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Kathleen Vinehout

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Kathleen Vinehout
Vinehout kathleen.jpg
Wisconsin State Senate District 31
In office
2007 - Present
Term ends
January 3, 2015
Years in position 8
Base salary$49,943/year
Per diem$88/day
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2, 2010
First elected2006
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Associate'sLincolnLand Community College, 1992
Bachelor'sSouthern Illinois University, 1980
Master'sSaint Louis University, 1982
Ph.D.University of Illinois, Springfield, 1987
Date of birth06/16/1958
Place of birthAlbany, NY
Office website
Campaign website
Kathleen Vinehout (b. June 16, 1958) is a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Senate. She has represented the 31st state senate district since 2006. She is also the Chair of the Democratic Party of Buffalo County.

Vinehout unsuccessfully ran for Wisconsin Governor in the 2012 recall election against incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, losing in the primary.

Vinehout's professional experiences include researcher/quality assurance specialist; organic farmer; nursing assistant; health care manager; education director; and professor at University of Illinois, Springfield.

Vinehout earned a BS in education from Southern Illinois University; MS in public health, Saint Louis University; PhD from University of Illinois, Springfield; and AD in Agriculture from LincolnLand Community College. She and her husband, Douglas Kane, have one child; Nathan.[1]

Issue positions

Sen. Vinehout briefly lists the following on her campaign website as her goals:[2]

  • Reform the health care system to make it more affordable and accessible (her top priority).
  • Maintain state funding for schools.
  • "End the partisan bickering" and "work together" to accomplish these goals.

Committee assignments


At the beginning of the 2013 legislative session, Vinehout served on the following committees:

Wisconsin Committee Assignments, 2013
Agriculture, Small Business, and Tourism
Administrative Rules
Information Policy and Technology
Joint Legislative Audit


At the beginning of the 2011 legislative session, Vinehout served on the following committees:


At the beginning of the 2009 legislative session, Vinehout served on the following committees:

Legislative walkout

Vinehout and the 13 other Democratic senators participated in a legislative walkout on February 17, 2011 in opposition to Assembly Bill 11 - a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at limiting collective bargaining rights, compensation and fringe benefits of public employees.[3] The Democratic departure left the Senate one vote shy of a quorum. Reports confirmed the senators fled to a hotel in Rockford, Illinois.[4] State police were dispatched by Governor Scott Walker (R) to retrieve the senators, but were unable to cross state lines. [5] The 14 state senators who left the state are being described as the "Badger 14" or "Fab 14."[6][7]

On February 22, speaking from the basement of an Illinois hotel, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller provided the minority response to Gov. Scott Walker, saying, "The governor has the tools at his disposal to put this issue to an end. As soon as he is willing to take a compromise, we will go back to work in an instant." Miller stated that the legislators payed for the trip themselves, and that no taxpayer money was spent.[8]

Walker called on the Democratic senators to return to the state by March 1 in order to vote to restructure the state's debt. If they did not, he stated he may have to start cutting state jobs, saying:
It’s not just a number, it’s not just a budget, it’s ultimately a real person with a real family, so I’m going to push that back as far as I can. We’ve got to have real numbers to balance the budget to avoid layoffs. My hope is those 14 state senators … realize that in the end, it’s much better off to avoid those cuts, it’s much better off to avoid the most dire consequences that will come if we don’t pass this bill.[9]
The Democratic senators said they would not return until the governor was willing to compromise on the budget-repair bill.

Democrats threatened with arrest

Republicans passed a unanimous resolution on March 3 finding the missing legislators in contempt and threatening them with arrest. It gave them until 4 p.m. to return or the sergeant-at-arms was ordered to take "any and all necessary steps, with or without force, and with or without the assistance of law enforcement, by warrant or other legal process, as he may deem necessary in order to bring that senator to the Senate chambers."[10]

The constitutionality of that resolution was unclear, however, as the Wisconsin Constitution only allows for the arrest of legislators while in session if they are suspected of committing a felony, treason, or breach of the peace. Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, said the resolution was an "unreasonable abuse of police power."[11]

Sen. Jon Erpenbach provided the Democratic response, stating, "All 14 of us remain in Illinois, very strong in our convictions. Issuing arrest warrants at 4 p.m. isn't going to solve the problem. This is a debate about protection of the middle class in Wisconsin; that is what the Republicans should be focusing on."[10]

The move by Republicans came the day after they issued fines of $100 a day for not showing up at the Capitol, along with taking away parking spaces.[12] The week before Republicans also passed a rule suspending direct-deposit of paychecks. Sen. Erpenbach found a way around this by granting power of attorney to two of his aides, giving them power to, among other things, pick up his paycheck. In the end Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald mailed the check to Erpenbaach.[13]

