Yesterday, the Marquette Law School Poll released their latest polling numbers. The poll surveyed 1,405 registered voters on their political positions on the presidential, U.S. Senate, and Supreme Court races. Should the results reflect the outcome of Tuesday’s election, Wisconsin as well as the nation could see shift in their political climate.
Sen. Ted Cruz is currently polling ahead of both Donald Trump and Gov. John Kaisch by 10 percent. If Cruz can continue to hold the top spot, he could win the delegates needed to hold Trump off until the Republican Convention, making it anyone’s race. In February, Trump held the lead in Wisconsin with 30 percent.
As for the Democrats, Sen. Bernie Sanders is predicted to have 49 percent of the vote over former Secretary Hilary Clinton’s 45 percent. That is an increase from the February poll predicting Sanders to beat Clinton by 1 percentage point. Though six percent of likely voters remain undecided, the numbers are continuing to grow in Sanders Favor. A Wisconsin win for Sanders could increase his chances at the Democratic nominee but he will need wins in more states, like New York, to change the political tides in his favor.
Tuesday’s election could possibly change the makeup of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Incumbent Justice Rebecca Bradley, appointed by Gov. Walker, is matched against Justice Joanne Kloppenburg for the seat once held by Justice N. Patrick Crooks. Currently, a third of likely voters do not have an opinion either way on the candidates but with the Presidential primary taking place at the same time, the race could be determined by party turn out. 69 percent of Republicans say they support Bradley while 64 percent of Democrats support Kloppenburg. Each party has a small percentage that support the opposing candidate as well as a percentage who says they will vote for neither.
The poll collected data on the U.S. Senate race as well. Former Sen. Russ Feingold continues to take the lead with 47 percent of registered voters while Incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson trails by 5 percentage points. Though Feingold has a firm hold on first place, Sen. Johnson has continued to climb in the polls. Since last month alone, Sen. Johnson has climbed over 12 percentage points in the polls.
The Marquette Poll has a +/- 3.3 percentage point margin of error. The poll’s sampling contained 44 percent Republican voters and 48 percent Democratic. Seven percent of voters surveyed considered themselves independent. The poll is considered the most extensive poll statewide.
Gov. Walker Signs 56 Wisconsin Bills into Law
On Wednesday, March 30th, Governor Walker singed 56 bills into law in his office at the Wisconsin State Capitol. The bills covered a multitude of issues spanning from the use of cell phones in construction zones to the definition of a restricted controlled substance. The bills were recently passed by both houses and were among over 150 bills waiting to be signed.
Among the bills signed by the Governor on Wednesday was Assembly Bill 557. The bill was passed unanimously by both houses in an effort to combat the continuing heroin epidemic in our state. The law will add heroin metabolite to the definition of restricted controlled substances. This will allow authorities to test a person’s blood for the drug to determine whether they operated a vehicle while under the influence.
Assembly Bill 198 will now make it illegal to use your cell phone while driving through a construction zone. Punishment for violating the law will result in a monetary forfeiture or no less than $20 and no more than $40 for a first offense. A second offense will result in a fine of no less than $50 no more than $100. Emergency calls are exempt from the law.
Governor Walker also signed the following bills on Wednesday:
Assembly Bill 670 – This law will prevent drones from flying over prisons in Wisconsin. Violating this law will result in fine of no more than $5,000. The Department of Corrections must also confiscate any recording created by the drone.
Senate Bill 550 – This law creates a Bucks license plate. The plate will now be designed and once approved, can be purchased for use in Wisconsin. The cost of the plates will aid in offsetting the cost of the new arena.
Assembly Bill 865 – This law allows pharmacists to inject patients with drugs prescribed to them by a practitioner. Previously pharmacists were only allowed to administer injectable drugs for demonstration purposes only.
In addition to the bills above, Governor Walker signed a bill put forth and supported by the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a client of Hoven Consulting. Assembly Bill 402, the Dietetic Internship Program, will create additional internship positions for dieticians across Wisconsin. The internship program will work in conjunction with the Wisconsin Women, Infants, and Children Program, providing essential nutrition education to program recipients.
