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Posts Tagged ‘WI state Senate District 21

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.

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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.

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.

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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

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