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Thursday, November 4, 2010

 11:45 AM 

Next Legislature to include most new members since '83

When the 2011-2012 Legislature is sworn into office in January, it will have the most new members since 1983, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau.

Thirty-eight new lawmakers will take office next year, the most since 40 new members joined the Legislature following Tony Earl's election as governor. This year's total includes 8 new state senators, the most since LRB began reviewing legislative turnover in 1963 -- although five of the new senators have served in the Legislature before -- and 30 new state representatives.

That total is due in part to a high number of departures due to retirement or seeking other office. Twenty-four lawmakers left their posts last year, and 14 more incumbent Democrats joined them after Tuesday's GOP wave swept through the state.

-- By Andy Szal


 10:58 AM 

Walker asks UW Regents for help in resolving budget deficit

Gov.-elect Scott Walker told the UW Board of Regents this morning that he'll be looking to them for help in resolving the state's budget deficit while maintaining one of "the best university systems in the world."

"It isn't just always about more money," Walker told the board, saying he will need UW campuses to be flexible, creative and innovative in how they use their funding as the state faces a deficit already nearing $3 billion.

Walker said he'd toured all but one of the UW's campuses during the campaign and joked that he was tempted to look at potential spots for his high school-age sons during his stops visits. The Milwaukee County exec lauded the regents' work on veterans issues and said he shares their goal of increasing the number of college graduates in the state.

"I know we can do it, but I know it's going to take a lot of hard work," Walker said.

Walker added that in addition to revamping the state Department of Commerce, he wants to provide a greater role for the state's higher education institutions in creating jobs, calling the UW campuses "a valuable and powerful asset to would-be employers in the state."

He said he wants the state's four-year and two-year campuses as well as the technical colleges to have a seat at the table when he reaches out to employers looking to relocate to Wisconsin or expand operations already here. He said the services the schools offer can be a great selling point to companies.

Regent President Charles Pruitt assured Walker that while nearly all of the regents have been appointed by Gov. Jim Doyle, each member serves as a steward of the university rather than as a Democrat or Republican. He urged Walker to use the UW as a "catalyst" to achieve his goal of creating 250,000 new jobs in his first term.

-- By Andy Szal

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

 4:52 PM 

The WisPolitics post-election Stock Report

POST-ELECTION POLITICAL STOCK REPORT
--A collection of insider opinion--

RISING

Conservatives: Scott Walker, Ron Johnson, Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble and a host of Republican legislative candidates ride a Tea Party-fueled wave to dominate Election Day 2010 and grab back the reins of power in Madison. Republicans credit the GOP for working hand-in-hand with the movement to avoid the kind of party tension that derailed pickup opportunities in other states. At the federal level, conservative hero Paul Ryan is poised to become chair of the House Budget Committee, giving him a platform to promote his philosophy of smaller government. Now comes the tricky part, say insiders: governing in an economic malaise and finding the right candidate to challenge Obama in 2012. Observers are also watching to see how Republicans will govern now that they’ll hold the guv’s office and comfortable majorities in both houses. Some look at the majorities and the conservative bent of the newcomers and predict a staunchly conservative Legislature, particularly in the Assembly, and that could make it hard to subdue conservative demands for controversial legislation.

Fitzgerald brothers: The brothers Fitzgerald, Sen. Scott and Rep. Jeff, became the second-most politically powerful tandem in the state after Scott Walker and his top aide, whoever that will be. Their teams not only won back the houses for the GOP but exceeded expectations by rolling up significant majorities and knocking off the sitting Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker.

Political rookies: Six months ago, the political community knew nothing about Ron Johnson and Reid Ribble. Now the plastics maker and the roofer are going to Congress. Insiders say this proves it was a good year to be an outsider without a record. Insiders on both sides praise Johnson’s campaign and say he was the right candidate for the right time with the right message to capitalize on the public’s anger toward Washington, D.C., and Madison. Ribble’s campaign wasn’t nearly as steady, but the GOP rebound in the Fox Valley likely helped make up for any shortcomings in his campaign, observers said.

Tim Cullen: Twenty-three years after leaving the state Senate to join Tommy Thompson's administration, the respected Janesville pol is about to return to the Legislature. The victory by Cullen, a retired insurance industry exec, to hold Judy Robson's seat is one of the few Dem bright spots on Election Day. With Russ Decker gone, could the ex-Senate majority leader be the next Senate Dem minority leader? While some consider Cullen the strongest candidate to lead the caucus after the big losses on Election Day, others aren’t so sure Cullen will be embraced by Senate Dems after he spent a good chunk of his campaign running against the Legislature.

Feingold speculation: The Middleton Dem tells supporters “it’s on to 2012” after his concession speech, fueling speculation about what he may do now that he won’t be returning to the U.S. Senate this January. Some national pundits peg him as a liberal, anti-war challenger for President Obama in two years, while others suggest hypothetical appointments to the Supreme Court, attorney general or even a 2012 U.S. Senate candidacy if Herb Kohl were to retire. Feingold allies say he's unlikely to pursue a presidential run in 2012, but all other options are on the table. They say he's still the leading progressive voice in the nation with a big base of support across the country, and they expect him to use that mantle. An adviser says Feingold will focus on his job working for the people of Wisconsin until his term ends in January, and it’s too early to speculate on what he may do.

MIXED

Milwaukee Co.: Now that Walker is the guv-elect, politicos speculate on who will try to be the next executive in a county where influential leaders are calling for a dismantling of the government. Among the names circulating are Sheriff David Clarke and state Reps. Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee, and Jeff Stone, R-Greendale, among others.

Ron Kind: Not so long ago, the 3rd District congressman was being touted as a possible guv candidate. But after a brutal October, in which Kind endures charges of pay to play and a big conservative-funded media campaign, he limps into office again with a narrow victory over GOP state Sen. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse. Some say the allegations and the close race have damaged Kind’s prospects for a future run. Others say he’ll have time to recover, especially if he moves more toward the middle after voting for cap-and-trade and the health care bill, opening himself up to dings that he was supporting the Pelosi agenda. Some credit him for swimming upstream in a difficult environment. Unlike other Dem incumbents who were viewed as relatively safe just a few months ago but ended up in close races, Kind was prepared for the wave and spent heavily on TV to define Kapanke, some say. Still, some think Kind could have been another wave victim if Republicans only had a better opponent.

Kleefisch family: The next lt. guv has a tough last week of the campaign, getting raked for months-old disparaging comments about gays. No wonder the Walker campaign didn't want Rebecca to debate, insiders joke. Now some insiders suggest she'll be shelved to second-rate duties just as Gov. Jim Doyle did to Barb Lawton. Others aren’t so sure, pointing out Walker specifically touted Kleefisch as someone who could work on business issues for his administration. The proof will be in the pudding, some say. The good news for the Kleefisch family is that commuting to work just became easier. Husband Joel is easily re-elected to his Assembly seat.

FALLING

Dem incumbents: Republicans don’t lose a single incumbent in the state Legislature this year, a first in some time. Dems can’t say the same. Four Dems go down in the state Senate -- Russ Decker, Pat Kreitlow, John Lehman and Jim Sullivan -- while 10 Assembly Dems go down in defeat. That includes “Snarlin’” Marlin Schneider, a Wisconsin Rapids Dem who's the longest serving member of the Assembly, having won his first term in 1970. In Congress, incumbents Steve Kagen and Russ Feingold go down.

