Topic of the Week: April 5 election results

So let’s talk about the results of the April 5 elections. Obviously the Supreme Court race is still making news, thanks to the discovery by the Republican Waukesha County Clerk of over 7,000 votes in favor of Justice David Prosser in Waukesha County, tipping the election in Prosser’s favor.

However, there were other elections across the state, so let’s talk about those results too.


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42 thoughts on “Topic of the Week: April 5 election results

  1. I think David Prosser didn’t get so close because he was conservative. He won because he was pro-gun rights. A lot of my family in Milwaukee and Up North? Hate Walker – however? guns. A lot of people think the DNR is draconian (And I think it is) so they voted for Prosser despite their hatred of Walker due to how he presented himself. this is why I think why many places took over in terms of democrats or liberals, yet it was neck and neck otherwise.

    However, this is going into account that both sides are honest. I’m not accusing anything but every vote in the state should be scrutinized — and there will be a recount.

    1. That may well have been a factor. I think the NRA sent stuff out supporting/defending Prosser before anyone else did.

      But can we at least admit that actual judicial experience was a factor as well? There was a ton of polarization and the majority of voters chose their candidate based on “their side.” But I just can’t believe that experience wasn’t a factor for many independents.

      I simply don’t understand why it’s so unreasonable to ask that a candidate seeking the highest levels of judicial office/appointment spend some time being a judge in lower level courts? Koppenburg and Kagen may well be brilliant for all I know – but is it really that awful to ask that someone seeking the to serve at the Supreme Court serve as a lower court justice first?

      1. I had a friend vote for Prosser because he called Shirley Abrahamson a bitch. He had nothing against her. Only that. It was amazing. Seriously, I kind of burst out laughing at it.

        I can see how that can fly, but Prosser never really had any experience either before becoming a judge. However, that isn’t common knowledge and I can see how people had that perception.

        1. I can see how that can fly, but Prosser never really had any experience either before becoming a judge. However, that isn’t common knowledge and I can see how people had that perception.

          Sure – and 12 years ago that certainly would have been a very good point. Even 10 years ago – though that’s a tougher argument to be made since he ran unopposed (which is absolutely shameful). I have no dispute at all with the argument that he lacked judicial experience 12 years ago when he was appointed.

          Of course the last 12 years have happened. And the options this year are someone who’s served 12 years on the State Supreme Court vs someone who was never a judge at any level.

          If you’re unhappy with Prosser being re-elected, don’t blame him or the Republicans. Blame the Democrats for not coming up with a better, more experienced candidate than Kloppenburg.

          1. If experience in the job were the main consideration then we might as well ‘go federal’ and appoint them for life…

            1. If experience in the job were the main consideration then we might as well ‘go federal’ and appoint them for life…

              Not sure if you’re serious or not, but considering how ugly our State Supreme Court races have become – how much money is involved, how much mud slinging & garbage that’s gone on, I think very serious consideration of that is in order.

              On general principle, I’m loath to suggest taking something away from voters. But I also don’t have much confidence in possibility of meaningful, productive reform by other means. The public financing for this election sure didn’t do anything positive.

              1. I agree with Locke here in entirety. Judges should not be elected and have to play this game of courting base voters and funders.

                The only way electing “impartial” judges can work is if public funding is also combined with an absolute prohibition of outside spending, which in our 2nd gilded age would be “unconstitutional” since corporations (and unions) are people and money is speech (note: not my opinion).

                Barring that, we can only play the game we’re given, and I’ll continue to advocate for progressive ideologues to combat conservative ideologues, and not feel guilty about it because the movement conservatives sure don’t.

                1. I used to be on that speech ≠ money side of things. I think it was a matter of not liking the outcome, and justifying my rational to fit.

                  I still don’t like the outcome – all of the money spend, aside from being an obscene waste of resources, is tough to distinguish from bribery in some cases. And I don’t believe corporations are people or deserve rights that should be reserved for people. But I simply cannot get past the first amendment issue. If we have a right to express our political views, then surely supporting a candidate we like – financially or otherwise – would follow. And if we have a right to peacefully assemble, then surely joining an organization with other individuals and pooling our resources to support candidates and policies we believe in is directly in line with freedom of speech & free assembly.

                  Free speech like most of the other really important rights, means accepting some distastefully things as well. It may stink, but it’s better than the alternative.

                  1. I am going to be a birther today…when a corporation shows me it’s birth certificate, I’ll give it the right to vote and contribute to candidates…and the responsibility to pay its taxes!

                    1. Not to mention – a corporation can’t go to jail and they don’t die. Well not exactly – but since they don’t exist in the physical sense and are without those limitations, they are different enough that they shouldn’t be treated a persons.

                  2. @Locke: I’d like to think I’m being honest in saying it doesn’t have to do with preferred outcomes for me, but rather the principle that in a just society, more money shouldn’t equal more of a voice. To quote Stevens from his dissent in Citizens United, “The marketplace of ideas is not actually a place where items—or laws—are meant to be bought and sold.”

                    1. I didn’t mean to imply that you couldn’t have a principled position against it, only that I think that was probably the case for me.

                      I’ll certainly agree that buying influence – or worse, votes – is a bad thing. And people shouldn’t be silenced simply because they are without means to donate. But again – I just don’t see a good way to remedy that while still preserving the right of those who can contribute to do so. And like I said, as awful as some of the 527s and PACs are, the same rights that enable them, enable really good things too. How the heck do you draw the line in any consistent, non-values based way?

