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EMILYs List Endorses Mary Burke, Leaves Sen. Kathleen Vinehout Out in the Cold

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Yesterday, the influential group EMILY’s List (Early Money is Like Yeast) endorsed Democratic candidate Mary Burke for the 2014 Wisconsin Gubernatorial race.  Their stated reason for doing so, according to the President of EMILY’s List, Stephanie Schriock, is that Burke has “been quietly changing the world for the better for years, by breaking barriers herself and by making opportunities for others to get ahead.”

But as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s article said in an almost throwaway line, the person this really hurts is state Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma).  Vinehout, one of the “Wisconsin 14″ who stood up to Republican Governor Scott Walker and left the state due to the controversial Act 10 repealing collective bargaining for most public employee unions, ran for Governor during the 2012 recall race but didn’t really have the money to contend with the two top Democratic candidates, former Madison County Executive Kathleen Falk and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Vinehout was my pick last time for Governor, mostly because I met her, listened to her positions, researched her, and knew that if the general public got any sense of her whatsoever — she’s a woman of substance who’s been a dairy farmer and a college professor, and is known as a “budget hawk” — I believed she’d beat Scott Walker.  Vinehout’s district is more Republican than not, yet she’s won re-election in that district, which means she has bipartisan appeal.

By EMILY’s List endorsing Burke — a woman who’s never been elected to state office, though she was appointed to state Commerce Secretary by former Governor Jim Doyle — this significantly hurts Vinehout.

Worse yet, Burke is a millionaire in her own right and a former executive at Trek Bicycle, a company her father founded.  (Please see this article from Blogging Blue about the problematic issues facing Burke if she continues her gubernatorial run.)  Which begs this question: Is big money the only reason Burke is getting these endorsements?

Currently, Burke sits on the school board in Madison.  While there’s nothing wrong with that, this is the only position she’s ever been elected to in her life.  Whereas Vinehout is a sitting state Senator who’s actually had to do something extremely difficult and take a stand — all while not getting paid in the process (as she is not wealthy, I’m sure this did not help her or her family much).

Overall, I’m deeply unhappy EMILY’s List has decided to endorse Burke.  From this vantage point, the only thing Burke has to offer is a whole lot of her own money to throw into the governor’s race.  She has no record to run on.  She has no idea how to improve things as a Governor because she’s never been elected to public office (excepting her current stint on the Madison school board).  She officially has “no platform” and has made “no promises,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal, which, as they put it, “has led some Democratic activists to express concerns about her candidacy” while union leaders and the main Democratic Party have largely been silent.

All these types of endorsements do is limit the prospects of candidates like Vinehout who might really have a chance if that big money came her way later on, favoring those who already have big money themselves or big money pledged, as now, from influential Democratic organizations.

Besides, I have a real problem with a woman who gets into a race but hasn’t a clue how to fix anything.  Especially when an outstanding candidate like Sen. Kathleen Vinehout is available.

If I were the state Democratic Party Chairman, Mike Tate, what I’d do is throw money at Vinehout.  Vinehout is by far the best chance we have in Wisconsin to take back the Governor’s chair.  She’s articulate, she’s funny, she’s an impressive candidate “on the stump,” she has been both a dairy farmer and a professor (you don’t get that combination very often), and she’s had to stand up for what she believed in by walking out of the Senate and leaving the state as one of the “Wisconsin 14.”

At an absolute minimum, I’d want a primary if I were Tate in order to improve Burke as a candidate.  Right now, Burke is a “one-percenter,” a millionaire who’s never had to face most of the issues most Wisconsinites face every single day.  Vinehout, on the other hand, is not wealthy and has had to face every single last one of them and can relate to most if not all Wisconsin voters.  If Burke has to debate Vinehout, Burke would either quickly improve or implode.

Either way, the state would win, the voters would win, and we’d get a far better chance to oust Scott Walker from the Governor’s chair.

One final thought: How does it improve democracy to run a well-heeled candidate with deep pockets who doesn’t have a clue how to run the state, especially when a much better candidate is available and all she needs is money to help her out?

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 25, 2013 at 4:26 am

WI State Senate District 21 Recount Over: Lehman is Senator-Elect

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The recount for Wisconsin state Senate District 21′s 6/5/2012 election is over.  Former Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) has won and is officially Senator-elect.  According to the Racine Journal-Times (under a “breaking news” header), Lehman’s margin of victory is 819 votes as opposed to the 834 votes he had after the official canvass; this means Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) is now, officially, former Senator Wanggaard until and unless he files an appeal in District Court.

