Moulton, Dexter take different approaches to recall campaign

Last February, newly-elected state Sen. Terry Moulton was inundated with thousands of emails, letters and phone calls to his office.

The state Capitol had erupted into protests that went on for the better part of a month, as Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators pushed legislation to strip many public employees unions of most collective bargaining rights.

Moulton, a Republican from Chippewa Falls, supported the legislation and is now facing a recall effort from Eau Claire Democrat Kristen Dexter to remove him from his 23rd Senate District seat.

Public criticism

During the Capitol occupation and for some time after, Moulton was confronted with backlash from union supporters.

“We got thousands of emails daily, and we had to try to sort through them to respond,” he said of his office staff. “Many were from out of state.”

The intense public divide not only impacted Moulton as a politician but also as a person and a business owner. Protests took place at his sporting goods store, he and his family were threatened, and he has lost friends and customers.

While the debates raged, constituent outreach was rocky. Moulton recalls the high emotions during local listening sessions in Lake Hallie and Bloomer. For Lake Hallie’s meeting, the question-and-answer format broke down into volatile comments and accusations. Moulton nearly walked out after about 50 minutes.

“It was kind of difficult … but we made it through,” he said.

The volume of emails, letters and phone calls has calmed down substantially since last spring, and Moulton has heard more positive comments and support from constituents.

But he is not the only politician facing public criticism. Dexter said she has also been subjected to rude comments and personal attacks while out campaigning.

“When I get those comments made to me, I say there is no need for that,” Dexter said. “I’m here as a real person for a real reason. You don’t have to vote for me, but you don’t have to say those things to me.”

Dexter said most of her campaigning has remained positive, and those who aren’t supporting her are generally polite.

Differing campaigns

The accelerated timeline of recall elections has left little time for either candidate to spend on campaigning.

Not that either is a stranger to voters. Moulton served two two-year terms in the Assembly before being elected to the Senate, and Dexter is a one-term state representative. That election came against Moulton in an extremely close race, so this is the second time they have faced off.

Between the familiarity of the candidates and the issue at the core of the recall, there isn’t the level of indecision that is often found with general elections.

“About 98 percent have their mind made up already,” Moulton said, noting that polls have showed very few independent voters. “The key to this election is getting voters out to the polls.”

Dexter said she has been surprised to find some voters unaware of who she or Moulton are. She has been contacting people who were previously contacted by volunteers and said they were undecided.

While not all of them say they will vote for her, Dexter likes to make the gesture.

“Even if they don’t completely agree, they appreciate the effort,” she said. “It still comes down to personal contact.”

The candidates have appeared together in one forum so far, at the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce, but none that have been open to the public.

Recall changes?

Moulton is one of 13 state senators to have faced recall elections in the past year, including three others next month. Also facing recalls on June 5 are Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

Last year’s recall wave left a one-seat Republican majority for the state Senate. When Sen. Pam Galloway (R-Wausau), who was also facing a recall, resigned in March, leaving the majority up for grabs on June 5.

Moulton said in 2011 he heard rumors that he would be targeted for recall, but did not expect it to become a reality.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “There was no malfeasance, I didn’t do anything criminal.”

Given the many recall efforts launched over the past year, Moulton thinks the state should refine recall criteria to focus on misconduct rather than a difference of opinion.

Dexter disagreed, saying recalls are an important tool to protect citizens against corporate influence and abuse of power. She also does not think this will lead to more recalls.

“I see this as being a period of turmoil, and I do believe the turmoil is lessening,” she said.

Recall aftermath

Dexter decided to run against Moulton in January after a few points were resolved. The first was that more than enough petition signatures were collected to force a recall election.

“If (volunteers) just barely get enough signatures, it’s not a strong statement,” she said. “But when about 21,000 were collected, I realized I could do it.”

Her decision also hinged on whether the current 23rd Senate District lines would be in place for the recall election. The new redistricting maps passed by the Legislature last year (and set to take effect this November) put Dexter’s residence in the 31st Senate District. So if she is elected next month, she would have to move to run for re-election in the same district in 2014.

