Michael LaForest kicks off his independent bid for U.S. Senate

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Milwaukee resident Michael LaForest has begun circulating nomination papers for a run for the U.S. Senate. He will run as an independent, and a challenger to Senator Russ Feingold.

LaForest bills himself as being a fiscal conservative and social progressive. He ran for Congresswoman Gwen Moore’s seat as a Purple Party candidate in 2008.

More info as it comes up.

Political revelations: Wall drops out of U.S. Senate race; Colón not seeking reelection; Plale to have a challenger?


I know I’d said “no politics till Monday” or something like that, but this stuff you just can’t overlook. A statement from the Feingold campaign saying something about Wall dropping out of the race landed in my inbox. A quick call confirmed that Terrence Wall is quitting the race against Senator Feingold. Here’s the WisPolitics story.

Notable language in the fourth paragraph: “Wall has struggled to gain traction in the race amid questions about the amount of personal taxes he’s paid in Wisconsin [...].” Lefty bloggers can take credit for making that the first thing out of people’s mouths when Wall’s candidacy was mentioned.

Let’s hope Ron Johnson’s paid his.

Second, Journal Sentinel is reporting that state Rep. Pedro Colón will not be running for reelection. He is the state’s first elected official who happens to be Hispanic. (Didn’t know that; cool.) I wish him luck with whatever he does next.

Third, the estimable Dan Cody broke word that my state senator Jeff Plale may face a strong challenger in the form of Milwaukee County Supervisor Chris Larson. Chris won a seat on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisor in the 2007-08 election cycle, which is the same race that I was in. While we were technically “opponents” in the primary, our stances were virtually identical. When he resoundingly won the primary, I endorsed him. Supervisor Larson has built a strong reputation in his two years on the Milwaukee County Board. He’d be a terrific senator, and I would enthusiastically support him in that race.

A question for Wisconsin’s Tea Party candidates (and Libertarians, too)

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By now you are no doubt wishing that Rand Paul’s remarks about the Civil Rights Act would be forgotten. Sorry, buddy, it’s not. And accusing the president of being “anti-American” won’t work as a distraction.

That said, I’m not here to talk about Rand Paul. I’m writing this to ask Wisconsin’s Tea Party-affiliated candidates, especially those hoping to win the U.S. Senate primary: Do you think that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be amended to modify the outlawing of discrimination by private institutions?

Dave Westlake, what say you? Terrence Wall, you’ve spoken at Tea Party rallies. Do you agree with Rand Paul, the tea party star du jour? Wouldn’t it be great if you could not have so many laws hovering over your development business? (Bet you do like the Citizens United decision, though.) And Ron Johnson, here’s a great chance to make yourself known. What say you?

Libertarians who came to the last Drinking Liberally Milwaukee, you want less government noodling in private affairs. What is your opinion on this?

Dick Leinenkugel finally announces his candidacy with a puff of hot air

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It’s official. And it’s obvious that Dick Leinenkugel spent a bunch of money turning his once top-secret web site into a shiny new web site. Funny thing is, the first person that you see when you go to the site is not Dick Leinenkugel, but our good Senator Russ Feingold. If I can offer Lienie & Co. a free tip, don’t put your opponent’s face on your web page as the first thing people see.

And don’t ask if he’s “listening yet.” For the entire duration of his U.S. Senate career, Senator Feingold has been listening to Wisconsinites. Each year, he holds a listening session in every single county in Wisconsin. Every county, from Adams to Iowa and Pepin to WausharaWinnebago and Wood, gets a listening session, where the Senator interacts with the citizens. For all the bravery and loyalty that Leinenkugel paints himself with, he’d serve us and himself better by not making the false claim that Senator Feingold isn’t listening. I’ve been in Wisconsin most of my 34 years, and I’ve not once heard from Dick Leinenkugel. Don’t blow hot air like that.

Of course, you do want to become a politician. What is a politician without hot air?

That’s Senator Feingold.

Also: I like the takes on this from BloggingBlue and Pretty Important Politics.

