• WisPolitics


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

 4:22 PM 

The Spring Election Stock Report

WisPolitics.com Spring Election Stock Report
--A collection of insider opinion--
(April 4, 2007)


Rising

Annette Ziegler: The Washington County judge shakes off questions about her ethics to easily win the right to replace Jon Wilcox on the state Supreme Court with 58 percent of the vote. Insiders on both sides believe Ziegler's background as a judge, and early positive paid media, gave her an edge that Linda Clifford and left-leaning groups could never overcome, no matter what they threw at her. Her money edge and the high turnout in her home county of Washington sure didn't hurt, either, they add.

WMC: The state's largest business group flexes its muscle in another statewide race, this time pouring more than $2 million into helping Ziegler win a spot on the state Supreme Court. Insiders saw Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce attacking Linda Clifford as it did attorney general candidate Kathleen Falk. In doing so, it also laid out a blueprint it will likely use again next year when it targets incumbent Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler in a race that many think will make this year's campaign seem like a staid affair.

Dave Cieslewicz: The Madison mayor easily cruises to re-election without breaking much of a sweat against challenger Ray Allen. Insiders say Mayor Dave was able to defuse potentially damaging issues without having to fend off nasty attacks in what was seen as a gentlemanly race.

Mark Graul: The GOP strategist, who was on the losing side in the guv's race, gains some redemption by guiding Ziegler's campaign to a statewide victory.

Michael McGee Jr.: The controversial Milwaukee alderman, a favorite target of Milwaukee talk radio and a lightning rod for criticism, easily beats back a recall attempt. Needing at least 50 percent to avoid a run off and retain his seat, McGee garners almost two-thirds of the vote. His nearest competitor in the multi-candidate race received 14 percent.

Mixed

School spending: Voters rejected referenda totaling $425 million while approving $239 million. Voters approved just less than half of the 72 questions on the ballot, but rejected most of the big-ticket requests. A record $663 million was on the ballot in 52 districts.

Falling

Linda Clifford: Dems lament her campaign, which they say didn't present any kind of paid media presence until the final month, didn't effectively make the case for a non-judge to get elected, and didn't create any of the positive name ID needed to take advantage of Ziegler's "scandal." Defenders say Ziegler and supporting conservative groups simply "bought" the seat. But critical insiders say the campaign barely got her past first base, her home county of Dane.

Alan Lasee: The longtime GOP state lawmaker loses big in his race for Brown County executive. But he's still got his Senate seat.

-- By WisPolitics Staff

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 1:55 PM 

Voters Reject $425 Million in School Referenda

Voters rejected $425 million in 36 school referenda Tuesday, while 34 referenda totaling $239 million passed. DPI did not have results on two referenda by this afternoon.

Although nearly half of the 72 referenda on the ballot passed, those victories totaled just over a third of the record $663 million requested by 52 school districts.

Voters rejected multiple referenda in the Elmbrook School District ($109 million), Franklin ($78 million), Watertown ($35 million), and in both the St. Croix Central and Lake Mills school districts at more than $25 million each.

The second-largest school funding request, in the New Richmond school district, was approved at $93 million. A second New Richmond item, at $2.5 million, narrowly failed. Voters also passed large referenda in Spooner ($40 million), Mukwonago ($24 million), and Greendale ($15 million).

See the DPI referendum history:
https://www2.dpi.state.wi.us/safr/all_referenda.asp

-- By Andy Szal

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

 11:34 PM 

3 County Board Downsizing Referendums Fail

Three of the four referendums to downsize county boards were voted down during the election.

Rusk, Douglas and Jackson Counties all voted against downsizing their county boards, while Walworth County voted to shrink its county board from 25 members to 11 members.

The results from the respective county clerk websites:
Douglas County - vote to downsize county board from 28 members to 7 members:
Yes: 3,533
No: 3,551

Jackson County - vote to downsize county board from 19 members to 11 members:
Yes: 1,264
No: 1,715

Rusk County - vote to downsize county board from 21 members to 13 members:
Yes: 1,511
No: 1,687

Walworth County - vote to downsize county board from 25 members to 11 members:
Yes: 8,061
No: 6,956

-- By Matt Dolbey

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 11:23 PM 

Largest School Referendum Defeated

With a record $663 million in school referenda on the ballot Tuesday, two of the largest went down to defeat in Southeastern Wisconsin.

