- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Burke gives Wisconsin Democrats a new approach

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) - Only a few years ago, Wisconsin was the scene of huge protest rallies that shut down the state Capitol, a failed attempt to recall the new Republican governor and an outpouring of end-times rhetoric by Democratic loyalists about the stunning loss of their government power.

That turbulent history is hardly in evidence as Mary Burke makes her way around the state these days, introducing herself to voters as a Democratic candidate for governor. In fact, she seems to be ignoring it, even though she is aiming to oust Republican Scott Walker and end his conservative revolution in Madison.

Whether mingling on small-town streets, giving radio interviews or appearing at union hall rallies, Burke speaks in measured tones, saying little that stirs the old partisan passions.

“I come at this from a business perspective,” she told voters in Janesville last month, “and you better have a detailed plan, and a plan that’s going to work.”

Burke is the Wisconsin Democrats’ attempt at a reboot after their worst losses in recent history. They lost to Walker in the 2010 governor’s race, again to him in the recall and to Walker’s Republican allies in the Legislature as they stripped the Democrat-leaning public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights, triggering the protests. The latest polls peg the race as a dead heat, and groups on both sides are investing millions of dollars in the contest.

While populist slogans, union rights and anti-elite insults are the traditional red meat of Democratic rallies, Burke - a former top executive at Wisconsin’s Trek Bicycles - is trying to win as an experienced business professional with a plan for improving the state’s underperforming economy. The idea is to attract more people concerned about Wisconsin’s fiscal health than labor issues.

It’s a test Democrats in other Midwestern states with similarly shrinking union bases will be watching.

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Rep. Ryan defeats similarly named rival in primary

MILWAUKEE (AP) - U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan has defeated a similarly named rival in his southeastern Wisconsin district’s Republican primary.

Ryan bested Jeremy Ryan, a 25-year-old Madison consultant, 94 percent to 6 percent.

The law does not require someone running for Congress to live in the district where they are a candidate.

The two Ryans are not related.

Paul Ryan ran for vice president in 2012 and is frequently mentioned as a possible presidential contender in 2016. A formidable fundraiser, he recently had his best quarter yet, raising $1.6 million in the three months that ended June 30.

Jeremy Ryan is best known for his participation in protests at the state Capitol. He did not raise enough money to require him to file a campaign finance report.

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5 things to know about Wisconsin’s primaries

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Five things to know about Tuesday’s primary elections in Wisconsin:

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1. BIG NIGHT FOR WOMEN

Mary Burke’s expected win in the gubernatorial primary, and Susan Happ’s victory in the three-way race for attorney general, puts two women at the top of the ticket for Democrats in November. Happ, the Jefferson County district attorney, won over 16-year state Rep. Jon Richards and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne. Neither Burke nor Happ have run statewide races before.

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2. THE BIGGEST LOSERS

The biggest losers came in the 6th Congressional District race won by state Sen. Glenn Grothman. State Sen. Joe Leibham loses his state Senate seat, which he had to give up to run for Congress. Leibham, the author of Wisconsin’s voter ID law who long hoped to serve in Congress, had been in the state Legislature since 1999. The other big loser in that race was state Rep. Duey Stroebel, or rather his wallet. Stroebel dumped nearly $700,000 of his own money in the losing effort.

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Zerban wins primary to challenge US Rep. Paul Ryan

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Kenosha businessman Rob Zerban has defeated independent filmmaker Amar (UH’-mer) Kaleka to win the right to run against U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

Kaleka is the son of the Sikh temple president who was killed along with five others in a shooting rampage at their Milwaukee-area temple. He made a splash when he announced his candidacy for the 1st District congressional seat but his campaign was mostly silent.

The 46-year-old Zerban has a solid base among Democrats in Kenosha County, where he previously served on the county board. He won Tuesday’s primary 78 percent to 22 percent.

Zerban ran against Republican Ryan in 2012, losing 55 percent to 43 percent. But the 12-percentage-point margin of victory was the narrowest of Ryan’s eight election wins.

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