Liberals: After a sweep in 2008 that put Republicans on the ropes, Dems now are in the same position. They'll be licking their wounds and strategizing a comeback soon in advance of the 2012 election. But they'll be doing so without a host of familiar names in office such as Jim Doyle, Russ Feingold, Russ Decker, Mike Sheridan, Steve Kagen and Dave Obey. Tom Barrett remains as mayor of Milwaukee, but he likely will have to focus on his own re-election in 2012, though some believe he's in a position to fill the leadership vacuum in the party for the interim. That leaves Herb Kohl, 75, as the Dems' senior officeholder in the state -- who, while popular, doesn't embrace a liberal agenda. Many Dems are glum looking down what they see as a short bench for statewide candidates with little time to find some fresh blood to lead the party back to power.

-- By Staff

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 3:30 PM 

Feingold holding off on future plans

Since he mentioned in his concession speech last night that "it's on to 2012," national media has been speculating about what defeated U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold's next move might be.

A run for Senate in 2012 if Herb Kohl retires? Would he take an appointment to the federal bench, or be in line to become U.S. attorney general down the road? Governor in 2014? Or, maybe, a run from the left at President Obama in 2012?

For now, the maverick from Middleton is keeping his powder dry.

Feingold allies say he's unlikely to pursue a presidential run in 2012, but all other options are on the table. They say he is still the leading progressive voice in the nation with a big base of support across the country, and they expect him to use that mantle.

Feingold campaign adviser John Kraus sent out this statement today:

"Russ will be spending the days ahead with friends and family, and taking the time to thank his supporters for their hard work on his behalf. He is focused on his job working for the people of Wisconsin for the next couple of months and it's too early to speculate on what the future holds."

-- By Greg Bump

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 1:44 PM 

Barrett plans to run for re-election

Back in his city office after losing the guv's race, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said today he plans to run for re-election to his post.

Barrett said he loves the job and intends to seek another four-year term in the spring of 2012.

"I certainly intend to," Barrett said about whether he'd run for mayor again. "I love this job."

Barrett said he ran for governor because he was concerned about jobs in the state and that he will continue his work to improve the jobs situation in Milwaukee with "renewed enthusiasm.

While he expressed concern about the future of share revenue for the city, Barrett said he was confident that he'll be able to work with the Republican-controlled state government.

“We'll reach out to many people on both sides of the aisle. As I think that you know, my approach has always been about getting things done,” Barrett said. “The one thing I learned as mayor ... is that people don't care whether their garbage gets picked up by a Democrat or Republican, they just want their garbage picked up.

“That means being able to work with people, and I'm proud of the fact that throughout my career I've been able to work with people on both sides of the aisle and I'm confident that will continue.”

-- By David Wise

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 1:14 PM 

Dems hit Dane, Milwaukee targets, but still fall short

Dem hit their marks in Dane and Milwaukee counties yesterday. But they appeared to miss badly in the other key areas of the state.

A check of county results in the guv’s race shows the Fox Valley came home for Republicans yesterday, the Milwaukee suburban counties went hard for the GOP, and Scott Walker won counties like La Crosse, Marathon and Kenosha that went for Jim Doyle in 2006.

Walker did not appear to cut into the Dem advantage in Milwaukee County as some had believed he would. But his margins elsewhere more than made up for that as he won with 52 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns.

And places like Racine County seem to underscore the wave that snapped back against Dems after they won control of the Assembly in 2008 to give them full control of the Legislature and guv’s office for the first time in more than 20 years.

In 2006, 71,327 voters turned out for the guv’s race as Republican Mark Green eked out a 300-vote win in the county.

Yesterday, almost 13,000 fewer voters cast ballots in the guv’s race, and Walker carried a 9,483-vote advantage over Dem Tom Barrett.

Here’s a rundown of some key counties with their 2006 results for the guv’s race compared to the unofficial returns from yesterday.

Dane and Milwaukee

-Dane:
2006: 213,608 votes; 149,661 Doyle, 58,302 Green, 5,645 Eisman; Margin: plus-91,359 Doyle.
2010: 217,869 votes; 149,652 Barrett, 68,217 Walker; plus-81,435 Barrett

-Milwaukee:
2006: 323,504 votes; 199,536 Doyle, 118,949 Green, 5,019 Eisman; plus-80,587 Doyle.
2010: 336,390 votes with on precinct out; 208,562 Barrett, 127,828 Walker; plus 80,734 Barrett.

Milwaukee suburbs:

-Ozaukee:
2006: 41,231 votes; 15,229 Doyle, 25,460 Green, 542 Eisman; plus-10,231 Green.
2010: 43,106 votes; 13,232 Barrett, 29,874 Walker; plus-16,642 Walker

-Washington:
2006: 53,284 votes; 17,219 Doyle, 35,262 Green, 803 Eisman; plus-18,043 Green.
2010: 58,494 votes, 14,275 Barrett, 44,219 Walker; plus-29,944 Walker

-Waukesha:
2006: 175,965 votes; 61,402 Doyle, 112,243 Green, 2,320 Eisman; plus-50,841 Green.
2010: 185,496 votes; 52,222 Barrett, 133,274 Walker; plus-81,052 Walker

The Fox Valley

-Brown:
2006: 93,552 votes; 45,046 Doyle, 46,989 Green, 1,517 Eisman; plus-1,943 Green.
2010: 87,018 votes; 37,456 Barrett, 49,562 Walker; plus-12,016 Walker.

-Outagamie:
2006: 69,696 votes; 34,901 Doyle, 33,511 Green, 1,284 Eisman; plus-1,390 Doyle.
2010: 64,387 votes; 29,183 Barrett, 35,654 Walker; plus-6,471 Walker.

-Winnebago:
2006: 64,447 votes; 32,765 Doyle, 30,629 Green, 1,413 Eisman; plus-2,136 Doyle.
2010: 60,182 votes; 27,138 Barrett, 33,044 Walker; plus-5,906 Walker.

Other Dem counties

-Kenosha:
2006: 51,013 votes; 28,338 Doyle, 21,737 Green, 938 Eisman; plus-6,601 Doyle.
2010: 47,081 votes; 22,835 Barrett, 24,246 Walker; plus-1,411 Walker.

-La Crosse:
2006: 42,900 votes; 24,663 Doyle, 17,235 Green, 1,002 Eisman; plus-7,428 Doyle.
2010: 41,385 cast; 20,636 Barrett, 20,749 Walker; plus-113 Walker.

-Eau Claire:
2006: 38,862 votes; 22,240 Doyle, 15,733 Green, 889 Eisman; plus-6,507 Doyle.
2010: 36,468 votes; 18,453 Barrett, 18,015 Walker; plus-438 Barrett.

-Marathon:
2006: 49,143 votes; 25,836 Doyle, 22,186 Green, 1,121 Eisman; plus-3,650 Doyle.
2010: 48,540 votes; 20,026 Barrett, 28,514 Walker; plus 8,488-Walker.

-- By JR Ross

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 11:50 AM 

Johnson promises to pursue hard spending cap

U.S. Senator-elect Ron Johnson said today that he will work to pursue "a very hard spending cap" on the federal government, adding that he would support a constitutional amendment to accomplish it.

"Until we establish a hard spending cap, it's not realistic that members of Congress are going to step up and start cutting spending," Johnson told reporters at a 15-minute press conference at his campaign headquarters in his hometown of Oshkosh.

Johnson, the CEO of a plastics manufacturing plant and political newcomer who spent millions of his personal funds on the campaign, defeated three-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold in Tuesday's election with 52 percent of the vote.

Voters across the nation sent Washington a strong message that the federal government needs to get its fiscal house in order, Johnson said. He said one idea to do that he could support would be to limit federal spending to 25 percent of GDP.

Johnson said, as he did throughout the campaign, that one of his top priorities will be the repeal of the federal health care reform bill. He also said that any unspent stimulus funds should be applied to the federal deficit instead of more government spending.

