Tag Archives: campaigns

Resist and Defend: Links and other resources for activists

Guides

> Indivisible Guide for effectively lobbying lawmakers — at the congressional level and the local level.

News

> Democracy Now independent global news.

National groups

> American Civil Liberties Union.

> Planned Parenthood national.

> Council on American Islamic Relations.

> Indivisible Front Range Resistance.

> Human Rights Campaign.

> End Citizens United, fighting for reform.

> American Federation of Teachers.

> NextGen Climate.

> MoveOn.org.

> StudentDebtCrisis.org.

> Win Without War.

> Media Matters for America.

> NAACP.

> United We Dream.

> AFL-CIO.

> Organic Consumers Association.

> 350.org.

> Sierra Club.

> National Audubon Society.

Wisconsin

> ACLU of Wisconsin.

> Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

> Voces de la Frontera.

> Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

> Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

> Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.

Campaigns, movement work

> State Sen. Chris Larson’s ResistHateWi.com petition.

> Women’s March on Washington.

> Movement to Oppose Trump Mailing List.

> United State of Women.

Blogs

> Robert Reich blog posts.

Other resources

> Countable, your government made simple.

Have a recommendation for this page? Please email lmneff@wisconsingazette.com with the details.

Tough turf lessons: Assessing the GOP, Democratic ground games in Wisconsin

Seven months ago, as Wisconsin Republicans looked ahead to the upcoming presidential election, they focused on the state’s nonpartisan race for the state Supreme Court as a test run of sorts.

They figured out the most effective way to identify and register Republicans with a low likelihood of voting and persuade independents to get to the polls. They analyzed where and when to put resources into the field. They looked at how best to spend on mailings and phone calls.

“When we looked at the Supreme Court race, it was an opportunity for us to fine-tune our operation,” said Mark Morgan, state director for the Republican National Committee.

Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley won by more than 95,000 votes in April.

In November, Republican Donald Trump eked out a much tighter victory — just over 27,000 votes — against Hillary Clinton.

Republicans, both nationally and in Wisconsin, say the difference-maker for Trump was the ground game, which they built for more than a decade, first with a series of recall elections in 2011 and 2012 and honed with the Supreme Court race.

The Wisconsin GOP has a reputation as one of the best state party operations because of it, said Luke Martz, a Republican consultant who worked in eight states.

“They run a very tight ship,” said Martz, who was Bradley’s campaign manager and noted that though that race benefited from the party’s work, there was no coordination. “They know what they’re doing. They know how to win races.”

While Republicans revel in victory, Democrats are trying to chart a path forward as they look ahead to 2018, when they’ll have to defend U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s seat and attempt to win back the governor’s office.

The state spokeswoman from Clinton talked up Democrats’ efforts despite November’s outcome.

“Democrats up and down the ticket were supported by a robust organizing operation and an incredible volunteer network across Wisconsin,” said Gillian Drummond, who also is a longtime Wisconsin Democratic operative. “From phone banks in small towns to knocking doors in cities and organizing events everywhere in between, the Democratic operation was second to none.”

The Republican ground game can’t be credited for all of their success.

Clinton underperformed President Barack Obama’s 2012 totals in Democratic counties. Key voters — young people, women, African-Americans and Hispanics — did not turn out in the numbers she needed to win.

Plus, Democrats had to raise money without any visits from Clinton or the Obamas — the first presidential election since 1972 when one of the major party candidates skipped the state.

Still, the Republican track record in Wisconsin since 2010 shows:

  • Scott Walker winning three elections, including a recall.
  • Johnson twice, the second in a presidential year.
  • Republicans flipping control of the Legislature.

They now have their largest Senate majority since 1971 and their biggest in the Assembly since 1957.

Republicans shifted their strategy in 2004 after party leaders realized they couldn’t win elections just through television advertising alone, GOP operative Mark Graul said. Republicans have invested in sophisticated data analytics to target the right voters at their homes, contacts that are more effective than phone calls, Graul said.