Let’s just try to stay away from lame beer puns, ‘k guys? ;-)

Feingold campaign statement on Thompson not joining the race

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Straight from the Feingold camp:


Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold on Secretary Tommy Thompson

MILWAUKEE – The Feingold Campaign released the following statement today from Senator Feingold following reports that Secretary Tommy Thompson will not be running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.”I’m disappointed that Secretary Thompson decided not to get in the ring. I’m sure there will now be talk about other candidates getting in this race, but it’s my hope that the election can now be focused where it should be – on the issues important to the people of Wisconsin and who will be an independent voice for them in Washington, working hard to move our state forward.”

The Feingold Campaign announced earlier this week that it finished the first quarter of 2010 with nearly $4.3 million cash on hand – with an average contribution of a very low $51.  The Feingold Campaign has 11 field offices fully staffed and up and running, 27 active regional campaign steering committees with more than 1,300 members who help advise the campaign on outreach in their local communities, endorsements from more than 2,500 Wisconsin elected officials, nearly 24,000 volunteers and more than 100,000 supporters more than six months before Election Day.


That said, I have a hunch there’s a bit of elation in the Feingold campaign that they won’t have to face Thompson. And Thompson is right: this campaign would have been a hell of a fight. I’d look to Westlake to try and stage an insurgent campaign by making appearances at events such as Drinking Liberally; for Mr. Wall to give his campaign more of his own money — only to lose; and for Leinenkugel could go either way. Although he seems to be having as many commitment problems as did TOMMY!

Leinenkugel campaign domain name record lists Leinenkugel’s Commerce Dept. phone number for contacts

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This is embarrassing. And I really wonder what the GAB would say. Dick Leinenkugel, the former Doyle administration Commerce Secretary, has his state Department of Commerce office phone number listed in the leinenkugelforsenate.com domain name registration record.

Conducting campaign business from state offices is part of what got former state senator Chuck Chvala and Rep. Scott Jensen in trouble.

Is this happening now? I don’t know. But it could be. Mr. Leinenkugel needs to change the phone number on his domain name registration, and do it fast. This may require an investigation by the Government Accountability Board. (Yes, at taxpayer expense.) Not a good start to one’s senate campaign.

At very least, it’s an embarrassment. That’s probably all that it is. And it says that his campaign isn’t prepared enough to have its own, non-state phone number. Do the right thing, Mr. Leinenkugel, and change the record. Or have one of your people do it—and do it right.

Tommy! is “50-50″ on whether to challenge Sen. Feingold

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Imagine the pleasure that it must be to waver on whether or not to challenge a sitting United States senator: “Mmmm, I’d have to give up my corporate board seats… have to make a financial disclosure statement…”

Yes, folks, TOMMY!, our dear former governor whom we can thank for much of the financial mess that the state government is in, is wavering on whether or not to run against Senator Feingold.


According to “The Fix,” Chris Cillizza’s politcal blog over on washingtonpost.com, “It’s not clear whether Thompson’s current indecision is evidence of progress toward a candidacy or movement away from a run.”

As I’ve pointed out a time or two, Tommy! sure liked sticking us with Taxes! And since leaving Wisconsin, he’s brought the lobbyists together. He thought of himself as a king, right? Well, he’s become a king of lobbyists. Who else could host a fundraiser at “Washington’s most elite GOP lobbying firm”?

Wait a sec—how can we have the words “TOMMY!” and “elite” together in the same sentence without the words “condemns” coming between them?

It’s not by my doing. No, it was all…


And think—he could be your senator!

Wisc. U.S. Senate race, and Rep. Ryan’s plan to nowhere

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Two quick hits:

• Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com has a new Senate Race Rankings Update, 3/10 that puts Feingold edging out Tommy!, and way ahead of Wall and Westlake. And he’d beat Wall by a larger margin than Westlake, which is really amusing.

• As I wrote, and experts now confirm, Paul Ryan’s magical plan would be a roadmap to unsustainable deficits. In other words, it wouldn’t do a lick of good. According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, Ryan’s plan would raise middle class taxes while shrinking those for the rich, largely eliminating Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and would result in what TPM called “ballooning, unsustainable deficits.” Of course that has been the result of G.O.P. administrations from the early days of the Reagan administration; what more could we expect?

A U.S. Senate bid by Tommy! would make lobbyists very, very happy


Who knows exactly what our former governor Tommy Thompson (“Tommy!”) has been up to since his days as Wisconsin governor? We do have some clues, as it turns out. For one thing, he’s very right with a lot of lobbyists. And as he sits on many corporate boards, he’s very tight with big-money interests—the sort who hire lobbyists.