Dexter does not see a single term as the 23rd District state senator as a negative, equating it to that of a two-year state Assembly term.

If Moulton holds onto his Senate seat, he said he will keep his focus on the work set forth by Republicans in getting the state back on track fiscally.

“Give us a chance to allow the reforms to take effect,” he said.

If defeated by Dexter on June 5, Moulton said he would go back to running his two businesses — Mouldy’s Archery and Tackle store in Lake Hallie, and his manufacturing company Mouldy’s Tackle. He would also spend more time with his family and out on his fishing boat.

He is unsure if he would run again for political office.

“Something I would have to think about,” Moulton said. “One of the things I’ve always thought was never say never.”

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Report shows Wisconsin lost nearly 6,000 jobs in April

For the second day in a row, the state’s job numbers provided fodder for the ongoing fight between Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic detractors.

The Department of Workforce Development on Thursday released April’s monthly job estimate, a report that continued the recent trend of showing lowering unemployment at the same time as it gives sagging job numbers.

The monthly estimate shows the unemployment level dropping from 6.8 percent in March to 6.7 percent in April. But it also shows that Wisconsin lost 5,900 jobs between March and April, and 21,400 since April 2011. The state has added 12,200 jobs this year, the report said.

Those numbers present a different picture than a report released by DWD Wednesday that says the state created 23,300 jobs in 2011. Based on the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, that report is derived from state tax and unemployment insurance reports from about 160,000 state employers.

The quarterly reports are usually sent to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for review before they are released to the public. Though generally considered more accurate, the information is often tweaked and changed at the federal level.

Critics of Gov. Scott Walker saw the state’s unusual early release of its quarterly numbers Wednesday as a political stunt designed to help the embattled Republican governor in his June 5 recall showdown with Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Sluggish job numbers have dogged the Walker administration. The governor made jobs his top priority on the campaign and vowed to help bring 250,000 jobs to the state by the end of his first term.

“These dismal jobs numbers make it clear why Gov. Walker and his partisan political cronies pushed their own unique, uncomparable jobs data three weeks before an election,” said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha. “They knew today’s data — which is comparable — would continue to show that Gov. Walker has the worst jobs record of any governor in the country.”

A BLS report last month pointed out that Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs in the past year, the largest percentage job loss in the country. The report found that while 27 states and the District of Columbia saw significant job increases, only Wisconsin saw “statistically significant” job losses.

Every month, the BLS releases its jobs estimate based on a poll of 5,500 Wisconsin employers, about 3.5 percent of the total. While scientifically sound, that approach this year carries a margin of error of plus or minus 9,400 jobs. So the 5,900 jobs lost last month could actually range from a loss of 15,300 jobs to a gain of 3,500.

The state has always accepted this as part of the process and rarely made any mention of the volatility. But in the past month, the administration has started taking a different tack with the numbers it helps compile.

Wednesday night the governor went on Fox News’ “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” to tout the quarterly report and downplay the monthly estimates put out through his own administration. He referred to the monthly estimate put out by the state as numbers his “opponents” were using to criticize him.

And on Thursday DWD Secretary Reggie Newson took time while announcing the new monthly estimate to again call attention to what he sees as problems with those numbers.

“When a highly volatile data series diverts from other indicators of job growth — such as fewer unemployment insurance claims and increasing state sales and income tax collections — it creates a misleading picture that’s out of line with other indicators that show Wisconsin’s economy is headed in the right direction,” he said.

But such comments were seen as political spin by Walker’s detractors. State Rep. Sandy Pasch, D-Whitefish Bay, said the governor was trying to put “lipstick” on a pig by ignoring the job numbers that are not good for his re-election bid.

“We know he will continue his self-serving attempt to distract from his failed record of extreme policies and job losses, but these numbers clearly show that Gov. Walker continues to have the worst jobs record in the country,” she said.