Republicans also instituted a “turf model” or “neighborhood team” approach that divided the state into 99 different regions.

“We didn’t leave any stone unturned,” said Juston Johnson, the national party’s regional political director for Wisconsin. “We went into communities that we haven’t necessarily been in before.”

The GOP state operation wasn’t daunted like others after the 2012 presidential election, when Obama carried Wisconsin by 7 points. It kept the infrastructure for the 2014 midterm races and increased permanent staffing and number of offices in 2015.

Ultimately, the program went from four offices and eight staffers to 40 offices with 162 paid staff and trained organizers, Morgan said.

Republicans made 4.7 million voter contacts this election cycle, including knocking on 1 million doors in the final five weeks of the race, Morgan said. In 2012, less than half that many doors were knocked on in the final five weeks.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Janesville, provided a critical boost by funneling $1 million from his re-election fund to the state party.

Conventional wisdom among political operatives is that a solid ground game will, at best, yield up to 3 points in an election.

Trump won Wisconsin by less than a point and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson won by 3.4 points.

“The early investments paid off,” Morgan said. “The infrastructure is second to none.”

Wisconsin communities vote to amend, overturn Citizens United

Wisconsin voters in 18 communities Nov. 8 voted for non-binding referenda to amend the U.S. Constitution to say that money is not the same thing as free speech and overturn Citizens United.

“People across the ideological spectrum get it: All of our voices are being drowned out by those with big money,” said Matt Rothschild, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

The questions were approved with overwhelming majorities:

• Rock County (86 percent)

• Reedsburg (86 percent)

• Manitowoc (81 percent)

• Delafield (79 percent)

• Neshkoro (88 percent)

• New Glarus (88 percent)

• Spring Valley (91 percent)

• Osceola (86 percent)

• Mt. Horeb (84 percent)

• Monticello (86 percent)

• Clayton (86 percent)

• New Glarus (83 percent)

• Harris (65 percent)

• Springdale (86 percent)

• Decatur (89 percent)

• Mount Pleasant (84 percent)

• Cadiz (87 percent)

• Lake Tomahawk (91 percent)

A total of 96 Wisconsin communities — home to 2.8 million people — have called for an amendment.

Across the country, 18 state legislatures have voted for a constitutional amendment, as well as more than 700 towns, villages, cities and counties.

Jeanette Kelty, a leader of the amendment movement in Green County, said the morning after the election, “We are extremely pleased that these referenda passed by such high margins. This clearly demonstrates the will of the people. It is time for our state representatives to put this resolution to a statewide vote, and to move towards sending a resolution from Wisconsin to the U.S. Congress.”

Four in five Americans oppose the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, according to a Bloomberg poll. A New York Times/CBS poll.

“Big money has absolutely corrupted our system of government of, by, and for the people,” said Gerry Flakas of Delafield, another activist involved in the amendment push. “The only solution is to amend the Constitution to clarify that money is not speech and a corporation is not a person.”

On the Web

United To Amend is a non-partisan, grassroots movement. For more information visit wiuta.org.

