ROTHSCHILD - Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus wants a bold image overhaul for his party.
We spoke with him and other state leaders about how they're going to do it at the Wisconsin Republican Convention that wrapped up today in Rothschild.
"This is not a time to sulk, this is not a time to sink, this is not a time to drown your sorrows. This is a time to take stock; figure out what it is to improve on," says Congressman, and 2012 vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan.
Take stock is exactly what RNC Chairman Reince Priebus did. In March he presented what he called an "autopsy" of the party following nationwide losses including the White House.
"We haven't run a decisive presidential race in 24 years. So what's going on? I want to talk to you about that," Priebus said to the crowd at the convention.
In the report he offered blunt criticism of the party's image. It said the majority of poll respondents viewed the GOP as a party of "stuffy old men" that is "out of touch" and even "scary".
"I think it was spot on the money. I think what Reince did was a sobering assessment of what did we do right, what did we do wrong, where do we have room for improvement? If you don't win a national election you need to do that kind of analysis," says Ryan.
"Sometimes I think our party hasn't done a good enough job of trying to reach out. And I think that's what we need to focus on, is opening up our arms as wide as we can, listening to folks who might not agree with us on every single issue," says Robin Vos, Speaker of the Assembly.
The report says the party needs to be more inclusive and connect with more female, youth, gay and minority voters. But the question is, how? Do they need to figure out how to become more moderate on issues that are important to those voters?
"I think it's a matter of kind of what our moms used to say, 'It's not what you say, but how you say it'. And I also think it's a matter of using grace and love in your tone, which is a pretty good rule to live by. I think we all try to do that in our lives. But I think in politics you have to be reminded that love and grace is part of the conversation," says Priebus.
One of those ongoing conversations on immigration reform. Ryan is a vocal supporter; to the point of publicly disagreeing with Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner at the convention this weekend.
So if some republicans want to meet democrats in the middle on an issue other republicans aren't willing to bend on-- will the infighting just be more destructive?
"There are a lot of other issues like this that have to be solved, that have been very difficult. And that's why we have got to start talking to each other," says Ryan.
Looking forward, Wisconsin republicans agree the state is the model the national GOP should follow if they want to get back into the White House.
"I think Wisconsin's really a leader for the rest of the country. We have been doing a good job of broadening our coalition," says Vos.
"I think the Republican Party of Wisconsin, nationally, has shown how republicans ought to conduct themselves," says Ryan.
"They've shown the rest of the country how to get it done, and we want to do what Wisconsin's doing all over America," says Priebus.
THREE LAKES - The DNR hopes it won't find more Northwoods deer with chronic wasting disease.
Last year, a deer on a game farm near Three Lakes tested positive for the deadly disease. Although it hopes that incident is isolated, the DNR wants more data on the health of the Northwoods deer herd.
The agency is urging hunters near Three Lakes to give their deer heads to the DNR for CWD testing.
RHINELANDER - People in Rhinelander will be able to cast their November election ballots starting on Friday. It's the earliest people in Wisconsin have ever been able to vote.
The absentee ballots are stacked and ready for Friday at the Rhinelander City Clerk's office. To make the early voting process go as smoothly as possible, you will need to come prepared.
"When you come in make sure that you're registered. That is important. Make sure you're registered in the city if you're coming into us," said Clerk Valerie Foley.
Registering is easy; all you need is a photo ID and proof of residence. The registration form takes a couple of minutes, and then you will be able to fill out an election ballot.
"I think it is going to be a very busy day. I think people are pretty interested in the issues. And I think a lot of them would like to get and make sure they can vote if they're not certain they're going to make it to the polls in November or not," said Foley.
The clerk's office has already sent out about 200 ballots to people who have requested them.
Now, it is preparing for the early voter in-person rush.
If you are unsure whether you are registered to vote or where to go for early voting, the clerk's office suggests voters visit myvote.wi.gov for more information.
The Boulder Junction Town Board voted two to one Tuesday night to move forward with a town plaza plan. The plan will now go to a design phase.
The board estimated the cost of the design phase to be between $30,000 to $50,000, but it was dropped to about $25,000 at the meeting.
Town Chairman Dennis Reuss and Town Supervisor Dennis Duke voted in favor, with Town Supervisor Denny McGann voting against the plan.
A little more than $1 million may not seem like a lot of money to a city like Madison or Milwaukee. But for a town of fewer than one thousand people, it's a lot. The Boulder Junction Town Board could vote Tuesday whether or not to move onto the next phase of a $1.26 million town plaza project.
Dennis Duke has a vision of what Boulder Junction could look like in a few years.
"This one has a much more artistic flair, this has a more engineering flair if you will," said Duke while looking at potential design plans.
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