Despite saying he would attack two of President Obama's signature legislative accomplishments, Johnson said he is willing to work with the administration.

"I will work with anybody who understands this spending and debt is unsustainable," he said. "I certainly hope the Obama administration got the very clear signal the American people sent."

Johnson said he spoke with Wisconsin's other U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, and told him he is looking forward to working with him to improve the economy.

Asked if he would help Governor-elect Scott Walker in his plans to stop an $810 million federally funded high speed train project between Madison and Milwaukee, Johnson responded "I would totally support him in those efforts."

Johnson said the next couple weeks will be spent on the transition to office and getting staff in place.

-- Greg Bump

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 11:43 AM 

Voters back all transportation fund advisory referendums

Voters in each of the 53 counties that considered an advisory referendum on protecting the state transportation fund Tuesday endorsed the proposal, according to the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin.

Dodge County passed the referendum with the highest margin in the state, with more than 85 percent of voters backing a constitutional amendment to ban raids of the transportation fund. Trempealeau County registered the closest margin, with the referendum passing with 62 percent of voters in favor.

TDA Executive Director Craig Thompson said the results should send a "clear message" to the next Legislature.

"People are tired of talk," Thompson said in a statement. "They want action. Passing this legislation early in the session would demonstrate that this new legislature is there to do the people's business."

Such an amendment would require passage in two successive legislative sessions and approval in a statewide referendum.

-- By Andy Szal

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 11:32 AM 

Voters reject three largest school referendums on Tuesday's ballot

Voters in school districts throughout Wisconsin rejected nearly $110 million in additional school spending Tuesday, as 10 of the 21 school district referendums on the ballot went down to defeat.

Those include the three most expensive referendums on the ballot: $34.1 million in the Muskego-Norway School District, $33.4 million in two referendums in Randolph and two referendums totaling $24.2 million in Waunakee.

Voters in the Pewaukee School District approved a $16.5 million referendum, the most expensive measure to pass Tuesday. Other top referendums that passed included $10.5 million between two referendums in Mt. Horeb and a $10.3 million initiative in the Alma Center School District.

In total, voters approved more than $52 million in additional school spending.

Meanwhile, voters in the Montello and Westfield school districts in south central Wisconsin rejected a referendum that would have joined the two districts in a new Marquette County Area School District.

Voters across south central Wisconsin backed a $133 million building plan for Madison Area Technical College.

-- By Andy Szal

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 10:14 AM 

Turnout close to 50 percent mark

The state may yet hit the 50 percent turnout mark the GAB predicted going into Tuesday. But it may take a while to figure that out.

With 99 percent of precincts in, more than 2.16 million voters were cast in the U.S. Senate race, including the more than 23,000 votes that went to Constitution Party candidate Rob Taylor.

The Government Accountability Board had projected 2.18 million voters, or 50 percent of the voting age population, would turn out yesterday.

But there are still some outstanding votes, including military and absentee ballots, that could push the state right up to the 50 percent mark.

Four years ago, turnout was 50.9 percent.

-- By JR Ross

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 9:54 AM 

Wisconsin only state with Legislature, guv, Senate seat flipping

Wisconsin was the only state to see its guv and Senate seats flip parties, along with control of both houses of the Legislature.

It also currently is the only state to see the guv and both houses flip, though that could change.

In Minnesota, Republicans have won both houses of the state Legislature, while DFLer Mark Dayton was leading Republican Tom Emmer by less than one half of 1 percentage point. The race to replace outgoing GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty is likely headed to recount regardless of the final outcome.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says Maine also might see a flip of both houses and the guv's office.

-- By Staff

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 1:14 AM 

Vinehout wins

State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout eked out a narrow victory over Republican Ed Thompson by 341 votes.

With 100 percent reporting, 30,199 votes to 29,858 for Thompson.

-- By Staff

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 1:06 AM 

Tidbits on GOP wave

Barring any changes in the Assembly's composition due to recounts, Dems will have their smallest caucus in the chamber since 1957.

According to unofficial returns, Republicans are expected to hold 60 seats in the next session, with 38 Dems and one independent in former Dem Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer of Manitowoc.

The GOP caucus has matched its numbers from the 2005-06 session, when it had a 60-39 majority.

Going into the election, Dems had a 51-46 majority with two independents.

The results mark the biggest swing in the chamber since the 1970 election, when Republicans went from a 52-48 majority to a 33-67 minority. (The Assembly went to 99 seats in 1973.)

Dem state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout has hung onto her seat, meaning Republicans will have a 19-14 majority in the Senate. That's the same margin by which they held the chamber at the beginning of the 2005 session.

It also will be the first all-GOP statehouse since the 1990s, when Tommy Thompson was guv.

-- By Staff

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 1:01 AM 

Walker one of youngest guvs post World War II, first from Milwaukee since '38

Scott Walker is the first Milwaukee-area figure elected governor since manufacturer Julius P. Heil, a Republican, won the office in 1938, defeating incumbent Progressive Philip F. La Follette. He held the office for two terms (1939-1943).

Walker, who turned 43 on Election Day, is also one of the youngest elected Wisconsin governors in the post-World War II era. Dems Gaylord Nelson and John Reynolds also were in their early 40s when elected in the 1960s.

Martin Schreiber, a Milwaukee Democrat, became governor in 1977 at age 38 when Pat Lucey left office to become U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Later trying to win election to the office, Schreiber was beaten by Lee Sherman Dreyfus.

-- By Staff

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 12:47 AM 

Assembly GOP hits 60 seats

Assembly Republicans appear to have hit 60 seats.

In the open 51st District, Howard Marklein had 10,559 votes, or 52 percent, to 9,585 votes, or 48 percent, for John Simonson.

In the 93rd District, Rep. Jeff Smith lost with 10,998 votes to 11,069 votes for Warren Petryk.

Dems seem to have held on to the 42nd and 92nd.

In the 42nd, Rep. Fred Clark had 9,635 votes, of 51 percent, to 9,277 votes, or 49 percent, for Jack Cummings. All but two precincts were in.

In the 92nd, Rep. Mark Radcliffe had 9,079 votes, or 51 percent, to 8,795 votes, or 49 percent, for Dennis Clinard.

Several races could be heading for a recount. In addition to Smith's narrow loss, Rep. Kristen Dexter lost by 87 votes, Rep. Terry Van Akkeren lost by 151 votes.

-- By JR Ross

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 12:36 AM 

La Follette has slim lead, Sass falling behind

In the other races for constitutional officers, incumbent Secretary of State Doug La Follette is holding a slim 2-point lead with 93 percent of precincts reporting. He leads GOP rival David King 51-49.

The race for the state treasurer, however, appears to be headed back into GOP hands after one term from Dem Dawn Marie Sass. With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Sass trails Kurt Schuller 55-45

UPDATE: The races have been called for La Follette and Schuller.

-- By Staff

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 12:31 AM 

Vinehout, Thompson going down to the wire

With 97 percent reporting, 308 votes separate incumbent state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout challenger Ed Thompson.

Vinehout, D-Alma, has 29,308 votes and Thompson, a former mayor of Tomah, has 29,300.

Out of 156 precincts in the western Wisconsin district, 152 have reported their totals.

UPDATE: 12:43 a.m. -- With 98 percent reporting, the race is still tied 50-50 but the vote margin has shrunken to less than 276: Vinehout 29,433 votes, Thompson 29,157.

UPDATE: 1:05 a.m. -- Vinehout has widened her lead with 99 percent reporting, 30,071 votes to 29,604.