America votes: Scenes on Election Day 2016

A poll worker hands out an "I voted" sticker to a voter during the U.S. presidential election at Potomac Middle School in Dumfries, Virginia, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A poll worker hands out an “I voted” sticker to a voter during the U.S. presidential election at Potomac Middle School in Dumfries, Virginia, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton fills out her ballot at the Douglas Grafflin Elementary School in Chappaqua, New York, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton fills out her ballot at the Douglas Grafflin Elementary School in Chappaqua, New York, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Voters head to the polls during the U.S. presidential election in St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Audette
Voters head to the polls during the U.S. presidential election in St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Audette
A woman holds her children while voting in the U.S. presidential election at Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Virginia, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A woman holds her children while voting in the U.S. presidential election at Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Virginia, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump vote at PS 59 in New York, New York, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump vote at PS 59 in New York, New York, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
People cast their ballots during voting in the 2016 presidential election in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S November 8, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker
People cast their ballots during voting in the 2016 presidential election in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S November 8, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker
Susan Novak scans her ballots after voting during the U.S. presidential election in Medina, Ohio, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
Susan Novak scans her ballots after voting during the U.S. presidential election in Medina, Ohio, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
Teresa Lesama, originally from Nicaragua, is seen after casting her ballot during the U.S. presidential election at a polling station in the Bronx Borough of New York, U.S. on November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Saul Martinez
Teresa Lesama, originally from Nicaragua, is seen after casting her ballot during the U.S. presidential election at a polling station in the Bronx Borough of New York, U.S. on November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Saul Martinez
Voters register to vote during the U.S. presidential election at a polling station in the Bronx Borough of New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Saul Martinez
Voters register to vote during the U.S. presidential election at a polling station in the Bronx Borough of New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Saul Martinez
A voter puts on an "I voted" sticker during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
A voter puts on an “I voted” sticker during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
People vote at the Woodman of the World (WOW) Lodge during the U.S. presidential election in Florence, South Carolina, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
People vote at the Woodman of the World (WOW) Lodge during the U.S. presidential election in Florence, South Carolina, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Grace Bell Hardison, a 100-year-old woman recently mentioned by President Barack Obama after attempts were made to purge her from the voter registration list and hence deny her right to vote, receives an "I Voted Today" sticker from election official Elaine Hudnell after she cast her ballot in the U.S. general election from a car in Belhaven, North Carolina, U.S. on November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Grace Bell Hardison, a 100-year-old woman recently mentioned by President Barack Obama after attempts were made to purge her from the voter registration list and hence deny her right to vote, receives an “I Voted Today” sticker from election official Elaine Hudnell after she cast her ballot in the U.S. general election from a car in Belhaven, North Carolina, U.S. on November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A woman arrives for her voting ballot during the U.S presidential election at the James Weldon Johnson Community Centre in the East Harlem neighbourhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A woman arrives for her voting ballot during the U.S presidential election at the James Weldon Johnson Community Centre in the East Harlem neighbourhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Poll workers distribute voting materials during the 2016 presidential election in San Diego, California, U.S November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
Poll workers distribute voting materials during the 2016 presidential election in San Diego, California, U.S November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
Travis Lopes, 30, casts his vote for the presidential election in Manhatta, New York. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz
Travis Lopes, 30, casts his vote for the presidential election in Manhatta, New York. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz
Hundreds of Temple University students wait in an hour-long line to vote during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
Hundreds of Temple University students wait in an hour-long line to vote during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
Hundreds of Temple University students wait in an hour-long line to vote during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
Hundreds of Temple University students wait in an hour-long line to vote during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
A voter casts their ballot at a polling place inside a Chinese restaurant during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
A voter casts their ballot at a polling place inside a Chinese restaurant during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
A woman drops her ballot during the presidential election at LA County Registrar Office in Norwalk, California, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
A woman drops her ballot during the presidential election at LA County Registrar Office in Norwalk, California, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
A woman drops her ballot during the presidential election at LA County Registrar Office in Norwalk, California, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
A woman drops her ballot during the presidential election at LA County Registrar Office in Norwalk, California, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
People stand in line to vote during the 2016 presidential election at the Anne Douglas Center at the Los Angeles Mission in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
People stand in line to vote during the 2016 presidential election at the Anne Douglas Center at the Los Angeles Mission in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni016

Pot and profit: Business owners replace idealists in marijuana movement

Business owners are replacing idealists in the pot-legalization movement as the nascent marijuana industry creates a broad base of new donors, many of them entrepreneurs willing to spend to change drug policy.

Unlike in the past, these supporters are not limited to a few wealthy people seeking change for personal reasons. They constitute a bigger coalition of business interests. And their support provides a significant financial advantage for pro-legalization campaigns.

“It’s mainly a social-justice movement. But undoubtedly there are business interests at work, which is new in this movement,” said Kayvan Khalatbari, a one-time pot-shop owner and now head of a Denver marijuana consulting firm.