The Mount Pleasant Patch has a longer and better article, available here, that shows the final vote totals as Lehman 36,358, Wanggaard 35,539, and has a statement from Senator-elect Lehman:

“It shows that we won the election and all of these allegations of voter irregularities are false and are really much ado about nothing,” Lehman said. “The results from election night have been proven correct through tape and tallly totals.”

But, as I expected, Wanggaard is still crying fraud (from his statement):

“Anyone who argues that this recount was a waste of time, or that we do not need voter, ID, either wants to conceal these potential fraudulent activities or hasn’t been paying attention,” Wanggaard said in statement released this afternoon. “The list of problems now includes missing pages in poll books, missing signatures, wrong voter numbers, wrong and unverified addresses and most shocking of all, unsealed and sealed and reopened ballot bags – all without explanation. None of these issues would have been discovered if not for the recount.”

Of course, as I said all along, I was for the recount — for the same reasons I believed Joanne Kloppenburg deserved to know the truth regarding her race against David Prosser for the state Supreme Court last year.  She, too, ran into some real problems — much bigger ones, in fact, than Wanggaard – with regards to opened/unsealed ballot bags, ripped and torn ballots, tape totals that didn’t match, tape dates that didn’t match, and many other inconsistencies and outright errors — yet the Government Accountability Board still certified that election.  She went for a state-sponsored recount (as that race was within 1/2 of a percent and thus eligible for state assistance); many Republicans cried foul at the time, saying that the result was unlikely to change anything and because of that, Kloppenburg shouldn’t put the state through the recount.  Even with the problems in Waukesha County, which were legion.

And, of course, the recount didn’t change very much; the tallies tightened, but Prosser still won.  The only thing to come out of that recount was this: seventy-one of our seventy-two counties in Wisconsin do a good job conducting elections, while Waukesha County is a horror show.

In this recount, what came out is this: there were some inconsistencies.  Wanggaard picked up, roughly, twenty votes overall.  Some bags were open and/or torn, but not anywhere near to the point things were at in Waukesha County; the tape totals and tape dates were, for the most part, accurate — in short, this was a cleanly-conducted election that proves that Wendy Christensen, Racine County Clerk, does an excellent job even in high-turnout, record-setting elections like this one.

So now that the recount is over, whither Wanggaard?  My guess is that he’s going to attempt to tie this up another round and file a lawsuit in court alleging election fraud.  But doing so is unlikely to get him anywhere, mostly because the allegations of wrongdoing by Republican operatives are so much smoke and mirrors, meant to obscure the valid point that the voters have spoken and Wanggaard has lost.  (The fact that Democrats have also alleged problems with these same Republican operatives, including voter intimidation and “electioneering,” something that is illegal under Wisconsin law, just hasn’t seemed to get much traction, though the Mount Pleasant Patch mentioned it a week or so ago even though I can’t find the link right now.)

For whatever it’s worth, here’s my advice with regards to Sen. Wanggaard: The recount was worthy, but it’s over.  The voters have been heard; the original results stand.  Now, Sen. Wanggaard, it’s time to do the right thing, what the voters expected of you when they voted you out, and admit that John Lehman has won.  Then, go and enjoy the rest of your life.

However, Sen. Wanggaard, if you instead attempt a futile and time-consuming lawsuit a la former United States Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), you’ll only prolong both your own agony and the agony of your Senate district, with almost no likelihood of winning in court.  This will spend time, effort, and money to little purpose.  In this dismal economy, there’s absolutely no excuse for that.

That’s why I urge you, Sen. Wanggaard, to bow to the will of the voters of your district.  You’ve been voted out.  Now do the right thing, concede this election, and go live your life.  Because assuredly you have far, far better things to do than to file frivolous lawsuits in court.** 

And we, the voters of District 21, have far better things to do than worry about when our new Senator, John Lehman, can be sworn in.  Because in case you haven’t noticed it, Racine needs serious economic development, soonest.  So the sooner you, Sen. Wanggaard, do the right thing and bow out, the sooner he, Sen. Lehman, can get on with helping out the citizens of Racine (city and county alike).  Because we desperately need the help that only our duly-elected state Senator can provide.

———-

** Unlike state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), I do know what the word frivolous means and am using it precisely.