-- By Staff

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 12:17 AM 

Sheridan concedes majority to Republicans

Saying the election results are "disappointing on many levels," Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan conceded that Republicans have enough votes to take back the majority in the chamber.

The Dems seized control of the chamber last year after 14 years. Sheridan, D-Janesville, lost his own bid for re-election by a 52-48 margin to Republican Joe Knilans.

"The Republicans have secured the majority and now they will have to deliver on their campaign pledges," Sheridan said in a statement released by the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee.

“We remain proud of our accomplishments and the foundation we’ve laid over the past two years to keep Wisconsin moving forward during these difficult times.

“The initiatives we passed in the budget paved the way for job retention and creation in the state during our darkest hour," Sheridan said.

-- By Staff

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 12:11 AM 

Barrett sounds hopeful note in concession

An anxious crowd received Tom Barrett around 10:45 p.m. with a hearty round of applause, though the message they received was not the one they had hoped for.

“A few minutes ago I called Scott Walker and congratulated him on becoming the next governor of Wisconsin,” Barrett said, provoking a chorus of boos.

Barrett first thanked his family for supporting him through a tough year of campaigning, as well as the people who volunteered and campaigned for him.

“If you want faith in democracy, visit those incredible ground troops,” he said of the men and woman who helped run his campaign.

Barrett quickly emphasized that though he lost the race, he and Scott Walker have worked together in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. The statement was meet with mixed responses, including one man who yelled, “Yeah, good luck Tom.”

Barrett said little of his future as mayor of Milwaukee, a position for which he considers himself “a blessed man.” He did, however, hint at his continuing concern for Milwaukee's fight against poverty, highlighting the plight in the African-American community.

Barrett concluded his speech on a hopeful note.

"We are all here because we love this state, and we care about its people," he said. "That's what's important. Let's continue to move the great state of Wisconsin forward.”

-- By Jimmy Theo

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 12:05 AM 

Walker: "Wisconsin's best days are yet to come"

Claiming an election night victory, Republican Scott Walker declared “Wisconsin is open for business,” to cheers from the crowd of more than 1,000 gathered for his speech in Pewaukee.

Walker said his first act as governor would be to call a special session of the Legislature to work on a series of tax cuts and job creation measures.

He said the actions during those first days would show Wisconsin is serious about creating 250,000 jobs.

He said with this election families and businesses will know they have an ally in Madison.

“Wisconsin is open for business,” he declared.

Walker said tomorrow he planned to travel to Madison to meet with budget staff in order to begin working on ways to balance the budget. He said he would meet with Republican and Democratic legislators in the following weeks in order to lay the groundwork to advance his agenda.

Walker said the state faces a lot of challenges, but that challenges can present opportunities.

“We're up to the challenge,” Walker declared.

“We the people of Wisconsin are ready to stand up and claim our rightful place in history like we did a generation ago,” Walker said, hearkening back to the days of former Gov. Tommy Thompson.

“Wisconsin's best days are yet to come.”

Walker pledged to represent all of the state, no matter who they voted for.

“I intend to be governor of the entire state of Wisconsin,” he said.

While Walker thanked God, supporters and staff, he especially praised his family.

Walker said the best days of his life were when his sons were born and when he met his wife. He joked that tonight comes pretty close.

Walker said running-mate Rebecca Kleefisch would be a “great ambassador” for Wisconsin.

Walker's wife, Tonette, who introduced him, thanked voters, volunteers, staff and friends and family for their support.

She described her husband as a man of faith, honor and integrity.

Tonette was not the only one to express a little love for the new guv.

“I love you, Scott,” a man in the crowd shouted, as had happened during his primary party. “I love you too, man,” Walker quipped. “He's back from the primary.”

As Walker took and left the stage the crowd sang Happy Birthday. He turned 43 today.

-- By David Wise

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

 11:58 PM 

Republicans say they have Assembly majority

Assembly Republicans say they have taken back the majority and are now projecting a pickup of at least a dozen seats.

Assembly GOP spokesman Jim Bender said Republicans are still watching four Dem seats -- the 42nd, 51st, 92nd and 93rd -- that they believe they can still pick up.

With the 12 seats they already believe they have won, Republicans are looking at coming back in January with at least 58 seats after going into the election with down 52-46 with two independents.

The projected GOP pickups include knocking off state Reps. Ted Zigmunt, Jim Soletski, Marlin Schneider, Mike Sheridan, Ann Hraychuck, Terry Van Akkeren, Kristen Dexter, Kim Hixson, and Phil Garthwaite. They also are projecting wins in the open 5th, 45th, 67th and 75th.

Republicans lost one seat in the 80th, where Janis Ringhand took the seat now held by Brett Davis, who vacated it to run for lt. guv.

-- By JR Ross

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 11:56 PM 

AP calls 3rd CD race for incumbent Kind

Swimming upstream against a powerful GOP tsunami, Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind has held onto his seat in western Wisconsin's 3rd CD, according to The Associated Press.

With 90 percent reporting, Kind had a 50-47 edge over state Sen. Dan Kapanke, a Republican from La Crosse.

-- By Staff

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 11:31 PM 

Johnson takes on Obama in victory speech

Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson took on President Obama in his victory speech after defeating U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, saying he's looking to "work with anyone who realizes ... that it was freedom and the free market system that made America great."

Johnson told supporters at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh that while the final straw that led him into the Senate race was the passage of health care reform, his political interest was sparked when then-Sen. Obama said Democrats would "transform America" leading into the 2008 election.

"I certainly wasn't looking to transform America," Johnson said. "I was looking to fix its problems."

Johnson vowed to work toward repealing the health care "monstrosity," and said his campaign was relatively simple because "the priority is pretty straight forward."

"We need to restore fiscal sanity to this nation."

Johnson said he wished Feingold well after accepting his concession, and repeated his vow to never vote with his re-election in mind.

"Tomorrow we start the hard work," Johnson said. "Our nation has dug itself a very deep hole."

See a statement from Johnson's campaign here.

-- By Andy Szal

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 11:31 PM 

Duffy wins race to replace Obey

Republican Sean Duffy, a former district attorney for Ashland County, has beaten state Sen. Julie Lassa in the contest to succeed longtime Dem U.S. Rep. Dave Obey of Wausau.

With 86 percent reporting, Duffy has a 52 percent to 44 percent over Lassa. Independent Gary Kauther is polling at 4 percent

Obey, the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee who held the seat for more than 40 years, unexpectedly announced in February he would not seek re-election.

-- By Staff

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 11:13 PM 

Sheridan on verge of losing, Republicans pick up 45th

Republicans are on the verge of knocking off Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan and have picked up a second Rock County Assembly seat.

With all but one precinct in, Joe Knilas had 7,763 votes, while Sheridan had 7,421 votes.

In the open 45th, which covers part of Janesville and all of Beloit, Republican Amy Loudenbeck had 8,322 votes, compared to 6,605 for Dem Roger Anclam. Thirty-three of 36 precincts are in, according to the Rock County Web site.

-- By JR Ross

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 11:01 PM 

Feingold: "Being your senator has been the greatest honor of my life"

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Middleton, has called Republican Ron Johnson of Oshkosh to concede the race.

"The people of Wisconsin have spoken and I respect their decision," Feingold told a boisterous crowd. "I wished him well as our senator, and I also offered my help and the help of my staff in any transition."

Feingold told the supporters gathered at his Middleton party, "Being your senator has been the greatest honor of my life.

"I've enjoyed working with you and feel we did many good things together and I thank Wisconsin for this great privilege I have received."

"No one has ever had such a strong foundation, it gave me my backbone, you gave me my backbone," Feingold said.

"So to all of you in the words of, who else, Bob Dylan, 'But my heart is not weary, it's light and free, I've got nothing but affection for those who have sailed with me.'"