The donors offer a wider foundation of support for the marijuana-related measures on the ballot next month in nine states. The campaigns are still largely funded by national advocacy organizations such as the Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project and the New Approach PAC. But those groups are less reliant on billionaire activists.

On the other side, legalization opponents are attracting new support from businesses as diverse as trucking, pharmaceuticals and even gambling.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to pass ballot initiatives legalizing recreational marijuana for adults. Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., followed in 2014. The result is a bigger pool of existing businesses that see expansion potential in more states authorizing use of the drug.

Take Darren Roberts of Boca Raton, Florida, co-founder of High There!, a social network for fans of pot. He donated $500 this year to a campaign to legalize marijuana for medical purposes in Florida. Roberts is also encouraging his customers to donate to legalization campaigns in their own states.

“I would say it’s a combination of both the philanthropic social interest and the potential financial interest,” Roberts said.

All five states considering recreational marijuana _ Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada _ have seen more money flowing to groups that favor legalization than to those fighting it. The same is true in the four states considering starting or reinstating medical marijuana _ Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota.

The donors who contribute to anti-legalization efforts have changed, too.

Some deep-pocket donors who drove opposition campaigns in years past are opening their pocketbooks again.

Casino owner Sheldon Adelson of Nevada, for example, gave some $5 million in 2014 to oppose a medical-pot measure in Florida. This year, as his home state considers recreational pot and Florida takes a second look at medical marijuana, Adelson has spent $2 million on opposition in Nevada and $1 million to oppose legalization in Massachusetts.

Other casinos are donating to Nevada opposition efforts, too, including MGM Resorts International and Atlantis Casino & Resort. Nevada gambling regulators have warned that marijuana violates federal law.

Some new opponents have also emerged, moving beyond the typical anti-pot base that includes law enforcement groups, alcohol companies and drug-treatment interests.

A pharmaceutical company that is working on a synthetic version of marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, Insys Therapeutics Inc., has given at least $500,000 to oppose full marijuana legalization in its home state of Arizona.

The company did not return a message for comment on the donation. Company officials said in a statement last month that Insys opposes the Arizona ballot measure because marijuana’s safety has not been demonstrated through the federal regulatory process.

Other new names popping up in opposition disclosures include U-Haul, which gave $25,000 to oppose legalization in Arizona, and Julie Schauer, a Pennsylvania retiree who gave more than $1 million to a group opposing legalization. Neither returned messages seeking comment on their donations.

Smaller donors to opposition campaigns say they are hopelessly outgunned by the young pot industry, but are giving out of a sense of duty.

“Everyone’s talking about it like it’s a done deal, but I can’t sit by when I’ve seen firsthand the destruction that marijuana does to people,” said Howard Samuels, a drug-treatment therapist in Los Angeles who donated some $20,000 to oppose recreational legalization in California.

Samuels and other marijuana opponents insist that the pot industry cynically hopes to get more people addicted to the drug to line its own pockets, comparing pot providers to tobacco companies.

But marijuana-industry donors insist that they are simply carrying on a tradition started by the tie-dye wearing drug activists who pushed legalization long before there was any business model attached to it. They insist they would contribute financially even without any money-making potential.

“When a movement becomes an industry, of course the advocacy picture gets shuffled,” said Bob Hoban, a Denver attorney specializing in marijuana law and a $1,000 donor to the Marijuana Policy Project. “It shifts away from activists to more traditional business interests, because the skill sets don’t exactly transfer.”

Wisconsin court candidates to debate at UW-Madison

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates Rebecca Bradley and JoAnne Kloppenburg are set to meet in a debate on the University of Wisconsin campus.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports it will sponsor the March 18 debate along with Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio.

The debate is set to begin at 7 p.m. at Wisconsin Public Television’s studio on the UW-Madison campus. Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio will broadcast the event live.

Bradley and Kloppenburg will square off in the April 5 election for the late Justice Patrick Crooks’ seat.

