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WSJ: Outside groups flooding recall districts with ads

Three things are obvious from the ad wars that are quickly escalating in Wisconsin’s recall elections.

One: They will be very, very expensive.

Spending on broadcast TV for just one race — the northwestern Wisconsin seat now held by Republican Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls — has totaled roughly three-quarters of a million dollars in recent weeks, according to estimates by CMAG, the national firm that tracks campaign spots.

Craig Gilbert

CAP TIMES: Outgoing regent Loftus on why he opposed splitting off UW-Madison

Tom Loftus' six-year run as a member of the University of Wisconsin System's Board of Regents came to an end on Friday.

Loftus, 66, was regarded as one of the most politically savvy regents and earlier this year emerged as an outspoken critic of the plan contained in Gov. Scott Walker's 2011-13 budget proposal that would have granted UW-Madison public authority status and split it away from the rest of the UW System.

Todd Finkelmeyer

MJS: Public workers retire in droves

One out of about every 14 public employees in the Wisconsin Retirement System asked for "the numbers" - estimates of what their pensions would be if they retired - in the first half of this year.

A new report from the Department of Employee Trust Funds, which runs the pension system, says the 18,759 state and local government workers who asked what their pension would be was 75% more than those who made the same request in the same period last year.

Steven Walters

THE PROGRESSIVE: Sen. Olson hypocritical in his critique of big campaign donations

Wisconsin State Senator Luther Olsen is one of the six Republicans facing a recall election this summer. After Tuesday’s Democratic primary, he will now face Representative Fred Clark in the August 9 general election.

Republicans ran “protest” candidates in the primaries in order to drag out the electoral process. All six “fake Democrats” lost.

Delaying the general election allowed the incumbents more time to campaign—and to get more campaign contributions. Millions of dollars are pouring into Wisconsin, some coming from groups outside the state.

Elizabeth DiNovella

JOHN NICHOLS: How ‘fake Democrats’ strategy blew up on GOP

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, his conservative legislative allies, the Republican Party of Wisconsin and county Republican parties tried everything in their power to thwart the recall election process, which could check and balance Walker's extreme anti-labor, anti-public schools, anti-social services and anti-local democracy agenda.

John Nichols

CAP TIMES: GOP's redistricting plan splits up communities of color

When Fitchburg Mayor Shawn Pfaff first was elected to office in April, one of his first priorities was to create new voting districts that reflected the city's diversity.

To that end, a committee created one district that circled Fitchburg's farms, another that included its urban area, and two that included more minority voters than whites.

Jessica Vanegeren and Shawn Doherty

CAP TIMES: Real Democratic recall candidates cruise to victory over fakes

None of the six placeholder or "fake" Democratic Senate candidates pulled off an upset victory during the first round of a historic recall election season in Wisconsin Tuesday.

But then again, few expected they would.

"We certainly did not expect any victories out of the protest candidates," said Katie McCallum, a spokeswoman with the Republican Party of Wisconsin. "They did the job they were intended to do ... which was to give the incumbents time to get back to their districts and talk with voters after passing the budget."

Jessica V

Poll: 59 percent disapprove of Gov. Walker's performance

A majority of Wisconsin residents disapprove of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's performance and are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the state, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

The University of Wisconsin Survey Center's Badger Poll found that 59 percent of residents disapprove of the performance of Walker, who took office in January and wasted no time pushing divisive legislation through the Republican-controlled Legislature, including a law that stripped most public employees of their collective bargaining rights.

Associated Press

Tom Hayden to speak at 2011 Democracy Convention

After over fifty years of activism, politics and writing, Tom Hayden is still a leading voice for ending the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, for erasing sweatshops, saving the environment, and reforming politics through a more participatory democracy. Hayden was famously a founding member of the Students for a Democratic Society in 1961, and author of its visionary call, the Port Huron Statement, described by Howard Zinn as "one of those historic documents which represents an era."

Ben Manski

THE NATION: ALEC exposed for rigging elections

In the heat of Wisconsin’s brutal battle over Governor Scott Walker’s assaults on unions, local democracy, public education and social services, one of his closest allies suddenly shifted direction. State Representative Robin Vos, Republican co-chair of the powerful Legislative Joint Finance Committee, determined that making it harder for college students, seniors and low-income citizens to vote was an immediate legislative priority, and pressed lawmakers to focus on enacting one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the nation.

John Nichols

The Atlantic breaks down Wisconsin's summer recalls

Twenty.

That is the number of state legislative elections Wisconsinites may potentially vote in between now and the end of 2011. Between the primaries and the generals, there are 17 elections being held in relation to the nine state senators -- there are 33 total in office -- who were recalled in the clatter and hullabaloo that followed Gov. Scott Walker's successful defense of his budget "repair" bill last winter and spring.

Abe Sauer

SIFTING AND WINNOWING: Why we must have hand-counted paper ballots and citizen exit polls

It goes without saying that the outcomes of the nine Senate recall elections scheduled in Wisconsin will be of intense interest to most of the UW-Madison community.  Forecasting the outcome of elections weeks in advance is always a risky business; nevertheless, we offer the following bold prediction:

In at least some cases, the candidate receiving the lesser of the actual votes cast — perhaps, in fact, the candidate you passionately opposed — will be declared the official victor.

Sifting and Winnowing

MJS: Republican senator coerced into supporting "budget-repair" bill?

A prominent business leader from state Sen. Rob Cowles' district was stunned when the veteran lawmaker explained why he voted in favor of Gov. Scott Walker's controversial budget-repair plan.