It’s Official: Wanggaard Requests Recount in District 21 Senate Race

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As I expected, Van Wanggaard, the recalled Senator from Racine’s District 21, has requested a recount.  Wanggaard was declared the official loser of the District 21 race by 834 votes this past Tuesday, and at that time he said he was “weighing his options.”  Because of the recount request, former Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) must now wait for the recount to officially, and finally, send him back to Madison as District 21′s next Senator.

The recount will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 20, 2012, at the Racine County Courthouse.

Here’s a link to some video the Racine Journal-Times took of Lehman’s commentary after Wanggaard requested the recount:

http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/raw-video-lehman-we-have-faith-in-wisconsin-elections/vmix_3eec1d74-b721-11e1-8fe9-001a4bcf887a.html

Basically, Lehman says he has “a lot of confidence that the vote total will hold up.”  He also said he has great faith in the Wisconsin election system, and that he looks forward to going back to Madison to “begin the healing process.”

Here’s a link to the actual story:

http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/wanggaard-requests-recount/article_6095ee7a-b6fc-11e1-ae33-001a4bcf887a.html

On the flip side, Wanggaard says that once upon a time, Judge Dennis Barry (now deceased) was down by about 700 votes in an election.  Barry requested a recount, and it was found that Barry actually won by 900 votes.

Note that I was unable to find any reference to this election online, and that I’ve lived in Racine for many years and do not remember any such occurrence.  (I’m not saying it hasn’t happened.  But I am saying that I cannot find it and don’t recall it personally.)

Whereas I do recall that in 2002, Democratic incumbent Senator Kim Plache (D-Racine) lost by 773 votes to Republican Cathy Stepp.  Plache did not request a recount; instead, she conceded.

Recounts are expensive, which is one reason many Republicans last year lambasted the Kloppenburg-Prosser state Supreme Court recount, even though percentage-wise, it was closer than the 1.12% margin between Lehman and Wanggaard.  (Granted, recounting one Senate district is much less onerous and far less expensive than recounting a whole state, but the principle is the same.)  

In this case, Wanggaard had to pay a $685 filing fee to request the recount.  He did that today.

What’s more troubling than this recount request is that Wanggaard’s camp has trumpeted in the media that there were problems at various wards in Democratic areas (particularly at the Cesar Chavez Community Center, which is news to me as that’s my polling place) that rose to the level of “election fraud.”  The Racine Sheriff’s office is investigating to see if any election fraud has occurred; I’d not worry so much about this except for the fact that Wanggaard is a former police officer and sits on the Police and Fire Commission in the City of Racine.  This doesn’t mean the Sheriff’s Department will do anything wrong; in fact, I’d be astonished if they did.  But it does mean that it appears the reason Wanggaard’s concerns about election fraud were taken more seriously than other, reported concerns, is because the Sheriff’s Department knows Wanggaard well and is more likely to believe him.

Yet I’ve heard that at other polling places, especially in Republican wards, Democrats were harassed.  Nothing’s being done to investigate this by any police or Sheriff in the entirety of District 21, even though at one ward there was one person who was allowed to stay who apparently harassed every single person she saw if she felt they were going to vote for a Democrat.  Why is it that this person, who apparently stayed at the polling place for five hours and strongly appears to have done something against the law in Wisconsin (it’s called “electioneering” and it’s not allowed within 100 feet of a polling place), hasn’t been investigated even though it truly appears by her actions, she interfered with the vote on June 5, 2012?

Is it because this person is alleged to be a Republican bigwig from Lake County, Illinois?  (If so, that’s plain, flat wrong.)

Getting back to this particular election, Wanggaard lost fair and square.  Here’s why:

  1. Wanggaard is well-known in this area as a former policeman and police union representative.
  2. Wanggaard alienated and angered people by voting against collective bargaining, especially due to being a past union representative who’s benefitted from collective bargaining.
  3. Wanggaard was unresponsive to the voters in this area when asked to explain what he’d done, much less why he’d done it.

These three things were more than enough to get him recalled.

As for the story about former Judge Barry, Judge Barry was a good man, a well-respected man.  If it’s true that there was a problem, once upon a time, with votes being inaccurately counted and an election swinging the other way (as the Racine Journal-Times hasn’t yet referenced the election Wanggaard is discussing, and because I haven’t been able to find out anything regarding such an election online — meaning it may have pre-dated the rise of the Internet), I’d want a recount in Wanggaard’s place, too.

But I’ve said all along that I am in favor of a recount (mostly because I was in favor of Kloppenburg’s recount last year and unlike some Rs, I’m not a hypocrite).  So bring on the recount . . . but don’t expect it to change things overmuch.