Crooks died in September, a week after he announced he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Gov. Scott Walker appointed Bradley in October to serve out the remainder of his term, making her the incumbent going into the election.

Walker calls Donald Trump candidacy ‘remarkable’

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says the ascent of Donald Trump is “one of the most remarkable things we’ve seen in modern political campaign history.”

Walker dropped out of the race in September 2015 and has not endorsed anyone.

But he said this week he would stand by the pledge he signed when still a candidate to support whoever is the nominee.

Walker isn’t making any predictions about whether that will be Trump, but he says “conventional wisdom is someone who’s won that many states is well on their way toward the nomination.”

Trump has won in three of the first four voting states.

But Walker also hedges his bet, saying, “we’ve seen this year conventional wisdom has proven to be wrong on just about every issue.” 

Fierce legislative campaigns expected in 2016 elections

With the November 2016 elections just one year away, Republicans, Democrats and outside groups are preparing for expensive battles over state legislative seats.

Increasing activity by independent groups could push next year’s campaign fundraising totals past those of previous election cycles. Since 2006, contributions to state legislative candidates have ranged between $900 million and $1 billion.

In some states, control of a chamber is at stake. In others, parties are seeking to gain or thwart a supermajority. Elsewhere, one party is merely looking to cut into the other’s majority. Some of the states expected to attract the most legislative interest in the coming year.

In Wisconsin, Democrats are hoping for gains in the Senate in a state currently under full Republican control. The GOP’s Senate majority stands at 19-14.

In other states …

Arizona:

– Republicans control both chambers but hold a relatively slim 17-13 majority in the Senate, creating an opportunity for Democrats.

California:

– Democrats are just one Senate seat and two Assembly seats away from gaining the two-thirds supermajorities needed to raise taxes, pass emergency legislation and override gubernatorial vetoes without the need for any Republican votes.

Colorado:

– Both the House and Senate are up for grabs. Republicans currently hold an 18-17 Senate majority while Democrats hold a 34-31 House advantage.

Florida:

– Republicans hold sizeable House and Senate majorities, but Democrats are hoping to pick up some seats as part of a long-range goal of gaining control of one chamber before the 2021 redistricting.

Illinois:

– Democrats currently hold a three-fifths supermajority in both chambers needed to override vetoes of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. A gain of just one House seat by Republicans would wipe that out.

Iowa:

– Republicans are targeting the Senate, where Democrats currently hold a 26-24 majority that provides them a check against a Republican House and governor. Democrats, meanwhile, are targeting the GOP’s 56-43 House majority.

Kentucky:

– Republicans, who already have a sizeable Senate majority, are hoping to flip the House, where Democrats are defending a 54-46 majority.

Maine:

– Democrats, who control the House, will be looking to regain the Senate majority they lost to Republicans in 2014. The GOP currently controls the upper chamber 20-15.

Massachusetts:

– Democrats have solid supermajorities in the Legislature. But national Republicans have set a goal of chipping away at those to make it harder for Democrats to get the two-thirds majority needed to override vetoes of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

Michigan:

– Republicans currently control both chambers and the governorship. The Democrats’ best chance for gains is in the House, where the GOP has a 61-46 majority.

Minnesota:

– Both chambers are in play, although it will take decent gains to flip either one. Democrats currently hold a 39-28 Senate majority while Republicans hold a 72-62 House advantage.

Missouri:

– Democrats will be trying to chip away at Republican supermajorities in both chambers, which the GOP has used to ding Democrat Jay Nixon with the distinction as the governor with the most overridden vetoes in state history.

Montana:

– Democrats are targeting both chambers, although Republicans hold a 29-21 Senate majority and 59-41 House majority.

Nevada:

– Democrats are looking to wrest control from Republicans, who currently hold an 11-10 Senate majority and 25-17 majority in the Assembly.

New Hampshire:

– Both chambers are controlled by Republicans, but Democrats are looking for gains in a presidential election year that typically bodes well for them. The House has a history of frequent flips in party control.

