016. Snyder was the former District Director for US Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wausau). Snyder won election in 2016 with 53% of the vote. Snyder is being challenged by Democrat Alyson Leahy. Leahy is a Marathon County board member. Walker carried 54% of the vote in 2014, but Trump lost the seat in 2016 with 47% of the vote. Trump campaigned for Wisconsin Republicans in Wausau last week. Both Walker and Baldwin are believed to be leading in the district which would make the down ballot races even more unclear; however, sources believe Snyder has a slight advantage heading into November.
·       88 th Assembly District: State Representative John Macco of DePere is being challenged by Democrat Tom Sieber. Sieber is a Brown County Supervisor. Macco won election to the Assembly in 2014 and has been re-elected since. Gov. Walker carried the seat in 2014 with 57% of the vote, and President Trump received 51% in 2016. Early on in the campaign cycle Macco’s seat looked to be in jeopardy. Recent polling; however, indicates Macco is in a strong position to claim re-election in November.
·       14 th Assembly District: The 14 th District now appears to be one of toughest holds for the GOP after a long run of being held by prominent state Republicans. President Trump’s numbers are in bad shape in the district following Clinton’s 48% performance in 2016. Incumbent Representative Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) is running for the State Senate being vacated by State Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) who is running for the US Senate. Republican Matt Adamczyk, who is currently the State Treasurer and campaigned in 2014 to Constitutionally eliminate the office, will face Democrat Robyn Vining in the November Election.  Vining is a founding board member of Exploit No More, which works to end child sex trafficking. She was awarded the United Way’s Philanthropic 5 award in 2013 and was named American Mothers’ Wisconsin Mother of the Year in 2017 in recognition of her commitment to the community. The 14 th District race is still too close to predict ahead of Election Day.
·       23 rd Assembly District : Incumbent Representative Jim Ott (R-Mequon), a former well-known Milwaukee area weatherman, is being challenged by Democrat Liz Sumner. Ott was first elected to the State Assembly in 2006 and has only been challenged in half of his re-elections, and each time won with greater than 60% of the vote. Sumner is a small business owner and member of the Fox Point Village Board. Ott’s outlook is a bit cloudier in his 2018 re-elect due to the tough suburban Milwaukee area for Trump. Ott appears to be in better position than Adamczyk at the moment, but still has a tough campaign to fight down the stretch. 

Democratic view :

Democrats in the State Assembly think the map of seats in play is a little larger than what the Republicans see and point to the results of this Spring’s 2018 State Supreme Court race. The self-identified Liberal candidate, Judge Rebecca Dallet carried 57 of the state’s 99 Assembly seats. Dallet carried all 35 of the districts that Democrats currently represent and 22 of the districts that Republicans represent. 

Republicans counter that a Supreme Court race in the Spring is a different electorate than in November and vote for a different issue basket.

If however, Assembly Democrats and the top of the ballot (Governor’s race and US Senate race) perform like the Supreme Court race more seats could be in play; especially in Western Wisconsin, southwestern and souther Wisconsin and the Fox Valley.

Control of the State Senate:

Republicans left the 2016 Election cycle with a 20-13 majority in the State Senate. However, since the election they have lost two seats in Special Elections to replace senators who left the Legislature to join the Walker Administration. Their majority heading into the 2018 election now sits at 18-15, with odd-numbered seats up this cycle.

Republican view :

Republicans in the State Senate, similar to the State Assembly, are mostly playing defense; protecting their seats and targeting the 1 st Senate District seat they lost earlier this year in a Special Election.

·       1 st Senate District: Former State Senator Frank Lasee (R-DePere) left the State Senate in December to take a job in the Walker Administration as head of the Workers Compensation Division at the Department of Workforce Development. His departure set up a Special Election, which the Walker Administration attempted to not call. There was a divisive Republican Primary which Representative Andre Jacque won. The majority of the Republican leadership in the State Assembly supported their colleague’s Republican Primary opponent. Jacque faced Door County Economic Development Director Caleb Frostman in the Special Election and lost by 800 votes. Frostman and Jacque will face each other again in November. Jacque underperformed expected numbers in the district in the special election and should be boosted by Walker in November. WisPolitics calls the race a tossup and reports that third party groups are playing prominently in the campaign:
The Republican State Leadership Committee today announced two radio ads knocking Frostman and backing Jacque. That includes one that seeks to tie the GOP challenger to the guv, saying Jacque has "sided with Governor Scott Walker to cut taxes since he's been elected." Meanwhile, the Greater Wisconsin Political Independent Expenditure Fund filed notice with the Ethics Commission today that it dropped $147,241 on TV supporting Frostman and opposing Jacque.  
·       17 th Senate District: Republican State Senator Howard Marklein has made a legislative career out of representing seats that Republicans shouldn’t represent because of his exhaustive constituent outreach and work ethic, and his independence. Marklein is a CPA and serves on the Joint Finance Committee and was first elected to the State Senate in 2014 with 55% of the vote. The 17 th District is a seat that Gov. Walker only received 50% in 2014, when Marklein got 55%. Marklein is being challenged by Lafayette County Board member, organic farmer and Bed and Breakfast owner/operator Kris Marion. Marklein will again need to outpace the top of the ballot where Tony Evers and Tammy Baldwin are expected to put up strong numbers. Both candidates have had ads on TV. WisPolitics calls the race a toss up.
·       23 rd Senate District:  The 23 rd Senate District is currently represented by State Senator Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls) who is not seeking re-election. This is normally a high Republican performing district with President Trump receiving 58% in the district and Governor Walker receiving 59%. Republican State Rep. Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie) and Democrat Chris Kapsner. Rep. Bernier was first elected to the State Assembly in 2010 and re-elected since. She is a former clerk and village trustee. Kapsner is an emergency room physician and medical director for Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minnesota. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce has been a player in this campaign with ads targeting Kapsner. Sources say Bernier is in great position for election to the Senate.

