politics

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The 2020 presidential race highlighted just how diverse Latino voters are and just how important by playing  a key role in helping Democrat Joe Biden become president of the United States.

Latinos turned out in large numbers for President Biden, despite his role as vice president in Barack Obama's administration, and and they want him to deliver on his promises. 

Christine Neumann-Ortiz of Voces de la Frontera said for many Latinos the legacy of the Obama administration was one of betrayal.

Wisconsin National Guard / flickr

The Wisconsin National Guard says 500 of its members are now in the Washington, D.C. area. They're part of roughly 25,000 Guard troops from around the U.S. scheduled to provide safety at this week's inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Some members of Congress have raised questions about whether Guard members in D.C. should be screened for their political beliefs, when the nation is so divided just two weeks after pro-Trump extremists attacked the U.S. Capitol.

Wisconsin National Guard spokesman, Maj. Joe Trovato, says the state does no such screening.

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The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly on Thursday passed a doomed COVID-19 response bill that Senate Republicans and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers oppose, and there’s no sign of an agreement on a plan to combat the virus that has killed more than 5,000 people in the state.

Evers and Assembly Democrats have their own proposals that Republicans do not support. The Legislature hasn't passed anything related to the pandemic since April, and recent talks between Evers and Republican leaders failed to result in a deal.

SCREENSHOT / WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES

In 2020, Wisconsin was thrust into the political spotlight. Serving as a key swing state for the presidential election, playing virtual host to the Democratic National Convention and taking on the national conversation around police reform all put eyes on Wisconsin.

But UW-Milwaukee political science professor Paru Shah says much of Wisconsin politics was characterized by inaction.

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In this week’s Capitol Notes conversation, we look ahead to the political stories that will likely top the headlines in 2021. 

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Wisconsin continues to break nearly daily records of COVID-19 cases and deaths. The state has few restrictions to slow the spread of the virus in place. Gov. Tony Evers recently extended a statewide mask mandate but has faced backlash from the Republican-controlled Legislature about his executive orders.

State of Wisconsin

Every decade states around the country redraw their district maps. This process creates different legislative and congressional districts, proportionately divided by population. But since it last happened in 2011, the redistricting process has become increasingly controversial.

Gerrymandering is the process dividing districts based on political preference, and it allows politicians to choose their voters. Gerrymandered districts have come to dominate legislatures around the country, including here in Wisconsin.

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Updated at 4:36 p.m. CT

Wisconsin Senate Republicans chose new leaders Thursday as they prepare to use an expanded majority to revise the next state budget, draw new legislative district maps and potentially fire Gov. Tony Evers' health secretary.

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A final NPR Electoral Map analysis has Vice President Joe Biden going into Election Day with an edge over President Donald Trump. But Trump still has a narrow and possible path to reelection.

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Updated at 1:28 p.m. CT

Agents foiled a stunning plot to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, authorities said Thursday in announcing charges in an alleged scheme that involved months of planning and even rehearsals to snatch Whitmer at her vacation home.

Six men were charged in federal court, while seven others accused of trying to target police and the state Capitol were charged in state court.

Hunter Biden's position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company was "awkward" and "problematic" at the time his father, Joe Biden, was serving as vice president, two Republican-led Senate committees say in a new report — but the study does not show that it influenced U.S. government policy.

The long-awaited Republican report appeared six weeks ahead of the presidential election. Democrats have dismissed it as a politically motivated effort to try to hamper Biden's 2020 campaign in the race against President Trump.

A stopgap funding bill to keep the government running through Dec. 11 passed the House 359-57 late Tuesday evening, with one lawmaker voting present. The bill was temporarily delayed over a heated dispute regarding farm aid.

The legislation still must be approved by the Senate and signed by President Trump, or the government faces another shutdown threat in eight days.

Maayan Silver

The Wisconsin Supreme Court decided Tuesday not to hear a lawsuit that Republican legislators filed last year alleging Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul wasn't complying with laws passed during a 2018 lame-duck legislative session.

The Republicans alleged that Kaul wasn't following provisions in the laws that require him to get lawmakers' permission before settling some lawsuits. They contended that Kaul wasn't seeking permission to enter into pre-suit resolutions, a violation of the lame-duck provisions.

Conspiracy theorists were once relegated to the fringes of society. But now, the popularity of these theories is rising and the impact could be devastating.

LaToya Dennis

Vice President Mike Pence made a campaign stop in Janesville, Wis., on Monday. It was the second time this month that he’d visited the state, with President Trump expected in Marathon County on Friday. 

As the crowd chanted four more years, Pence told supporters in a hotel ballroom that Wisconsin is a must win. 

