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Capitol Notes

Wisconsin Public Radio

There's never a shortage of political news in Wisconsin, from the governor's office to the Legislature to the state's elected officials in Washington, DC. Join WUWM's Marti Mikkelson and editor JR Ross each week as they highlight and provide context to the latest developments.

There's never a shortage of political news in Wisconsin, from the governor's office to the Legislature to the state's elected officials in Washington, DC. Join WUWM's Marti Mikkelson and editor JR Ross each week as they highlight and provide context to the latest developments.
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Milwaukee, WI


There's never a shortage of political news in Wisconsin, from the governor's office to the Legislature to the state's elected officials in Washington, DC. Join WUWM's Marti Mikkelson and editor JR Ross each week as they highlight and provide context to the latest developments.




Capitol Notes: What Could Influence Walker’s Decision Whether To Sign Lame-Duck Bills?

The legislative lame duck session dominated the news last week. The Republican-controlled legislature passed a sweeping package of bills designed to weaken the powers of Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul. Now, many eyes are on Republican Gov. Walker to see if he'll sign the measures. Walker is being pressured by people on both sides of the aisle, not to sign the legislation and to think about his legacy. In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation,...


Capitol Notes: WI GOP Considering “Monumental” Changes In How State Government Operates

Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature released plans late Friday for bills they’ll take up the first week of December. Lawmakers are going into session to consider limiting the power of Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. JR Ross of weighs in on the measures for this week’s Capitol Notes. He says if the proposals are approved, the changes would be a very big deal. “The central theme to all of this is the...


Capitol Notes: Timing Of Brad Schimel's Judgeship Appointment Raises Questions For Some

Last week saw more fallout from the Nov. 6 election. Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel decided not to seek a recount in the race that he narrowly lost, to Democratic challenger Josh Kaul. The next day, outgoing Gov. Scott Walker appointed Schimel to the post of Waukesha County Circuit Judge. Some legislative Democrats decried the move, calling it "backscratching." In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of, what he thought of...


Capitol Notes: Walker Signals Support For Moving Presidential Primary Date

Gov. Scott Walker avoided the public eye in the week following the election, in which he narrowly lost to Democratic challenger Tony Evers. But late last week, he surfaced. He says he's open to moving the date of Wisconsin's presidential primary in 2020, so that it won't be held on the same day as the state Supreme Court election. The move would help conservative Justice Daniel Kelly, a Walker appointee who would be up for election to a 10-year term in April of 2020. It looks like a bill...


Scott Walker's Future & His Place In Wisconsin History

Update Nov. 16 Gov. Scott Walker made his first comments to reporters on Thursday after losing his re-election bid. He promised he wouldn't "retreat." Walker also signaled potential support for a variety of Republican-backed efforts to limit the power of his Democratic successor, including moving the date of the 2020 presidential primary. Original Story Nov. 12 Now that Gov. Scott Walker has lost his bid for re-election, some people are curious about the Republican's future and his legacy....


Capitol Notes: Challenges For Governor-Elect Evers

Last week, Tony Evers cleared a huge hurdle, winning the race for governor. But the Democrat’s biggest challenges are to come. The first is within a few months when Evers will have to present his first biennial budget proposal. According to a Wisconsin Policy Forum report , he'll have to find $2 billion just to keep current programs in place. In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, JR Ross of talks about whether that shortfall comes as a surprise, and how Evers might be...


Capitol Notes: Walker Concedes, Evers Faces Gridlock With Republican Legislature

Gov. Scott Walker conceded to Democratic challenger Tony Evers Wednesday after Evers won the election by just more than 1 percentage point. Walker originally wanted to wait until military ballots were counted and the official canvass was completed. He also expressed concern about 2,000 absentee ballots in Milwaukee that were reconstructed due to errors or damage. If the tally had brought Walker within 1 percent of Evers, Walker could have asked for a recount. But on Wednesday, the Walker...


Capitol Notes: Gubernatorial Candidates Make Final Pitches, Will The State Senate Flip?

After weeks of attack ads and mailings, the candidates for Wisconsin governor and U.S. Senate spent the weekend barnstorming the state, making their final appeals to voters before Tuesday's election. In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of, what points the candidates wanted to hammer home, in their closing arguments.


Capitol Notes: Did The Wisconsin Gubernatorial Debates Sway Voters?

Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger Tony Evers squared off for their second and final debate Friday night before the Nov. 6 election. The candidates debated health care, education, immigration and the economy — and repeated the same arguments they've consistently made throughout the campaign. Walker and Evers are locked in a tight race, with roughly a week to go until the election. In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of


Capitol Notes: Walker, Evers Refute Charges Of Plagiarism, Lack Of Integrity

Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger Tony Evers, traded barbs in their first debate Friday night over taxes, health care and education. But, the candidates also found themselves addressing some bombshells that dropped earlier in the week. Walker accused Evers of plagiarizing parts of his budget proposals as head of the Department of Public Instruction. At the same time, Walker faced heavy criticism from some former cabinet secretaries, who signed an open letter saying the Walker...


