Continued Fallout from Senate’s DATCP Appointment Denial
The fallout continues after the Wisconsin State Senate denied confirmation of Governor Evers’ then Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff to head the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. As previously reported, this party line 19-14 vote marked the first time in several decades when the State Senate denied confirmation to a cabinet appointment.
In the following moments and days, Evers harshly criticized the Republican-controlled Senate’s actions. Last week, Evers garnered considerable attention from media and opponents when it was reported he referred to legislative Republicans as “bastards” during a staff meeting.
In follow-up comments to the media, Evers explained he was referring to the term “don’t let the bastards get you down”.
“It’s a saying, it’s a thing,” he told reporters. “I don’t think they’re bastards but I do think they made a huge mistake doing what they did to Brad Pfaff.”
Evers’ comments were heavily criticized by Senate Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau) called the comments “shockingly disrespectful.”
More significantly, it seems the comments have severely jeopardized the fate of at least one gubernatorial appointment. Michael Gillick is awaiting a public hearing in the Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform Committee to serve as Commissioner on the Labor and Industry Review Commission.
When the governor’s staff inquired if Mr. Gillick’s appointment will receive a public hearing, Chairman of the Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform Committee Steve Nass’ office responded via email, “As one of the individuals in the State Senate that Governor Evers considers to be a ‘bastard, amoral, stupid and a political assassin,’ my response is a respectful ‘not a chance.’”
It is unclear if Evers’ comments may have jeopardized the chances of other appointments. At this time, the State Senate has no plans to take any additional confirmation votes before the end of the year.
Recent Campaign Announcements
After weeks of speculation, State Senator Chris Kapenga (R – Delafield) announced he will not run for the 5th Congressional seat, which is being vacated by Congressman James Sensenbrenner. This means that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau) remains the only Republican running to replace Sensenbrenner. With the 5th Congressional District being heavily conservative, it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that Fitzgerald will begin serving in Congress in January 2021.
This week, State Representative Rob Stafsholt (R – New Richmond) announced he will be running in the Republican primary in the 10th Senate District.
“As a State Representative, I was proud to work alongside leaders like Governor Scott Walker and Senator Sheila Harsdorf to usher in bold reforms which have saved taxpayers billions and made our economy strong. I will be a Senator who fights against job killing taxes and unnecessary regulations,” Stafsholt said in his announcement. Stafsholt was first elected to the Assembly in 2016 and currently serves as Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Sporting Heritage.
Stafsholt joins Cherie Link in the 10th Senate Republican Primary. Link is a small business owner from Somerset. Following Stafsholt’s announcement, Link said in a statement, “Rep. Stafsholt points to my not being part of the club in Madison. I’m not a political insider, that’s true. I’m proud of my local involvement and experience building a business.”
Stafsholt and Link are vying for the opportunity to run against incumbent Democratic Senator Patty Schachtner (D – Somerset). Schachtner was elected to the State Senate in 2018 when she defeated former State Representative Adam Jarchow in a special election. Her victory was considered a major win for Democrats. All eyes will be on the 10th Senate race to see if Democrats can hold the seat, which consists of parts of Burnett, Dunn, Pierce, Polk and St. Croix Counties.
New Marquette University Law School Poll Numbers
On November 20, Marquette University Law School released its newest poll numbers forecasting the 2020 elections and gauging the state’s attitudes on a variety of issues and public figures.
The most significant numbers provide a glimpse into Wisconsin voters’ opinions on the impeachment proceedings. The new numbers found 40 percent of respondents favor impeachment of President Donald Trump while 53 percent do not. However, 52 percent of respondents said they do believe Trump asked Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rivals.
Additionally, the poll indicates 42 percent of respondents say Trump did “something seriously wrong” while 38 percent say he “did nothing wrong.”
While the numbers indicate a majority of respondents believe Trump asked Ukraine to investigate political rivals and a plurality believe he did “something seriously wrong”, a majority of respondents still do not support impeachment.
In other presidential data, Trump now leads the top four potential Democratic contenders in the 2020 election. Previously polls showed him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. However, Trump now leads Biden by 3 points, Sanders by 3 points, and Warren by 5 points.
According to the poll, 28 percent of respondents indicated they usually think of themselves as Republicans, 28 percent said they think of themselves as Democrats, and 38 percent said they consider themselves Independent. Given the breakdown, this week’s poll numbers could indicate Trump seems to be polling better among self-described independents.
While Trump’s numbers are rising, Biden still remains the first choice for many Democratic Primary voters in Wisconsin. He leads Sanders by 13 points and Warren by 15 in the race for the Democratic nomination.
The new poll numbers also indicate Governor Tony Evers’ approval rating has dipped below 50 percent for the first time. The November data shows 47 percent of poll respondents approve of Evers’ job performance.
Other data includes:
The economy, over the last year, has:
- Improved: 42 percent
- Worsened: 18 percent
- Stayed the Same: 37 percent
In 2020, the economy will:
- Improve: 35 percent
- Worsen: 24 percent
- Stay the same: 37 percent
Chronic wasting diseases is a threat to the future of deer hunting:
- Deer Hunters Responding: Agree – 65%, Disagree – 31%
- Non-Deer Hunters Responding: Agree – 62%, Disagree – 18%
The poll, conducted among 801 registered Wisconsin voters, has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points.