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Friday, June 29, 2012

 4:11 PM 

Discussions over handling of ballot bags continue in 21st SD recount

The ongoing recount in the 21st SD continued to include discussions about the handling of ballot bags, according to those watching the proceedings today.

Four chief inspectors from the affected wards came in Thursday to answer questions about the improperly sealed bags, and several more came in today, said Justin Phillips, campaign manager for incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine.

In one of the cases discussed today, Phillips said the ballot bag was sealed with packaging tape. The inspector, he said, acknowledged not sealing the bag well, but did not recall using any packaging tape to seal the bag.

Phillips said the campaign is attempting to reach out the deputy clerk from the city of Racine to get more answers.

Zac Kramer, executive director of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, said apart from inspectors coming in to testify, the recount today is moving along normally.

He also expressed skepticism over Republican allegations of impropriety, and Dems have charged Republicans are trying to disenfranchise voters.

The Wanggaard campaign also has a standing objection to ballots handed out in which voters, mostly same-day registrants, did not sign the poll books. Phillips said the number of cases in which this happened is unclear at this point, but estimated it to be in the mid-one hundreds.

As of Thursday evening, 18 of Racine's 36 wards remained to be recounted in the district. Wanggaard had gained a net total of 20 votes as he looks to overcome an 834-vote deficit to Dem John Lehman following the canvass of the June 5 election.

According the latest totals from the Government Accountability Board, Wanggaard had gained 24 votes over the initial canvass while Lehman had gained four votes.

The deadline for finishing the recount is Monday.

-- By David Wise


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

 3:36 PM 

Legal issues arise as Senate recall recount continues

The recount in the 21st Senate District race continues today with prospects rising for a legal challenge to the results.

GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard’s campaign has raised concerns about electors failing to sign poll books as required under state law. Dem have countered Wanggaard and Republicans are trying to disenfranchise voters.

The GAB earlier this week rejected Wanggaard’s claim that those who failed to sign the poll books should have their votes thrown out.

The recount has to wrap up by Monday. Through the latest tally on the GAB site, Wanggaard has picked up only 16 net votes on Dem John Lehman, who had an 834-vote lead following the official canvass.

The totals, which include only three of the 36 wards in the city of Racine and all other municipalities in the district, show Wanggaard gaining 21 votes and Lehman gaining 5.

-- By Staff


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

 10:32 AM 

New Hovde TV ad blames corporate tax rate for jobs going overseas

Eric Hovde’s latest TV ad says the nation’s corporate tax rate, highest in the world, makes it “no wonder our jobs are going” overseas.

Hovde opens the spot by stepping in front of a chart showing various nations’ corporate taxes rates and saying “We always want America to be first, but in this case, the top spot is horrible for our country.”

“Corrupt politicians gave us corporate welfare and loopholes too,” Hovde says. “So giant companies pay nothing, and small companies get killed.”

Hovde says the nation spends about $160 billion a year in tax preparation before ending the spot, “It’s time to throw out the tax code and start over.”

-- By JR Ross

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Monday, June 25, 2012

 1:22 PM 

Wanggaard gains another five votes over weekend; Lehman adds one

 State Sen. Van Wanggaard picked up another five votes in the Racine County recount on Friday and Saturday, while Dem rival John Lehman also picked up a vote.

Wanggaard added another four votes to his overall total from a recount of ballots from parts of Caledonia, Elmwood Park, Rochester, Sturtevant, North Bay and Union Grove. Lehman picked up one vote each in Rochester and Sturtevant, but lost a vote in North Bay.

The Racine Board of Canvassers also recounted parts of Mt. Pleasant as well as the village of Waterford and Wind Point. Wanggaard added another vote in Mt. Pleasant, while Lehman's totals were unchanged.

Over the course of the recount, Wanggaard has picked up nine votes while Lehman has added one. The board still has most of Mt. Pleasant and all of the City of Racine to recount.The board has until July 2 to finish the recount.

-- By Jason Smathers


Thursday, June 21, 2012

 5:29 PM 

Vos withdraws from challenge to voter ID law

Rep. Robin Vos said in a statement this afternoon that he is withdrawing from a motion to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the state's voter ID law.

The Burlington Republican said that his involvement was originally cleared by the Government Accountability Board, but that the agency "went in a different direction in its final ruling."

“I continue to support the efforts in this lawsuit and hope we can do everything possible to preserve the integrity of the election process," Vos said.

Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer, I-Manitowoc, also dropped off the motion this week.

The original motion, filed with the Fourth District Court of Appeals, included the two lawmakers and four Kenosha-area residents. Liberal group One Wisconsin Now filed a complaint with the GAB charging that the lawmakers improperly received free legal counsel in the case.


 12:29 PM 

GAB's first-day recount tally shows Wanggaard even, Lehman down 3 votes

The Government Accountability Board's tally of the first day of the SD 21 recount shows the margin essentially unchanged after 9,893 of the almost 72,000 ballots cast in the election were recounted.

In the four municipalities surveyed on Wednesday, incumbent Van Wanggaard ended up with no change in his vote total while Dem challenger John Lehman lost three votes.

* See the GAB spreadsheet from the first day

Wanggaard, R-Racine, entered the recount trailing Racine Dem John Lehman by 834 votes -- 36,351 to 35,517 -- according to the official canvass of the June 5 vote.

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 11:15 AM 

Baldwin releases first TV ad for Senate

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and Rep. Tammy Baldwin has released her first television ad of the campaign, highlighting her effort to keep paper jobs in Wisconsin.

The 30-second television ad, entitled "Paper," begins with Baldwin saying Wisconsin leads the nation in paper industry jobs, before saying China leads "the world in cheating."

"So I brought Democrats and Republicans together to put sanctions on China now and punish them for making millions for breaking trade rules," Baldwin says as footage plays of her delivering testimony.

The ad ends with Baldwin saying that "when the rules are fair, Wisconsin workers will come out ahead."

The ad ends with a narrator intoning: "Tammy Baldwin: Standing up for what's right."


-- By Jason Smathers

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

 5:39 PM 

Marquette Poll: Thompson leads GOP rivals and Baldwin

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson maintains his lead among likely GOP primary voters and leads U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin in a potential general election matchup in the latest Marquette Law School poll.

In the GOP primary, Thompson led the field with 34 percent, followed by former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann with 16 percent, businessman Eric Hovde with 14 percent and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald with 10 percent.

Among all likely voters, Thompson led Baldwin 49 percent to 41 percent. Baldwin and Neumann were tied at 44 percent, while Baldwin lead Fitzgerald 45 to 39 percent and lead Hovde 45 to 36 percent.

The telephone poll was conducted June 13-16. The full sample of 707 registered voters has a margin of error of 3.8 percent, while the sample of 594 likely voters has a margin of error of 4.1 percent and the sample of 344 likely GOP primary voters has a margin of error of 5.4 percent.

In the presidential race, President Obama led presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney by a 49 percent to 43 percent margin among the likely voters surveyed.

Obama led by a wider margin -- 53 percent to 39 percent -- among the registered voters in the survey.

Fifty-three percent of registered voters had a favorable opinion of Obama and 39 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him. For Romney, 35 percent had a favorable opinion, while 43 percent viewed him unfavorably.

See the questionnaire and full results

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 5:07 PM 

Few changes in first day of SD 21 recount

The Racine County Board of Canvassers kicked off the recount in the 21st Senate District recall election this morning.

Justin Phillips, campaign manager for incumbent GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard, said this afternoon that the board is largely taking up wards moving from west to east in the district, and that not much has changed in the count thus far.

Phillips said some challenges to ballots have already been made, and that one absentee ballot was found to be improperly counted in the town of Dover.

A spokesman for the State Senate Democratic Committee said the board of canvassers tallied results from a couple of towns today, but didn't have any further details. A call to the Racine County clerk's office was not returned.

Wanggaard, R-Racine, enters the recount trailing Racine Dem John Lehman by 834 votes according to unofficial returns from the June 5 vote. The recount must be completed by July 2, and Wanggaard must pay $5 per ward -- or $685 total -- because the vote margin does not qualify for a free recount.

Daily results from the recount will be posted at the Government Accountability Board's website beginning tomorrow.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

 11:51 AM 

Romney focuses on job creation in Janesville speech


GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney today pledged to return the nation to "that shining city on a hill," saying he would make job creation his number one priority as president.

Speaking to a crowd of several hundred at the Monterey Mills factory in Janesvile, Romney chided President Obama for being "out of touch" with mainstream Americans, citing Obama's recent comments that the private sector was "doing fine."

Romney also pledged to put America on a path toward a balanced budget.

"The path we are on, spending a trillion more every year than we take in, is leading us to Greece," Romney said. "I want to make sure no one ever wonders about that, that they understand the dollar will be worth something down the road and that we will have a strong and stable foundation fiscally."

Romney also said he and Obama shared the view that Americans need to be given a "fair shot" at opportunity, however, he said, regulations from the Obama administration on health care and business made that impossible to achieve.

"If there's ever been a president who's not been able to provide the American people a fair shot, it's this president," Romney said.

Romney was introduced by Gov. Scott Walker as someone with the experience "on many levels" to be president. Walker praised Romney's role in organizing the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and restoring fiscal order to Massachusetts.

"He took a state where he inherited a whole lot of debt, turned it around and still found a way to cut taxes time and time again to get the economy going in his state," Walker said. "Wouldn't it be nice to have a president who thinks like that?"