New Mexico:

– Political parties will be battling over both chambers. Republicans currently hold a 37-33 House majority while Democrats have a 25-17 majority in the Senate.

New York:

– Democrats, who already hold a commanding House majority, are looking to reverse a slim Republican majority in the Senate.

North Carolina:

– Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers, but Democrats are hoping to cut into those margins as part of a long-term goal of controlling at least one chamber by the next round of redistricting.

Ohio:

– Republicans hold a roughly two-thirds majority in both chambers, but Democrats are looking to regain seats in the House, where they lost the majority in the 2010 elections.

Oregon:

– National Republicans are targeting both legislative chambers with hopes of cutting into Democratic majorities that currently stand at 18-12 in the Senate and 35-25 in the House.

Pennsylvania:

– Republicans hold majorities in both chambers but have targeted their 120-83 House advantage as a defensive priority against potential Democratic gains.

Vermont:

– With an open governor’s race also on the ballot, Republicans are targeting both legislative chambers with a goal of chipping away at sizeable Democratic majorities.

Washington:

– Both chambers are in play in the closely divided Legislature. Republicans currently hold a 26-23 Senate majority, thanks partly to one Democrat who caucuses with them, while Democrats control the House 51-47.

West Virginia:

– Democrats are looking to regain the Senate after Republicans wrested control of both chambers from them following the 2014 elections. The GOP holds a slim 18-16 Senate majority but has a comfortable House advantage.

Labor Day brings new phase to campaigns | What to watch for in the Republican 2016 race this fall

It was a chaotic summer for the unruly pack of 17 major Republican presidential contenders.

Surges and slides. Millions of dollars raised and spent. Policy debates, insults hurled.

Labor Day marks a new phase in the campaign, when voters traditionally start paying closer attention and the candidates sharpen their strategies.

With Iowa voters set to open the primary voting calendar in less than five months, look for the candidates to take their voter outreach to the next level, both on television and direct campaigning.

In a field this large, there will be no shortage of story lines to monitor in what could be the most wide-open Republican primary season in a generation.

Some things to watch from Republicans this fall.

TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP

Donald Trump rocketed into front-runner status and has shown remarkable staying power. Can he keep it up when voters start paying more attention?

Political veterans in both parties are skeptical, yet the billionaire businessman has repeatedly proved the conventional wisdom wrong.

A public relations master, the former reality television star aims to continue dominating the GOP debate as his competitors struggle for attention.

WHAT CAN $100 MILLION DO?

Trump may be leading the polls, but many Republican officials still consider former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush the most likely candidate to win the nomination, if only because of his massive bank account.

Bush faces sinking poll numbers, frustrated donors and growing questions about his campaign strategy.

The good news? His campaign and allied super political action committee have yet to spend very much of their $100 million fundraising haul on advertising.

That’s about to change.

In September alone, Bush and his allies plan to spend more than $20 million on a national advertising campaign. Bush aides insist they’re not panicking about his summer slump. If the September advertising blitz doesn’t help his numbers, they may start.

WHO WILL BE THE FIRST TO LEAVE

It’s only a matter of time before the field begins to narrow. Who will be the first to go?

Speculation has begun to swirl around former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He stopped paying the majority of his campaign staff in August because of fundraising difficulties.

Yet like many candidates, Perry has an allied super PAC that has raised millions of dollars to help keep him going. Some also think Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul may be considering an early exit to focus on his re-election to the Senate next fall.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see one of the lower-tier candidates get out, among them former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.

TONING IT DOWN

Led by Trump, several candidates have spent the summer offering harsh rhetoric against immigrants who are in the country illegally. The strong language comes in defiance of the GOP’s recommendation after a disastrous 2012 election to embrace a softer tone on the issue.

Trump may have generated the most attention when, in his campaign announcement speech in June, he described Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

But most of his rivals are demanding a wall along the Mexican border and many are challenging “birthright citizenship.”

Even Bush, whose wife was born in Mexico, embraced the term “anchor babies.”