Democratic view :

Democrats are largely focused on the same races as Republicans but do see an opportunity if there is a “wave” environment in Wisconsin. Justice Dallet carried 21 of the 33 State Senate districts in her Spring election, including 8 seats held by Republicans following the 2016 election. Dallet’s performance puts two additional traditionally Republican seats on the radar to watch; 
·       19 th Senate District ; A seat crucial to a potential Dem majority in the Senate belongs to Senate President Roger Roth (R-Appleton). Roth looks to have weathered the storm of a potential Kimberly-Clark plant closure in his district as the legislature plans to convene in extraordinary session to deal with a tax incentive to retain the plant. With the Kimberly-Clark issue off the front burner for the time being, Roth looks positioned for re-election against Outagamie Democratic Party Chair Lee Snodgrass unless there is major movement at the top of the ticket. 
·       5 th Senate District; currently represented by State Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) who is running for the US Senate versus Tammy Baldwin. State Representative Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) faces Democrat Julie Henszey. Similar to the challenges faced in Kooyenga’s 14 th Assembly District race, Trump numbers are poor in this district despite strong numbers for Walker. The expectation is for Kooyenga to hold the seat for the GOP unless there is a strong Trump backlash in the district to bring GOP numbers down.

Impact of Governor’s race on Legislative Control:

Performance at the top of the ballot does not necessarily translate to electoral success down ballot. Heading into the Democrat wave election of 2006 Republicans had a 60-39 majority. Democrat Governor Jim Doyle won re-election with nearly 53% of the vote. He carried 55 of 99 Assembly seats, including 20 of the Assembly Republican seats on the currently drawn re-districted maps. Even though Gov. Doyle won 20 GOP seats, Republicans only lost 8 seats and still maintained a 52-47 majority heading into the next session. 
Weekly Radio Address
Farm Freedom Act paved way for hemp industry

State Senator Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) delivered the weekly Republican radio address.

Temperatures are dropping, leaves are falling, and Wisconsin farmers are putting the finishing touches on another harvest season.

Hi, I’m State Senator Patrick Testin from Stevens Point. Recently, I had the unique opportunity to join Mike and Deb, a Central Wisconsin couple on their farm for one of the state’s first legal hemp harvests in over sixty years.

Wisconsin has a history as a national leader in industrial hemp production. Unfortunately, hemp’s relationship to marijuana caused the federal government to ban its cultivation – even though it has no intoxicating effects.

Thankfully, things are changing.

The 2014 federal farm bill paved the way for states to create pilot programs to research growing and marketing hemp. This session, I worked to craft a bi-partisan bill called the Farm Freedom Act. This bill, which passed both houses of the legislature unanimously, enabled our farmers to reintroduce hemp to Wisconsin. Governor Walker signed it into law late last year.

And so I found myself harvesting hemp on a crisp fall morning.

Farming is both a business and a way of life. Wisconsin farmers face many challenges. Weather, long hours, and low commodity prices can all take their toll. Still, our farmers are national and global leaders in the production of dairy, potatoes, ginseng, cranberries, beef, pork, corn, and soybeans.

By enabling farmers to diversify with industrial hemp, they have one more way to make a living and our state has one more way to lead the nation.
Preparing to Vote

Senator Mark Miller (D-Monona) offered the weekly Democratic radio address.

The audio file of this week’s address can be found here. A written transcript of the address is below:

“Hello, this is Senator Mark Miller with this week’s Democratic Radio Address.

“The Fall General Election is less than two weeks away, on Tuesday, November 6th. With all of the changes to election law that Republicans have made in the last 7 years, it is important to be aware of how, when and what you’ll need to vote.

“First, make sure you are registered. You can check to see if you’re currently registered, if not, you can register at your local clerk’s office during business hours or at your polling place on Election Day.

“Additionally, absentee ballots are currently available statewide and many municipalities also offer in-person absentee voting at local clerk’s offices. Online, you can search for your polling place, see what’s on the next ballot or learn more about absentee voting. Find this information at

“To make sure you have the proper ID needed to vote head to If you need a free ID to vote, take proof of identity, proof of residency, proof of citizenship and social security card to your DMV. This information can be found online at

“The polls are open from 7:00am to 8:00pm on Tuesday, November 6th, 2018. For any other questions, the Wisconsin Elections Commission can be contacted at 608-266-8005.

“Voting is your constitutional right. Make a plan to exercise that right on Tuesday, November 6th.”
Upcoming events

Fundraiser for Rep. Scott Krug
  • Fundraiser for Rep. Scott Krug With special guest U.S. Senate Candidate Leah Vukmir & State Senator Patrick Testin
  • Tuesday, October 30 5-8 pm 
  • The Ridges Golf Course 2311 Griffith Avenue Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494  

Congressman Mark Pocan Halloween Event
  • Congressman Mark Pocan Halloween Event 
  • Tuesday, October 30th from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM 
  • Argus Bar and Grille, 123 E Main St., Madison 
  • Sponsorship Levels for the event are: Host: $1,000 Co-Host: $500 Sponsor: $250 Guest: $100