Walker and Romney were introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

-- By Jason Smathers


 10:10 AM 

DOJ drops appeal of court-ordered redistricting plan, pays opponents' legal fees

The state Department of Justice has agreed to drop its appeal of a court-ordered redistricting plan for two state Assembly districts and has agreed to pay more than $185,000 in legal bills for the plaintiffs in the case.

  * See today's agreement

The lawsuit was brought by Democrats and others who charged that the maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature violated the federal Voting Rights Act.

In March, a three-judge panel issued an opinion saying the Republican plan violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting the vote of the Latino community. The panel ordered that the two Assembly districts affecting that community be redrawn.

After the Legislature refused to do the job, the court accepted a map drawn by the Democrats and a plaintiff, Voces de la Frontera, an immigration advocacy group. The court rejected two proposals submitted by the Department of Justice.

In April, the state DOJ appealed the panel’s ruling that GOP lawmakers violated the Civil Rights Act and appealed the decision on how to address concerns over the makeup of the 8th and 9th Assembly districts.

As part of today's settlement the DOJ agreed to withdraw that appeal, which had been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.

-- By Marie Rohde
For WisPolitics.com


Friday, June 15, 2012

 3:00 PM 

Wanggaard recount to start on Wednesday

Racine County will start it's recount in the election between Dem John Lehman and GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard on Wednesday.

Michael Haas, staff counsel with the Government Accountability Board, says the county has estimated it would take approximately 10 days to complete the recount. Despite that, Haas said it's "hard to tell" how long it would take because they can't predict how many challenges could come about during the process. Racine county has a maximum of 13 calendar days to complete the recount.

While Wanggaard was required to pay a $685 filing fee for the recount, the actual cost of the recount will be covered by county taxpayer dollars, Haas said.

 -- By Jason Smathers

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 10:27 AM 

SSDC exec director says Wanggaard recount request a waste of money

SSDC executive director Zac Kramer says it is disappointing that Van Wanggaard’s last act as a state senator will be wasting Racine County taxpayers’ money by requesting a recount.

“He knows, every Republican I talk to knows there’s no way he’s going to overcome an 800-vote gap,” Kramer said. “I can only assume this is some sort of political game that Republicans want to play, which is funny it’s the same week Scott Walker claims he wants to move past it and get along.”

Kramer also questioned the timing of yesterday’s announcement by Racine officials that they are looking into allegations suspicious voter registration documents were found in a trash bin outside a polling place last week. The announcement came one day before the deadline Wanggaard faced to request a recount.

Kramer said Dems want the investigation to run its course, but said the timing still seemed odd.

“That just seems too convenient for me,” he said.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:14 AM 

Wanggaard requests recount

GOP state Sen. Van Wanggaard today requested a recount in his 834-vote loss to Dem John Lehman, raising questions about the integrity of last week's results and arguing a second count is needed to help move the state past the "schisms caused by the recalls."

Wanggaard said the request is not a delaying tactic, it is not about denying Dems power in the Senate and there are no "secret plans" for a special legislative session during the recount.

"But I also recognize that in the absence of a voter ID law and so many people suspicious of the election result, bitterness and division will only grow if the results are not recounted," Wanggaard said.

In his petition, Wanggaard alleges numerous challenges by election observers were not properly documented or acknowledged, individuals were allowed to register and vote without proper proof of residence, individuals voted in more than one location and some were given incentives to vote, among other things.

The Racine County Sheriff's Department is investigating claims that suspicious voter registration documents were found last week in a trash bin outside a polling place.

-- By JR Ross

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

 10:58 AM 

Rasmussen Poll: Tommy leads Baldwin by 16 points; others within margin of error

A new poll from Republican pollster Rasmussen shows former Gov. Tommy Thompson with a wide lead on Rep. Tammy Baldwin in the U.S. Senate race.

The poll, which has a 4.5 percent margin of error, has Thompson leading Baldwin by 16 percentage points two months before the August primary, 52 percent to 36 percent. All other GOP candidates are within the margin of error. Former Congressman Mark Neumann leads Baldwin 45 to 43 percent, Eric Hovde leads Baldwin 44 to 42 percent and Baldwin leads Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald 44 to 43 percent.

The poll was conducted on June 12 and surveyed 500 likely Wisconsin voters.

-- By Jason Smathers


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

 11:20 AM 

Lehman lead expands after canvass

Dem John Lehman expanded his lead following the canvass in the 21st SD, according to Dem and GOP sources watching the count.

Lehman came out of last week's election with 779-vote lead over GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard.

Tuesday's canvass in Racine County resulted in an 834-vote lead for Lehman, the sources said. Lehman's total following the canvass was 36,351 votes, while Wanggaard's was 35,517.

Lehman declared victory after the June 5 election, but Wanggaard has not yet conceded and GOP sources have said signs point toward the lawmaker requesting a recount later this week.

UPDATE -- The SSDC has called on Wanggaard to "take the high road and concede." CERS executive director Dan Romportl said Wanggaard's campaign will consider its options over the coming days, but declined further comment.
 -- By JR Ross

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Monday, June 11, 2012

 7:02 PM 

Coburn praises Neumann at Wisconsin campaign events

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn praised Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Neumann for standing up to excessive spending at campaign events in Green Bay and Milwaukee today.

During his address at the Milwaukee fundraiser, Coburn, a medical doctor, largely focused on the need to repeal Obama's health care reform and on market-driven policies to control the cost of health care.

In a press release, Coburn praised Neumann as a “true conservative” and for standing up to spending.

“I’ve seen firsthand the courage Mark Neumann showed in Congress,” Coburn said. “He stood up to the big spenders in both parties to balance the budget. He fought so hard against government spending the leaders of his own party kicked him off a committee. But he kept fighting, and when he left Congress the budget was balanced for the first time in a generation.”

Neumann thanked Coburn for leading other conservative senators in standing up for him at that time.

“They got a group of people together and marched into [then-Speaker Newt Gingrich's] office … and said 'we're not going to do business this way,'” Neumann said. “That was Sen. Coburn leading that group of people that walked into Newt's office.”

Neumann focused much of his speech before the roughly 50 attendees on the need to curb federal spending, repeal Obama's health care reform, and to have a big vision for America.

Neumann said Gov. Scott Walker's recall win shows the state wants conservative leadership.

“What's Scott's win does, is it tells us that the people of the state of Wisconsin want a conservative to lead them in government,” Neumann said, adding that the argument that the GOP needs to nominate someone less conservative to win in the general election has gone “right out the window.”

“We just reelected the most conservative governor that Wisconsin has seen in generations.”

By David Wise


 9:20 AM 

Romney to visit Wisconsin as part of bus tour

Mitt Romney will visit Wisconsin June 18 as part of a five-day bus tour dubbed "Every Town Counts," his campaign announced this morning.

The tour will begin in New Hampshire Friday before hitting small towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan, the campaign said.

He'll stop in Wisconsin and Iowa June 18. The campaign said more details will be announced in the coming days.

It will be Romney's first stop in Wisconsin since campaigning for the GOP nomination ahead of the April primary.

-- By JR Ross


Thursday, June 7, 2012

 1:05 PM 

Recall canvassing to be completed by next Friday at the latest

The final vote canvassing for Tuesday's recall election must be completed by the end of next week at the latest, according to the Government Accountability Board.

GAB spokesman Reid Magney said that canvassing must start by 9 a.m. next Tuesday. Counties must deliver their results to the GAB by the close of business on Friday. He added that canvassing usually only takes one day.


-- By Staff

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

 5:08 PM 

WisPolitics.com Post-recall Stock Report

WISPOLITICS.COM POST-RECALL STOCK REPORT
(June 6, 2012)

Rising

Scott Walker: The guv registers a resounding victory in beating a recall attempt that became a national obsession, cementing his status as a rising GOP star. National conservative pundits fall over themselves to heap praise on Walker for having the courage to challenge the power of public employee unions and then thumping them when they sought retribution in the recall by a 53 percent-to-46 percent margin, slightly bigger than 2010. Dems, meanwhile, are left to wonder what happened after boosting a coalition with the energy to collect more than 900,000 recall signatures. The base didn't grow much after that. Aided by a huge financial advantage, Walker exceeds his 2010 totals in many parts of the state, particularly western Wisconsin, which is normally decent Dem territory, and places like Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties, which are largely seen as key indicators of GOP intensity. Add in Walker’s 60 percent in Brown County, a shock to even some Republicans, and months of campaigning comes to a quick resolution on election night. Walker tries to quickly pivot from campaigner back to guv, promising to work on job creation and to unite the state after a tumultuous 16 months. During his victory speech, he chides supporters who boo Tom Barrett’s name, telling them it’s time to move on and work together. The consensus is it will likely take time to heal. But Walker says he’s already spoken with Dem leggie leaders Peter Barca and Mark Miller and suggests a brat-and-beer summit at the residence in an attempt to move on. Walker’s performance prompts some national pundits to mention him as a possible VP candidate. But Wisconsin insiders largely downplay that talk; people such as Florida's Marco Rubio, for example, could bring much more to the ticket, the say. What’s more, there’s the John Doe still hanging in the background. It may not have torpedoed Walker’s election hopes, but there still remains the possibility that it could seriously damage his political career, if not outright end it, some say. Still, barring John Doe trouble, some already see Walker as a heavy favorite for re-election in 2014, saying his national fundraising base will make him a formidable candidate for any challengers. Lost in the craziness that has been the recall is the state’s lackluster job growth. Walker touted more than 30,000 new jobs over and over in the final weeks of the campaign. But even some Republicans acknowledge that’s not exactly great growth, especially compared to the rest of the country and with a 250,000-new-jobs promise unfulfilled. Still, some expect a flurry of jobs now that the recalls are out of the way, saying businesses have been stockpiling money waiting for more certainty. If those companies feel some stability coming, the floodgates could open. But even if Walker falls short by the end of this term, the guv can point to the recalls as an impediment to those efforts. Also aiding Walker is Dems' disarray. Dems don’t have an immediate candidate who could really step in to lead the party, some say. Some see the possibility of bigger things for Walker beyond 2014, too. Walker’s national fundraising network, his performance in a purple state like Wisconsin and his rock star status in conservative circles could all combine to put him firmly in the 2016 prez conversation if Mitt Romney comes up short this fall, some say.