Meeting/possible compromises

On March 7, Democratic leader Sen. Mark Miller sent a letter to the governor and senate majority leader asking for a meeting near the Wisconsin-Illinois border to restart talks on the collective bargaining issue.[14] Gov. Walker responded at a press conference, calling the letter "ridiculous," and saying that several meetings between the two sides have taken place, but that Miller has stood in the way of a compromise.[15]

Sen. Chris Larson said, "Dems will return when collective bargaining is off the table. That could be soon based on the growing public opposition to the bill and the recall efforts against Republicans."[16]

On March 8, the Governor's office released an email exchange dated March 6 between Eric Schutt, Walker's deputy chief of staff, and Democratic Senators Cullen and Jauch. The exchange discusses possible compromises on the bill, including allowing unions to bargain for wages beyond inflation rates, permitting collective-bargaining on certain economic issues, allowing public workers to collectively bargain workplace safety issues, and limiting collective bargaining agreements to 2 years or less.[17]

Republicans pass bill

Seal of Wisconsin.svg.png
2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

In a surprise maneuver, Senate Republicans on March 9 passed controversial reforms to the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. In a process that took just over two hours, Republicans passed the bill by a vote of 18-1, with Sen. Dale Schultz (R) casting the only no vote.[18]

Republicans skirted the need for a quorum by removing the sections of the bill that had to do with appropriating funds. With these removed, the bill only needed to be passed by a simple majority -- rather than requiring a quorum of 20 senators. At 4 p.m. on March 9 a conference committee on the budget-repair bill was convened. Two hours later the committee met and advanced the new measure without debate. Immediately following that, the Senate met and passed the new version, also without debate. It was then sent to the Assembly.[19]

The only Democrat present at the meeting, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D), attempted to stop the proceedings, stating that the committee was in violation of the state's open meeting law. According to the law, most public bodies are required to give 24 hours notice before a meeting. The two hours notice that the committee provided led Barca to declare, "Mr. Chairman, this is a violation of law! This is not just a rule — this is the law."[18] Ignoring Barca, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) ordered the vote taken as shouts of protest rang from the galleries.

The bill was given a stay by Dane County Court Judge Maryann Sumi. On May 26, 2011, Sumi struck down the legislative actions leading to the bill eliminating public employee collective bargaining on the grounds that it violated the state's Open Meetings Law. The state Departments of Justice and Department of Administration appealed the decision to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. [20][21] On June 14 the Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled the district court decision, stating it "exceeded its jurisdiction, invaded the legislature’s constitutional powers...and erred in enjoining the publication and further implementation of the act."[22]

Recall campaigns

In the wake of events surrounding the bill, both Democratic and Republican senators were targeted by active recall campaigns. Recall sponsors filed signatures on petitions targeting 6 Republican state senators and 3 Democratic state senators. Challenges were filed in all 9 of those campaigns, and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board approved the six campaigns against Republicans at meetings on May 23 and May 31, and approved the three campaigns against Democrats on June 8. Democrats held onto the 30th district seat on July 19. Republicans lost two seats in the August 9 recalls, but held onto four. Two incumbent Democrats successfully retained their seats on August 16.


Senator Vinehout talks about the current problems with health care, the economy and schools


See also: Scott Walker recall, Wisconsin (2012)

Vinehout ran for Wisconsin Governor in the recall election against incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, losing in the primary.[23]

Recall petitions were turned in on January 17, 2012 and certified on March 30. Vinehout declared her candidacy on February 8.[24] She faced Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Kathleen Falk, Douglas La Follette and protest candidate Gladys Huber in the primary on May 8.[25] Hariprasad "Hari" Trivedi is running as an independent.[26]

Wisconsin Governor Recall - Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngTom Barrett 58.1% 390,191
Kathleen Falk 34.1% 229,236
Kathleen Vinehout 4% 26,967
Doug La Follette 2.9% 19,497
Gladys Huber 0.7% 4,847
Scattering 0.1% 864
Total Votes 671,602
Election Results via Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.


See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2010

Vinehout was re-elected to the Wisconsin State Senate District 31 seat. She was unopposed in the primary. Her opponent in the general election of November 2, 2010 was Republican Ed Thompson.[27] [28][29]

A recount request was filed with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board on November 9, 2010[30]. The recount was final on December 1, 2010[31].

