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Year in Review: Wisconsin Political Highlights in 2015

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Politics in Wisconsin took a wild ride in 2015. Perhaps the highlight was Gov. Walker’s short-lived presidential campaign.  He virtually began stumping for the White House at the beginning of the year, making stops in early primary states. He billed himself as a fresh face and his policies seemed to appeal to conservatives. 

Walker jumped out to early leads in Iowa, and those leads held up into July, when he formally announced his bid. Then, Donald Trump got into the race and started erasing Walker’s lead. He also gave flat performances in two GOP debates. By the third week in September, Walker was polling at less than .5 percent and not long after, his campaign ran out of money, so he dropped out.

Even with Walker out of the race, the Milwaukee Theatre was the site of the fourth GOP presidential debate, drawing a huge crowd.

Other political highlights include Wisconsin Congressman became House Speaker, after John Boehner abruptly stepped down in October.

Back here in Wisconsin, a few pieces of legislation made the history books in 2015. The GOP majority passed several bills related to politics and elections. One raises contribution limits to candidates and scraps the requirement that donors reveal their employer. Another dismantles the non-partisan Government Accountability Board and instead, creates two panels of partisan appointees.

An additional new law ends secret John Doe investigations into political crimes, such as the one that was underway into Walker’s 2012 recall campaign. Instead, prosecutors will have to convene grand juries.

In a somewhat related development, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered an end to the aforementioned John Doe probe. It was exploring possible links between the governor’s campaign and conservative issue advocacy groups. The majority of justices concluded that no laws were broken. Three of the prosecutors involved, including Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, have decided to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.