John Lehman: GOP opponent Van Wanggaard isn’t conceding just yet. But even some Republicans say it looks like the former Dem senator has reclaimed the Racine-area seat he lost to Wanggaard in the 2010 GOP wave. Going into Tuesday, many believed the 21st would be the most competitive of the four Senate races, and they were right. The other three races see comfortable GOP wins, including the 23rd SD, where Dems poured resources into knocking off Chippewa Falls GOP incumbent Terry Moulton only to see him win with a surprising 57 percent of the vote. But Dems made the 21st a focus of their Senate efforts, and Lehman got a significant boost on the independent expenditure side. Lehman is also the one Dem win in this year’s recall elections, though that celebration is somewhat muted because of the disappointing results at the top of the ticket and the likelihood Dems will have a tough time holding onto their new Senate majority this fall. Going into Tuesday, many believed the guv’s performance in Racine County would be key in helping Wanggaard across the finish line, noting polls had shown him trailing the guv’s performance. So it’s baffling to some Republicans that Walker captured nearly 53 percent of the vote in Racine County -- the mark some believed was key to help Wanggaard -- but the GOP incumbent still came up short. To some, it’s simply a matter of Racine County voters liking to kick out their incumbents. Since Republican George Petak’s recall in 1996, only one incumbent has won re-election to the seat. And that trend, insiders say, is likely to continue. The district was redrawn from one that covered much of Racine County to one that covers most of rural Racine and Kenosha counties, making it much more Republican. Lehman may have the seat now, some say, but it would be a minor miracle for him to hold onto it in 2014.

Mixed

Senate Dems: There was one win for Dems on Tuesday. But it may be a temporary one. John Lehman’s win over Van Wanggaard -- which could still be subject to a recount or legal challenge -- gives Dems control of the state Senate 17-16, finally giving them back the majority after two waves of recall elections. Still, there will be little payoff in the near term and a huge fight to keep it. The session ended earlier this spring, and insiders are skeptical the guv will call lawmakers back in extraordinary session barring some big compromise -- which isn’t likely. Plus, Assembly Republicans aren’t going to be in any hurry to join a special session with the new Dem Senate majority, insiders say. Either way, insiders are already looking ahead to November. Dems aren’t ready to concede the 12th SD in northern Wisconsin, but even optimistic Dems acknowledge holding the seat of the retiring Jim Holperin will be tough sledding at best. The seat has been trending Republican for years, and Dems were able to hold it against the tide with the likes of Holperin and Roger Breske before him. Republicans will also be gunning for Dem freshman Jessica King, who won the Oshkosh-Fond du Lac-area seat in last summer’s recalls. The seat has long had a GOP lean, though Barack Obama did well there in 2008 and King narrowly lost it in 2008 in her first contest with Republican Randy Hopper. Beyond those seats, Republicans will likely have the resources to make runs at the likes of Dem Dave Hansen in Green Bay, though those challenges have fallen apart in recent elections. They also may take shots at other Dems in safer seats knowing that they really don’t have to worry much about playing defense with a map that now tilts in their favor.

Barack Obama: The impact of Tuesday’s race on November’s election will be overanalyzed ad nauseum the next few days as national pundits pontificate on the president’s hopes here. Wisconsin insiders, though, caution a Walker win in June doesn’t automatically translate into a Mitt Romney victory come November. Even the guv says as much while arguing Romney needs to lay out a vision that shows voters he’s willing to make the tough choices if he wants to win them over in a similar manner. There are also any number of factors that will be different five months from now compared to yesterday. For one, it’s unlikely the president will be outspent by the other side anywhere near as badly as Tom Barrett and the Dems were. Romney is also no Scott Walker. The guv fires up the GOP base like few others, while Romney still has his struggles at times with conservatives and may end up relying as much on a dislike of Obama as a passion for the Republican. Still, Tuesday’s results weren't a good sign for the president’s team, insiders say. While the president's campaign helped with turnout efforts, Obama himself kept his distance from Wisconsin -- some say to avoid being blamed for a Barrett loss. But that infuriates some state Dems who say he should have come here anyway because he’s being blamed as it is, and some mock the half-hearted tweet Obama offered up the day before the election. The results also have Republicans energized, and yesterday’s turnout serves as a notice on how good the GOP ground game has become. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said last month Tuesday would be a dry run for the Dem operation, and Republicans gleefully point out who came out on top. Still, Dems point to exit polling and other recent surveys that still showed Obama up on Romney as an indicator that voters saw Tuesday's special recall election as separate from the November contest. Once the national spin dies down, some say, the true nature of the race will settle in some time later this summer. Wisconsin still leans Dem in presidential races. Republicans haven't won at the top of the ticket here since 1984. But critics say at the very least, Obama and Co. will likely have to spend more resources here than they had planned to hold on to a state Obama won by 14 points four years ago.

Falling

Dem Party: Dems said last year they had a choice when it came to the movement to recall Gov. Scott Walker -- get on board the train or get run over. They got on board, but got run over anyway. After the gathering of 900,000 signatures against Walker and tens of thousands more against GOP state senators, the raising of tens of millions of dollars and the organizing of a series of protests, Dems can only celebrate a narrow 17-16 majority in the Senate -- and that might be temporary. Election-watchers say Walker's increased margin compared to 2010 and will now likely embolden him and Republicans in Wisconsin and around the country. Millions that could have gone to help the fall effort is gone and Dems' turnout machine couldn't hit the levels needed to garner a win. The Dem faithful are left licking their wounds with some wondering whether a dispirited base could help pave the way for Romney to win Wisconsin and Republicans to take an open U.S. Senate seat. This weekend’s Dem state convention in Appleton will be less a chance for celebration and more an exercise in soul searching and mourning, some say. One of the biggest questions facing Dems is who will lead the party going forward. State Chair Mike Tate will get his share of grief for the party's troubles. But even more important is who will be the face of the party at the ballot box in 2014 and beyond. Possible candidates include Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, state Sens. Kathleen Vinehout and Jon Erpenbach and U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, though insiders pick at them over for various perceived shortcomings. Some hope a private sector candidate like tech leader Kevin Conroy can emerge. The president and CEO of Exact Sciences can sink personal resources into a campaign, which some believe would make him attractive. But Walker also has a national fundraising network that would likely dwarf anything Conroy could plug in from his own pocket. As the party tries to reorganize, the most optimistic Dems believe the party can rebound if their side wins the national debate over the fate of the middle class But GOP critics look across the aisle and see a party in disarray.

Tom Barrett: The Milwaukee mayor goes 0-for-3 in his attempts to win the guv’s office, and this one really hurts. Dems will rehash Barrett’s campaign as they search for answers with some of the early blame for his loss pinned on Walker's reported 7-to-1 financial advantage. Some will question Barrett’s decision to stay out of the race until March 30. But others point out he was able to ride a quick wave to an overwhelming Dem primary victory over the labor-backed Kathleen Falk. Hard to argue with that result, some say. But that wave quickly dissipated when it hit the big bucks Republicans had waiting for Barrett. They pounded him for his handling of the city’s problems, reminding voters over and over Milwaukee’s ills. Some also note there’s a natural anti-Milwaukee bias out state anyway. A newspaper investigation that uncovered misreported crime stats gave Walker’s campaign a timely opportunity for a gut punch of an ad that Walker backers say helped stem any momentum Barrett was building over the John Doe. Dems spent much of the last few weeks pushing back against the notion that Walker had a lead of 5 points or more in publicly released polls, only to see Walker improve his 2010 performance and win by 7 points. Republican critics knocked Barrett for breaking out of his nice guy persona to be more aggressive with Walker. But he faced a challenge in exciting the Dem base, and some say he had little choice. Returning home, there will be questions on how Barrett goes forward managing the city after the loss or if he’ll look for a job in the Obama administration should the president win re-election this fall. Either way, after three straight losses statewide -- the first now a decade ago -- Barrett’s door to the guv’s office now appears closed, insiders say.