Wisconsin State Senate, District 31 (2010) General Election
Candidates Votes Percent
Green check mark transparent.png Kathleen Vinehout (D) 30,314 50.27%
Ed Thompson (R) 29,911 49.61%
Wisconsin Senate, District 31 Democratic Primary (2010)
Candidates Votes Percent
Green check mark transparent.png Kathleen Vinehout (D) 7,251 99.78 %


On November 7, 2006, Kathleen Vinehout was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate, District 31. [32]

Kathleen Vinehout raised $182,848 for her campaign, while Ron Brown, incumbent, raised $281,694.[33]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 31 (2006)
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Kathleen Vinehout (D) 31,895
Ron Brown (R) 29,890

Recent legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by Sen. Vinehout includes[34]

  • A bill modifying how dependents may be covered under health insurance[35]
  • A bill creating court presumption criteria regarding the privilege of self defense[36]

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Vinehout is available dating back to 2006. Based on available campaign finance records, Vinehout raised a total of $511,421 during that time period. This information was last updated on June 5, 2013.[37]

Kathleen Vinehout's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Governor of Wisconsin Defeated $119,860
2010 Wisconsin State Senate, District 31 Won $186,628
2008 Wisconsin State Senate, District 31 Not up for election $22,085
2006 Wisconsin State Senate, District 31 Won $182,848
Grand Total Raised $511,421


Vinehout lost the election for the Governor of Wisconsin in 2012. During that election cycle, Vinehout raised a total of $119,860.


Vinehout won re-election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2010. During that election cycle, Vinehout raised a total of $186,628.


Vinehout was not up for election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2008. During that election cycle, Vinehout raised a total of $22,085.


Vinehout won election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2006. During that election cycle, Vinehout raised a total of $182,848.

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Project Vote Smart - Senator Vinehout
  2. Campaign website
  3., ASSEMBLY BILL 11, accessed 17 Feb. 2011
  4. Green Bay Press Gazette, Wisconsin Democrats flee to Clock Tower Hotel in Rockford, Ill., to block anti-union bill, 17 Feb. 2011
  5. Bloomberg Businessweek, Senator: Missing Wis. lawmakers left the state, 17 Feb. 2011
  6. The Badger 14
  7. Fab 14 Facebook page
  8. WISN, "State Sen. Minority Leader Responds to Walker," February 22, 2010
  9. Christian Science Monitor, "Wisconsin governor to missing senators: Come back or I'll lay off 1,500," February 28, 2011
  10. 10.0 10.1 Wall Street Journal, "Pressure Mounts on Absent Democrats in Wisconsin, Indiana," March 3, 2011
  11. Wisconsin State Journal, "Senate orders arrest of missing Democrats," March 3, 2011
  12. My Fox Chicago, "Wisconsin GOP Slaps Missing Dems With $100 Daily Fines," March 2, 2011
  13. Talking Points Memo, "AWOL Wisconsin Dem Beats The System, Gets His Paycheck Mailed To Him," March 3, 2011
  14. New York Times, "Wisconsin Democrats Urge New Talks on Labor Bill," March 7, 2011
  15. CNN, "Wisconsin gov: Democratic senator's border meeting idea 'ridiculous'," March 7, 2011
  16. Talking Points Memo, "Wisconsin Dems Deny WSJ Report Of Imminent Return," March 6, 2011
  17. CNN, "E-mails: Wisconsin governor offers concessions on budget bill," March 8, 2011
  18. 18.0 18.1 Miami-Herald, "Wisconsin Republicans bypass Democrats on union bill," March 9, 2011
  19. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Senate advances collective bargaining changes; Democrats to return after Assembly vote," March 9, 2011
  20. Wisconsin State Journal, "Judge strikes down Walker's collective bargaining law, case moves to state Supreme Court", May 26, 2011
  21. Wisconsin Reporter, "Judge: Collective bargaining bill violated open meetings law", May 26, 2011
  22. Shorewood Patch, "UPDATE: Unions Sue to Block Supreme Court's Reinstatement of Controversial Budget Repair Bill," June 14, 2011
  23. Chicago Tribune, "Walker, Barrett begin sprint to historic vote," May 9, 2012
  24. WTAQ, "Dem State Sen. Vinehout announces bid for Governor in possible recall," February 8, 2012
  25. Wisconsin State Journal, "GOP's fake Democrats for recall primaries named," April 5, 2012
  26. WTAQ, "Recall elections officially ordered against Gov. Walker, 5 other GOP lawmakers," March 30, 2012
  27. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Candidates Registered by Office, 2010," July 13, 2010
  28. Official GAB primary results
  29. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Official General Election 2010 Results
  30. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board "November 2010 General Election Recounts"
  31. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board "Notice of Recount and Petition for the Office of the 31st State Senate District", November 9, 2010
  32. Wisconsin State Election Results, 2006
  33. Follow the Money 2006
  34. Legislation
  35. Bill 70
  36. Bill 129
  37., "Vinehout, Kathleen," accessed June 5, 2013
Political offices
Preceded by
Wisconsin State Senate District 31
Succeeded by