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Republicans are making hay out of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s ties to Gov. Jim Doyle and the “failed policies of the past.”

But Burke, who was Doyle’s Commerce secretary for two years, isn’t exactly trying to distance herself from the Democrat, who won five statewide elections, including three for attorney general.

Burke’s campaign team includes fundraiser Katie Boyce, a Doyle fundraiser and deputy chief of staff in his second term. Her treasurer is Sheila Conroy, who led the Office of State Employee Relations for Doyle (and is married to Madison biotech CEO Kevin Conroy, who was mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate before Burke got in the race).

Burke’s senior political adviser is Tanya Bjork, whom Doyle hired as national liaison. The appointment was controversial partly because Bjork was convicted of two misdemeanors related to the caucus scandal for campaigning on state time and trying to cover it up. She also was senior adviser for President Obama’s Wisconsin campaign in 2008 and 2012.

Other Burke staff members include campaign manager Maggie Brickerman, who stepped down as executive director of the state Democratic Party to work for Burke; fundraiser Heather Colburn, who ran Shirley Abrahamson’s Supreme Court campaign, and communications director Joe Zepecki, who worked on the Obama campaign.

Stealing thunder

It was a busy week for campaign announcements. Burke announced early Monday morning she was getting in the governor’s race. Then, less than five hours later, Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced that he would not seek a third term in office next year.

By Wednesday, Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel had filed his campaign registration statement for the office of Wisconsin Attorney General; he had the endorsement of more than 20 district attorneys from throughout Wisconsin by Friday.

But what about Van Hollen’s plans?

Department of Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck said he was not available for an interview this week.

“His plans are to serve out his term as attorney general until the end of 2014,” Brueck said. “Beyond that, he has not announced any plans.”

Republican political operative Darrin Schmitz, who ran Van Hollen’s previous campaigns, said, “The attorney general is not actively pursuing any other elected office at this time.”

Better luck next year

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The architect of the 2013-15 state budget’s income tax reforms was surprised this week to see Wisconsin stuck at 43rd in the Tax Foundation’s annual ranking of state business tax climates.

Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, who promoted his income tax cut proposal as a way to get Wisconsin out of the bottom 10 in the annual rankings, called the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit to find out why the changes weren’t factored into the rankings.

The lower rates took effect this year, though the public won’t see the benefit until they file their taxes in spring.

It turns out the rankings were based on tax law in effect as of July 1.

The state budget was signed July 7. The original Tax Foundation release incorrectly left out that information, and Kooyenga’s call prompted a revision, a spokesman for the organization said.

But the data used for the rankings won’t be updated until next year’s report.

Endless Summer (Shandy)

OTC knew Gov. Scott Walker was a big fan of Leinenkugel’s beer. After all, when Dick Leinenkugel announced plans to run for U.S. Senate in 2010, Walker said the only Leinenkugel he would endorse was a Honey Weiss.

But we didn’t know just how big a fan he was of Leinie’s Summer Shandy until Wednesday, when Walker — speaking at the annual Wisconsin Freight Rail Day at the Concourse Hotel in Madison — mentioned that the warm October day was more of a Summer Shandy than an Oktoberfest kind of day.

“Honey Weiss is still my favorite. But in the summer I like lemonade, so Summer Shandy is pretty good,” Walker told reporters following the event. “Although it’s hard now because it’s out of season. So, unless you have your stash...”

Don’t worry. The governor assured us he stocked up on some Summer Shandy for the fall days ahead.

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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