Michael Horne
Plenty of Horne

Campaign Season Kicks Off

Politicos flock to Jon Richards fundraiser, and judicial candidate Janet C. Protasiewicz's event.

By - Dec 18th, 2013 11:17 am

Candidates are whirling about Milwaukee during the final days of the 2013 money collecting season and the beginning of the 2014 election season. Rep. Jon Richards, who is forfeiting his 19th Assembly District seat in a bid for Attorney General, held his first fundraising event for his anticipated office at Trinity Three Irish Pubs, 123 E. Juneau Ave. on Tuesday, December 10th, 2013, drawing about 70 people to the cash bar and free spread.

These included John Pokrandt of Intrinsic Creative.com, who says he plans to run for a seat on the 16-member Wauwatosa Common Council, a governing body for a city with 47,000 people that has one more member than the common council of Milwaukee, with its population of about 600,000. Pokrandt, a former candidate for Tosa mayor, also sought the 13th Assembly District seat won last year by Republican Rob Hutton in that “gerrymandered district,” as he calls it. Pokrandt hopes to serve in the 4th Aldermanic District, located in the southeast corner of the city, the portion that most resembles the adjoining landscape of the city of Milwaukee, and therefore more likely to vote Democratic, he hopes.

Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic and Dan Adams are both candidates for the 19th Assembly District seat. Photo by Michael Horne.

Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic and Dan Adams are both candidates for the 19th Assembly District seat. Photo by Michael Horne.

Richards supporters also included Jeff Bentoff, Rep. Dan Riemer, Aggie Stearns, Doug Savage (there with his sons while wife Stephanie Bloomingdale tended to business in Madison), former Health Commissioner Seth Foldy, activist Shaina Franzen and others including Gene and Inez Gilbert, happy residents of St. John’s on the Lake. Also in the crowd was Dan Adams, who had recently announced his candidacy to replace Richards. What do you know, but shortly thereafter Marina Dimitrijevic, who has the same office in mind, also came into the room and had a nice chat with Adams while Jonathan Brostoff, yet another candidate for the Democratic nomination did his thing. [Bostroff made his official announcement two days later.] The other announced Democratic candidate, Sara Geenen, was not there.

College Democrat Logan McDermott lamented that he is having a hard time getting fellow students as riled up about voting as he is. McDermott says he would like to run for office one of these days as well, and is getting his foot in the door by hanging out at events such as this one. Dave Sartori worked the room saying that he plans to run for State Treasurer in the 2014 election as a Democrat. He better get cracking, since there are already two announced candidates, Dan Bohrod of Madison and Brandon White, also of Capital City.

Jon Richards and Supervisor Tony Staskunas. Photo by Michael Horne.

Jon Richards and Supervisor Tony Staskunas. Photo by Michael Horne.

Finally, after meeting all these folks, it was time for remarks. Tony Staskunas was there to say a few words about his friend and fellow assembly colleague. Staskunas has pulled off a musical chair of sorts, leaving his assembly seat last year to successfully run for the county board. Meanwhile former county board member Joe Sanfelippo took the Staskunas seat in the legislature for the Republican party. “You can take Jon’s word to the bank. He can work with anybody — almost anybody. When he believes in something, he fights tooth and nail,” Staskunas said. Richards then took the floor, welcoming such attendees as his mom, Iva Richards, and other eminences including Ald. Terry Witkowski (didn’t know they were chums), Supervisor John F. Weishan, Jr. and Supervisor David Cullen, yet another former assemblyman-turned-Supervisor. Richards said he wants to “take back the Department of Justice for the people of the state of Wisconsin,” and has already collected 80 endorsements from around the state from District Attorneys, Sheriffs and other law enforcement folks.

Richards also said he is “concerned about open government,” which he feels has been lessened under Republican rule, and that he plans to run in “Milwaukee, Madison and Waukesha,” because “we need to show we have broad support and we do.”

He feels his department could do more for survivors of domestic abuse and says he senses a “hunger for a change of values, and a hunger for people who can work across party lines” among the electorate.

Richards also addressed the “incarceration issue.”

There are “huge numbers” of people incarcerated for non-violent crimes, and that these numbers include a “racial disparity” in prosecutions and prison sentences. He said expanded drug courts and mental health treatment would save $2 for every dollar invested. Finally, he added that the “Department of Justice has not defended the right to vote. We must make sure we stand up for voting rights.”

Richards is expected to face Dane County Ismael Ozanne in the August 2014 Democratic primary. The only announced Republican candidate to replace GOP incumbent J.D. Van Hollen, who is not running, is Waukesha D.A. Brad David Schimel.