The Elmbrook School District in Brookfield had requested $109 million dollars from taxpayers. A $10 million referendum was defeated 61 percent to 39 percent, while the $99 million referendum lost 64 percent to 36 percent.

New Richmond, in St. Croix County, also put two referenda on the ballot. A $2.5 million request was narrowly rejected, but a $93 million referendum was passed with 57 percent voting for the proposal.

The third largest request, from the Franklin School District, lost 60 percent to 40 percent. That school district had requested $77 million.

-- By Andy Szal

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 11:08 PM 

Cieslewicz Cruises to Re-Election as Madison Mayor

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz told a crowd of supporters tonight during his victory speech that the city needs to manage its success.

"We can grow better and healthier," Cieslewicz told the crowd at the High Noon Saloon.

With 99 percent of the vote in, Ciezlewicz had 62 percent of the vote, compared to 38 percent for challenger Ray Allen.

Cieslewicz ticked off a list of successes from his first term, including a new recycling program and a public smoking ban that includes bars and restaurants, which was met with mostly cheers and a scattering of boos.

"At least I thought it was successful," Cieslewicz said.

Allen conceded his defeat before supporters at the Avenue Bar, saying that his campaign "ran a race about the people of Madison."

"We ran a race about real issues. We ran a race about poverty. We ran a race about crime. We ran a race about public safety. We talked about our schools and our children," Allen said. "We have nothing to be ashamed of here tonight."

Allen said he would continue to be involved in fixing the issues facing the city.

"Although I lost tonight, we won tonight," Allen said. "We'll continue, and I'll continue to fight for the people of this city."

When asked why his message did not resonate with the voters as well as he might have hoped, Allen said that poverty needed to become more of an issue in the city.

"In Madison, people don't recognize the poverty issue," Allen said. "They need to be educated about the people in their community."


-- By Matt Dolbey and Jeff Rumage

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 11:02 PM 

Candidates with Capitol Ties Have Mixed Success in Local Races

There were several candidates on the ballot tonight with Capitol ties, and they had mixed success.

Lobbyist Jeff Wiswell Sr. finished fourth out of four candidates vying for three spots on the Monona City Council, according to unofficial returns.

Bob Miller finished first with 29 percent of the vote, while Douglas Wood was second with 25 percent. Dale Suslick edged Wiswell, who's been on the council since 2003, by five votes, 1,197 to 1,192.

Former Dem state Rep. Tom Hebl won his race for municipal judge in Sun Prairie. Hebl won with almost 70 percent of the vote over Charlie Schutze.

Former Dem state Senate candidate Jamie Aulik came back from his loss in November to GOP Sen. Joe Leibham to win his race for Manitowoc County clerk with 52 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

State Sen. Alan Lasee, R-DePere, lost his bid for Brown County executive, while former state Corrections Department spokesman Bill Clausius lost his bid for Sun Prairie mayor. (See more on those races below.)

Tim Cullen, former Senate majority leader and Department of Health and Social Services secretary under Gov. Tommy Thompson, was the top vote-getter in the Janesville School Board race. Cullen received 6,313 votes, according to unofficial returns. He recently retired as government relations director for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:14 PM 

Ziegler Wins Supreme Court Seat

Washington County Judge Annette Ziegler won an open spot on the state Supreme Court today in a decisive win that she says was a rejection of negative campaigning.

With 97 percent of the vote in, Ziegler is at 58 percent, while Madison attorney Linda Clifford is at 42 percent.

"Whoever thought a girl who swept floors in a hardware store could grow up to be Supreme Court justice?" Ziegler asked supporters during her victory speech in West Bend.

Clifford said she called Ziegler and congratulated her, wishing her the best of luck and success. She said she was disappointed in the results, and "I am especially disappointed in the fact that judicial elections in our state now are so overwhelmed by money that it appears that the candidate with unlimited funds will win."