Cowles had contacted the business leader earlier this year to ask for the person's support in his upcoming recall election.

Daniel Bice

Eau Claire bar holds Miller/Coors beer dump

On Thursday I went over to the Fire House Bar in Eau Claire (by the way, highly recommended for drinking Wisconsin craft brews). They were holding an event to protest the new changes to the beer distribution laws that were put in as part of the meandering budget process.

Steve Hanson

MJS: Major Walker donor gets probation for campaign finance violations

West Bend - William Gardner, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. and a major donor to Gov. Scott Walker, was sentenced Thursday to two years of probation for violating state campaign finance laws.

Washington County Circuit Judge James Pouros also sentenced Gardner to 100 hours of community service at Tenor High School, a charter school in Milwaukee.

Don Behm

CAP TIMES: Women's groups, lawmakers call for Prosser to take a leave from Supreme Court

Women's rights groups and women lawmakers from the city of Madison, Dane County and state Legislature are calling on Justice David Prosser to take a leave from the Supreme Court while an investigation proceeds into allegations that he physically assaulted Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument.

Judith Davidoff

THE PROGRESSIVE: Hundreds protest Walker at Devil's Lake centennial

Wis. Gov. Scott Walker came to Devil’s Lake State Park Saturday morning for a ceremony honoring the centennial of the park, but he found more protesters there than well-wishers.

An hour before Walker spoke, about 80 protesters gathered at the entrance of the park and walked in a procession that was led by two of the organizers, Sue and Tom Holmes, Sue was carrying an American flag and Tom the Wisconsin state flag.

Matthew Rothschild

AFP: Calls for mass rally to bring Egypt revolt 'back to basics'

CAIRO – Egyptian activists are calling for a massive rally on July 8 to "save the revolution" that toppled Hosni Mubarak, urging politicians to drop debates on the timing of elections and focus on restoring basic freedoms.

Agence France-Presse

YES!: National Nurses United rallies for financial transaction tax

Sandy Falwell, who has worked in a neonatal intensive care unit for some 20 years, could tell plenty of stories about the impact of the Great Recession on the lives of her patients. One of the most painful: After a woman gave birth to a 2-pound baby, she told Falwell that she blamed herself for her baby’s premature birth. During her pregnancy she had been unable to afford insulin treatments for her diabetes—in part because she was taking care of her elderly parents.

Sarah Anderson and Marlee Blasenheim

DAILY CENSORED: How the recall elections could be stolen

I cannot watch enough videos of the people in Wisconsin as you bold, brave, most decent Wisconsonites are out in the streets – resisting, doing non-violent civil disobedience/direct action, dissenting, protesting, rising up, standing up to and speaking and singing truth to power in the face of Walker and his cronies.

What is happening in Wisconsin now is a model for the whole country. Not only your  honorable actions, but also what Walker and the thugs behind him are trying to do in Wisconsin.

Sheila Parks

WSJ: Iron ore mine plans on hold in northern Wisconsin

The company looking to build a $1.5 billion iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin has stopped the project until state lawmakers agree on a new set of rules for reviewing such projects.

State Sen. Robert Jauch, D-Poplar, said this week that Gogebic Taconite is turning its attention toward sites in Michigan and Minnesota after a bid to push through new legislation failed recently.

Clay Barbour

CAP TIMES: What’s good for fat cats is bad for rest of us

Gov. Scott Walker never misses a chance these days to take credit for Chief Executive Magazine moving Wisconsin up 17 notches — 41st to 24th — in its ranking of the best and worst states for business.

Dave Zweifel

MJS: Republicans in Legislature may try to make recalls harder

Republican leaders in the Legislature said Monday they would consider introducing legislation this fall to make it harder to recall state officials.

Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) said the upcoming recall elections had launched the state Senate into "full campaign mode" and was slowing down the legislative process.

Also, Gov. Scott Walker - speaking with reporters in Washington - called the recalls a "distraction" for most Wisconsin residents.

Lee Bergquist and Craig Gilbert

WSJ: Wis. police remove Capitol metal detectors

Police quietly removed metal detectors from the state Capitol's entrances Wednesday, several days ahead of schedule.

Capitol Police set up the detectors at three Capitol entrances and closed all other ground floor doors after thousands of protesters descended on the building in February to demonstrate against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to strip almost all public workers of their collective bargaining rights.

Associated Press

AFP: Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards demonstrate against Austerity

MADRID — Spain's "indignant" activists launched Monday protest marches culminating in a major Madrid rally July 24, showing no let-up just a day after rallying an estimated 200,000 protesters.

Seething over the destruction of millions of jobs, welfare cuts and corruption, the first of at least three nationwide marches set off from eastern Spain's Mediterranean city of Valencia.

Activists from Valencia will march and cycle on a 35-day, 500-kilometre (300-mile) route winding through 29 cities and villages in eastern Spain before arriving in Madrid.

Sylvie Groult

WSJ: Solidarity singer punched in face by concealed carry supporter

A participant in the daily, non-violent Solidarity Sing Along at the state Capitol suffered a broken tooth when he was punched in the face by one of two men who were draping a "Don't Tread on Me" flag over the heads of singers, the leader of the sing-along said.

State Department of Administration spokeswoman Carla Vigue said the singer who was punched, Michael J. Dickman of Madison, saw the two men draping the flag over others and came over and grabbed it. Dickman was cited by Capitol Police for disorderly conduct, she said.

Sandy Cullen