Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Antonio Riley’s Campaign Coffer Looks Mayoral

By - Aug 5th, 2001 02:58 pm

News reports have made much of the money raised by Ald. Marvin Pratt and Ald. Tom Nardelli, speculating about their chances for mayor. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ignored the far more effective fundraising of Rep. Antonio Riley (D-Milwaukee), who received $33,514 in donations in the January through July 20 period. That is more than twice as much as Nardelli (with $14,9990) and Pratt ($14,650) raised during this period, but less than the $52,000 raised by Municipal Judge Vince Bobot.

All this speculation could be premature: If John Norquist decides to run for reelection, many of the names mentioned as possible candidates are unlikely to run. Riley, who has been a protégé of Norquist, has made it clear he will only run if the mayor is not a candidate.

Riley raised more than Pratt and Nardelli combined. His campaign finance report is studded with donors from the Milwaukee business community.

But Riley has certainly shown he can raise money. Political observers had assumed his fundraising opportunities would dry up after he was kicked off the legislature’s joint finance committee, in the coup that brought Spencer Black (D-Madison) to power as assembly minority leader. But Riley’s campaign finance report shows he raised about $17,000 of his money since then.

The report is studded with donations from the Milwaukee business community, which would be critical to any mayoral candidate. Donors include such business executives of as James Forbes of Badger Meter, Jim McKenna (North Shore Bank), Daniel McKeithan (Tamarack Petroleum), Fred Luber (Super Steel), James Wigdale (M&I Marshall & Ilsley), Sheldon Lubar (Lubar & Co.), Stephen Marcus (Marcus Corporation), developers Barry Mandel and Gary Grunau, and many others.

Riley now has $56,233 cash on hand, which leaves him ahead of Pratt and Bobot in that department, and behind Nardelli ($118,000) and Norquist ($227,000). “I’m going to take all the necessary steps to be considered a qualified candidate [for mayor],” Riley told Milwaukee Magazine. He seems to be doing just that.

Short Takes

Circuit court judge Jeff Wagner reportedly met with consultant Todd Robert Murphy to discuss the possibility of Murphy handling a Wagner run for mayor. But Wagner is another who might sit out if Norquist stands for reelection. “He’s friendly to Norquist and doesn’t know what he’d do if Norquist ran,” says a source.

Wagner is said to have considerable personal wealth he could use for a run for mayor. He has moved from Bayside to Milwaukee’s East Side, so he’s now a city resident.

-The Milwaukee Bucks and Brewers are reportedly opposed to a proposal to bring a major league soccer franchise to Milwaukee. “The Bucks and Brewers see it as competition,” says a source from the business community. Milwaukee already has a lot of sports action for a city its size. Soccer would be competing for fans, and perhaps more crucial, competing to sell its 20 luxury suites. “Who do you go to? You go to the same companies,” the source says. “The Bucks and Brewers were also nervous, back when NHL Hockey was suggested, for the same reason.”

Also souring the Brewers on the soccer proposal is the man behind it, Tim Krause. Krause was very active in agitating against Bud Selig and the small group of stockholders who ran the Brewers for decades. Krause’s father Charles and Charles’ mother-in-law Leona Stearns were longtime stockholders who felt they had little say over decisions made by Selig.

Krause is reportedly having weekly phone conversations with Atty. Ulice Payne, new board president of the Bradley Center, which owns the rights to some of the land needed to create the soccer stadium. Payne was very influential on the stadium authority board, and helped solve problems it faced in building Miller Park.

Meanwhile, the Bradley Center is back wooing the Wisconsin Center after a proposal to combine the two entities was cut from the final version of the state budget. Wisconsin Center President Dick Geyer says the ubiquitous Payne is now having talks with Atty. Frank Gimbel, board president of the Wisconsin Center. The Bradley Center hopes to tap into the Wisconsin Center’s tax base to help bail out the Milwaukee Bucks.

Geyer, by the way, was happy to see the proposed merger, which was backed by business leaders and the Bradley Center, cut from the budget. “They never talked to Frank Gimbel or myself about it,” he complains. “You should have a proposal that’s fair to everyone.”

-Miller Park is a marvelous success. I’ve now sat in a luxury box, behind home plate, in grandstand seats along left field and in the right field bleachers, and enjoyed it every time. But the team is so bad its general manager Dean Taylor has admitted “realistically, we’re not going to challenge the Cubs this year.” The Brewers have to be seen as very competitive by the beginning of next season, or ticket sales will begin to drop and the window of opportunity to create a profitable franchise could close with a bang.

-The downtown public library has an enjoyable coffee shop and used bookstore, which calls itself “Coffee With A Conscience.” Owned and managed by the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative, the shop’s brochure declares it has an “environmental conscience” and “is committed to reducing waste.” So I asked the man behind the counter where I could recycle the glass bottle for my fruit juice. He pointed to a bag of garbage. What happened to that “Environmental Conscience” noted in the shop’s brochure, I asked. “Well, we ignore that part of it,” he said.

Irony of the week: after chastising Mayor Norquist in several articles and an editorial for going on vacation and missing important business, the MJS editorial board reportedly agreed to meet with Norquist, but asked to postpone it for a week because two board members were on vacation.

Tom Nardelli quote of the week, this time on Norquist’s style of consulting with aldermen: “Half the time to find out what’s going on we have to read about it in the newspaper. The council has been treated like a mushroom: left in the dark and fed doo doo.”

This article was originally published by Milwaukee World.

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