If the GOP doesn’t change its tone, the party may struggle to win swing states with surging Hispanic populations, such as Colorado and Florida, no matter who’s on the ticket.

BREAKING THROUGH

Everyone likes an underdog story, and with a Republican field this large and talented, it’s only a matter of time before someone exceeds expectations.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson already have shined for a time.

Will they surge again? Will another candidate emerge?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has elite political skills. Former technology executive Carly Fiorina exceeded expectations on the night of the first GOP debate. Tea party firebrand Ted Cruz, a Texas senator, may be in line to inherit some of Trump’s following should Trump start to slip.

Bias bites | Pit bull bans blasted as biased, without merit

Eavesdrop on the social circles at the local dog park.

The snippet of conversation about discrimination and bullying might sound like a discussion of the latest proposal to allow businesses to refuse service to gays. But the human companions to the canines may be denouncing breed-specific laws and defending pit bulls.

“When I walk my pit bulls, I get looks and people cross the street to get away from us,” said Lisa Williams, founder of Moonracer No Kill Animal Rescue, a nonprofit that rescues pit bulls and other large dogs from animal control shelters. “My dogs will not hurt anyone, they love people. But, because of how they look — some with cropped ears and tails, cut before I ever got them — people won’t give them a chance. People will look at our pictures on display at events and say, ‘Oh, you’re a pit bull rescue’ and walk away.

Dangerous breeds?

“So many end up in the shelter because people think they cannot be family dogs. It is the perception. … My favorite adopter was a 70-year-old island woman who adopted a pit puppy in order to promote them as the wonderful dogs they are,” said Williams, whose rescue is based in Florida.

Earlier this spring, the first known political action committee formed to fight breed-specific legislation. The Ohio PAC, founded by pit bull champions Alisha and Luke Westerman, operates under the banner Ohioans Against Breed Discrimination. The PAC maintains that breed-specific legislation is discriminatory, ineffective, unenforceable and unconstitutional.

Similar arguments were shared this spring in the Wisconsin community of Platteville, where the common council considered a proposal to prohibit Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and mixes with those breeds.

The council in April voted 4–2 against continuing a discussion on the matter after hearing from opponents of a ban, which lacked an endorsement from the police chief and was the focus of an online petition drive.

Platteville resident Kieryn Aigner launched the Care2 petition campaign in March, after Ald. Mike Denn proposed making it “unlawful to own, harbor or keep” a pit bull terrier or a mixed breed of pit bull.

Aigner, who adopted a pit bull in 2013, quickly collected thousands of signatures and lined up dozens of people to address the common council if necessary.

“Considering the reputation pit bulls get on being a ‘bully’ breed, I made sure to do my research” before adopting, Aigner said. “I knew I was going to get a lot of criticism and I knew I had to be smart when it came to this puppy. If he ended up being poorly trained, it would have been because I failed as an owner. Just as kids are raised, so are puppies. As parents, we have to teach them right from wrong, good from bad.”

Other opponents of breed-specific bans have adopted the online petition as an effective lobbying tool. A year ago, activists defeated a proposed ordinance to ban pit bulls in Medford, Oregon, after amassing more than 8,600 signatures on a Care2 petition.

“It is wrong to discriminate against a breed,” said Aigner. “If you are going to go after someone, it should be the owner for not training their dog correctly, not the breed.”

DogsBite.org is a website “dedicated to reducing serious dog attacks.” The site maintains that the number of dog bites in the United States is under-reported and that certain types of dogs — pit bulls and Rottweilers — are deadly. The group says from 2005 to 2014, pit bulls and Rottweilers caused 74 percent of the human fatalities from dog attacks. 

“Unlike other dog breeds, pit bulls frequently fail to communicate intention prior to an attack (surprise attacks), possess a lethal bite style (hold and shake) and a ruinous manner of attack (gameness),” reads a “dangerous dogs” passage on the website.

Yet, the American Veterinary Medical Association says no breed or type of dog is more dangerous than another. 