In other words, John Lehman is still Senator-elect for District 21, and once the recount is completed, Lehman will officially be sent to Madison to take up his duties as state Senator.  Period.

————

Edited to add:

The blog Badger Democracy has an interesting article you should read.   In short, every public official who has a hand in this recount is either a Walker appointee or is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican (or both).  This is both concerning and distressing, but the conclusions being drawn are even more so:

The bottom line here is simple – each of the players in this case – DA Chiapete, Sheriff Schmaling, former DA and now Judge Nieskes all have a vested political and financial interest in the outcome of this case. This is an obvious attempt to use unfounded claims of “vote irregularities” to block the electoral process – a highly hypocritical move for the GOP machine, smearing Milwaukee DA John Chisolm and the John Doe Investigation (Chisolm has prosecuted Democrats and Republicans alike during his truly non-partisan terms).  All three of these GOP shills should recuse themselves and appoint an independent investigator if they truly believe a crime was committed.

But they won’t – look for a case in a GOP-friendly court (such as Waukesha County), based on these so-called “irregularities” to enjoin the GAB from certifying the election, as the case makes its way through the courts – and the Senate remains at 16-16 until November. Both Racine County DA and Sheriff’s Department refused comment to Badger Democracy on an “ongoing investigation.”

All I can do is hope that this will not happen, though I have seen such delaying tactics used before by the Republican Party — in Minnesota, where Republican United States Senator Norm Coleman lost narrowly in 2008 to Democrat Al Franken — in fact, Coleman lost by only 312 votes — but delayed Franken being able to take his new seat as US Senator by eight months due to various legal challenges.

Granted, that election had some things in it that this one doesn’t — namely, it was a three-party race, and the difference, percentage-wise, between Franken and Coleman was about .01% (that is, one one-hundredth of a percent).

This election isn’t nearly that close, percentage-wise, and obviously there were only two parties involved in this race — the Democrats, represented by Lehman, and the Republicans, represented by Wanggaard.

If the Rs decide that they’re better off to employ a similar “delay as long as possible” strategy, they will certainly erode public faith in the election system of Wisconsin.  And considering that many, including myself, are wondering if all the vote totals in every county were exactly as stated in the Walker/Kleefisch recalls due to possible problems with electronic voting machines, that might not be a really good wasp’s nest to kick up right now.

Lehman Widens Lead, is Senator-Elect

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For those of you waiting for official Wisconsin recall news, here’s a news flash for you: John Lehman is still the Senator-elect from Racine’s state Senate District 21.

On Tuesday, June 12, 2012, the official canvass re-ran the numbers from the June 5, 2012 election.  The only thing that changed is that former Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) widened his narrow lead over incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) to 834 votes instead of the previous 779.

Please see this link from the Racine Journal-Times for further details:

http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/lehman-keeps-lead-in-recall-wanggaard-has-three-days-to/article_2a466a82-b4ab-11e1-ac84-0019bb2963f4.html

Here’s a brief quote from that article:

The results totaled Tuesday increased Lehman’s lead by 55 votes, but Wanggaard as of Tuesday afternoon had not conceded and had not ruled out a recount, with his campaign manager citing reports of voting irregularities.

The final total was Lehman with 36,351 votes and Wanggaard with 35,517 votes, Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen read Tuesday after finishing the canvass for the 21st Senate District at the Racine County Courthouse, 730 Wisconsin Ave.

Of course, the Democratic Party is calling on Wanggaard to concede, especially due to the analysis done by this Journal-Times article from June 6, 2012, that proves Lehman, a Democrat, won the Senate district while Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch, Republican incumbents, won the races for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.  Here’s the first three paragraphs from that article, which describes what happened:

While it appears Democratic challenger John Lehman led state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, in the 21st Senate District, in those same wards Republican Gov. Scott Walker won over his Democratic challenger Tom Barrett.

Walker had 36,505 votes to Barrett’s 35,744, and, in total, 916 more people in the senate district voted in the governor’s race than in the senate race, according to unofficial results.

Lehman said he couldn’t really explain the difference in the votes. But he said possibly he is better known in the 21st Senate District than Barrett. For instance, some voters may have had him as a teacher, Lehman said. Also he said, “I really think a lot of people have questioned Sen. Wanggaard’s representing them and the way he has gone about it.”