"I hope and I intend to continue to work with all of you in the future as much as possible, so it's on to the next life, it's on to the next battle, it's on to 2012, and it is on to our next adventure. Forward!"

-- By Greg Bump

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 10:59 PM 

Soletski loses

State Rep. Jim Soletski has lost his Green Bay-area Assembly seat, according to unofficial returns.

According to the Brown County Web site, John Klenke has 8,222 votes, or 50.73 percent, to 7,956 votes, or 49.09 percent for Soletski. All 28 precincts have reported.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:57 PM 

Walker: Wisconsin open for business

In a statement on his election as the state's next governor, Milwaukee Co. Exec. Scott Walker declared the state "open for business."

"I know right now there are businesses ready to put people back to work, but they’re concerned our state is headed in the wrong direction, and they’re worried about what government might do next," Walker said. "Tonight, we begin the process of recovery as we commit to working together to help employers maintain and grow jobs, rather than make it more expensive for employers and families to make ends meet."

Gov. Jim Doyle issued a statement congratulating Walker and signaling that his administration is prepared to help with the transition.

-- By Staff

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 10:52 PM 

Tate congratulates GOP

State Dem party chairman Mike Tate congratulated his GOP counterparts in a statement issued by the party.

"The Wisconsin voters have spoken and we congratulate Wisconsin Republicans on their victories tonight," Tate said. "It was a hard-fought contest across-the-board in which both sides put forward their maximum effort."

"For our part, I am awed at the toil, tears and sweat that our Democratic volunteers and staff put forth in the face of stiff headwinds."

-- By Staff

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 10:49 PM 

Two bright spots for Dems

There hasn't been much good news for Wisconsin Dems so far. But here are two bright spots.

Freshman Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton has defeated Republican Chris Hanson, according to unofficial returns returns. Schaber had 10,415 votes, or 53 percent, to 9,419, or 47 percent.

In the open 80th AD, Dem Janis Ringhand has won the seat now held by Republican Brett Davis, who left to run for lt. guv.

With 95 percent of the vote in, Ringhand had 12,006 votes, or 53 percent, to 10,606 votes, or 47 percent, for Republican Dan Henke.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:44 PM 

GOP takes back Senate

Republicans have taken back control of the Senate, according to Dem and GOP Senate sources.

John Hogan with CERS said Dem Sens. Jim Sullivan of Wauwatosa and Pat Kreitlow of Eau Claire have conceded their races, while Sen. John Lehman is trailing badly to his GOP opponent.

Dems held an 18-15 majority going into the election. Republicans are poised to retain the open 1st SD and only needed two pickups to take back the chamber.

"We're in the majority," Hogan said.

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, is also trailing in early returns

A spokeswoman for Senate Dems confirmed the caucus has lost the chamber.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:43 PM 

Baldwin thanks supporters

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin told supporters at Madison's Brink Lounge that she is grateful to come out on the winning side in a campaign "marked by some of what is best and some of what is worst about this democracy."

She thanked her staff and volunteers, noting the "young voters defying every expectation about their level of interest."

"I've seen a remarkably uncivil midterm election," Baldwin said. "Your efforts reflect the promise of our democracy."

The Madison Dem, who will go into her seventh term in the House, railed against the Citizens United decision allowing corporate political expenditures, noting that voters "did not see any negative tv ads coming from this campaign."

-- By Staff

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 10:41 PM 

Barrett concedes

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he called Republican Scott Walker at about 10:35 p.m. to concede the race for governor.

He said he told Walker that they have to work together because of the important issues the state and City of Milwaukee are facing.

"The voters have spoken and I respect the voters of the state of Wisconsin and I respect their decision," he said.

"I want everyone here to know that I never stopped believing in the state of Wisconsin, and I never will stop believing in the state of Wisconsin," he said.

-- By Staff

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 10:28 PM 

Moore gets another term

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, has won another term in Washington.

Moore holds a commanding 64 to 35 percent lead over Republican Dan Sebring with 60 percent reporting.

-- By Staff

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 10:24 PM 

Walker party cheers results

A large volley of cheers erupted at the Walker Party when projections showed Scott Walker will win the governorship.

And another as the race was called for Ron Johnson.

The already fired-up crowd just heard a victory speech from Jim Sensenbrenner, who cruised to re-election.

Sensenbrenner promised that “Republicans will not let you down” as they take control of the House, and, he anticipated, the state.

He said the last couple of years have been “pretty frustrating” but that he knew American would tire of the liberal agenda agenda, which he said was to tax, spend and control people's lives.

He said Wisconsin had a double-dose of the liberal agenda.

"We had Obama's tax and spend, we had Jim Doyle's tax and spend, and the boot has been applied to their rear ends," he quipped to applause.

Lt. guv candidate Rebecca Kleefisch, anticipating victory, thanked supporters and her family. She said Walker was ready to take his place in history.

"Under his leadership, we will restore Wisconsin to prosperity and tell the world that Wisconsin is open for business again," she said.

GOP Chair Reince Priebus also rallied the crowd, promising that Republicans would govern with the principles they campaigned on.

"Are you ready for the Scott Walker era in Wisconsin?" Priebus asked the charged crowd. "Are you ready for Scott Walker to take the conservative movement to Madison once and for all?"

While he remarked on the historic nature of the night for the GOP, he said it was not about Republicans and Democrats, but about "real and authentic people" going to Madison and Washington who will govern with "pure hearts."

Priebus also acknowledged the role of the Tea Party movement, saying it has helped hold Republicans to their principles, which he said the GOP won't turn from again.

"We're proud we won your support and we appreciate your support," he said.

-- By David Wise

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 10:23 PM 

Baldwin defeats Lee

Incumbent Dem U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Madison has won re-election, beating Mount Horeb Republican Chad Lee.

With 59 percent reporting, Baldwin holds a 57 percent to 43 percent advantage.

-- By Staff

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 10:16 PM 

Calls continue to roll in

National media outlets continue to call the races for Scott Walker and Ron Johnson.

The Associated Press has now called both races, along with the national networks ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.

-- By Staff

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 10:12 PM 

NRSC congratulates Johnson

The National Republican Senate Committee has sent out an email congratulating Ron Johnson.

"By electing a successful businessman who has spent more than 30 years creating jobs and balancing budgets, Wisconsinites issued a strong rebuke of President Obama and the Democrats’ job-killing agenda," said U.S. Senator John Cornyn, the NRSC chairman. "I look forward to working with Senator-elect Johnson as we fight to restore the accountability that Wisconsin’s families and job creators deserve in our nation’s capital.”

UPDATE: 10:10 p.m. -- AP calls the race for Johnson.

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 10:05 PM 

Feingold campaign manager: It ain't over

Feingold's campaign manager George Aldrich told the crowd in Middleton that only 40 percent of the vote has been reported.

“Russ is down by 80,000 votes, but...up to 1.4 million votes haven’t been counted,” he told the crowd.


Among those votes that have been counted, there is “not a single vote” from the city of Madison, he said.

“We are confident that this race is going to tighten, it is going to tighten quickly, and we may be in for a long night here,” he said.

Cheers erupted from the crowd and Feingold’s supporters have become buoyant and upbeat.

Aldrich, interviewing with WMTV in Madison, says they're not throwing in the towel despite media outlets calling the race for Johnson.

"There's reason for optimism," he said.

He said there remain 300,000 votes to be counted in Milwaukee County, and another 200,000 in Dane County.

-- By Staff


 10:01 PM 

Dems falling behind in Senate races

In the races that will determine control of the state Senate, GOP candidates all currently have leads over incumbent Dems.