Public employee unions: Tuesday’s results may not be the death knell of public employee unions. But it sure shows the limits they can have on an election these days, some say. Insiders began second guessing the union approach to this election even before voters headed to the polls Tuesday. The labor groups tried to dissuade Tom Barrett from getting into the race, hitched their wagon to Kathleen Falk early on and put millions into the Wisconsin For Falk third party group. They also embraced Falk’s pledge to veto any budget that didn't include the restoration of collective bargaining rights. But it all backfired. Critics say the unions' moves didn't keep out Barrett and then wasted millions in a primary that also pushed the general election into June, when Dem-leaning college students had left campus for the summer. Barrett swamped Falk in the primary, and then union money was late flowing going into the general election, the critics add. Some union forces explained it was hard to convince national unions to pony up to the cause despite polls that suggested Walker could be beaten. Union supporters insist it was a fight worth having and that they have laid the foundation for a movement to push back against “extremist policies.” But many believe they’re tapped out with little hope of being the financial heavyweights they’re long been in Wisconsin campaigns because Walker’s collective bargaining changes choke off the money supply. Some union officials acknowledge they’ll have to retool, but promise they’ll be more in touch with their members and more of a grassroots organization as a result. To some, that also means Dems can no longer rely on union forces for the muscle to match the resources of groups like WMC. Union backers, though, say in a changing world that now operates under Citizens United, there’s no way for unions to raise enough in member dues to counter the huge checks wealthy backers can cut to the groups of their choosing. For now, insiders are left to wonder what kind of force Wisconsin public sector labor unions will be in November and beyond.

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 3:59 PM 

Walker tells Cabinet he's already spoken with Dem leaders

Gov. Scott Walker told his Cabinet this afternoon that he spoke with Dem legislative leaders today after vowing to help bring the state together Tuesday following his recall election win.

"I think there's a good sense that people are ready to move on from this," Walker said at the outset of the Cabinet meeting in the Capitol.

Walker said he's had good working relationships with both Assembly Dem Leader Peter Barca and Senate Dem Leader Mark Miller in the past, and called the next few months "a tremendous opportunity."

"Today is a day when we don't have opponents," Walker said.

The meeting began with a lengthy standing ovation from Cabinet officials as the governor, First Lady Tonnette Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch exchanged handshakes and hugs around the Governor's Conference Room.

Walker told Cabinet appointees that state agencies would take up the bulk of the work to help create jobs in the state with the Legislature likely not returning until next year, reiterating his goal of creating 250,000 new jobs in his first term.

-- By Andy Szal

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 11:56 AM 

Wanggaard says he'll weigh options after canvass, citing irregularities, outstanding absentee ballots

GOP state Sen. Van Wanggaard said this morning he will weigh his options after the canvass is complete in his narrow loss to Dem John Lehman, citing reports of voting irregularities, outstanding absentee ballots and problems in the unofficial tally.

“People across the state and country have asked that I immediately ask for a recount. However, we all know that the best decisions are made when well-rested and after consideration of all options,” Wanggaard said in a brief statement. “We will closely monitor the canvass of votes with legal representation. We will evaluate our options regarding recounts following the official count of ballots.”

Wanggaard's campaign said the statement was the only comment it would have at this time.

-- By JR Ross

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 11:39 AM 

Walker's campaign event offers differing opinions on guv's cooperation pledge

When Gov. Scott Walker made his victory speech Tuesday night, he mentioned his desire to move forward and put the rancorous election behind him.

"I'm committed to it whether you voted for me or not," said Walker, suggesting meetings with Dems over beers and brats.

Some Walker supporters at his victory party agreed that Walker should try to heal the rift. But many others -- along with some GOP politicians who were present -- defiantly rejected the idea of reaching out to the other side.

Kevin Hladilek, a small business owner from Kenosha, said he admires that "Walker is doing what he said he was going to do" but said the guv needs to learn to offer some compromise in the future.

"More talk about what he's trying to propose and try to come to a compromise, because, I mean, our government's not supposed to operate by just jamming any kind of legislation down our throats," said Hladilek. "Just talk a little bit more and be a little more compromising."

Edna Walls of Waukesha agreed it would do Walker well to reach out.

"I think he should put out his right hand and try to include (Democrats) in everything," she said. "Possibly include them in all the meetings and things that they have and get their input."

But Bridget Heinze of Big Bend defended Walker as a "gentleman" and doubts that his opponents will listen.

Some GOP lawmakers agreed.

State Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, complained it should be a two-way street.

"I think the other side needs to reach out to Governor Walker as well," said Darling, who survived a recall election last summer. "I think the governor tried to reach out to a lot of Democrats and he can try harder, but they also need to try harder. Their goal was to make him look bad."

Added Darling: "We're not going to give in to our principles. We're not going to raise taxes, we're not going to increase spending. We're going to live within our means and grow the economy."

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, a U.S. Senate candidate, said people are "fed up with the divisiveness" and suggested Walker travel the state to talk to people. "The power of the governor is immense," Thompson said. "The governor can pretty much command front-page attention. ... I think definitely he's going to reach out."

Another U.S. Senate candidate, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, was defiant.

"I think we always have reached out," said the Horicon Republican. "We just never heard anything from the other side. You know, they ran an entire campaign that wasn't even based on the reason the recall happened, collective bargaining, because they see the reforms are working. So yeah, we can definitely reach out, but unless they're willing to work with us, that will never happen."

Retiring state Rep. Michelle Litjens, R-Oshkosh, said it's up to Wisconsin residents to heal their own rifts. "I have friends I haven't talked to since this started," she said. "I don't know if Governor Walker can heal the rift but I think Wisconsin can heal the rift.''

U.S. Senate candidate Mark Neumann and Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas said they're sure Walker will give it a try.

"I think he will reach out to his opponents," said Vrakas, in an interview before Walker gave his victory speech. After the speech, the former lawmaker said, "You've got your answer. I think it was great that he invited the legislators for brats."

Neumann said, "I think you saw him extend the olive leaf,'' adding that creating jobs would do the most good to calm voter angst.

U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde said Walker never personally attacked teachers or others. "This is not about individuals, it's about a battle with the unions and collective bargaining," said Hovde.

Of Walker's relationship with opponents, Hovde said, "I think he has to talk a lot, reach across the aisle. ask them to join him on the bigger mission, and it's all going to take time."

But state Dem chair Mike Tate said if Walker wants to bring the state together he needs to reach out to those who signed the recall or voted against him with actions, not just words.

-- By Kay Nolan

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 11:22 AM 

Milwaukee Police, state DOJ looking into threats against Walker via social media

The Milwaukee Police Department said this morning it is working with the state Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation to evaluate threats made against Gov. Scott Walker via social media.

"All threats are handled seriously and can represent a criminal act. People cannot assume anonymity via social media while issuing a threat to another's safety or life," the police department said in posts at its Facebook page and blog.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:56 AM 

Wanggaard would likely have to fund 21st SD recount

Sen. Van Wanggaard's campaign would have to pay for any recount in the 21st Senate District if unofficial results hold.

Currently, Dem John Lehman has a 779-vote lead over the Racine Republican with 100 percent of precincts reporting, which comes to just under 1.1 percent of the more than 71,000 votes cast in the district Tuesday.

Races must be within a margin of 0.5 percent for a free recount, according to the Government Accountability Board. Outside that margin, the challenging campaign must pay $5 per ward; a GAB spokesman said the agency is still in the process of counting the wards in the 21st District.

-- By Andy Szal

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 10:47 AM 

Walker predicts boost in job growth in wake of recall

Gov. Scott Walker predicted today that with the uncertainty of the recall finished, the state will see accelerated job growth, and said he aims to work with his cabinet and members of both parties to facilitate that.

"I'm convinced that ... today is the first day of the takeoff of job growth and prosperity in Wisconsin," told employees at a Steelwind Industries, a heavy metal fabrication shop in Oak Creek.

He said in survey after survey, employers were worried about the election, and with certainty his reforms will stay in place employers will add "unbelievable amounts of new jobs" in the weeks and months ahead.

Walker said a focus on jobs will help unite the state.

"That's what more than anything will bring people together," Walker said. "Because jobs are not Republican jobs, they're not Democrat jobs, they're just Wisconsin jobs."

In a cabinet meeting planned for later today, Walker said he will work to find ways agencies can help boost jobs outside of the legislative process.

He will follow up, he said, with an event in which all state legislators are invited to talk over brats, burgers and beer about ways that they can work together.

Talking with reporters after the event, Walker said the election sends a message that voters will stand behind leaders who are committed to making tough decisions.

But Walker said the process also taught him that it's important to include more people at the table.

'While the final product is good, fixing things is good, so is making sure that you talk about it and do more to include people in the process," Walker said.

After Walker finished his speech, he shook hands with employees and took a tour of the plant.

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 10:39 AM 

Obama Campaign says it's stronger following recall effort

The Wisconsin state director of Organizing for America -- a joint effort by the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee -- wrote this morning that the president's re-election efforts have been strengthened in Wisconsin regardless of the results of Tuesday's recall election.

"We are coming out of this effort with a stronger Democratic organization and more engaged supporters and volunteers," Tripp Wellde wrote in the OFA memo. "Just like the Senate recalls did last summer, this election has galvanized our field operation."

Wellde said although the election results "were not what we had hoped for," state Dems waged "an impressive battle" despite a large campaign spending disadvantage. He also noted exit polls showing Obama with a lead over presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

"(I)n an ironic twist, while Scott Walker spent thirty million dollars touting economic progress in the state over the past two years, in November, it is President Obama who will be the beneficiary," Wellde wrote.

RNC Chairman -- and former head of the Wisconsin GOP -- Reince Priebus countered that Walker's win shows "celebrating store front openings doesn't bring people to the polls."

"President Obama will get a rude awakening when he returns to Wisconsin to try and rally his base," Priebus said in a statement. "After abandoning one of his earliest supporters in Tom Barrett, this president cannot credibly ask Wisconsin Democrats to enthusiastically get behind his candidacy."

