6th Congressional District (Potential) Primary Update

Since my February 17 Roth Report said a primary may be brewing in the 6th Congressional District to challenge Rep. Tom Petri we've become aware of several developments. 

Right after the report, Sen. Glenn Grothman quickly denied that he was one of several people exploring a run against Petri.

While Grothman decided to take himself out of the running, The Roth Report has learned that Rep. Duey Stroebel (R - Saukville) is now seriously considering a run. 

Stroebel is a relative newcomer to the Wisconsin State Assembly. He was elected in a special election in 2011 to fill the vacancy left by former Rep. Mark Gottleib, who was was appointed Secretary of Transportation. Stroebel has been a reliable conservative voice and vote in the Assembly during his short tenure.

Former Port Washington Mayor Joe Dean and former Scott Walker campaign treasurer John Hiller are both still mulling primary challenges as well. At the time of my initial report, I thought Hiller’s candidacy may face some trouble with the looming release of John Doe emails. But Hiller emerged from the 27,000 page document dump basically unscathed.

Ultimately, something has to give here. Petri’s lackluster voting record, support from labor unions, and current review by the House Ethics Committee make him ripe for a primary challenge. But with an August primary, the size of Petri’s campaign war chest, and the unknown schedule of the House Ethics Committee investigation, those considering a primary challenge need to move very soon if they hope to compete. A multi-candidate primary would almost certainly ensure a Petri victory.

Mary Burke, Act 10, and a Telling Correction

I’ve written extensively in this column about how difficult it is going to be for Mary Burke to navigate the issue of Act 10.

Take for instance a story from WLUK Fox 11 in Green Bay. Wednesday night, a report ran that said Mary Burke announced to supporters that she would repeal Act 10. This would have been a significant departure from her talking points. 

But after some calls were made to the station to confirm the quote, Fox 11 issued a correction with a transcript of Burke’s full statement. It reads:

Reporter: "If you are elected governor, will you do anything to reverse the measure of Act 10 or any of the education cuts?"

Burke: "What I would do is I would work to restore collective bargaining. I believe that that does not stand in the way of making sure we have an effective and efficient and accountable public sector, including our schools. But we also have to make sure that we are able to attract and retain great people into our teaching profession, because for our students to thrive and our schools to thrive, we need thriving educators as well who do have the supports in order to deal and educate our children and our workforce of the future. So it is important, and I support our Common Core state standards. I know Gov. Walker has said that he does not want to see those. Frankly, they’re needed to make sure we are having a competitive workforce in the future. They’re a great framework so that our students are developing the critical thinking skills they need to compete for future jobs."

Again, here is Mary Burke’s problem in a nutshell. Throughout this campaign Burke will be asked about Act 10, and a middle way doesn’t really exist. But Burke has managed to craft this nuanced answer and until yesterday has gotten away with it.  

Restoring collective bargaining would require the repeal of Act 10 or at least the gutting of the law. But a placid news media never presses her on the issue.

On the flip side, what does it say about the success of the Act 10 reforms that the Democratic candidate for governor cannot say she would repeal the law that just two years ago forced a recall election? Quite stunning.

Quick Hits
  • At Insight 2014, Gov. Scott Walker would not take a stand one way or another on the early voting bill being debated in the legislature. This left some to wonder if he might veto the bill.
  • United Wisconsin, the very group that organized the 2012 recall of Scott Walker, endorsed Mary Burke on Friday. As was written above, Burke can't even say she would repeal Act 10 and yet she still gets the endorsement of the group that organized the recall. So much for principles.
  • Retiring State Rep. Garey Bies announced Friday he will run for Secretary of State. Bies joins a very crowded field on the Republican side.

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