With 65 percent of precincts reporting, state Rep. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, has a slim 51-49 lead on Sen Jim Sullivan, D-Wauwatosa.

Other Dems, however, are not faring as well as Sullivan. With only 13 percent of precincts reporting, Racine Co. Supervisor Van Wanggaard has a 30 point lead on Sen. John Lehman. Former Rep. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls, is leading Sen. Pat Kreitlow 57-43 with 38 percent of returns in, while former Libertarian guv candidate turned Republican Ed Thompson leads Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma 52-48 with 26 percent of precincts reporting.

And Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, is trailing Wausau surgeon Pam Galloway by 8 percentage points with 19 percent of precincts reporting.

-- By Staff

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 9:52 PM 

Signs of wave showing up in Assembly races

Here are some signs of how big the GOP wave is that's currently sweeping across Wisconsin.

State Rep. Tony Staskunas has just hung on to win re-election to his West Allis seat. With 100 percent of precincts in, he has 8,866 votes to 8,461 for Ronald Rieboldt.

In the 26th AD, Republican Mike Endsley had a narrow lead on state Rep. Terry Van Akkeren with 58 percent of the vote in. Most insiders didn't think Van Akkeren would be in trouble this election, but the race was a favorite sleeper for Assembly Republicans if the wave was big enough. Endlsey has 4,930 votes to 4,810 for Van Akkeren.

In the 37th AD, Dem Rep. Andy Jorgensen had a narrow lead on Republican Vicki Milbrath with 90 percent of the vote in. Jorgensen has 9,749 votes to 9,301 for the challenger. Jorgensen was an early target, but the race dropped off the radar for many.

The 43rd AD was one people were watching for signs of how big the wave might be, and GOP challenger Evan Wynn was up with 74 percent of the vote in. Wynn had 8,893 votes, or 53 percent, to 7,954, or 47 percent, for Dem Rep. Kim Hixson.

-- By JR Ross

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 9:47 PM 

Jubilant scene at Johnson party

At 9:40 p.m. the clock struck 12 for Russ Feingold after 18 years in the U.S. Senate as Ron Johnson pulls off the victory that puts another win in the GOP's column.

More than 1,000 supporters at the Republican's victory party in Oshkosh exploded when the race was called. High-fives, hugs, jumping around and dancing were the theme of the night.

The crowd will wait for Johnson to make an appearance, though as of this time Feingold has yet to concede the race.

Dean Thomas, 55, is a Johnson volunteer who, with tears streaming down his cheek, called it the greatest political moment in his life.

The quite optimism at the Feingold party in Middleton grew louder as more people have gathered in the ballroom, but the mood seemed to sag slightly as numbers continue to show Johnson in the lead.

The news that MSNBC called the race for Johnson sent an ominous wave throughout the crowd, but many cheered themselves by discussing the many people in Milwaukee still waiting in lines to vote. Supporters maintain that it is still a close race, as the region traditionally goes to Democrats and is key to the Feingold campaign.

Feingold has never lost an elections in his 18 years as Senator, and many claim to have never believed the numbers that showed Johnson as having a substantial lead over Feingold in the weeks leading up to the election.

The Senator himself has yet to be seen. Attendees remain determinedly enthusiastic.

-- By Ben Sherman and Eva Penzeymoog

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 9:36 PM 

NBC calls race for Johnson

NBC News is calling the U.S. Senate race for Republican Ron Johnson.

Johnson, a plastics manufacturer from Oshkosh and political newcomer, is running against three-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Middleton.

UPDATE: 10:03 p.m. -- CNN projecting Johnson is the winner.

-- By Staff

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 9:24 PM 

Van Hollen retains AG post

Republican J.B. Van Hollen has been declared victorious in his first re-election to the Attorney General's office, beating former DNR Secretary Scott Hassett, according to the Associated Press.

With 24 percent reporting Van Hollen holds a 63 percent to 37 percent lead over Hassett in a campaign that failed to garner much attention, with tough governor and U.S. Senate races grabbing the headlines this cycle.

-- By Staff

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 9:20 PM 

RGA congratulates Walker on victory

The Republican Governors Association has sent a congratulatory email to Scott Walker for winning the Wisconsin governor's race.

The email notes the RGA was a "key investor" in Walker’s win, funneling $5 million into the state in ads and other help.

“Scott Walker had a clear message of bringing fiscal sanity to Wisconsin.” said RGA chairman Haley Barbour. “Wisconsin voters recognized that Scott is someone who not only talks the talk of fiscal responsibility, he walks the walk. That’s why he won and why he’ll be a great governor.”

-- By Staff

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 9:16 PM 

Fox News projecting Walker win

Fox News Channel is projecting Republican Scott Walker as the winner of Wisconsin's governor's race.

With 18 percent reporting, Walker has a 58 percent to 41 percent lead over Democrat Tom Barrett.

UPDATE: 9:46 p.m. -- ABC News projects Walker the winner.

-- By Staff

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 8:54 PM 

Ryan coasts to re-election

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan has been declared the winner in the 1st Congressional District, easily beating underfunded Dem John Heckenlively.

Ryan, R-Janesville, has a 75 percent to 23 percent lead over Heckenlively with six percent reporting. Libertarian Joe Kexel is drawing two percent.

If Republicans take over control of the House, which national media is projecting, Ryan is a top contender to take over the House Budget Committee.

-- By Staff

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 8:51 PM 

Walker's backers enthusiastic, Barrett supporters anxious

Scott Walker’s Election Night party bristled with enthusiasm shortly after the polls closed, while Tom Barrett’s party was more a scene of quiet anticipation.

At Walker’s party, a growing crowd of perhaps a thousand people was filling two grand ballrooms at the Country Springs Hotel in Pewaukee. Returns are being projected onto two large screens, one in each ballroom, tuned to Fox News. The largest ballroom has a stage and open floor while the second has tables and chairs scattered throughout. The sign on the curtain behind the stage in the large ballroom reads “Scott Walker: Wisconsin is Open for Business.”



Walker's brown bag bus is parked in front of the venue. Parking is becoming scarce and people are lining the road adjacent to the hotel.


Shortly after 8 p.m., about 100 supporters were gathered at Serb Hall on Milwaukee’s south side for Barrett’s party.

Although as many as 300 people were expected, the hall was quiet as Barrett supporters mulled over the results from other elections around the country over a few pitchers of beer.

As expected, the media is here in force, occupying nearly half of the ball room. Barrett himself is not expected to show until the results are called. He is currently with his family enjoying dinner and watching the results in private.

The people in attendance are lining up at the bar, snacking, and remaining optimistic. Despite the recent polls showing Walker ahead, there was a silent determination in the air.

-- By David Wise and Jimmy Theo

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 8:45 PM 

Sensenbrenner, Petri cruise to early wins

Republican U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner of Menomonee Falls and Tom Petri of Fond du Lac have been declared early winners tonight, according to the Associated Press.

Both incumbents faced underfunded opposition.

With 6 percent reporting in Sensenbrenner's race against Dem Todd Kolosso, the incumbent has a decisive 70 percent to 26 percent edge. Independent Robert Raymond is polling at 5 percent.

With 22 percent reporting, Petri has a commanding 74 percent to 26 percent edge over Dem Joe Kallas.

Sensenbrenner was first elected to the House in 1978, and Petri in a 1979 special election.

-- By Staff

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 8:45 PM 

Feingold, Johnson backers gather

Ron Johnson’s supporters seemed to have been hoping for an early night.

A collective groan went up at Johnson’s Election Night party after the polls closed and Fox News announced the race was “too close to call” off exit polling.

