Barb Caffrey's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine)

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.

Local and State Politics: Turner to retire, Mason to run; also, a Dem. primary in Wanggaard Recall Race

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The Racine Journal-Times is reporting tonight that my long-time Assemblyman, Robert Turner (D-Racine), is going to retire.  Turner represented District 61 for twenty-two years; his initial plan was to run in the newly-moved District 66, but that has now changed.  Here’s a link to the story:

Turner has been an outstanding Assemblyman, and I’ve deeply appreciated his service to the 61st District and to Racine (as he also served on the Racine City Council from 1976 to 2004).  I’d been looking forward to casting my vote for Turner in District 66; as of a week to ten days ago, Turner’s plans were to run in this new district, but this has obviously changed.

The only good news about all this is that Cory Mason, currently the Assemblyman for the 62nd district, is going to move.  This will allow him to run for the District 66 seat; because Mason has been an extremely responsible, and responsive, legislator, I know I’ll still have a quality person to vote for.

There’s good reason for Mason to move into District 66, you see — his current district was re-drawn to make it much more difficult for Mason to win.  Only 10% of his previous constituents would’ve stayed with him; the rest would be all new.  (This, most likely, is why Mason had been considering a run for Lieutenant Governor.)

Take a look at this map (also available at the Journal-Times link above):


As you can see by the map, only one district — the newly-moved 66 — has much of an urban presence.  The other three districts that have any portion of Racine County all have a significant rural presence, meaning they’re more likely to be able to be won by Republicans (or right-leaning Independents) than by Democrats.

This re-drawing of maps — most properly called “redistricting” — is what I’d been talking about for the past few months with regards to that three-judge Federal panel.  They, and they alone, had the authority to force the state Legislature to re-draw the maps in a more fair and equitable manner; they did not choose to do so, though they did admit that what the Rs did amounted to unethical, immoral, and improper behavior.  But nothing rising to the level of illegality could be proven, which is why only Assembly Districts 8 and 9 (in Milwaukee) will have to be re-drawn even though much of the rest of the map is a mess, too.

Moving on, former Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) will have a challenger in the upcoming Senate recall race for District 21, which means a Democratic Primary will have to be run in May.  (See this link, also from the Journal-Times, for further details.)  This challenger is Andrew Mielke; he’s 28, not a registered Democrat, and didn’t sign the petitions to recall Governor Scott Walker, Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, or Van Wanggaard.  But Mielke insists he isn’t a “fake Dem” in the same sense as the six obviously fake Democrats who ran against the Democratic opponents in 2011’s recall races in order to give the state Republicans six more weeks to raise money and try to either retain their seats (four of the six incumbent Rs held their seats) or knock off some Democrats (all three D incumbents held their seats); he says his social views are progressive, and that the reason he’s running is because the people of Racine deserve a Democratic choice in the recall election.

The Democratic Party of Racine has endorsed former Senator Lehman, and said they’re not going to change their minds; they also said (paraphrasing from the Journal-Times article from March 22, 2012) that they’d really like this guy Mielke to get in there and register as a Democrat if he really is one.  (Seems fair enough to me.)

I’ve never heard of this guy Mielke, and I’m reasonably active in local and state politics; I go to some area meetings (would go to more if circumstances allowed), I’ve met many people who wanted to recall Walker, Kleefisch, and Wanggaard, and I’ve also met people who didn’t think Wanggaard, etc., should be recalled but weren’t happy with him, either.  This latter category seems to be the one Mielke is in, which is why it’s so odd that he’s running for office; as he’s completely unknown to Racine-area voters, it’s unlikely he’s going to do very well, especially as Lehman was a very good Senator (and before that was a very good Assemblyman).

Whether Mielke is a “fake Dem” or not, it really doesn’t matter; all Mielke is doing by entering the race now is to give Wanggaard six extra weeks to raise money in order to try to retain his seat.   This is a crucial election for Wanggaard, because if he does retain his seat, this is the one and only shot voters have to get him out; he’ll be ensconced until 2014 if he’s retained.

Complicating matters further is the whole redistricting issue I’ve discussed above, as it also applies to the state Senate districts.  Wanggaard will have a much safer seat to defend in 2014, providing he doesn’t get recalled in 2012.  (Lehman, should he run and win, would most likely have to move in order to stay within the boundaries of the new District 21 as most of the city of Racine will be enclosed in the new District 22 along with most of the city of Kenosha; District 22 is presently held by Bob Wirch, D-Kenosha, who plans to run again for re-election.)  So this is also the one shot Racine voters get to tell Wanggaard what we think of the terrible redistricting “process” — one that caused nearly all R legislators, including Wanggaard, to sign “non-disclosure” (read: secrecy) agreements so the public wouldn’t know what they were doing until it was too late and couldn’t be changed.

Wanggaard doesn’t seem to like to do the public’s business in the light of day, which is why you should vote to oust Wanggaard in June when we’re finally able to recall him. Regardless of party affiliation, we deserve transparency, openness, and honesty in our government at every level.  Wanggaard didn’t provide that, which is why he must go.