Scott Walker's son decides against run for Congress


October 1, 2019

MADISON The 25-year-old son of former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has decided against a run for Congress.

Matt Walker posted on Twitter Monday that he would not run to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner in Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District. Walker has never run for office and he was among several Republicans eyeing the seat in the deeply Republican district.

Walker says after praying and talking with community members, friends, family, he's decided to focus on his work and community involvement to support the area. The district covers northern and western Milwaukee suburbs.

Republican state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is the only announced candidate on the GOP side, but many others are still weighing a run next year. That includes state Sen. Chris Kapenga, Matt Neumann, the son of a former congressman, and former U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson.

Evers to move date of Wisconsin's special congressional vote

MADISON, Wis. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers plans to change the date of the special election for an open congressional seat because he was told by the U.S. Department of Justice that the dates he set last week violated federal law.

The original dates set by Evers, a Democrat, avoided potentially boosting GOP turnout in a state Supreme Court election set for April 7. The congressional seat is in a heavily Republican district that President Trump won by 20 points in 2016.

But now, Evers is considering holding the special congressional election primary on the same day in February as the primary in the Supreme Court race. He's also considering holding the general election on the same day in April, his spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff, said Tuesday.

Having the special congressional election in the strong Republican district on the same day as the Supreme Court election could be a boost to incumbent Justice Dan Kelly, part of the 5-2 conservative majority who is running for a full 10-year term next year.

The special election is to replace Republican Sean Duffy, who resigned on Sept. 23. That day, Evers set the special election for Jan. 27, with the primary scheduled for Dec. 30 far before the Supreme Court election dates.

Those dates were in compliance with state law, which requires special election primaries to be 28 days before the general election. But they conflict with federal law, which requires a 45-day gap to allow time for military and overseas voters to receive ballots.

That conflict created an "impossible situation," Baldauff said. Evers is in consultation with both the state and federal departments of justice to set the new special election dates, she said.

"We want to announce something as soon as we can," she said. "We just want to make sure there won't be any additional confusion for municipal workers, the voters and the candidates."

Evers is considering two different scenarios, both of which would move the general election to April or May.

Under one, the general election would be held on the April 7, the same day as the state's presidential primary and state Supreme Court election. The primary for the special election would be Feb. 4, two weeks before the primary for the Supreme Court race and a host of local offices.

Under the other scenario, the primary would be Feb. 18, which is the date of the primary for the state Supreme Court race. The general election for the special congressional election would then be May 5.

Evers can't align the special election with the same primary and general election dates as the regularly scheduled state spring elections because of timelines in federal law for certifying the results and having ballots available, Baldauff said.

The Wisconsin Legislature in 2011 changed the date of the state's primary for fall elections from September to August to be in compliance with the 2009 federal law giving military and overseas voters more time to vote. But the Legislature did not change the law relative to special elections, creating the conflict for this race. This is the first time the issue has come up in Wisconsin since the federal law changed in 2009.

On Friday, the state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos asked Evers to change the election dates because the Dec. 30 primary would fall on the final day of Hanukkah. Baldauff said the decision to change the dates had nothing to do with the Vos request.

Three Republicans have announced their candidacies in the heavily GOP district that covers central, northern and northwestern Wisconsin. They are Tom Tiffany, a state senator from Minocqua, Jason Church, an Army veteran who lost both his legs in Afghanistan and worked as an aide to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, and Michael Opela Sr., who lives on a hobby farm in Edgar.

Church said in a statement that "Evers' political motivations have resulted in chaos and uncertainty for voters."

Tiffany said in a statement that "it is imperative that all military and overseas voters have the opportunity to vote" and he's prepared to win no matter the election date. Opela did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Legislative committee to vote on DNR chief confirmation

MADISON Republican legislators are poised to vote on whether to recommend the state Senate confirm Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' pick to lead the Department of Natural Resources.

The state Senate's Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry has scheduled a confirmation vote on DNR Secretary Preston Cole for Tuesday morning.

The vote amounts to a recommendation to the full Senate. That body has the final say on gubernatorial appointee confirmations. Cole can continue to serve until the Senate rejects him.

Republicans who control the committee questioned Cole intensely during a hearing in March on his loyalty to Evers, a lack of a long-term plan to address chronic wasting disease and how tough he'll be on polluters.

Legislators: Waive park fees for 4th graders' families

MADISON A bipartisan group of lawmakers is proposing waiving state park entrance fees for fourth-graders' families in hopes of getting kids outside.

Wisconsin residents currently pay $28 for an annual park vehicle admission sticker. The lawmakers' bill would require the Department of Natural Resources to offer free admission to parents who can prove a fourth-grader is a member of the family in the upcoming year.

The DNR estimates the bill could result in up to $244,000 in lost revenue and cost the department $2,500 to implement.

The bill's chief Senate sponsor, Republican Rob Cowles, says the measure will help get kids away from screens and encourage a healthier lifestyle.

The Senate natural resources committee approved the bill unanimously earlier this month. It's now awaiting a floor vote in the Senate.


Associated Press