My analysis of this occurrence is simple: Wanggaard, as I’ve said before, is a past City of Racine policeman and a police union representative.  Everyone who votes in the City of Racine knew that, which is why Wanggaard lost there by a 2-to-1 margin; in the county, Wanggaard needed to win by a substantial margin to make up that difference.  Wanggaard couldn’t do it.

Now, what has to be extremely difficult for Wanggaard to swallow is this: going back to his vote on SB 10 last year, had Wanggaard voted with Dale Schultz of Richland Center to oppose that bill, the likelihood is that Wanggaard would not have been recalled despite the many other things the district did not agree with Wanggaard about (such as Wanggaard’s signing of the non-disclosure agreements regarding redistricting, or Wanggaard’s agreement with the rest of the sitting Republicans in the Senate that state education funding should be slashed, which substantially hurt the Racine Unified School District).  Wanggaard did support, along with Schultz, a proposed amendment that would have allowed for collective bargaining to be reinstated after two years — a “sunset” provision under the law — but procedural moves by the Republican leadership in the Senate kept that amendment from ever going to the floor.  Schultz’s opposition to SB 10 was largely due to the refusal of the R leadership to hear his amendment, which is why if Wanggaard had followed Schultz’s lead and voted against SB 10 — which would’ve meant the R Senators would’ve won the day with a 17-2 margin instead of 18-1 – Wanggaard likely would never have been forced to this recall election.

Ultimately, Wanggaard was done in by his own inexperience.  My guess is that he didn’t really know what was going on when he took that vote — at least, he didn’t realize the district would recall him over it (even though I, and others, wrote to him and told him bluntly that this would be the result).  And his own leadership, which perhaps forgot about the fact that former Sen. George Petak (R-Racine) was recalled in District 21 in 1996 for far less than this, may have believed that everything would “blow over” — if so, they were plain, flat wrong — or may have believed that due to redistricting, had Wanggaard just been able to get to November of this year, he’d be in a “safe” Republican seat that would not recall him.

But I have news — people in Racine County were upset with Wanggaard, too.  Not as many of them as in the City of Racine, demonstrably — but enough that Wanggaard could not make up Lehman’s lead.  And with this split-ticket voting (where some people voted for Walker/Kleefisch on the one hand and Lehman on the other), along with some people either writing their own names in or refusing to vote for Senate at all due to their disgust with Wanggaard’s hypocrisy, it’s obvious there were more than enough people in the entirety of District 21 to recall Van Wanggaard.

So, what does Wanggaard do now?  His options are two: request a recount by Friday, June 15, 2012, something he’ll have to pay for himself as the margin of Lehman’s apparent victory is large enough that the state of Wisconsin will not pay for the recount.  Or concede.

My belief is that Wanggaard will request a recount, which is sensible from his context.  He probably wants to know, for a certainty, the  hard data that backs up this “split ticket” phenomenon from a hand recount.  And he also probably wants to know, for a certainty, that the voters of Racine really did reject him, personally — especially as they retained Walker and Kleefisch.

But the hand recount won’t change the facts: Wanggaard has lost this race to Lehman. 

And ultimately, even though I do feel sorry for him as he’s the first one-year Senator in Wisconsin’s history to ever get recalled, Wanggaard has no one but himself to blame.  Because no matter what the Republican leadership in Madison told him last year, he should’ve remembered what happened to Petak in 1996 as he lived in Racine at the time and was active in Republican politics, and avoided this result by casting his vote with Schultz against SB 10.  Period.

Quick Lehman/Wanggaard Election Update

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Folks, former D Senator John Lehman claimed victory last night in the District 21 Wisconsin state Senate recall race over current R Senator Van Wanggaard, as I wrote earlier.  But as I’ve had a comment from someone who believes this particular race is nonsensical due to Walker winning the overall Racine County race, I thought I’d give a few more numerical particulars as  I’ve already explained the case to vote against Van Wanggaard many times on this blog.  (Click on the “Recall Van Wanggaard” category and you’ll find many posts explaining why I believed District 21 voters should first recall Wanggaard, then replace him.)

First, here’s an article by the Mount Pleasant Patch that shows the final vote totals.  They have reported thusly:

The final vote totals were posted after 1:30 a.m., and by 2 a.m., district-wide unofficial results stood at:

  • Wanggaard: 35,476
  • Lehman: 36,255

As you see, there were 71,731 votes cast.   Lehman leads by 779 votes.  This is a margin of slightly over one percent.