“And the road to victory runs right through Wisconsin,” Pence says.

Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

Rapper Kanye West filed a lawsuit Friday demanding election officials place him on Wisconsin’s presidential ballot in November.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that West's campaign filed the lawsuit in Brown County Circuit Court.

Susan Bence

Monday signaled day one of the Democratic National Convention. But we all know it’s not the DNC Milwaukee had planned to host at the Fiserv Forum. The coronavirus put an end to that.

Instead, the convention features virtual speeches and recorded messages from around the country. Major appearances by Wisconsinites are being broadcast from the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee.

But people could be found downtown Monday with strong opinions about the convention and the political process.

George Grantham Bain Collection / Library of Congress

Monday is the first day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Milwaukee. And while most of the convention is now virtual, it’s a historic start to the 2020 political conventions: It’s the first to be held during a pandemic, and the first time a presumptive party nominee will be an impeached president.

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Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said Monday that he has subpoenaed the FBI to produce documents to his committee related to the Trump-Russia investigation.

The Wisconsin senator also defended a separate investigation he is leading into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Ukraine, even as Democrats say the probe has the effect of amplifying Russian propaganda and as U.S. intelligence officials say they have assessed that Russia is working to denigrate Biden ahead of the November election.

Stefan Zaklin / Getty Images

As we near next week’s primary election and the November general election, there has been an even greater focus on U.S. politics. But these conversations can become stilted by our own knowledge gaps about how government works in our country.

Lauri Jones

Singer Kanye West and four other independent candidates for president have filed to be on the November ballot in Wisconsin. But it's unclear if all will actually go before voters.

West is listed as representing the Birthday Party. The others are Jo Jorgensen - Libertarian Party, Howie Hawkins - Green Party, Brian Carroll - American Solidarity Party, and Kyle Kopitke - The People's Revolution. 

Daderot / Wikimedia

Late last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced its decisions on key cases concerning the power of the state’s executive branch. The rulings effectively limit the power of Wisconsin’s attorney general and overruled several of Gov. Tony Evers' vetoes from the 2019 state budget.

Courtesy of Jackson Weber

Updated Friday at 10:25 a.m. CT  

Newly elected Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa is receiving a salary from the Wisconsin Legislature and Milwaukee City Hall. In April, the Democratic state Assembly member was elected to the Milwaukee Common Council as the first Latina and first openly out member of the LGBTQ community.

Screenshot / City of Milwaukee

On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Common Council narrowly confirmed the appointment of Claire Woodall-Vogg as the executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission.

After an hour-long discussion, Woodall-Vogg was approved in a vote of 8 to 7. Woodall-Vogg’s appointment comes with a bit of urgency as the Aug. 11 partisan primary draws near.

The job was open because former Executive Director Neil Albrecht announced plans to retire. Mayor Tom Barrett appointed Woodall-Vogg to take Albrecht’s place.

Chuck Quirmbach

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin now tops 28,000, with 315 new cases reported Monday. The number of COVID deaths in the state remained at 777.

There’s a renewed effort during the pandemic to get more financial help to health care workers in Wisconsin.

>>WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

ALEX WROBLEWSKI / Getty Images

Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin says she would say "yes" to Joe Biden if the expected Democratic presidential nominee asked her to be his vice-presidential running mate. Baldwin will seemingly have clout during the campaign, whether she's on the ticket or not.

Former Vice President Biden has promised to choose a female running mate, and some media outlets continue to put Baldwin on the list of potentials.

Susan Bence

Gov. Tony Evers called on the Wisconsin Legislature to pass a package of criminal justice reforms as the state celebrated Juneteenth on Friday.

Samer Ghani

Social upheaval has grasped America from coast to coast in the last few weeks. It’s difficult to wrap up the pandemic, economic anxieties, racial justice, and elections all in one bundle — but they all played a hand in driving the protests over the last month. 

Jeffery Winters is Director of the Equality Development and Globalization Studies program at Northwestern University. He says much like the election of Donald Trump in 2016, many people were surprised by the magnitude of anger and frustration displayed during the protests for racial equality.

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People in Milwaukee and throughout the United States continue to march against police brutality and call for justice, reforms and accountability. These protests centered on racial inequities are especially potent in Milwaukee — the most segregated metro area in America.

President Trump on Monday rejected calls to disband or defund police departments as a response to massive protests against police brutality, sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd by police.

"Sometimes you'll see some horrible things, like we witnessed recently," Trump said. "Ninety-nine percent of them are great, great people."

"The police are doing an incredible job," Trump said, citing crime statistics. "We're going to talk about ideas how we can do it better and how we can do it if possible in a much more gentle fashion."

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