-- By Andy Szal

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 1:52 AM 

Lehman confident his victory will withstand recount

As Tuesday night turned to Wednesday morning, former Sen. John Lehman declared victory in the 21st Senate District, giving Dems control of the Legislature’s upper house.

“I really believe that a divided Legislature often moves towards reasonableness,” Lehman told reporters.

He said his margin of victory was less than 1,000 votes, but added that he had not seen an exact count.

“Remember how months ago we were talking about how this might be a tight one? It was a tight one,” Lehman said.

Lehman said that his campaign feels the numbers are strong enough to prevail even if there is a recount. He said he had not spoken to his opponent, Van Wanggaard, and acknowledged there had been no concession.

“I can see why he might do that, if it is that close, we might have to have a recount,” Lehman said.

Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, told WisPolitics that more results had come in since Wanggaard spoke to supporters and said it was reasonable decision at the time.

Lehman said his first action tomorrow would be to pick up yard signs, joking that they were all over town. Asked how it felt to reclaim his Senate seat, Lehman was understandably upbeat.

“Feels good. Done campaigning.”

-- By Arthur Thomas

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 1:20 AM 

Senate Dems declare victory in Lehman-Wanggaard race

A statement sent out by the State Senate Democratic Committee, attributing comments to "Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller," says Democrats have taken back the 21st District seat and with it, control of the Senate.

“Tonight, Wisconsinites across the 21st Senate District elected a new State Senator," Miller said in a statement. "By electing a Democratic Senate, the people of Wisconsin have opened the door to responsible dialogue and if needed provide a bulwark against continued political extremism, and restored checks and balances to the Wisconsin Legislature.  I look forward to working again with Senator-elect Lehman in the State Senate in the coming months.” 

-- By Jason Smathers

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 1:00 AM 

Fitz: Looks tough for Wanggaard, but any setback temporary

Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald says the latest returns make "it look tough for Van (Wanggaard) to pull this out." Still, he said any setback for Republicans would be temporary and "we're already in November mode."

Dem John Lehman has moved in front of Wanggaard with a handful of precincts left to report in the Racine County seat.

If Wanggaard loses, it would give Dems a 17-16 majority in the Senate for the remainder of the legislative session. But Fitzgerald, who survived his own recall election today, predicted Republicans would be back in the majority after the November elections.

The GOP will be favored to win the 12th SD, where Dem Jim Holperin is retiring, and Dem Jessica King, who won a recall election last summer, will be a top target for Republicans. Dems, meanwhile, are largely expected to be on defense this fall in the Senate.

Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Republicans benefited today from a slice of the electorate that has grown weary of the constant turmoil in Madison and the recall elections themselves.

"We did a lot of mail, and in a lot of our mail, we used the scenes at the Capitol because we knew there was a group of people that just didn't agree with a lot of what was going on down there," Fitzgerald said.

He said it was unclear whether Republicans would be able to hold onto those voters moving forward, noting the gap between Gov. Scott Walker winning re-election easily and Barack Obama leading in exit polls saying, "It's a weird dynamic that's existing now for sure."

Fitzgerald also said it was unlikely Dems would be able to do anything with the majority for the remainder of the year and predicted there would be no extraordinary or special sessions unless the Dems found enough votes to back a mining bill, which he doubted would happen.

-- By JR Ross

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 12:47 AM 

Wanggaard campaign expects margin will continue to narrow


Sen. Van Wanggaard just finished speaking to supporters, telling them that the numbers are incredibly close and he wanted to make sure he got a chance to thank everyone before they went home.

"We had a really good night tonight," he said, recounting the GOP victories throughout the state.

After thanking his family and campaign staff, Wanggaard reiterated that he would wait for the official numbers and contemplate his options in the morning.

Wanggaard did not speak to media after his address, but campaign manager Justin Phillips told WisPolitics the race is extremely close.

"The TV results may not reflect whats actually going on, but we know it's a very close race," Phillips said.

He said that the campaign expected a tight race going in and the 21st Senate District held true to predictions.

"Every pundit, every individual said it was going to come down to the 21st Senate District and we've lived up to that reputation," Phillips said. "So we're just gonna wait and see what the actual, final results bring us and hopefully it works out in our favor. I believe it will, I'm confident."

Phillips hinted at the possibility the numbers could tighten enough to warrant a recount.

He said he was not concerned about slow election returns, saying Racine County is notoriously slow and the campaign prepared for that by getting observers to all locations.

"That's why we knew what we knew, when we knew it," he said.

-- By Arthur Thomas

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 12:30 AM 

Result tightens in remaining Senate race

As Election Day turned into Wednesday morning, returns were still coming in for the Senate race in the Racine-area 21st District.

With three-quarters of the vote in, however, former Sen. John Lehman has narrowed the margin to 6 percent against incumbent Van Wanggaard. Wanggaard still holds a 53-47 lead.

-- By Staff

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 12:29 AM 

Turnout looking like roughly 56.5 percent

It looks like Wisconsin will top its best turnout for a guv's race in the past 50 years, but still fall short of the GAB's projected turnout of 60 percent to 65 percent.

With just 77 of the 3,424 precincts still out -- a little more than 2 percent of the vote -- 2,405,732 votes have been counted. Assuming the remaining precincts each have roughly the same nubmer of voters as those that have already been counted, the final number will likely be just short of 2.5 million votes in the guv's race.

That would be roughly 56.5 percent of Wisconsin's voting age population. The GAB had predicted between 2.6 million and 2.8 million people would vote today. Still, that turnout still tops the 52.4 percent that showed up in the 1962 guv race.

In 2008, 2,978,896 people voted in the presidential campaign, which was down from the 2,994,021 who cast ballots in the 2004 presidential race.

-- By JR Ross

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

 11:49 PM 

Moulton hopes "time will heal" division; says he'll try to get know colleagues across aisle

While GOP Sen. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls, has not yet gotten a concession call from Dem challenger Kristen Dexter, he is "overwhelmed and overjoyed" by the margin of victory. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Moulton had a 56 to 44 percent lead over Dexter.

"I’m humbled that the voters are going to allow me to stay in office and complete my term," Moulton said.

Moulton said that he thinks the margin of victory is not only attributable to support for GOP policies, but for dissatisfaction with the recall process, which he says has gotten out of control. However, he wasn't sure if the Senate would move to take up a bill by Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, that would curtail the provision.

"I think the process does need to be changed," Moulton said. "But how that will look or what will change in the next session, I’m not sure."

Moulton said the one thing he'll do when he returns to the Senate is try to spend more time getting to know Democrats across the aisle "socially." He said that much of the divide caused between GOP and Dem senators has been because there is no personal connection between them.

"One thing that has always disgusted me is when people talk on the floor and personally attack somebody and try to rip somebody’s head off," Moulton said. "It's easier to talk together than do these personal attacks."

While both Gov. Scott Walker and GOP Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald had hinted at possibly coming back to the floor before November to discuss mining and venture capital legislation, Moulton said he doesn't believe that will happen. He also noted, however, that he's not in a leadership position and so there may be other plans.

-- By Jason Smathers

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 11:43 PM 

Crowd thins out at Wanggaard party

The crowd has thinned out somewhat here at Sen. Van Wanggaard's election night party. The supporters that remain are talking amongst themselves, with some keeping an eye on the TVs for results.

There haven't been any updates from the campaign recently, but the last word was to prepare for a long night.

With 47 percent of precincts reporting Wanggaard was leading Lehman 55 percent to 45 percent.

-- By Arthur Thomas

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 11:41 PM 

Tate says spending disadvantage contributed to recall defeat

State Dem Party Chairman Mike Tate said despite tonight's loss, the party has no regrets over the recall effort.

“The issues of this election are worth fighting for whether it be workers rights to women’s rights,” Tate said. “I will happily fight, everyday, for those things. And everyone who was out there, on the line, fighting for those things should not feel like they lost the election. It is to be continued.”

He chalked up part of the loss to a sharp funding disadvantage.

“They have millionaires and billionaires that can write checks and take out TV ads,” Tate said. “This should not have even been a contest considering how much they spent.

“I think we did great with the amount of money we spent,” he continued “I think if Scott Walker has spent the same amount as Tom Barrett … there would be different election results tonight.”

Tate said he joins Barrett in calling for unity, and that if Walker wants to bring the state together he needs to reach out to those who signed the recall or voted against him with actions, not just words.

Although Dems did not receive the same level of financial support from the national party level as did Walker, Tate said he was happy with the support the state party saw, noting that Bill Clinton came to campaign and Obama's Organizing for America helped fight the ground game.

While the party is moving past the election, Tate said questions remain over the John Doe investigation into Walker's office when he was Milwaukee County exec.

“I think Scott Walker has a lot of questions to answer about corruption in his office,” Tate said.

-- By David Wise

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 11:13 PM 

With 268 precincts still out, turnout already past 2010 mark

With 268 precincts still out, there are already more votes in tonight than were cast in the 2010 guv's race, according to unofficial returns.

Two years ago, 2,158,915 votes were cast for Scott Walker, Tom Barrett, Libertarian Terry Virgil and two independents.

So far, 2,208,056 votes have been cast for Walker, Barrett and independent Hari Trivedi.

Barrett is right at his number from 2010 with 1,004,957 votes, compared to 1,004,3030 two years ago. Walker is at 1,190,420 compared to 1,128,941 in 2010.