Capitol Notes: The Takeaways From The Baldwin-Vukmir Debates

Last week saw two debates between Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Republican challenger Leah Vukmir. Both debates were characterized by tension and hostility as the two clashed over abortion, immigration, health care and a host of other issues. In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of why he thought the debates were so combative.


Capitol Notes: Will Johnson, Baldwin Suffer Consequences From Kavanaugh Vote?

After a bitter fight that culminated in sexual assault accusations and an FBI investigation, Judge Brett Kavanaugh is now Justice Kavanaugh. The U.S. Senate confirmed Kavanaugh over the weekend and he was then sworn in to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Wisconsin's U.S. senators split on the matter, with Republican Ron Johnson voting yes and Democrat Tammy Baldwin voting no to confirmation. In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of,...


Capitol Notes: Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Vukmir Pledges Unabashed Support For Kavanaugh

The Kavanaugh hearings took center stage last week in Washington, and both candidates is Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race weighed in on President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court. Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin asked for an FBI investigation into claims that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when the two were teenagers. Baldwin's Republican challenger Leah Vukmir, meanwhile, called for quick confirmation of Kavanaugh. For this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti...


Capitol Notes: Evers Goes Bold, Says He's Open To Raising 'Variety Of Taxes'

The candidates for governor traded more barbs last week. State School Superintendent and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers took the opportunity to criticize his opponent, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, in his "state of education" address. Evers said Walker's education priorities are "out of whack" and that his policies are failing Wisconsin. Walker answered by launching an ad that warns voters Evers will increase taxes and take the state backward if he's elected. Evers responded...


Capitol Notes: State Senate Under Pressure To Vote On Kimberly-Clark Incentives

Gov. Scott Walker is imploring state senators to return to the capitol, and vote on a bill that would provide $100 million in tax incentives to Kimberly-Clark. The company says it will close one of its plants in the Fox Valley if the Senate doesn't approve the incentives by the end of the month. The Assembly passed the incentives in February, but the bill stalled in the Senate because there wasn't enough Republican support. WUWM's Marti Mikkelson talked about the issue with JR Ross of...


Capitol Notes: Walker Weighs In On The National Anthem Debate

Last week, we saw Republican Gov. Scott Walker inserting himself into the national anthem debate. He called on all NFL players to stand during the anthem, instead of taking a knee. In doing so, Walker sided with President Trump, who's been vocal on the issue. It happened during a rough week for Trump, as a book and an op-ed came out, which appear to show members of his administration are very critical of him. And, Walker already has been saying that this midterm election year could be...


Capitol Notes: What Impact Would Trump Visit Have On Walker Campaign?

Some heavy hitters are beginning to appear in Wisconsin on behalf of the candidates this fall. Vice President Mike Pence held a fundraiser in Milwaukee last week for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir. She's facing Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin in November. Pence says both he — and President Trump — plan on coming back to Wisconsin to rally for Vukmir and Gov. Walker before the mid-term elections. Walker is locked in a tight race with Democratic challenger Tony Evers. In this...


Capitol Notes: Will Trump’s Rough Week Impact Wisconsin’s Fall Elections?

The underlying theme of the midterm elections this fall is how voters feel about Donald Trump. The president has been on a bumpy road in the past week. Two of his former close associates were found guilty . Others turned against him, agreeing to share potentially damaging information. Will the recent developments make a difference in races in Wisconsin, especially if Trump comes here, to stump for candidates like Gov. Walker, and U.S. Senate hopeful Leah Vukmir? JR Ross of


Capitol Notes: Big Wisconsin Races Go Negative Early

It’s been less than a week since the fall primary elections and already campaigns are in “full-court press” mode. The candidates in the big races have been traveling the state, courting voters. Meanwhile, groups that favor Republican Gov. Scott Walker have been attacking Democratic challenger Tony Evers. And fans of Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin have been blasting GOP opponent Leah Vukmir. JR Ross of isn’t surprised by the negativity. He says it’s a tried and true tactic...


Capitol Notes Special Edition: Walker, Evers Barnstorm Wisconsin & Attack Each Other

Republican Gov. Scott Walker will face state School Superintendent Tony Evers in November, as a result of Tuesday's Democratic primary. The attacks happened immediately. The Republican Party of Wisconsin announced on election night that it would run TV ads, attacking Evers for not revoking the license of a teacher who viewed pornography on a state computer. Evers responded by saying that state law at the time wouldn't allow him to revoke the license, because students did not see the...