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Halmstad: A woman’s worth

Following the lead of our governor, Sen. Terry Moulton appears to have forgotten the women of his district. Or perhaps he was influenced by fellow Sen. Glenn Grothman, who declared that women are paid less because money is more important for men.

Moulton’s voting record ignores the fact than many, if not most, women are the breadwinners of their family — women who work as hard and well as their male counterparts, but are paid 25 percent less. In other words, Jack earns $20,000 while Jill earns $15,000 for hauling the same pail of water up the hill.

With his sponsorship of a bill to repeal the state’s Equal Pay Law, Moulton turned back the clock on gender equity in the workplace. It’s the 1950s again, when women teachers were paid $1,200 less than male colleagues, despite having the same experience and skills.

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Andersen: Women who make me proud

LAKE HALLIE — I have considered myself very fortunate in where I have come from, and to have married into a family of strong-willed women. I have two daughters whom I am very pleased to say will take crap from no one. I would like to say that comes from me, but it does not. My daughters are under the influence of the women they grew up with.

In my family, my grandmother on my father’s side left Norway at the age of 15 to settle in America, specifically in Chicago. On my mother’s side, my grandmother came to America from Quebec to settle in Clark County in the late 1800s.

My mother was a child of the Depression who, because of her parents’ intense wishes, graduated from what is now UW-Eau Claire in 1936. She taught school during the height of the Depression in such places as Butternut, De Pere, Ashland, Port Edwards and Corvallis, Ore. She raised three boys and worked “outside the home,” as they used to say.

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Dexter Releases First Television Ad

Eau Claire — Today Dexter for Senate released their first television ad of the recall campaign ahead of Tuesday’s primary.  The ad entitled “Darlene” highlights Darlene Franklin, who is a Hodgkin’s disease survivor and was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Darlene Franklin:  “We’ve been on this farm for 40 years.  We’ve worked very hard to put it here, and we want to keep it here.”

“You fight to survive cancer, only to be considered high risk.  Nobody wants to insure you or your family.”

Kristen Dexter finishes the ad:

Kristen Dexter:  “How can politicians like Terry Moulton take money from big insurance companies, and then vote to kick people off their healthcare?”

“That is completely wrong; that is against everything we believe.  Wisconsin is not about moving backwards, it’s about moving forward.

To view this ad online, please visit:

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Walker, GOP took eyes off the ball on job creation

Wisconsin lost nearly 24,000 jobs over the past 12 months – the only state in the union with “statistically significant” job losses over that period, according to a new federal government report. For a governor who promised thousands of new jobs would be created on his watch and who now faces an unprecedented electoral challenge, that had to be troubling news. It’s certainly troubling for job seekers across the state.

Certainly, Gov. Scott Walker is responsible for politicizing job creation in Wisconsin – and then taking his eye off the ball as his fellow Republicans embarked on fulfilling a conservative wish list ranging from concealed carry to the castle doctrine to voter ID. But is Walker responsible for the state’s dreary job numbers? And is any politician really capable of creating significant job growth?

Walker made a promise over which he had little control – essentially he was betting on the come – by pledging that Wisconsin would create 250,000 new private-sector jobs during his first term. That may have been a political mistake.

Read More:…

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Dexter to challenge state Sen. Moulton in recall

After being out of office for only a year, former Democratic legislator Kristen Dexter plans to announce today she will challenge GOP state Sen. Terry Moulton in an expected recall election later this year.

Dexter, of the town of Washington, said she was encouraged by many supporters to run and inspired by the hundreds of Chippewa Valley volunteers who collected an estimated 21,500 signatures, or 40 percent more than necessary, on petitions calling for a 23rd Senate District recall election aimed at Moulton, of the town of Seymour. Those petitions were submitted Jan. 17 to the Government Accountability Board, which is reviewing the signatures.

“That’s 21,500 people who said, ‘Whoa, put the brakes on here; we are going over a cliff fast,’ ” said Dexter, 50, who believes she can help get Wisconsin heading back in the right direction.