Turnout was 49.7 percent in 2010, and the GAB projected between 2.6 million and 2.8 million people vote in this year's race, which would be between 60 percent to 65 percent of eligible voters.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:55 PM 

Seidel concedes

In a statement following her loss in the 29th SD, Rep. Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, said she was proud of her grassroots campaign and "while we did not get the result we wanted, I hope those who have been elected this evening will live up to their claims to bring Wisconsin together."

"The voters have made their decision and it is time to move our state forward," Seidel said. "I congratulate Jerry Petrowski and I hope he remembers that he represents all of his constituents, not just those who voted for him.”

-- By Staff

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 10:51 PM 

Walker: Need to move forward; invites Dem, GOP legislators over for brats and beer


An ebullient Gov. Scott Walker told a cheering crowd Tuesday evening that, "It's time to move on and move Wisconsin forward," and said he would meet tomorrow with his cabinet in the state Capitol to work on jobs.

"Tonight we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions," he said to thundering applause at a packed exposition building on the Waukesha County fairgrounds.

Walker told supporters he would focus on putting the state back to work and closing the divide in Wisconsin.

"Tomorrow, I’ll meet with my cabinet in the state's Capitol and we’ll renew our commitment to help small businesses grow jobs in the state," Walker said. "We’ll renew our commitment to help improve the quality of life for all our citizens, both for people who voted for me and those who voted for someone else."

Walker told the crowd that Mayor Tom Barrett had called to congratulate him. But the Walker supporters drowned out the governor with boos at the sound of Barrett's name, causing Walker to pause and tell them, "No, no, no. The election is over. I talked to the mayor and we had a good talk and I said I'm committed to working with you to help the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin -- tomorrow. The election is over."

Walker said, "Bringing our state together will take some time, but I'm going to start out right away."

He said he plans to invite both Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature to share brats, burgers and "maybe a bit of good Wisconsin beer as well."

Walker talked about his own "courage" more than once and descibed how, during a trip to Independence Hall in Philadelphia early this year, he realized that the founders of the country were "ordinary people" who stood for the good of the nation. He discussed his own actions as governor in similar terms.

"Throughout our history, there have been men and women of courage who stood up and decided it was more important to stand up for their children and their grandchildren than their own political future," Walker said. "And what has sustained them here in Wisconsin and across our country is there were good and decent people who stood with them shoulder to shoulder and arm to arm and that’s what you have done for Wisconsin and for America."

Throughout Walker's speech, people cheered and waved signs, as they had done all evening, especially when televised news, shown on a giant movie screen, showed voting totals or mentioned Walker or GOP candidates.

Prior to Walker's victory speech, the crowd angrily booed Barrett while watching his televised concession speech on the movie screen.

When Barrett said, "I just got off the phone and congratulated (Walker)," the Walker supporters booed loudly. When Barrett thanked his wife, the crowd made catcalls and one man yelled, "What about her emails?"

The crowd booed loudest when they heard Barrett say, "Now we must look to the future" and began chanting, "Nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey, goodbye." Many held up their arms and waved goodbye at the image of Barrett on the screen.

Walker supporters also jeered Dem lieutenant governor Mahlon Mitchell as they watched him on screen. Shouts of "You lost!" "F--- off!" and "Want a war?" were heard above the boos.

Afterward, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch shook her head when asked about the boos.

"I think right now is a time to be humble and grateful. Right now is a time to be grateful that the voters stood with those who stood with them. So I think that's why the governor kind of toned down the booing," said Kleefisch. "He wants to move beyond that. I want to move beyond that. I think our legislators want to move beyond that. Here's our opportunity to reunite as a state, to remember what it's like to be neighbors again."

Walker was introduced by his wife, Tonette, who said, "My husband is the only governor elected twice in one term."

"It's time to celebrate," said Tonette Walker, who thanked volunteers for making "four million contacts" since January. "Thank you for the doors you've knocked on, the calls you've made," she said. Thank you for talking to your friends and your family. Thank you for all of the emails you've been reading. Yes, all of the emails will finally stop."

-- By Kay Nolan

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 10:43 PM 

Johnson asks for donations to NRSC on heels of Walker win

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson sent an appeal for donations to the National Republican Senate Committee following the recall election results this evening.

The Oshkosh Republican wrote that "Obama and his labor union buddies" lost big in the election, and called on donors to "turn the tables" on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"Let's win the Senate and recall Harry Reid instead," Johnson writes. "The Democrats are already reeling from their defeat."

-- By Andy Szal

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 10:42 PM 

Barrett calls for unity

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett urged unity following tonight's electoral defeat to Gov. Scott Walker.

"We are a state that is deeply divided," Barrett said, and urged his supporters and those who backed Walker to to continue "lively discourse" and to listen to the other side. "At the end of the day we need to do what is right for Wisconsin families."

Barrett thanked his supporters and asked them to stay active in Wisconsin politics.

"For those of you who went out in the cold to collect signatures, never ever stop doing what you think is right," Barrett said. "For those of you who care about this city please stay involved."

"This has been the most amazing experience of our lives," Barrett said. "We have seen this democracy come alive."

-- By David Wise and Miranda Rosenkranz

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 10:41 PM 

Obama campaign says Romney faces 'steep pathway' to recover in Wisconsin

Barack Obama's state director said Tuesday's outcome was "not what we had hoped for," but pointed to exit polling that showed the president leading GOP challenger Mitt Romney among those who voted.

Tripp Wellde said a "strong message was sent to Governor Walker" as thousands took a stand against the "flood of secret and corporate money" that resulted in a huge spending gap between Walker and Tom Barrett.

"The power of Wisconsin’s progressive, grassroots tradition was clearly on display throughout the run up to this election and we will continue to work together to ensure a brighter future for Wisconsin’s middle class," Wellde said.

He pointed to exit polling that showed Obama beating Romney 52-43 and suggested the president had an advantage over Romney on who would help the middle class the most.

"These data points clearly demonstrate a very steep pathway for Mitt Romney to recover in the state," he said.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:40 PM 

Mitchell: We cannot let up; we cannot stop

Mahlon Mitchell, who lost his recall bid against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, urged the state to come together, but also told supporters to keep up the fight.

Mitchell harkened back to the Capitol protests last year, saying what happened there has not grown into a movement, but “a way of life.”

“This is a fight we have to keep up,” Mitchell said to loud cheers. “We cannot stop.”

He said he and Barrett will continue to fight for Wisconsin.

“This is not the last you will hear of Mahlon Mitchell; this is not the last you will hear of Tom Barrett,” Mitchell said.

“We're fighting for the entire state,” he said. “We cannot let up. We cannot stop.”

While Mitchell called on supporters to continue to fight, he also sounded a tone of unity.

“Our state continues to be divided,” Mitchell said. “The only way that will change is if we find a way to work together.”

-- By David Wise

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 10:38 PM 

Wanggaard supporters ready for long night; Lehman still optimistic

When Van Wanggaard's supporters were told of Sen. Terry Moulton's win, they were also told to settle in for a long night.

Former Sen. John Lehman told WisPolitics by phone that he isn't fazed "one way or the other" by results favoring Republicans in the rest of the state.

"The 21st Senate District is a lot different than the rest of the state," Lehman said, adding that he is focused on the results of his contest.

Lehman said he wasn't sure why results were coming in slower in the 21st, but noted that some polling places had run out of ballots and others still had long lines after 7 o'clock.

Overall, he said the supporters at his party are just waiting on the returns to come, adding that the numbers he has seen show a tight race.

-- By Arthur Thomas

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 10:35 PM 

Some early signs from key counties

Going into Tuesday's race, one GOP operative said if Scott Walker could hit 54 percent of the vote in Brown County, it would be a good sign for him.

It turns out Brown County was a great sign for the guv.

With just three of the 85 precincts still out, Walker was beating Barrett with 60 percent of vote in the northeastern Wisconsin county, a margin of just less than 20,000 votes.

By comparison, Walker won with 56 percent of the vote two years ago, a margin of about 12,000 votes.

A quick look through other key counties suggests Walker easily hit his marks that insiders expected to be key to holding off the recall effort. The GOP intensity was there for Walker in places likes Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties, where he was above 70 percent in each of them with wards still out.

Meanwhile, the bounce back in western Wisconsin that Dems needed did not materialize. In fact, Walker largely outperformed his 2010 numbers in the 11 counties that run along the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers.

Two years ago, Barrett won Crawford and Trempealeau counties along that stretch of 11 counties. He may not win any of them this year. With only the vote in La Crosse County still out, Walker won the other 10 counties that have been decided, and many in remarkable fashion and he was leading in La Crosse County.

Take Trempealeau County. Barrett won it by 30 votes in 2010. Walker took it by 1,624 votes today, according to unofficial returns. Barrett's vote total there was down slightly, but the big difference was the 1,364 more voters Walker pulled there compared to 2010.

UPDATE: 11:36 p.m. -- It looks like Barrett will win fewer counties tonight than he did in 2010.

Insiders were watching to see if Barrett would be able to take back Kenosha and La Crosse counties after Walker won them two years ago. The mayor was able to eke out a 705-vote win in Kenosha County, according to unofficial returns. With eight of the 48 precincts still out, Barrett was leading in La Crosse County 51 percent to 49 percent.

But Barrett lost Crawford, Eau Claire, Green and Trempealeau counties from his 2010 list. Eau Claire was one insiders were watching after Barrett won by 436 votes, and the belief was he needed to boost that margin significantly. Instead, Walker won narrowly took it by 160 votes.

