GOP governor forum; Democratic convention wrap-up; Marquette Poll

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GOP governor forum

From left to right, Rebecca Kleefisch, Kevin Nicholson and Timothy Ramthun during the Wisconsin Gubernatorial Primary Debate on Monday, June 27, 2022 at Providence Academy in Green Bay, Wis. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
From left to right, Rebecca Kleefisch, Kevin Nicholson and Timothy Ramthun during the Wisconsin Gubernatorial Primary Debate on Monday, June 27, 2022 at Providence Academy in Green Bay, Wis. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

It was the man who wasn't there who dominated Monday night's Republican Party primary governor forum in Green Bay.

Wealthy construction executive Tim Michels blew it off, instead scheduling a rally in Lomira.

But his three rivals managed to make the trek to a packed auditorium in a vital political corner of the state.

Ex-Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, management consultant Kevin Nicholson and lawmaker Tim Ramthun took their best shots at Michels, who was represented on stage by an empty lectern.

Michels was the butt of countless jokes, with hundreds of people in the audience laughing at his expense.

"I'm as frustrated as you all are. We showed up because we care about the voters of Green Bay," Kleefisch told the audience. "We care about the people of Wisconsin and we want to have a debate on the issues but unfortunately, Tim Michels does not."

Molly Beck reports on the details, writing that the three candidates who attended the forum "pledged to bar transgender teenagers from undergoing gender reassignment surgeries and to preserve the state's abortion ban and fire any prosecutor or sheriff who refuses to enforce it."

Beck adds that Kleefisch, Nicholson and Ramthun largely agreed on the issues moderator Joe Giganti brought forward "but a notable difference was in their answers to whether they believed the 2020 election was 'stolen,' referring to Trump's false argument that voter fraud led to his loss to President Joe Biden.

"Ramthun was unequivocal and said yes. Kleefisch and Nicholson attempted to evade a yes or no answer with explanations but Giganti cut them off."

You can read the report here.

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Democratic convention wrap-up

Banners outside the 2022 Democratic Party of Wisconsin Convention at the La Crosse Center, June 26, 2022.
Banners outside the 2022 Democratic Party of Wisconsin Convention at the La Crosse Center, June 26, 2022.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin staged its first in-person convention in three years over the weekend in La Crosse.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade dominated the speeches and the events, with Gov. Tony Evers vowing to offer clemency to doctors if they are prosecuted under the state's 1849 abortion law.

Evers also said that his seven female grandchildren were "made second-class citizens" under the High Court decision.

"That's bull----," the governor said.

Also, the four top Democratic runners in the race for U.S. Senate took their best jabs at Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

They sought to portray the two-term Republican from Oshkosh as out of touch, out for himself and wrong on a range of issues from taxes to COVID-19 to the 2020 election.

"You know, Ron Johnson may say a lot of crazy things, but what he’s doing in Washington is no joke," Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes declared. "He wants to divide us."

"He's attacked organized labor. Spread lies about COVID. Tried to overthrow the government," Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry said.

"It's clear, Ron Johnson doesn't give a damn about us," state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski said.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson said Democrats had the "urgent mission to send this lying, treason-loving, woman-hating Putin stooge back to his Florida vacation home to be with his billionaire father-in-law’s money."

Marquette Poll

Gov. Tony Evers, left, and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, right
Gov. Tony Evers, left, and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, right

Last week's Marquette University Law School Poll set the table for politics in the next couple of weeks.

The Republican primary for governor found Tim Michels 1-point ahead of Rebecca Kleefisch, with Kevin Nicholson in third and Tim Ramthun further behind.

The Democratic race showed Mandela Barnes running slightly ahead of Alex Lasry, with Sarah Godlewski in third and Tom Nelson in fourth.

Projected head-to-head contests in the fall found Democratic Gov. Tony Evers leading four potential Republican rivals. Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson was behind three Democrats — Barnes, Godlewski and Nelson — and led Lasry. The Johnson results were all within the poll's margin of error.

Craig Gilbert takes a deeper dive into voter enthusiasm.

There's what's known as an "enthusiasm gap," with Republicans more eager to go to the polls than Democrats. But keep in mind, the survey was conducted prior to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Evers, Kaul to challenge 1849 abortion ban

Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul are mounting a legal challenge to the state's 19th Century state law banning most abortions in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

They filed a new lawsuit that asks state courts to clarify whether the 173-year-old ban is still in place.

Molly Beck writes:

"The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Dane County Circuit Court and argues the longstanding ban that had been unenforceable since 1973 under Roe v. Wade is still unenforceable because it conflicts with abortion measures state lawmakers passed since."

During a Milwaukee news conference, Evers said: "I know many across our state and nation are scared and worried about their own health and the health and safety of their family members and friends. Half the people in our state now have fewer rights than they did four days ago."

Around the horn

Ron Johnson now says he helped coordinate effort to pass false elector slates to Vice President Mike Pence, but his new explanation drew a quick rebuke.

Here's how Wisconsin leaders, politicians and others are reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Ted Cruz speaks in Milwaukee, predicts a "red tsunami" as colleague Ron Johnson wages tight re-election campaign

Wisconsin congressional delegation splits along party lines on passage of bipartisan gun safety bill.

Tweet of the week

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss reacting to Tuesday's explosive testimony before the Jan. 6 Committee: "Why does this sound like a hearing investigating a Mobster?"

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: GOP governor forum; Democratic convention wrap-up; Marquette Poll