At Russ Feingold’s campaign, the news was greeted with some anxious optimism after most polls showed him trailing Johnson going into Election Day.

At the EAA Museum in Oshkosh, Johnson backers were buoyed by early results indicating substantial Republican wins around the country with cheers going up as Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and other GOP candidates racked up early wins.

Anita Kelly, 39, is an unemployed factory worker from Menasha. She says this is the first big political event she has attended.

“I worked hard for Ron Johnson because we need a change in Washington, and politicians need to start helping people get jobs," she said.

In Middleton, Feingold supporters clustered around TVs and milled around the Marriott-Madison West.

An attendee at the event described her feeling as “hopeful but anxious.”

Supporters have been discussing the fact that many Milwaukee residents who take public transportation may have voted later in the day, and these numbers have not come in, meaning there could still be good news for Feingold.

-- By Ben Sherman and Eva Penzeymoog

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 8:27 PM 

CNN projects GOP takeover of House

CNN is projection that Republicans will take over the majority in the House of Representatives.

Conservative panelists speculated that the move could elevate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, to the head of the House Budget Committee.

-- By Staff

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 8:03 PM 

CNN exit poll shows tight Senate race

Raw exit poll numbers reported by CNN show Republican Ron Johnson with a 50 percent to 49 percent lead over incumbent Dem U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold.

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer stressed that the exit polls have a wide margin of error.

-- By Staff

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 4:17 PM 

Barrett says turnout exceeding expectations

Dem guv hopeful Tom Barrett hit the UW-Madison campus before heading to his election party, telling reporters on Library Mall that he's hearing state voters have shattered turnout projections for the midterms.

Barrett said the new projections – in which turnout may hit 60 percent -- contradict the impression of an enthusiasm gap between Dem and GOP voters.

"The Democratic base needed a little extra time to get caffeinated, and now they're caffeinated and they're charged up and coming out to vote like there's no tomorrow," the Milwaukee mayor said. "We're very, very pleased with the turnout."

Barrett said he didn't think reports of a recent agreement on federal money for high-speed rail in the state would affect today's election, predicting that people who intended to vote on the issue of rail made their decision in the race a long time ago.

But he added that he would review the decision to sign the agreement over the weekend if elected.

"I'm someone who believes very strongly in transparency," Barrett said. "As governor, I will review the decision and make sure that it was made in a proper way. And if it's not transparent, we'll make it transparent."

The mayor said he hadn't given any thought to his future plans as mayor after today. If victorious, Barrett would have to resign his mayoral post by Dec. 28 to set up a special election in the normal spring election.

"What we're most interested in doing is putting together my economic development team, and I'm ready to start doing that tomorrow," Barrett said.

-- By Andy Szal

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 3:06 PM 

Milwaukee man won't let heart attack stop him from voting

Nothing is going to stop Terry Kopplin from voting today. Not even a heart attack.

The 69-year-old Milwaukee man experienced chest pains this morning and was taken to the hospital, where he had a stent put in to fix a blocked artery.

Janis Strucel, one of Kopplin’s seven children, said her father planned to vote at his ward on 82nd and Nash in Milwaukee. But he was taken by ambulance to the hospital for the stent, which she said saved her father’s life.

She described her father as a staunch Republican and lifetime NRA member who was determined to vote today. After he woke up from the surgery, his children called one of his buddies to take an absentee ballot application to City Hall to get him a ballot. The plan was to have him fill out the ballot at the hospital and then take it back to the city.

“I will not die knowing I contributed to putting Barrett in office,” Strucel said her father declared today.

Kopplin’s health scare filtered up to Scott Walker, who left a message thanking him for his loyalty, telling him to get better and informing him things were “looking pretty good,” Strucel said.

Kopplin, a former Briggs and Stratton employee, was expected to go home tomorrow.

-- By JR Ross

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 2:25 PM 

Kagen campaign says turnout not good enough

Julie Huen, campaign manager for Dem U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, sent an email this afternoon urging supporters to get their friends, family and neighbors to the polls, saying "turnout isn't where we need it to be in our strong areas" after morning returns in the 8th CD.

"This race is going to be a squeaker -- and every vote will count," Huen writes.

"If you can get five of your friends to vote, we will win."

-- By Andy Szal

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 2:12 PM 

GAB posting election updates

The Government Accountability Board reports early this afternoon that it's received word of heavy voter turnout throughout the state.

GAB staff is posting updates on election issues throughout the day. Some voters have reported that election officials are asking for voter IDs in some rural precincts, including in the Jefferson County town of Oakland, the Sauk County town of Troy and the Monroe County town of Byron.

Staff also says Columbia County is set to begin printing additional ballots, and notes the ballot issues this morning in the city of Brookfield.

-- By Andy Szal

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 1:47 PM 

Soglin backs Manski

Former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has endorsed Green Party candidate Ban Manski in the 77th Assembly District.

Dem Brett Hulsey has been knocked by Dems in recent days for inappropriately touting some endorsements, and Soglin cites trust in his blog post announcing his endorsement.

-- By Staff

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 1:33 PM 

Local election officials say turnout steady

Local election officials throughout the state are largely reporting steady turnout as of early this afternoon.

Sue Edman, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, said it's been a "great day" thus far, with sparse phone calls being taken mostly from voters wondering where to cast their ballots. She said only about three or four of the city's ballot machines have experienced problems, and that all poll workers showed up on time for the beginning of the day.

"Everything's really going very, very well for us today," Edman said, noting that turnout in Milwaukee may slightly exceed state projections.

Dane County Clerk Bob Ohlsen said the county has registered 21 percent turnout as of 11 a.m., which he deemed "pretty good." Ohlsen said the county has ordered new ballots for the town of Verona after a machine rejected ballots earlier today.

"We don't know why," Ohlsen said of the technical problems in Verona. He said election officials there told voters to fill in their ballots so they can be hand-counted later today.

The city of Appleton hit 23.5 percent turnout as of noon, reporting no problems "of any significance at all."

"Things are really going well," City Clerk Cindi Hesse said. Hesse added that if usual patterns hold, the city's turnout should be around 70 percent by the time polls close.

Eau Claire City Clerk Donna Austad said turnout has been steady but "nothing overwhelming." She said no polling places that she's visited so far today have experienced any problems.

-- By Andy Szal

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 11:14 AM 

Problem with Verona ballot machine

A ballot machine in Verona is not reading ballots, according to WISC-TV.

The Dane County clerk's office is sending new ballots to the polling place by 11:30 a.m. Ballots already cast will be counted by hand.

The Capital Times also reports counting problems in the village of Maple Bluff, the village of Deerfield, the town of Madison and the city of Middleton.

"There's so much on the backside of the ballot, it could be affecting the machines trying to read the ballots," Dane County Clerk Bob Ohlsen told the CT. He said voters should rest assured all ballots will be counted.

-- By WisPolitics Staff

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 11:03 AM 

Ballot problem reported in Brookfield

Twenty voters in two Brookfield wards were given ballots for the wrong legislative races, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The mistake could have an impact on the outcome of a close state Senate race between Dem incumbent Jim Sullivan and Republican Leah Vukmir.

Government Accountability Board spokesman Reid Magney said the agency is looking into the issue.

-- By WisPolitics Staff

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 10:50 AM 

Tips, please

How's it going out there?

Please send us any tips on problems at the polls that you see, as well as interesting anecdotes to staff@wispolitics.com. We're also looking for any indicators of how turnout is going today.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

-- By Staff

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 10:13 AM 

Walker renews vow to stop high-speed rail line

Scott Walker vowed this morning to find a way to stop a planned high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee despite new spending commitments quietly reached over the weekend to spend the $810 million on the line.