Barrett also picked up Columbia County, which he lost in 2010, giving him wins in 12 counties, compared to 13 two years ago.

What's more, Barrett gave up even more ground to Walker in Marathon and St. Croix counties as the guv significantly overperformed there compared to 2010.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:15 PM 

Hovde 'thrilled' with Walker win

U.S. Senate hopeful Eric Hovde says Walker's win tonight is a "massive victory."

"I am thrilled!" he shouted above the din, raising his arms in victory. "Because he had the courage that so few people have to do the right thing."

While waiting for Walker to speak, his supporters are still cheering at every mention of a GOP win on the screen.

-- By Kay Nolan

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 10:13 PM 

Barrett concedes

Barrett said he has just gotten off the phone with Walker and has congratulated him on his win.

The crowd replied with disappointment.

"It's up to all of us ... to listen to each other," Barrett said in his speech. "I will continue to fight for this city."

-- By David Wise

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 10:10 PM 

Three Senate seats called for Republicans

Three GOP-held state Senate seats of the four up for recall today will stay in Republican hands, according to AP projections.

Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, Sen. Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls and Rep. Jerry Petrowski of Marathon have been projected as the winners in the 13th, 23rd and 29th districts, respectively.

Fitzgerald led Dem Lori Compas 60-39 with 68 percent of precincts reporting, Moulton led his race with former Rep. Kristen Dexter 60-40 with 67 percent reporting, and Petrowski led fellow Rep. Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, 64-36 with 68 percent in.

The last Senate race, between incumbent Van Wangaard and former Sen. John Lehman in the Racine-area 21st SD, still has just 10 percent of precincts in. So far, Wanggaard leads 63-37.

-- By Staff

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 10:04 PM 

Kleefisch: 'This is what democracy looks like'

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch addressed the crowd at the Walker gathering, saying,"This is what democracy looks like."

Standing at the podium with her husband, state Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, and their two daughters, she said, "I want to thank the people who voted today for the first time."

She added, "I want to thank the hard-working families of Wisconsin who never lost faith in this great state."

-- By Kay Nolan

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 10:02 PM 

Walker to meet with cabinet tomorrow, hopes to start bringing state together


Gov. Scott Walker issued a brief statement tonight, saying he plans to meet with his cabinet tomorrow to discuss job creation measures and other efforts he will take to "bring Wisconsin together, encourage economic growth and continue to address education reform."

“Bringing our state together will take some time, but I hope to start right away,” Walker said. “It is time to put our differences aside and figure out ways that we can move Wisconsin forward.”

-- By JR Ross

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 10:00 PM 

GAB: Don't interview voters still in line

The Government Accountability Board is warning media not to interview voters still waiting in line to cast ballots in the Milwaukee area.

"It is illegal and totally inappropriate for media or observers to be talking to voters who are still waiting in line to vote because it disrupts the orderly conduct of the election," said GAB Director Kevin Kennedy. "Media interviews may be conducted outside the polling place as long as they do not interfere with the voters' ability to get into and out of the polling place."

-- By Andy Szal

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 9:34 PM 

Crowd outside Capitol shrug off initial projections of Walker win

Angie Hougas works on the Capitol Square and had been at every Saturday protest since the movement began over a year ago, and she was there again Tuesday night.

“There has been a sense of general excitement at the building all day. People are very festive,” Hougas said not long after the polls closed.

Walker’s opponents hit drums to the beat of “this is what democracy looks like” and vuvuzela horns and voices shouted in return. Cheers and shouts of “thank you” were raised when a fire truck, a long-time ally of protestors, circled the square.

By 9 p.m., news that the race had been called for Governor Walker did not appear to affect the crowd’s enthusiasm.

Barry Rokusek said the atmosphere was full of “positive and nervous energy.” He described himself as “cautiously optimistic” about the race but wanted to remain realistic about Barrett’s chances despite the projections.

In the case of a Barrett loss, he looked ahead to the possibility of Walker being implicated in the John Doe investigation.

There was a feeling from members of the crowd that they were part of a larger struggle and would continue the fight into the future.

“If Scott Walker did anything well, he energized the electorate. Lots of people have come together," said Rokusek. “This movement won’t die.”

But by 10 p.m, the results appeared to start settling in with those gathered near the top of State Street. Some Walker supporters also made sure to drive home what had happened. A couple in a silver car drove around the Capitol square, honking the horn and cheering Walker. When the car came to a stop about a block from the gathered protesters, there was some verbal jousting before the car was re-routed down Wisconsin Avenue with police blocking off the part of the square on either side of the gathered protesters.

Two men in red T-shirts carring Walker signs waded through the heart of the crowd as some protesters stared in disbelief.

 -- By Jay Olle

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 9:33 PM 

Wanggaard says conservatives energized by chance to go to polls

A few miles south of John Lehman's election night party, supporters of Sen. Van Wanggaard are gathering at Buona Vita Pizzeria.

There are quite a few more supporters on hand, compared to Lehman's party about 30 minutes ago, and they are cheering loudly as early results come in.

Loud cheers went up as the TVs flashed that NBC had called the guv race for Scott Walker, although some supporters seem to be waiting for more results to come in before getting too excited.

Wanggaard is already on hand and chants of "go Van go" echoed through the restaurant as he did interviews with local TV stations.

The senator told WisPolitics he attributes the energy in the room to conservatives that hadn't had an on opportunity to voice their opinions until today. He said they had a small chance in the primary, but nothing like the general election.

"Now these people are finally getting to have a choice," Wanggaard said.

-- By Arthur Thomas

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 9:33 PM 

National Republicans hail Walker win

National GOP groups and the Romney campaign are already offering congratulations to Walker after projections showed him winning the recall election.

“Wisconsin has given their stamp of approval to Gov. Walker’s successful reforms that balanced the budget, put people back to work, and put government back on the side of the people," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

"Governor Walker is proof that voters recognize that the status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable," added Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, in a statement. "He has shown there is a better way; a way that leads to prosperity and job creation. Tonight, the voters of Wisconsin have approved of that positive path forward.”

And presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said in a statement that Walker "has demonstrated over the past year what sound fiscal policies can do to turn an economy around, and I believe that in November voters across the country will demonstrate that they want the same in Washington, D.C."

-- By Staff

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 9:32 PM 

Tate: Not over yet

State Dem Party Chair Mike Tate told an animated crowd the race is not over and that he thinks there will still be "big news" tonight.

"People are still waiting in line," Tate said to cheers. "We are not going to let the media corporations call this election."


 -- By David Wise

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 9:30 PM 

Senate GOP holding off challengers by double digits

So far, the GOP Senators are maintaining double-digit leads on their Democratic challengers.

With 56 percent of the precincts reporting, Scott Fitzgerald has 23,345 votes to challenger Lori Compas' 15,525. That's 59 to 41 percent, respectively.

With 10 percent of precincts reporting, Van Wanggaard has 5,786 votes to Lehman's 3,448, or 63 to 37 percent, respectively.

With 34 percent of precincts reporting, GOP Rep. Jerry Petrowski is holding on to a 30 percent lead over Dem Rep. Donna Seidel, with Petrowski netting 13,775 votes to Seidel's 7,312 votes.

With 38 percent of precincts reporting, Sen. Terry Moulton is up 20 percent on challenger Kristen Dexter, with Moulton netting 13,143 votes to Dexter's 8,674.

 -- By Jason Smathers

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 9:23 PM 

Moulton leads Dexter by double digits with 1/3 of vote

While Sen. Terry Moulton's lead on Dem challenger Kristen Dexter has shrunk from early results, he's still besting the Democratic candidate by 20 percent, with 35 percent of precincts reporting.

Moulton has 11,976 votes to Dexter's 7,856, or 60 percent to 40 percent respectively.

 -- By Jason Smathers

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 9:18 PM 

Erpenbach fires up glum attendees at Barrett party

Sen. Jon Erpenbach fired up a crowd at Barrett's election night party glum over NBC calling the election for Walker.

Erpenbach said people are still voting in Milwaukee and Racine.

"Before anybody tries to call it an early evening we should count all the votes, including Milwaukee," Erpenbach said. "It's going to be a long night."

After the news, the crowd erupted into cheers of "Barrett, Barrett, Barrett."

-- By David Wise

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 9:13 PM 

Disbelief at Barrett party over NBC calling for Walker


Folks at Barrett's election night party are reacting with disbelief over NBC calling the election for Walker.

Crowds of people are standing around the two TVs in the room and checking election results on smartphones.

Angela Lang, a UW-Milwaukee senior, is holding out hope.

“It's not over until it's over,” she said. “There are still a lot of votes coming in from Dane and Milwaukee counties. I am still trying to hold faith.”

Victor Lopez from Milwaukee said he feels disappointed.

“I feel disappointed,” he said. “I think my feelings will increase to anger.”

Krislyn World from Oak Creek thinks calling the election is premature.

“I thought there would be more time to count the votes,” she said.

-- By Miranda Rosenkranz

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 9:01 PM 

National news outlets project Walker win

Multiple national media outlets are projecting Scott Walker will win the recall election.

With 26 percent of the vote in, Walker was leading Tom Barett 60 percent to 40 percent, according to unofficial returns.

9:07 p.m.: The Associated Press has called the race for Walker.

 -- By Staff

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 8:56 PM 

Lehman supporters head to Racine Labor Center

As polls are across Wisconsin, a few supporters of former Sen John Lehman, D-Racine, began filing in to the Racine Labor Center to watch returns come in.