Clifford and Ziegler have run a contentious race that easily became the most expensive Supreme Court campaign in state history. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign estimates at least $5 million has been spent on the race already, with the possibility the campaign could hit the $6 million mark once all the numbers are in. Outside groups have outspent the candidates to this point, pumping at least $3 million in the race, according to WDC.

The state's largest business group, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, accounted for about $2.2 million of that with a series of TV ads and robocalls promoting Ziegler and criticizing Clifford's lack of experience on the bench.

The race was also marked by allegations that Ziegler had sat on cases in her Washington County courtroom despite a conflict of interest because of her financial ties to the parties before her. The WDC filed a complaint with the state over the claims.

Ziegler, who often complained that Clifford ran the most negative race for the Supreme Court in state history, was perceived to be the conservative-leaning candidate in the race and garnered the support of many Republicans. Liberal-leaning groups and Dems, meanwhile, lined up behind Clifford.

Ziegler often pledged to be a strict constructionist if elected and hit on that theme again tonight in her victory speech.

"I'll work very hard to be a judge, not a legislator," she said.


-- By David Wise and Greg Bump

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 10:12 PM 

Allen Concedes; Cieslewicz Vows to Maintain Progress

Ray Allen announced his defeat to supporters at the Avenue Bar, saying that his campaign "ran a race about the people of Madison."

"We ran a race about poverty. We ran a race about crime. We ran a race about public safety. We talked about our schools and our children," Allen said. "We have nothing to be ashamed of tonight."

Meanwhile, Mayor Cieslewicz told supporters at the High Noon Saloon that the voters reaffirmed the direction of the city. He said that going forward, the biggest challenge would be to manage Madison's success.

"That direction has been about making progress by bringing people together," Cieslewicz said.


-- By Andy Szal

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 10:02 PM 

Havas Concedes Defeat to Chavez for Milwaukee Muni Court

Attorney Jennifer Havas has conceded defeat to attorney Phil Chavez in the race for the Milwaukee Municipal Judge Branch 3.

Havas spokesman Stephan Thompson said she will continue to remain active in the community and return to her private practice.

Chris Haworth, spokesman for Chavez, said spirits are high at the Chavez headquarters. He said it took a lot of fighting to go from second in the primary to winning the general election. Havas finished first in the primary.

The candidates were vying to fill the position vacated by Judge James Gramling Jr., who is retiring. With 92 percent of the votes in, Chavez has 52 percent, or 17,769 votes, while Havas has 48 percent, or 16,469 votes.

-- By Dan Polley

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 9:58 PM 

Cudahy Mayor Loses

Milwaukee County Supervisor Ryan McCue knocked off Cudahy Mayor John Hohenfeldt with 60 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns.

McCue finished with 2,224 votes to 1,473 votes for Hohenfeldt.

"I'm very disappointed that I wasn't re-elected as mayor. I have no regrets," Hohenfeldt said.

He said the results of the other races in Cudahy, which included three aldermanic races, showed that the public was in an "anti-incumbent mood."

Hohenfeldt said he left a message with McCue, but had not heard back yet.

"I have to find a job in the next two weeks. It's time for me to move on," he said.

Hohenfeldt is a first-term incumbent. McCue was elected to the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors in a special recall election in June of 2002 and was re-elected in April of 2004. Before that, he served as an alderman in Cudahy.


-- By Dan Polley

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 9:55 PM 

Clifford Closes Gap -- Slightly

The race for an open spot on the state Supreme Court has tightened a little, but Annette Ziegler still has a healthy lead.

With 51 percent of the vote in, Ziegler has 271,750 votes, or 57 percent, while Linda Clifford has 203,340 votes, or 43 percent.

-- By JR Ross

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 9:55 PM 

Mayor Dave Wins Re-election

It appears Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has easily defeated Ray Allen in his re-election effort. With 103 of 109 precincts reporting, Cieslewicz has 62 percent of the vote to Allen's 38 percent.

-- By Andy Szal

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 9:38 PM 

McGee Survives Recall Easily

Milwaukee Ald. Michael McGee Jr. will easily survive a recall election, according to unofficial returns.