Photos from the Richards Fundraiser

Protasiewicz Fundraiser

Chuck Kahn and Bill Ward are part of the crowd at the Janet Protasiewicz fundraiser. Photo by Michael Horne.

Chuck Kahn and Bill Ward are part of the crowd at the Janet Protasiewicz fundraiser. Photo by Michael Horne.

The Jackalope Lounj of the Wicked Hop, 345 N. Broadway, was the site on Monday, December 16th, of a fundraiser for judicial candidate Janet C. Protasiewicz [Marquette Law ’88], who hopes to succeed the retired Charles F. Kahn, Jr. [U Wisconsin Law ’75] on Branch 24 (now vacant) of Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

Among those in attendance were some real-life judges including David A. Hansher, the Deputy Chief Judge [Branch 42 Felony], Jeffrey A. Conen [Branch 30 Civil] and David L. Borowski [Branch 12 Felony].

Bill Ward, retired from the Milwaukee Police Association, kept his hand in politics by paying a visit, and mentioning that he is a regular reader of Urban Milwaukee. (Nothing like a name mention to keep them coming back!) Also lending their support were Vince Bobot, his pal and political operative Les Johns, commercial real estate agent Tom Gale, Sharon Rogers, Martha Moore of Marquette University’s Alumni office, Robert Taylor, Deborah Sanders and political candidates Jonathan Brostoff and John Pokrandt, who as we mentioned, were both at the Richards fundraiser.

Dom Noth was also at Monday’s fundraiser.  The former Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Labor Press writer said he won’t have any problem getting tickets to one of the 4 end-of-year shows by his son-in-law, comedian Jim Gaffigan at the Pabst Theater, now a New Year’s ritual in Milwaukee, like the annual Harlem Globetrotters game. “They added a fourth show on December 28th,” Noth said. He also figures that the April binding referendum on county supervisor pay may fail once people realize that the board, in his opinion, is a full time job, and the salary amounts are minuscule in a billion-dollar budget.

Janet Protasiewicz [r]. Photo taken by Michael Horne.

Janet Protasiewicz [r]. Photo taken by Michael Horne.

Guests feasted on cheese curds, and herbed cheese, some crackers and some steaming hot meatballs. The campaign sprang for soft drinks; attendees were on their own for drinks. Riverwest Stein Beer, at $3 a pint, was a good deal.

Also at the event were Laura Berry, Deborah Clarke, Jennifer Hebl and Cedric Cornwall who said his two young daughters, who were immaculately behaved at his recent fundraiser, miss their dad, what with all the gallivanting he has to do as a judicial candidate, “but they understand.”

Perhaps the most important endorsement of Protasiewicz came in the person of Chuck Kahn himself. His former honor had held a retirement party Wednesday, December 4th, at Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery, 901 W. Juneau Ave., where he was saluted by such friends as Sen. Lena Taylor, attorneys Mark Thomsen, Jeremy Levinson, and Michael Guerin among many others. Ald. Nik Kovac appeared as did Mayor Tom Barrett and D.A. John Chisholm. Also in the room were Dan McCarthy of Zilber Investments, Marsha Sehler of Uihlein-Wilson Architects and Downtown Milwaukee’s Beth Weirick.

One attorney testified about his rookie experience in the Kahn courtroom, saying that Kahn was always about justice.

“I loved every judge I’ve ever appeared before — greatly. But Judge Kahn was my first.”

Appeals Court Judge Kitty Brennan, who worked with Kahn for a couple of decades, said Kahn was one of the first judges to be computer savvy. For years he was the de facto technology department of the county court system, she suggested.

Kahn is still wrestling with computers, he said at the Protasiewicz event. Right now he is busy building a website for his new business, “A Neutral View,” an arbitration and mediation service located in the Colby-Abbott Building, headquarters of Urban Milwaukee.

Protasiewicz, an assistant district attorney in the felony division, is running unopposed for the seat. If more than one candidate materializes for the seat, a primary election will be held on February 18th, 2014. The general election will be on April 1st, 2014, no foolin’.

Father / Son Candidates Seek Office

Joseph T. Klein

Joseph T. Klein

Francis Joseph Klein, a Milwaukeean who is a student at the UW-Madison, has filed as an independent to run for Governor. He joins other announced candidates including Eric John Bruce of Trevor, Travis D. Swenky of Wheeler, Mary Jo Walters of Madison, Steven Zelinski of Webster and Dennis Keith Fehr of Eau Claire.

On Sunday, December 15th, his father, Joseph T. Klein, announced that he is throwing his hat into the ring to run for the 19th Assembly District seat vacated by Richards. Klein will run under the banner of the Pirate Party, of which he is the founder of the Wisconsin unit. He will get to sit out the primary and run in the general election against the Democratic nominee. No Republican has filed for the seat as of yet.

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