Weekly Update August 9th, 2015

Donate just $5 a month to help win 2016!
Join us this Wednesday for our August fundraiser in historic downtown Greendale.
5651 Broad St, Greendale, Wisconsin 53129
Make a contribution using secure.actblue.com

 Featuring special guests:
State Representatives Daniel Riemer and JoCasta Zamarripa

August 12, 2015
Panther Pub
5651 Broad St, Greendale, WI 53129

Rsvp on Facebook or by email at southwestdems@gmail.com


The GOP Debate: 7 Takeaways
by Glenn Thrush

That was fun. Now what?

The first Republican debate of 2016 was an empty-calorie joy ride, thanks to Donald Trump, who embraced his role as both comedian and heckler during a series of entertaining (and largely substance-free) exchanges with his fellow candidates, Fox’s moderating team and an intermittently cat-calling crowd in Cleveland.

If the nearly three hours of two-tiered GOP hopefuls proved anything, it was that the 17-candidate field is not only historically huge but uncommonly deep. It’s not clear if Republicans are getting tired of The Donald’s every-man-for-himself campaign (he kicked off the evening by saying he’d consider a third-party bid if he lost the GOP nomination fight) but beneath his overbearing presence the contours of a more conventional race, with lots of compelling characters jockeying for position in an unpredictable campaign, began to take shape.

Read more at Politico.
The Backdrop on the GAB Battle
by Matt Rothschild

Every day, there seems to be a new Republican attack on the Government Accountability Board. Today, in the Wisconsin State Journal, even former State Senator Mike Ellis, who championed its creation in 2007, took a shot at it.

And poor Kevin Kennedy, the director of the GAB, has faced more unfounded character assassination than anyone in Wisconsin since the days of Joe McCarthy.

At least Judge John Gerald Nichol, who is on the GAB board, defended Kennedy on “UpFront with Mike Gousha” yesterday. And Nichol stood up for basic good government when he said: "You have these outside groups with scads of money, looking to spend it on candidates and on issues; it should be transparent and people should be accountable.”

But that’s the point. Republican leaders like Scott Walker and Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald don’t want transparency and accountability. They, and the reactionary justices on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, want as much secret money as possible to flow into our political campaigns.

In a fundamental sense, they are assaulting democracy itself.

They don’t want one person, one vote. They want the wealthiest people in the country, and corporations, to have a disproportionate influence. And they have gerrymandered the state so that their own voters have a much greater say than anyone else’s.

Read more at Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
Wisconsin's high-speed trains ready to roll... in Michigan
by Steven Elbow

Even though Gov. Scott Walker axed high-speed rail in Wisconsin, the state's still having an impact on passenger rail travel — and that's bad news for rail travelers.

A Chicago Sun-Times story this week reports that Amtrak’s Empire Builder, a passenger train that runs from Chicago to Minneapolis before heading to the west coast, has been plagued with delays because of an increase in freight traffic carrying Wisconsin frac sand and North Dakota oil that results from fracking.

The Empire Builder, the news organization reported, "now spends so much of its time idling on sidings while freights pass that it is routinely hours — and hours — behind schedule and is losing ridership."

Meanwhile, the two high-speed Talgo train sets originally built for high-speed rail service to connect Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago have finally found a home — in Michigan. The trains are part of improvements that are expected to shave two hours off the current Detroit-Chicago run.

To the south, Illinois is spending $102 million for improvements to cut the Chicago-St. Louis time by an hour.

Walker famously turned away $810 million in federal stimulus money for the Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago line in 2010. That put the kibosh on  Minnesota plans to run a high-speed service from Minneapolis to Chicago. Minnesota still holds out hopes for the line and is spending $800,000 to study the idea, but Wisconsin isn't coughing up a cent.

Read original post at The Cap Times.
Inside Russ Feingold's Comeback Attempt
by Manu Raju

Russ Feingold is quick to recall that bitter night when he lost his Senate seat nearly five years ago. He had just conceded the race to a first-time GOP candidate, Ron Johnson. And as he hopped into his van on his way to deliver a speech to his dejected supporters, his daughter made one plea.

“Don’t run again, Dad,” she told him. 

Feingold, composed, assured her that he’d take a few years off and would reassess his career.

“But I didn’t say never!” he recalled last month to a crowd of a few dozen at a coffeehouse here in western Wisconsin. The supporters erupted in joy.

After lying low since the 2010 loss — he wrote a book, remarried, witnessed the birth of his first grandchild, served as an envoy in Africa and taught at the university level — Feingold is now trying to do something no vanquished senator has accomplished since Rhode Island’s Peter Gerry in 1934: successfully win back his seat in the next six-year cycle. He is tapping into the progressive angst in a state roiled by years of bitter clashes with Gov. Scott Walker and conservatives who now dominate the state Legislature. Yet, he is also trying to portray himself as an outsider of sorts — despite having spent 18 years in the Senate.

The 2016 election cycle will gauge whether voters will give a spate of ex-Democratic pols — in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana — a new lease on political life. It also will measure the resiliency of first-term Republicans like Johnson — who were elected in the 2010 tea party wave but now face a more daunting presidential cycle in which streams of more moderate voters could tilt the outcome in critical battleground states.

Read more at Politico.
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