How can this be when Racine County, overall, went for Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch (as Gov. and Lt. Gov., accordingly)?  Simple.  The City of Burlington, which is heavily Republican, is not a part of the current District 21 boundaries.  So they could play no part in this particular recall race, though they did play a small part in re-electing Bob Wirch to the District 22 seat last year (as Burlington is in 22 until November, 2012).

Also, according to unofficial reports, John Lehman won the City of Racine by a 2-to-1 margin.  Van Wanggaard won the rest of Racine County, but not by enough of a margin to retain him.

And, finally, the City of Racine went out in record numbers — an 80% turnout has been estimated, which dwarfs any previous election including all Presidential elections.  Which helped Lehman gain the advantage he needed.

In short — the City of Racine votes heavily Democratic.  The county of Racine usually votes Republican.  Keep Burlington, which is heavily Republican, out of the equation (as they’re not yet part of District 21), and you have a victory for John Lehman.

———

Oh, yes — if you’re really that keen on the history of Racine recalls, there are two other posts you need to look at that will explain this result.  First, check out my commentary about the 1996 recall race between R George Petak and D Kim Plache here.  Or take a look at a recent post where I discussed Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer Craig Gilbert’s analysis (a very, very good analysis) here.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm

John Lehman Ahead by 800 in WI Senate District 21 Race

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Former Senator John Lehman, D-Racine, has declared victory tonight after apparently defeating Republican incument state Senator Van Wanggaard in the June 5, 2012, District 21 Senate recall race in Racine. But as this is a close election, where about 800 votes separates Lehman from Wangaard, I’m only willing to say that Lehman is ahead, though it looks very unlikely that Wanggaard will be able to best Lehman due to there being only one ward remaining in Mount Pleasant — with that ward being unlikely to have 800 votes total within it (much less all 800 potential votes going to Wanggaard).

Here’s the latest report from the Racine Journal-Times:

http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/as-republicans-see-victory-wanggaard-in-razor-thin-lead-over/article_90a8c3ae-af76-11e1-ba46-0019bb2963f4.html?comment_form=true

Note the link says “Wanggaard in a razor thin lead” but the article itself says, “Lehman Claims Victory.”

Here’s a bit from the article:

As of press time, former state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine leads state incumbent Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard, with 34,834 votes to Wanggaard’s 34,038 votes, according to unofficial results with 59 of 60 precincts reporting. One Mount Pleasant precinct had yet to report. (numbers bolded by Barb Caffrey)

With there being an approximately 800 vote discrepency, this is not within the 1% margin where the state would pay for a recount — Wanggaard’s campaign would have to request one, and they would have to pay the bill.

Should this result hold up, this means the state Senate will be controlled by the Democrats, 17-16, as Wanggaard will have been recalled and replaced via election.  But as all votes will have to be verified later today in a process called a “re-canvass,” this result could still change.

Once again, I’ll keep you posted.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 6, 2012 at 2:11 am

Scott Walker Wins; Kleefisch (Maybe) Wins; Lehman-Wanggaard Race Too Close to Call

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With 85% of the vote in, it looks like Republican Governor Scott Walker has held off Democratic challenger Tom Barrett; the current vote percentages are Walker, 55%, Barrett 45%.   I say that it looks like Walker has won because there are a lot of votes yet to be counted; the last voter in Milwaukee County, for example, cast his or her vote at 9:30 p.m.  So the current voting percentage probably will narrow significantly — but there most likely are not the votes remaining for Walker to be defeated, which is why Barrett has conceded.

In addition, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) leads challenger Mahlon Mitchell (D) 54% to 46%.  This is an apparent victory, but as it’s a percentage point closer to begin with, it’s possible that Mitchell may pull within 1% of the vote once every vote has been counted in Milwaukee, Racine, and LaCrosse counties.  If that happens, a recount may come into play.  So keep an eye on this race.

Three of the state Senate races have been decided in favor of the Rs, including the Scott Fitzgerald-Lori Compas race (where Fitzgerald won handily over Compas, 60% to 39%); these races are over.

The only recall race outstanding is the John Lehman-Van Wanggaard race, which remains too close to call at this hour due to the extremely high turnout in the City of Racine wards (right now, most of the vote that’s in is from Racine County, especially the Town of Mount Pleasant, which trends Republican; the City of Racine trends heavily Democrat).  Right now, less than 1/3 of the wards in the City of Racine have been counted, possibly due to incredibly heavy turnout.