Walker said Gov. Jim Doyle's moves to sign contracts in an attempt to lock in the contracts on the project ahead of a new administration "verges on the edge of being corrupt."

He called it an example of a raw political power move and said he believes he can still stop the project as he has pledged repeatedly on the campaign trail. He pointed out there was a legally binding contract when he arrived as county executive to put a three-story sculpture of a blue shirt on a parking garage at Mitchell International Airport, but he successfully beat that back.

"We're going to use every legal means possible, working with the new congressional delegation, work with the majorities in the Assembly and the Senate to protect taxpayer dollars when it comes to the train," Walker said.

Walker hit the Crema Cafe on Madison's far east side this morning, talking to a few customers who were inside. He emerged from the shop with a mangolicious, a smoothie that includes mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, yogurt and apple juice.

"Sometimes one last impression, one last visit can make a difference," Walker said of his stops around the state today.

Walker, who turned 43 today, said he had no special plans for his birthday, though, "I'm holding a really big party this year."

Walker said if he wins, he will not hold both the guv's office and his seat as county executive. But he would not make up his mind about when to resign his county executive's post until after the election. According to state officials, Walker would have to resign by Dec. 28 to allow a special election to replace him to coincide with the normal spring election next year.

-- By JR Ross

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Monday, November 1, 2010

 6:23 PM 

Dems complain about Hulsey improperly touting endorsements

At least three Dems have now raised concerns about Assembly candidate Brett Hulsey improperly touting their endorsements.

Dem Rep. Spencer Black has objected to a quote Hulsey included in a mailer sent to voters in the district on Madison's west side and now says he's rethinking his vote in the race with Green Party candidate Ben Manski. Hulsey has also said he misinterpreted a congratulatory phone call from U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, as an endorsement. Hulsey touted her support during a debate, but Baldwin's office said she was not endorsing in the race.

State Rep. Kelda Roys said today she's unhappy because Hulsey listed her endorsement in one of his mailers even though he's never asked for her backing and she's never offered it. She said she called to congratulate him on his primary win and has had casual conversations with him since then. But that's it.

"It's outrageous that he would do this when he doesn't have to," Roys said. "In politics, anyone can make a mistake. But there is a pattern here that is just undeniable."

Black said today he's undecided how he will vote in the race tomorrow. Black says he gave Hulsey a quote when he originally offered his endorsement, but the campaign suggested using a stronger quote that it had crafted. Black also did not like how the mailer referenced clean energy.

"I also had a big problem with someone trying to put words in my mouth and then using a made up quote when I specifically said he could not," Black said.

Black said Manski has run "a hell of a campaign" and the endorsement flaps have given pause to some district voters.

A Hulsey campaign official said the disagreement with Black over the quote was a misunderstanding and said Hulsey had said several times in public that Baldwin was backing him because of a post-primary conversation that they had.

"It was definitely never Brett's intention to mislead anyone or tell any kind of lie," the official said.

-- By JR Ross

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 3:20 PM 

Election Night parties

The Election Night parties are planned.

GOP Senate candidate Ron Johnson will be at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, where he lives. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold will be in his home base of Middleton at the Marriott Madison West.

GOP guv candidate Scott Walker will be at the Country Springs Hotel Ballroom in Pewaukee, while Dem Tom Barrett will be at Milwaukee's famed Serb Hall.

Leggies on both sides in the Assembly and Senate have individual parties planned around the state, and Senate Republicans have put out a list of their events. Staff will be watching returns at their respective party headquarters.

-- By Staff

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 1:58 PM 

Feingold, Johnson do final spots in plaid

The New York Times dubbed it a "Battle of Plaid Shirts."

In their final TV spots of the campaign, Dem U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and Republican businessman Ron Johnson sport plaid shirts as they talk to the camera and make their final pitch for votes.

In Feingold's final spot, he touts the newspaper endorsements he's received from around the state.

"I understand who I work for. Not a political party. Not the special interests. I work for you," Feingold says. "So I've been an independent voice for Wisconsin and the number one enemy of Washington lobbyists."

In Johnson’s latest TV ad, he says both he and Feingold love Wisconsin and America, but there’s a big difference.

“Senator Feingold thinks Washington can borrow, tax and spend our way to prosperity,” Johnson says. “I believe that is absolutely wrong and hurts our economy.”

-- By Staff

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 11:52 AM 

Final polls

There's been polling galore in the final week leading up to tomorrow's election.

Here's a roundup of the latest polls from the groups that have been surveying in Wisconsin:

McClatchy-Marist had Ron Johnson leading Russ Feingold 52 percent to 45 percent and Scott Walker up on Tom Barrett 51-44. The poll of 491 likely voters was done Oct. 26-28 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Forward Strategies had Walker up 48-44 and Johnson up 50-46. The poll of 700 registered voters likely to turn out this fall was done Oct. 27-28 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

A We The People-Wisconsin poll done by Wood Communications Group had Johnson up 48-44 and Walker up 44-36. The poll of 400 likely voters was done Oct. 24-27 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Public Policy Polling had Johnson and Walker both up 53-44. The poll of 1,372 likely voters was done Oct. 26-28 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

Rasmussen Reports had Johnson up on Feingold 53-46 and Walker up on Barrett 52-42. The survey of 750 likely voters was done Oct. 25 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

A poll the Mellman Group did for the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund had Walker up 47-45. The poll of 600 likely voters was done Oct. 18-20 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

A survey from St. Norbert College/Wisconsin Public Radio had Johnson up 49-47 and Walker up 50-41.

-- By Staff

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 11:50 AM 

Barrett, Walker make final pitches on 'UpFront'

Dem guv candidate Tom Barrett kept up his attacks on GOP rival Scott Walker on Sunday's “UpFront with Mike Gousha.”

The Milwaukee mayor said on the statewide TV news magazine produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com that there is voter discontent, but the election “comes down to who can change the state.”

Barrett criticized Walker, the Milwaukee Co. exec, saying that unlike in the county, the city didn't borrow to cover pension costs, requires its employees to contribute to their pensions and has a balanced budget. He likened the problems in the county to the problems in the state.

“If you're mad about the state, Scott Walker's eight years have done exactly the same thing,” Barrett said. “The borrowing, the taxes, the running in the red—all of those are the same.”

Added Barrett: "My record is getting things done, his record was literally closing down the office of economic development."

In a separate segment, Walker defended his record and proposals.

Walker, who's promised a number of tax cuts even as the state faces a $2.7 billion deficit, said the tax cuts are intended to be phased in over time. He promised that his tax cut for small businesses, however, would take effect right after he comes into office.

Walker said part of the deficit would be solved by his plan to make state employees contribute to their pensions and by cutting 4,000 state positions that are funded but not filled.

He said more of the blame for the city of Milwaukee's high poverty rate goes to Barrett. He said every one of Barrett's prior budgets has raised taxes and the city has placed regulations and fees on businesses that have made it more difficult for employers.

“If the city's taxes and fees are going up while the county's are actually being held down or being reduced, obviously there's a bigger burden on the city of Milwaukee where the mayor is the mayor,” Walker said.

“In the areas where we've had direct control, we've made it better for job creators.”

See more.

-- By David Wise

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 11:21 AM 

A voting primer

Here's a quick voting primer, courtesy of the Government Accountability Board.

You can look up your voter registration and polling place location here.

After the election, you can check the status of a provisional ballot you cast here.

And if you're a military or overseas absentee voter, you can check on your absentee ballot here.

The GAB has also been putting out a series of reminders about tomorrow's election.

They include:

Voters rights and responsibilities.

Rules for election observers.

The top 10 things voters should know.

See more GAB news.

-- By Staff

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