With 75 percent of the vote in, McGee has 63 percent of the vote. Una Duvall is second with 15 percent of the vote, and ViAnna Jordan, the recall organizer, is third with 13 percent of the vote.

McGee needed to get at least 50 percent of the vote to retain his seat and avoid a runoff. He's guaranteed of safely crossing that mark already.


-- By JR Ross

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 9:19 PM 

Former GOP Aide Murray Wins Spot on Sun Prairie City Council

John Murray, a former aide to state Sen. Dale Schultz, is going to get a new view of politics.

Murray won his race for a spot on the Sun Prairie City Council, beating John Muller 601-499 in their race for a seat representing the city's 4th District.

"It starts the minute you put your name on the ballot," Murray said about being a candidate rather than an adviser. "It's been a really interesting process. It's very different when you're the candidate. You see issues very differently. People treat you very differently when you're the candidate and not the adviser."

Murray left Schultz's office at the end of January and said he's been "interviewing feverishly" for a new job.


-- By JR Ross

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 9:04 PM 

McGee Fairs Well in Early Returns

Milwaukee Ald. Michael McGee Jr. is faring well so far in his bid to fend off a recall challenge.

With 46 percent of the vote in, McGree has 63 percent of the vote. Una Van Duvall is next at 16 percent, while recall organizer ViAnna Jordan is third with 13 percent.

McGee needs to win at least 50 percent to avoid a runoff election and retain his seat.


-- By JR Ross

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 8:56 PM 

Clifford, Ziegler Parties Start

Supporters of Supreme Court candidates Linda Clifford and Annette Ziegler are starting to gather at their respective parties.

Both are in their hometowns - Clifford in Madison and Ziegler in West Bend.

About 100 supporters are at the Old Courthouse Museum in West Bend for Ziegler's party, enjoying complimentary mixed drinks, beer, wine and soda. A podium is positioned directly in front of a bench in the courtroom there, and a high definition TV is tuned to Fox 6. A dry erase board for tracking election results sits to the right. Two collages of pictures of Ziegler and her family are on easels to the left of the podium. Red, white and blue helium balloons are anchored throughout the courtroom.

Clifford supporters gathered at Madison Dining and Diversions just off the Capitol. Supporters are milling around, checking a large wall-mounted TV tuned to a local station for early returns.

The Clifford party is set up in a room off to the side of the bar. A small stage with a microphone and stand, backdropped by "Linda Clifford For Justice" yard signs, is set up to one side. A table with finger food is offered to guests.


-- By Greg Bump and David Wise

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 2:27 PM 

4 Counties to Vote on County Board Size

Voters in four counties are deciding whether to reduce the size of their county boards during the election today.

The counties are:
Jackson County
Currently: 19 members on County Board
New proposed board membership: 11

Walworth County
Currently: 25 members on County Board
New proposed board membership: 11

Rusk County
Currently: 21 members on County Board
New proposed board membership: 13

Douglas County
Currently: 28 members on County Board
New proposed board membership: 7

-- By Matt Dolbey

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 1:07 PM 

Two Complaints of Electioneering in McGee Recall

The City of Milwaukee Election Commission has received two reports of suspected electioneering by 6th District candidates, said Sue Edman, the commission's executive director.

One incident involved candidate the Rev. David King, who reportedly entered a polling place with electors he is said to have brought with him. Another involved a vehicle with a roof-top campaign sign parked within 100 feet of a polling place.

Both incidents are being addressed, Edman said.

Other than these incidents and a few machines that had absentee ballots get jammed in them, Edman said the election is going "very well."

Edman said the morning's rain likely depressed early turnout, but said she expects 11 percent to 12 percent to cast ballots.


-- By David Wise

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 11:37 AM 

Election Officials Say Elections Going Smoothly, Slow

Milwaukee Election Commission assistant director Neil Albrecht said the spring election is going "very well" there, but there's been fairly low voter turnout thus far.

Dane and La Crosse county officials also said things were going slow there, but Washington County officials say they've had to print more ballots to meet demand.

Albrecht blamed the low turnout on the weather, which was the worst during the normal push of pre-work morning voting, with some streets and sidewalks flooding during a thunderstorm.