At this point, even, many of those big-money interests are in fact lobbying firms themselves. Take, for example, Akin Gump. That is not the name of a sequel to the movie “Forrest Gump” in which the aforementioned Forrest becomes  formally known as powerful lobbyist for the commercial shrimp fishing industry. (And I’m sure they never have heard that before…) No, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is one of the most powerfully connected lobbying firms in D.C. It’s the firm where Tommy! has long hung his hat. And they would love it it if Tommy! ran against Russ Feingold for the U.S. Senate.


Yes, a U.S. Senate bid by Tommy! would make the lobbyists at Akin Gump very, very happy. See for yourself:

Reports have surfaced that another D.C. lobbyist is buying potential website domains for Thompson.

• This article in Politico quotes a Thompson aide at Akin Gump as saying Tommy’s hankering to recapture his glory. While the Politico article doesn’t say the aide works at Akin Gump, an article in the Village Voice does just that.

And it gets better:

‘Tommy G. Thompson, a partner with Akin Gump, was a member of VeriChip’s board of directors from July 2005 to March 8, 2007, and, as a result of his directorship services, as of December 31, 2007, holds fully vested options to purchase 55,556 shares of our common stock.’ [SEC records]

“A subsequent SEC document filed earlier this year clarified things: VeriChip got a bill from Akin Gump for legal fees of $1.2 million during 2005 and 2006. As a result of his being a director for less than two years, he got fully vested options to purchase 100,000 shares of stock.”

Wow. Just to be clear, Tommy! was on the board of VeriChip, the RFID chip firm. And he made a pretty mint from that.

Of course, if Tommy! ran for the U.S. Senate, he would have to release his financial records. I just hope he’s been more honest with his taxes than one of his possible opponents in the race. We’ll see!

Tommy for Senate is as Favre is for QB


As the honest and upright (if not slightly evasive) Terrence “Terry” Wall has dodged paying state income taxes, there’s been some mumbling (if not slurring) to get Tommy Thompson, the self-described man from “the great state of Wiscons” to run for Senator Feingold’s seat.

The future mayor of Elroy may want to pause before attempting to make himself into Wisconsin’s next Brett Favre.

Like the quarterback who can’t help but drag (or hurl) himself back in after one or two retirements, Thompson has tried to run for president, but was out in 2008 after the Iowa caucuses. (Tommy Thompson President Gifts still available through CafePress; act now!) Prior to that, he served as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under the George W. Bush administration. And he went to that job after setting up his home state of Wiscons’ to have a muddled morass of welfare “reform,” lower-quality schools, and a record budget deficit. In true politician style, he left town before the shit hit the fan, leaving his successor Scott McCallum to take the blame.

Tommy started to make big money while he was in D.C. Not all of it came from his post as Secretary of H.H.S. That didn’t pay too shabbily, earning just under $200,000 annually. But the real cash came from Thompson’s stock holdings in the VeriChip Corporation. Amid the destruction and overall corruption of the Bush II administration, Thompson’s dealings got little attention. Thompson had at least 150,000 shares of stock in Applied Digital, the one-time makers of the VeriChip, and oversaw FDA approval of their device. He would later join the company’s board of directors. Thompson demurred on his pledge to “absolutely” have an RFID chip implanted in his arm. Can’t blame him; there’s already enough ways to track people. And there are cancer concerns as well. Good stuff!

Tommy’s come a long way since being seen as a man of the people. His long record firmly argues against that sentiment. We have to remember that his administrations are responsible for leaving Wisconsin with its lowest bond rating ever and a $3.5 billion deficit. His time at HHS hardly seems to have been examined. And if he ran for the U.S. Senate, his financial disclosure forms would make for very interesting reading. His ties to the medical-legal-healthcare-industrial complex are deep. His résumé shows him now as a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld law firm, an “independent chairman” at the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, and president at Logistics Health. While the salaries at those firms are not known right now, you would hope that with all the cash he’s making there that he’s been able to find a few cents to contribute to the state of Wisconsin.

Stay in the private sector, Tommy. They’ve been very good to you. Don’t be another Favre.

And we’ll love you 4EVER Brent!

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