The AVMA says, “Any dog can bite, regardless of its breed, and more often people are bitten by dogs they know. It’s not the dog’s breed that determines risk — it’s the dog’s behavior, general size, number of dogs involved and the vulnerability of the person bitten that determines whether or not a dog or dogs will cause a serious bite injury. Dogs can be aggressive for all sorts of reasons. A dog that’s bitten once can bite again and a dog that’s never bitten could still bite. Don’t rely on breed stereotypes to keep yourself safe from dog bites. A dog’s individual history and behavior are much more important than its breed.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Bar Association and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also oppose breed-specific legislation. 

The ABA “urges all state, territorial and local legislative bodies and governmental agencies to adopt comprehensive breed-neutral dangerous dog/reckless owner laws that ensure due process protections for owners, encourage responsible pet ownership and focus on the behavior of both dog owners and dogs, and to repeal any breed-discriminatory or breed-specific provisions.”

In its review of the issue, the CDC notes that data collection related to bites by breed is fraught with the potential for error in identifying the type of dog, especially among mixed-breed dogs. A 2009 study supports this point, noting a significant discrepancy between visual determination of breed and DNA determination of breed.

The ASPCA’s position statement says the organization “is not aware of credible evidence that breed-specific laws make communities safer either for people or other companion animals. There is, however, evidence that such laws unfairly target responsible pet guardians and their well-socialized dogs, are inhumane and impede community safety and humane sheltering efforts.”

In its lengthy statement, the ASPCA says breed-specific laws ignore factors known to affect a dog’s tendency toward aggression: early experience, socialization, training, sex and reproductive status.

Breed-specific laws also “can cause hardship to responsible guardians of properly supervised, friendly, well-socialized dogs. … Although guardians of these dogs may have done nothing to endanger the public, they nevertheless may be required to choose between compliance with onerous regulations or forfeiture of their beloved companions,” according to the ASPCA.

States rethinking bans

In Ohio, after passage in 1987 of a law that identified pit bulls as “vicious,” some dog owners faced difficulties finding housing or securing liability insurance. Lawmakers removed the language three years ago, but a number of Ohio communities still label pit bulls as “vicious.”

Forfeiture of animals also results in crowded shelters or increases in killings by animal control. In Ohio in 2004, animal control agencies killed at least 7,400 pit bulls. In Prince George’s County, Maryland, 80 percent of the 500 to 600 dogs seized and killed under a ban on pit bull terriers are “nice, family dogs.”

Williams said, “It is heartbreaking when dogs are labeled dangerous and they really are not. … Many dogs that have been labeled ‘dangerous’ or ‘aggressive’ have been rescued or adopted and turn out to be just the best dogs ever, once they feel safe and secure. We want them to have a chance to shine, if they can.”

And animal welfare advocates stress an unintended consequence of breed-specific legislation. As one type of dog is banned, those who exploit and abuse animals train others to be aggressive, to fight.

Breed-specific laws exist in 55 Wisconsin communities, according to DogsBite.org. Thirty ordinances ban pit bulls, while other measures place restrictions on ownership of pit bulls and Rottweilers, such as prohibiting pit bulls declared “dangerous” or “vicious.”

“No good comes from discrimination, whether it’s discrimination against dogs or people,” said animal welfare advocate Shelaghla Donohue of Madison. “Instead of more communities passing bias legislation, I think Wisconsin should prohibit breed-discriminatory legislation. Probably that won’t happen anytime soon.”

States with measures against enacting breed-specific legislation include California, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

“The way I see it, outlawing a pit bull or a Rottweiler or a Chihuahua, for that matter, is like saying, ‘We don’t like that kind of person,’” said Green Bay animal rights advocate Laura Lippert. “And we just don’t do that.”

Said Williams, “Give pit bulls a chance, you won’t be disappointed. Help out at shelters so the dogs can be more socialized and have a chance to find homes. Ask to pet a pit bull, you will most likely end up covered in kisses.”