Albrecht said he expects many to come in and vote after work, though. He also said things are running smoothly in the 6th District Alderman recall election.

Brown, Dane and La Crosse County clerks offices said they have not received reports of troubles so far during the election, and the offices in Brown and Dane County noted things are even a little slow.

Brown County clerk Darlene Marcelle said she the top-end of voter turnout expectations could reach around 25 percent to 30 percent.

Washington County Clerk Brenda Jaszewski said the additional ballots were needed to keep up with heavy voter turnout, which has been higher than usual for April elections. She declined to make a prediction on what overall turnout would be.

In addition to the Supreme Court race -- featuring Washington County Judge Annette Ziegler and Madison attorney Linda Clifford -- and a number of municipal elections, county electors are also voting on an a land preservation program through which the county would spend $800,000 annually to purchase development rights.

The balloting has been going smoothly overall, Jaszewski said, however, a touch screen voting machine in one polling location suffered from a programing error that only allows electors to vote in one of three school board races that can be voted on there. Most people, however, vote by paper ballots, Jaszewski said, and noted that the machine is working for the Slinger school board race, which is expected to have the heaviest turnout.


-- By Matt Dolbey and David Wise

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 11:00 AM 

Bad Weather Forecasts Throughout State During Election Day

Voters are going to face dark clouds, chilly temperatures and plenty of precipitation as they make the venture to polling places today.

Here is a short list of weather coming in these cities' direction (from weather.com:

Madison - High: 51; Afternoon thundershowers

Milwaukee - High: 50; Thundershowers

Superior - High: 32; Snow

Green Bay - High: 43; Rain

Wausau - High: 38; Rain

Eau Claire - High: 41; Rain/Snow showers

La Crosse - High: 48; Showers

-- By Matt Dolbey

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Monday, April 2, 2007

 3:21 PM 

Kennedy Predicts 800-850K Turnout

State Elections Board executive director Kevin Kennedy predicts a turnout of between 800,000 and 850,000 for tomorrow's spring election, with a heated Supreme Court race expected to drive voters to the polls statewide.

The figure would equal about 20 percent of the state's voting-age population, or about 25 percent of all registered voters, Kennedy said.

The last open Supreme Court seat, contested in 2003, drew 799,637 to the polls. Justice Patience Roggensack defeated Ed Brunner in that race.

-- By Greg Bump

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 3:16 PM 

Newspapers Line Up Behind Clifford, Ziegler

WisPolitics has compiled a list of newspaper endorsements in the state Supreme Court race from a search of on-line editorial pages.

Of the 13 WisPolitics found, nine backed Linda Clifford, while three supported Annette Ziegler. The Janesville Gazette wrote that its editorial board decided it could not endorse either in good conscience, calling them "disappointing candidates."

Here is a list of links to the editorials, grouped by who was endorsed.

Pro-Clifford

- APC Editorial: Clifford better candidate to become next justice

- LCT editorial: Clifford for Wisconsin Supreme Court

- WDH Editorial: Clifford is clear choice for the bench

- SP Editorial: Clifford best choice for state high court

- MSE editorial: Linda Clifford is the wiser choice

- WSJ editorial: Poor judgment sinks Ziegler

- TCT Editorial: Linda Clifford for high court

- KN editorial: State Supreme Court: Linda Clifford

- MJS Editorial: One clear choice: Clifford offers intellect and solid experience

Pro-Ziegler

- SPS editorial: Wanless, Ziegler, others get nods

- BDN editorial: In a close call, edge to Ziegler, Once-easy choice complicated by ethical blind spot

- GBPG Editorial: Ziegler should be next State Supreme Justice

Neither

- JG editorial: Choices for state's Supreme Court are disappointing

-- By JR Ross

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 3:14 PM 

Clifford, Ziegler Set Election Night Party Plans

The state Supreme Court candidates have set up Election Night parties on their respective home turfs.

Madison attorney Linda Clifford will hold her election night party at the Local Tavern in Madison.

Washington County Judge Annette Ziegler and her supporters will gather at the Old Courthouse Museum in West Bend.

Both parties begin at 8 p.m.

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