The names may be the same, but the circumstances and district will be different than when Moulton and Dexter squared off in a hotly contested 68th Assembly District race in 2008. Dexter knocked off Moulton, then a two-term incumbent, in that race by 272 votes out of more than 30,000 cast.

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The Government Accountability Board (GAB) met today, Friday, March 30th to certify the election and we are finally able start circulating nomination papers!

This is what we have been waiting for!  We know the election with go forward because of all the hard work and signatures from the 23rd Senate District.  The next phase starts today! We need your help!

Click HERE to download nomination papers to start circulating!

In order to get my name on the ballot, the papers must be turned into the GAB by April 10th so we have a lot of work to do in a very short window of time.

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Terry Moulton and Republican Party Should Reject “Fake” Democrats

Dexter calls on Moulton to reject this frivilous tactic

Eau Claire – Co-Leader Fitzgerald, in announcing his chosen candidate in the Senate District 29 recall race, announced that “CERS fully supports Petrowski’s candidacy, and we are looking forward to working with him in advance of the May 8th election.1” Kristen Dexter, candidate for Senate District 23, is calling on Senator Terry Moulton to reject these same delay tactics and move forward with a May 8th election.

“I am calling on Senator Terry Moulton to join his Republican colleagues to reject frivolous, costly delay tactics, and hold the recall election on May 8th, the earliest day possible.  As I travel the 23rd Senate District talking to voters they tell me their priorities are employment, receiving quality education or job retraining, and access to affordable healthcare, and I look forward to a rigorous campaign and to debating Sen. Moulton on the priorities of the people.   The tens of thousands of people who signed a petition to recall their senator are ready to vote now.

We need new leadership in the 23rd Senate District, and we can’t afford to put off this election so Sen. Moulton can continue to raise out of state money from special interest groups.  I hope Sen. Moulton will agree with Rep. Petrowski’s statement that he “does not condone the practice of running fake democrats” and publicly rejects the idea of needlessly extending the election.”

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Kristen Dexter to run for State Senate

Kristen Dexter to run for State Senate

Chippewa Falls – Former State Representative Kristen Dexter (D-Eau Claire) will run for the 23rd
State Senate district in the upcoming recall elections. Dexter pointed to Wisconsin’s struggling
economy and poisonous political atmosphere as reasons she decided to run during her
announcement today in Chippewa Falls.

“While the rest of the country moves from recession to recovery, Wisconsin has been stuck in
reverse,” said Dexter, referencing the fact that Wisconsin has seen 6 straight months of job
losses while the rest of the country saw 200,000 jobs created in December alone. “In addition
to a stagnant state economy, tens of thousands of citizens, including nearly 30,000 children,
will lose access to Badger Care.”

“For sixty days volunteers stood outside in sleet, snow, wind and rain to collect over 21,000
signatures to recall a senator who has stopped representing the 23rd senate district,” said
Dexer. “When Terry Moulton decided to hand out more than $2 billion in tax cuts while at the
same time cutting $800 million from our schools, he chose to follow the party line in Madison
instead of representing the working families of Bloomer and Neillsville.”

Dexter believes the current legislature isn’t capable of addressing the major issues facing the
state. “The tea party politics that the Walker/Moulton team steamrolled through Wisconsin has
created a deeply divided and distrustful atmosphere. We need leaders who are able to look
beyond partisan politics do what’s right for the working families they represent.

During her time in the legislature, Dexter built an ambitious and impressive record of working
together with leaders from both political parties on major educational reforms, economic
development programs, and health care.

“The fact is, Madison is broken and Senator Moulton is part of the problem,” added Dexter.
“That’s why he’s been recalled, that’s why he’ll have to come back before the voters this spring
and that’s why I’m running to replace him.”

Dexter and her husband, Donn, have three children. Before serving in the legislature, Dexter
was a member of the Altoona School Board.
Authorized and Paid for By Dexter for Senate, Jerry LaPoint, Treasurer

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