Volunteers are putting the final touches on the room as TV crews get set and everyone anticipates the outcome of what is expected to be one of the tightest of the four Senate recalls.

Lehman campaign manager Brad Wojciechowski touted the Lehman grassroots effort, saying hundreds of volunteers went door to door and contacted voters over the phone.

"Citizens are excited for new leadership, and John Lehman will lead his district to create jobs and restore our education system to help provide 21st century economy," Wojciechowski told WisPolitics.com.

-- By Arthur W. Thomas

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 8:52 PM 

Walker supporters cheer early results


At 8:35 p.m., a huge cheer went up as TV news showed Walker ahead 61 percent to 39 percent, with13 percent reporting.

Right now, votes are in the 100,000 range. In 2010, there were more than 1 million votes cast for each candidate, so the night is still young.

Attendees are chanting "Wal-ker, Wal-ker" and waving Walker signs wildly, as if the victory were already announced.

-- By Kay Nolan

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 8:48 PM 

First results show Moulton leading Dexter in 23rd SD

The first results coming in from the 23rd Senate district show incumbent GOP Sen. Terry Moulton with a large lead on Democratic challenger Kristen Dexter.

With only 16 percent of precincts reporting, Moulton has 6,794 votes to Dexter's 4,061. That's 63 percent to 37 percent, respectively.

 -- By Staff

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 8:37 PM 

Crowded scene outside Walker's election night gathering


By 7:30 p.m., a line of cars stretched bumper to bumper a half-mile in each direction along Northview Road toward the entrance of the Waukesha County fairgrounds.

The parking lot was already filled with hundreds of cars and two large buses that said "Tea Party Express."

Dozens of police officers surrounded the grounds, directing traffic and parking attendants began to park cars on the grass after the immense parking lots surrounding the fair's main exposition building filled up.

Inside, hundreds of people are milling around, watching a giant movie-screen with TV coverage of the race. They are booing loudly whenever news footage shows protesters at the Capitol or any mention of Barrett. They cheer when Walker is shown.

Music is blasting Neil Diamond's "Cherry, Cherry."

People are dressed in everything from Hawaiian shirts and flipflops to business suits to fancy dresses.

Waukesha County Exec. Dan Vrakas walked in and promised WisPolitics.com that Kathy Nickolaus would not be running the vote count tonight. Asked if she was at the courthouse, he said, "I don't know, but I promise you she will not be in charge."

-- By Kay Nolan

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 8:37 PM 

Fitzgerald out to early lead

Sen. Scott Fitzgerald has the early lead in his Republican-leaning district with 42 percent of precincts reporting.

The Juneau Republican had 61 percent of the vote to 38 percent for Lori Compas, the Fort Atkinson Dem who organized the recall effort in the 13th SD.

Libertarian Terry Virgil of Cambridge had 1 percent of the vote.

-- By Andy Szal

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 8:21 PM 

Barrett party underway

The doors have opened to Barrett’s election night party. A crowd of approximately 200 supporters are gathered in the 5th floor Crystal Ballroom of the Hilton Milwaukee City Center. Outside the venue the band Mud River Lee and the Bluegrass Orchestra  is entertaining attendees as they wait for election results.

Both inside and outside the ballroom are two bars offering complimentary beer and soda along with a cash bar.

Highlighting the national importance of the event, there are nearly 50 reporters are here covering the event.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson gave an impromptu press conference saying today’s turnout showed a “spirited” vote. However, he declined to make a prediction of who would win. “I can only hope,” he said.

-- By David Wise and Miranda Rosenkranz 

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 8:19 PM 

Multiple outlets say exit polls show race too close to call

With the polls closing at 8 p.m., multiple media outlets are reporting that exit polls show a 50-50 split in the race between Gov. Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

NBC's Chuck Todd on Twitter:
We are officially saying WI is "too close to call"; Precinct exit data indicates total coin flip

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert:
Tuesday’s exit polls depict a much closer recall race – 50% to 50% -- between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democrat Tom Barrett than pre-election polls did.

That doesn't mean that's where the margin will end up.

But right now the Walker-Barrett race is so close in the exit polling there appears little chance it will be called by media outlets until deep into the vote-counting.

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 8:03 PM 

Western Wisconsin a focus for Dems in today's turnout battle

NOTE: A version of this story appeared in the June 1 WisPolitics REPORT for paying subscribers. Click here to learn more and take a free trial of the WisPolitics email service
Western Wisconsin was a problem for Dems two years ago.

Starting in northwestern Wisconsin's Burnett County and heading south along the St. Croix and the Mississippi rivers, Tom Barrett won only two of the 11 counties along that stretch.

Four years earlier, Jim Doyle won them all.

Add in the adjoining counties of Barron, Dunn, Jackson, Monroe and Richland, and that swath of western Wisconsin accounted for 14 of the 34 counties that Doyle won in 2006 before Scott Walker took them in 2010. Barrett won only 13 of 72 counties around the state, including Eau Claire, Trempealeau and Crawford in western Wisconsin.

Dems have made western Wisconsin a focus in trying to snap back from the washout there in 2010.

A test of that will be places like Eau Claire and La Crosse counties. Barack Obama rolled to big wins in both counties in 2008 and Doyle won them comfortably in 2006, but Walker took La Crosse County by just under 100 votes in 2010 and lost Eau Claire County by just 436 votes.

Other key counties to watch in western Wisconsin include Chippewa and St. Croix, two of the 34 that Walker won in 2010 after Doyle took them four years earlier.

Beyond western Wisconsin, consider these traditional marks that insiders will watch to see how things are going tonight:

-- Hitting 60 percent in Milwaukee County has long been a key benchmark for Dems to win statewide.

Barrett eclipsed that with 61.6 percent of the vote in 2010, but lost in part because of his drop-off in so many other areas and the GOP intensity.

-- Will Waukesha and Dane counties essentially cancel each other out? Or will one exceed its 2010 number?

Walker won Waukesha County by 81,924 votes in 2010, 31,083 better than Green's winning margin in 2006. That equaled 71.5 percent of the vote, and insiders will be watching to see if he can eclipse the 70 percent mark again.

Barrett won Dane County with 68 percent of the vote in 2010 and a margin of 81,461 votes. It was one of the few Dem counties that saw its 2010 turnout increase compared to 2006, and operatives will be watching to see if Dems can push that turnout closer to the 282,428 who turned out in 2008.

-- The GOP intensity in Ozaukee and Washington counties and the margins in the Fox Valley.

Walker took Washington County by almost 30,000 votes, compared to a margin of 18,043 for Green four years earlier. Add in Ozaukee and the 16,646-vote margin Walker had in that Milwaukee collar county.

Barrett will likely lose Brown, Outagamie and Fond du Lac counties. But the margin will be closely watched there.

-- Can Barrett recover in Eau Claire, La Crosse and Kenosha counties?

Doyle won all three counties by between 6,507 and 7,428 votes. In additional to winning La Crosse narrowly and losing Eau Claire by fewer than 500 votes, Walker won Kenosha County by 1,824 votes. If Barrett hopes to reverse the 2010 results, it would help immensely for all three to revert to their prior tendencies, Dems say.

-- By JR Ross

Click here for results directly from some of these key counties:

TOP COUNTIES TO WATCH
Click the county name for its unofficial results page

- Dane County
- Milwaukee County
- Ozaukee County
- Washington County
- Waukesha County

OTHER COUNTY RESULTS
Click the county name for its unofficial results page

- Brown County
- Chippewa County
- Eau Claire County
- La Crosse County
- Kenosha County
- Marathon County
- Outagamie County
- Racine County
- Winnebago County

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 6:31 PM 

Early exit polling finds today's voters favor Obama over Romney

Early exit polling shows Barack Obama with an edge on Mitt Romney among voters surveyed today.

The results are preliminary and could change as the final interviews are added before the polls close at 8 p.m.

But in the early release, Obama led Romney 51 percent to 45 percent. Two percent said they won't vote.

The exit polling also found 50 percent of those surveyed approved of the collective bargaining changes for public employees, while 48 percent disapproved.

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed believe government should have a more limited role when it comes to solving problems, compared to 42 percent who said government should do more. That's similar to the results from November 2010.

Sixty percent of those surveyed today said recall elections are only appropriate in cases of misconduct, while 28 percent said they are suitable for any reason and 9 percent think they are never appropriate.

-- By Staff

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 5:02 PM 

Vrakas insists Nickolaus not in charge of Waukesha County vote tonight

Waukesha County Exec Dan Vrakas today again declared that Clerk Kathy Nickolaus will not be in charge of tonight’s election returns and those responsibilities will instead fall to her deputy.

Vrakas called on Nickolaus earlier this year to hand over election duties or face a public call for her resignation after previous problems reporting county election numbers. That arrangement was in place for the May primary, but some questioned whether Nickolaus was still involved in the tabulations because she was spotted in the clerk’s office that night.

“I can’t ban her from the building,” Vrakas said. “She’s able to be here just like anyone else. But clearly my hope is what we’ve done will and has already helped restore people’s confidence in our Election Night reporting of the unofficial results.”

Vrakas said Nickolaus’ appearance in the clerk’s office the night of May 8 prompted some confusion about today’s procedures.

Nickolaus did not immediately respond to an email from WisPolitics.com, and her deputy, Kelly Yaeger, did not return a call seeking comment.

-- By JR Ross

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