If Lehman prevails once the City of Racine has been counted, the Democrats will re-take the Wisconsin state Senate.  This is an extremely important race, especially considering the statewide outcome; I’ll do my best to keep you posted as more results become available.

According to the Racine Journal-Times, as of 10:50 p.m. CDT, here are the results:

Van Wanggaard (R): 14566
John Lehman (D): 11881
33% of wards reporting

If you wish to look at the overall Wisconsin map, the Huffington Post map is probably the best.  Take a look at it here.

Now, as to how I feel about Walker and Kleefisch apparently being retained?  One word sums it up: disgusted.

More tomorrow, once I’ve caught my breath.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 5, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Voter Turnout High in WI for Recall Elections

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Just a brief update . . . turnout has been reported in Wisconsin as being anywhere from 60 to 80 percent, depending on where you are.  In Racine, where I am, I’ve heard estimates of 65% and up.  In Waukesha County, one of the “reddest” Republican areas in the state, turnout is said to be close to 80%, which on the R side is necessary to give Gov. Walker a chance to retain his seat.  And in Northern Milwaukee (city and county), clerks ran out of ballots early, which is said to be a good sign for the Democratic challenger, Tom Barrett, as that’s one area he must win by a big margin.

All I know at this point — as it will be another four hours until the polls close here in Wisconsin — is that voters have taken their responsibility seriously.

I’ll keep you posted on what transpires, especially here in the hotly-contested District 21 Wisconsin state Senate recall race.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Why Scott Walker is Still Bad For WI

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It’s two days before the June 5, 2012, recall election against sitting Governor Scott Walker, sitting Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and against four Republican state Senators (three sitting, one who has already resigned), including my own Republican state Senator, Van Wanggaard.  Basically, everything that can be said about the recalls — why I favor them, why I believe they are necessary and are a form of democracy in action — has been said.

But one thing I realized when reading over my previous blog, “Scott Walker: Bad for Wisconsin” is this — for whatever reason, I didn’t define why I felt Walker was bad for Wisconsin.  Instead, I reflected upon all of the divisive things Walker did early in 2011 which caused a great deal of harm to public discourse and civility in Wisconsin, and hoped my views would be clear.

But in case it wasn’t, let’s try again.  

Since Scott Walker was elected in November of 2010, he has divided this state in harmful, self-aggrandizing ways.  He has not used his “bully pulpit” to good effect, as he could’ve explained why he wanted the so-called reforms as propagated by Act 10 (which repealed collective bargaining for public employee unions, something Wisconsin had since the late 1950s) rather than just do it by fiat.  After Walker used his power to make such a drastic change, he proceeded to get upset because the 14 Democratic Wisconsin Senators left the state in an effort to delay Act 10 by any means necessary as the Wisconsin Assembly had already shown indications of passing Act 10.  The “Wisconsin 14″ did this to promote civic — and civil — discourse, because if they hadn’t left the state, Act 10 would’ve been approved within days of Walker “dropping the bomb” on the state’s voters; by leaving the state, every single voter in the state was able to become informed.

At this point, Scott Walker and his Lt. Gov., Rebecca Kleefisch, went on various right-wing talk shows, including many at the Fox News Channel, to discuss these “modest reforms” — things that were no such thing — and to say that the “Wisconsin 14″ were a bunch of low-lifes who refused to “compromise” with Walker, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, or the Republican Speaker of the Assembly, Jeff Fitzgerald (brother of Scott).  This was classic Orwellian doublespeak on the part of Walker and Kleefisch; while Kleefisch, to a degree, could be excused for this because her position as Lt. Gov. has very little power, there was no excuse for what Walker said, nor for how he said it.

As we all know now, the Wisconsin Republican Senators eventually passed SB 10 by the vote of 18-1 in order to make Act 10 the law in Wisconsin.  (The lone dissenting vote was Dale Schultz of Richland Center.)  Some of the Republican Senators, including my own Van Wanggaard, had strong ties to unions — Wanggaard being a former policeman and past union representative — yet apparently had no qualms about stripping other union members of their rights, probably because police and firefighters had been exempted from Act 10′s “union-stripping” provisions.

After the Senate Rs did this, the Wisconsin 14 came home to a deeply divided state, where Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch, the Fitzgerald brothers, etc., still said one thing and did something else.  But the people on the ground (like me) who at that time weren’t affiliated with either party were outraged.  Nine Senators — six Republicans and three Democrats — faced recall elections.  Of those, four Rs and all three Ds were retained, while two Rs were tossed from office and officially recalled.

