Wisconsin Congressional Delegation Split On Town Halls During Recess

Half Of Delegation Confirmed Town Hall Meetings With Constituents

Patty Murray/WPR

Only half of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation have confirmed they’re using a two-week recess from work in Washington, D.C., to hold town hall-style meetings with constituents.

Of the state’s 10-member delegation, a bipartisan group including U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville; Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee; and Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, confirmed they don’t currently have town halls scheduled for the break. The offices of Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, didn’t confirm or share plans.

Town hall meetings have been tumultuous for some lawmakers in recent months, as issues including the possible repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and appointment of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch have riled voters on both sides of the aisle.

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Gallagher said on Thursday that he’s “meeting with as many people as possible” and holding one-on-one meetings with constituents.

“It’s helpful for me to get people’s thoughts, whether it’s on health care, whether it’s on foreign policy — I find I learn a lot,” Gallagher said.

A spokesman for Ryan said constituent services is the office’s “No. 1 priority,” and pointed out constituents can engage with Ryan through calls, emails, faxes or letters.

“This month we have fielded thousands of phone calls throughout all of our offices, in addition to the letters and emails we receive,” said spokesman Ian Martorana.

Martorana also noted Ryan has participated in telephone town halls with constituents.

Johnson’s office received a shipment of more than 2,000 potatoes earlier this month as part of a push for him to hold a town hall, but a spokesman would not confirm the senator would hold any town hall-style meetings during the break.

“Senator Johnson continues to travel the state extensively to talk with Wisconsinites about their concerns, including meeting with constituents in Oshkosh, Sheboygan, Wausau, Eau Claire, Cadott and Prescott in the last few days,” said spokesman Ben Voelkel.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin has held one town hall, at Prescott High School, during the break.

“Senator Baldwin really values her time traveling around the state to meet and listen to people,” a spokesman said. “Town halls are one way to do that, but not the only way.”

Another member of Wisconsin’s delegation is planning to hold more than a dozen town halls during the recess.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, has 18 such meetings on the books from April 10-21.

“I’m extremely proud of this, and it’s something I believe is not only important for the sake of democracy, but it’s invaluable to me as I work to best represent the interests of my district,” Sensenbrenner wrote of his vigorous meeting schedule earlier this year.

Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, held seven town halls on the first two days of the break. A spokeswoman said plans are in the works for more in the coming months.

Reps. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and Mark Pocan, D-Madison, both had a pair of town halls scheduled for the break.

“When we’re away in Washington, which we are a lot, we can still have contact, but it’s not the same,” Pocan said of the meetings. “When we’re home for a period of time like this, it’s a great opportunity to meet people face to face.”

“Traveling around western and central Wisconsin to hear from constituents is my favorite part of this job,” Kind said in a statement.

Duffy’s office didn’t share the congressman’s plans.

Wisconsin Congressional Delegation Town Halls During Spring Recess (April 10-21):

1st District – Paul Ryan (R)
Total: 0

2nd District – Mark Pocan (D)
Total: 2

April 10: Rock County Town Hall, Blackhawk Technical College
April 13: UW-Madison Town Hall, Dejope Hall on UW Campus

3rd District – Ron Kind (D)
Total: 2

April 13: Wisconsin Rapids
April 13: Stevens Point

4th District – Gwen Moore (D)
Total: 0

5th District – Jim Sensenbrenner (R)
Total: 18

April 10 – Lowell Village Hall
April 10 – Reeseville Village Hall
April 10 – Clyman Village Hall
April 10 – Hutisford Village Hall
April 10 – Iron Ridge Community Center
April 10 – Menomonee Falls Village Hall
April 11 – Waterloo Municipal Building
April 11 – Ixonia Town Hall
April 11 – Ashippun Town Hall
April 12 – Butler Village Hall
April 12 – Lannon Village Hall
April 12 – Merton Village Hall
April 12 – Nashotah Village Hall
April 12 – New Berlin City Hall
April 13 – Johnson Creek Village Hall
April 13 – Helenville Fire Hall
April 13 – Sullivan Village Hall
April 13 – Palmyra Village Hall

6th District – Glenn Grothman (R)
Total: 7

April 10: Sheboygan
April 10: Valders
April 11: Montello
April 11: Neshkoro
April 11: Wautoma
April 11: Redgranite
April 11: Berlin

7th District – Sean Duffy (R)
Total: No response

8th District – Mike Gallagher (R)
Total: 0

Sen. Ron Johnson (R)
Total: No confirmation of town hall events

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D)
Total: 1

April 12: Prescott High School