Wisconsin State Legislators Announce their Retirement
Last month, nine legislators announced they will not be running for re-election. This is the typical time of year for legislators to announce their retirement as the start date for election season fast approaches. The news of the open seats will allow vying candidates to circulate nomination papers as of April 15th in hopes of landing a spot in the state legislature.
Though many of the retirees have been here for almost a decade each, some are new to state politics. Rep. Dave Heaton (R-Wausau), Sen. Rick Gudex (R- Fond du Lac), and Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd (D-Milwaukee) are currently serving their first term in office. The news of their retirements came as shock to their colleagues as well as a cause for concern. Rep. Heaton and Sen. Gudex currently hold seats in split districts, won by a slim margin. Their exit could mean a shift in political power for each of their districts.
Another surprising retirement came from Senate President Mary Lazich. Sen. Lazich was first elected to the state Assembly in 1992 followed by the Senate in 1998. She is also the first woman to serve as the Senate President. The senator currently serves as Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Employment Relations, the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization and the Joint legislative Council.
The number of retirees is quiet low when compared to the 132 elected seats in our state. As the political landscape in Wisconsin stay influx with the upcoming presidential election, state offices may see more members choosing to throw in the towel.
The following nine legislators will not be running for re-election in 2016:
Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd (D-Milwaukee) – Sen. Harris Dodd was elected to the State Senate in 2012 and has served as the Minority Caucus Sergeant at Arms since 2013. As a member of six senate committees, the senator has focused on education reform and chairs the legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus.
Rep. Dave Heaton (R – Wausau) – Rep. Heaton was elected to the Assembly in 2014 after defeating first-term Democrat Mary Wright by a margin of 100 votes. The representative made a name for himself in office passing legislation to reform the food share program. In a statement released to the public, the representative said he will not be returning in order to focus on his family.
Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D-Milton) – Rep. Jorgensen was elected to the Assembly in 2006 and has served as the Minority Caucus Chairperson since 2013. The representative served on numerous committees including panels dealing with agriculture, public benefit reform and colleges. Jorgensen is leaving the assembly to run for Rock County Register of Deeds.
Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) – Rep. Knudson was elected to the Assembly in 2010. He has served on multiple committees including the Joint Committee on Finance. Currently, he serves as vice-chair of both the Assembly and Joint Committee on Review of Administrative Rules. Rep. Knudson cited the principle of rotation in public office as a reason for retirement in his statement to the press.
Rep. Tom Larson (R-Colfax) – Rep. Larson was elected to the Assembly in 2010. Since his election, he has served on multiple committees relating to small business and rural development. He currently chairs the Assembly Committee on Family Law. Rep. Larson is currently battling lung cancer and has stepped down to spend more time with his family.
Rep. John Murtha (R- Baldwin) – Rep. Murtha was elected to the Assembly in 2006 and currently serves as the Majority Caucus Chair. Previously, the representative served as the Majority Caucus Vice Chairperson as well as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Housing and Real Estate. Rep. Murtha will step down to spend more time with his family.
Sen. Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac) – Sen. Gudex is a first-term senator, elected to the State Senate in 2012. He served as President Pro Tempore during the 2015 -16 legislative session and is chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development and Commerce.
Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) – Sen. Lazich was first elected to the State Assembly in 1992 before running for Senate in 1998. She has previously served as the Majority Caucus Chairperson and currently holds the role as the Senate President. The senator is on a number of committees as well as Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Employment Relations, the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization and the Joint legislative Council. The Senator’s retirement came as a shock to the legislature. Sen. Lazich has not given a reason for her retirement.
Rep. Alvin Ott (R-Forest Junction) – Rep. Ott was first elected to the State Assembly in 1986. He has served on multiple committees focusing on agriculture, natural resources and tourism. He currently chairs the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage. Rep. Ott is retiring after 30 years of service and plans to spend more time with his family.
All 99 seats in the State Assembly are up for election while 16 are up in the Senate. Those intending to run for election in 2016 must file nomination papers no later than June 1st. Primary elections for all partisans’ seats will be held on Tuesday, August 9th followed by the general election on November 8th.
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