That, of course, was far from the end of the story, as in November of 2011 four more Senate recalls and the recall of Walker and Kleefisch started.  Recall petitioners were told that we’d “never get” enough signatures, but we proved the naysayers wrong; ultimately, Walker, Kleefisch, Wanggaard, Scott Fitzgerald, and two other state Senators were recalled.

If you’ve read my blogs thus far, you know all this.  You probably also know that Scott Walker has gone to more out-of-state functions than any other one-year Governor in the history of Wisconsin.  He’s raised 60 to 70% of his campaign donations from out-of-state donors, some from extremely wealthy men and women.  You probably even know that in some quarters, Walker is viewed as a hero, of all things, because he “refused to back down” when the unions “told (him) where to go.”

The only part of those beliefs that’s true is that Walker refused to back down about anything.  But what people who insist on “standing with Walker” fail to realize is that Walker set this whole thing into motion himself — it’s not just the way he did things, which was execrable, but what he did that caused this whole mess.

All of this leads me to only one conclusion: Scott Walker is still very bad for Wisconsin.  Because Walker has shown that he cannot and will not compromise with anyone, he’s shown he’s incapable of being Governor — a job where compromise is a must.  And if Walker is retained on Tuesday, we in Wisconsin will be looking at more pain, more problems, and more frustration, as Walker will view this election as yet another mandate to do whatever he likes, even if he wins by .0001% of the vote.

That’s why I urge my fellow Wisconsinites to vote for Tom Barrett on Tuesday, June 5.  Vote for Mahlon Mitchell as your next Lieutenant Governor, and for those of you in Racine County’s District 21, vote for John Lehman as your next Senator.  All three men are moderates who will work to restore civility to Madison, which is why we need all three of them to be elected on June 5.

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Edited to add:  John Nichols explains very clearly why Scott Walker should be recalled and replaced here Here’s a few words from his compelling and cogent blog:

Elected officials weren’t supposed to campaign on one set of themes and govern on another. They weren’t supposed to “divide and conquer” the state. They weren’t supposed to collect $500,000 checks from billionaires, and gather most of their campaign money in other states. They weren’t supposed to have criminal defense funds.

Amen, brother!

Ed Schultz and John Nichols to be in Racine County Saturday

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After former President Bill Clinton’s visit to Milwaukee earlier today on behalf of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett, I didn’t think anyone else of note would be visiting Wisconsin on behalf of either Barrett or the recall effort.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Due to the intense Wisconsin recall fight between sitting Governor Scott Walker (R) and challenger Tom Barrett (D), the current Mayor of Milwaukee, political commentators Ed Schultz and John Nichols will be in Racine County tomorrow — in Racine at noon, and in Burlington at 3 p.m.  Schultz, you see, has kept abreast of what’s going on in Wisconsin; Nichols, who writes for The Nation magazine and is an associate editor of The Cap Times (formerly The Capital Times, headquartered in Madison, WI), has been Schultz’s most regular correspondent.

It’s not unheard of that someone with a national radio show and TV show, like Schultz, would come to Wisconsin.  He’s done so before and has made stops in Madison.  But to come to Racine, which is just shy of 90,000 people, is new for him; that he’s also going to go to Burlington tomorrow at 3 p.m., when Burlington has, at most, 10,500 people, just goes to show that Schultz is interested in every part of Racine County, not just the City of Racine. 

As for Nichols visiting with Schultz, Nichols is from Wisconsin and he’s said before that he first voted in Union Grove (yet another small town in Racine County; Union Grove has approximately 4,300 people).  As Nichols obviously knows Racine County; he undoubtedly realizes that the City of Racine has been either first or second in how much unemployment we have for the past seven years running, which may be one reason why both are coming here.  And as unemployment is one of Schultz’s major “themes,” perhaps Schultz will take note of Racine’s problems in addition to his “get out the vote” efforts on behalf of the recalls of Walker, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch and the four Republican state Senators, including my own R Sen. Van Wanggaard.

If you’re planning to see Ed Schultz and John Nichols tomorrow, here’s where they’ll be:

12 Noon — at the Racine Labor Center, Racine, WI

3 p.m. — at Echo Lake Park, Burlington, WI

And their final stop will be in Baraboo — which isn’t in Racine County at all — at 7 p.m. at the Ringling Theatre.

See you there.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 1, 2012 at 10:35 pm

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