                    2. Oh yeah – didn’t mean to imply that you were implying that! Just acknowledging it’s sometimes hard to for a person (in this case me) to distinguish between principle and a convenient argument.

                      I think the answer to drawing lines is simple: reasonable limits on dollar amounts that somewhat level the playing field and/or extreme disclosure rules. A person or corporation (ah, but I repeat myself), shouldn’t be able to have it both ways: claiming the right to essentially unlimited campaign spending under the guise of 1st amendment protections, while also being able to have their identity concealed. Are they speaking or not?

                      Consider this hypothetical: we’re pseudo-anonymous here, but 1st amendment rights don’t apply to our postings here. But assume they did. Can 1st amendment protections of free speech apply to a person who is shielded by complete anonymity? I think no, because right off the bat how can you even know that person is a citizen of the U.S. who has those rights?

                  3. Free speech does not equal unlimited television time.

                    Corporations or PAC’s are free to exercise their first amendment rights, i.e. issuing a press release, op-eds, public forums, etc.

                    Equalizing television time for candidates in no way impinges on first amendment rights, it simply equalizes access to a particular medium.

                    Also, the Canadians have a law that prohibits broadcasting false information across the airwaves. Fox News can’t get on the air in Canada. Neither can right wing radio. This is not an impingment of free speech either, it simply means you can’t go on the airwaves in Canada and lie to win an election, smear an opponent, or con the people into believing something that isn’t true. You have to tell the truth in Canada if you want to get on the air. If you insist on lying you can do so: in conversation with friends, your blog, someone elses blog, etc, You just can’t do it on the air.

                    Only an hysteric who dreams feverishly of some imminent totalitarian state could object to at least a resonable discussion of common sense reforms such as these.

              2. I certainly would support a more equitable way of selecting WI Supreme Court justices as opposed to the current process.

                1. Ed and Zach (and anyone else who wants to answer this)…

                  Is this something you’ve always thought, or at least for quite some time, or is it a relatively recent change?

                  For me, it’s a fairly recent change. As I said, on general principle, I don’t like to take such a position. This Supreme Court election was sort of a “one last chance” type of thing for me. After the last few have been really ugly, I’d hoped that this time around candidates, the parties and all the outside groups could prove it could be done with some modicum of decency. But here we sit, having sat through another scorched early election, facing who knows how many lawsuits.

                  Screw it, let’s try something else.

                  1. I have a feeling that if WI supreme court was a selection process, even Prosser would not have been right wing extreme enough for Walker and I shudder to think what kind of candidate he would appoint.

                  2. After never having considered WI supreme court races and just accepting that’s how we do it…I changed my mind after the last two races prior to this one. They were just too ugly. I had a bit more hope for this one since most of the candidates…and the two finalists…were accepting public financing so I knew their ability to promote their campaigns would be limited. Well except for third party money.

                    I am not sure we want to go to a pure federal model…but I wouldn’t mind seeing the governor nominate a justice and the legislature approve the nomination and keep the terms at 10 years or adjust them to something else to prevent a single governor from having too much influence. Only one term could expire at a time. But there is no easy method that stays aware from partisan politics.

                    I was hoping AAG Kloppenburg would get elected…and not because I think she’s a liberal…nor wholly because I don’t like Prosser…but because she comes across as something of a throw back to an earlier era that believes in weighing the facts and applying the law…and to me she came across as sincere when she talked about that.

  2. T. does have good points. The adds run throughout the state preyed on the fear of gov. JoAnne K. threw an sweet old man in jail! She only cares about docks?!? Right wing radio, newspapers etc… also had a field day feeding lies to the ignorant.

    It was a historic election where an unknown challenges a well known sitting judge and almost wins.

    As for the Waukesha Clerk, if she can’t be prosecuted for some crime this issue should take immediate priority over voter ID.

  3. I am a 75 uear old vet and still cannot understand WHY they DO NOT require a voter to show an ID. I asked “how do you know that I am Ken Benedict?” My response was “you look like a Ken Benedict.”. Shows the inteligence of the people that work the booths.

      1. the simple answer to that Ken Benedict is that it is unconstitutional to MAKE Ken Benedict show an ID to vote.

        Care to produce a citation from the Constitution that actually supports that absolute statement?

        1. If I recall correctly (and I could very well be wrong), courts have ruled it’s only unconstitutional to force someone to provide an ID to vote if you also force said person to pay for the ID, making it tantamount to a poll tax.

        2. Yes and no. You have to make the ID’s free of charge to obtain otherwise it becomes a poll tax, which were made unconstitutional by the 24th amendment at the federal level in abolishing Jim Crow laws, and which the Supreme Court interpreted to also include state elections vis a vis the 14th amendment in Harper v. Virginia Board of Ed. in 1966. At least that’s my understanding, but I’m no constitutional lawyer either.

          Considering that Americans are more likely (literally) to get struck by a bolt of lightning than to commit voter fraud, it’s clear that voter ID laws are nothing more than disingenuous fancy modern lawyering to suppress the votes of the elderly, the disabled, the poor, and the college kids by putting up additional hurdles, and they’re ushered in by these voter fraud scare tactics that too many people fall for (either out of convenience to preferable political outcomes, or by shear misinformation).

          Considering our already abysmal turnout rates we should be making it easier to vote, not harder. Since the days of LaFollette, WI has had one of the most progressive and open voting systems, leading to us continually being at or near the head of the class in voter turnout. Something to be very proud of. But that should all be thrown out because of, what, a handful of convictions for voter fraud out of hundreds of millions of votes cast? Nah.

  4. Following up on T’s point, you think Prosser would even be in this race if the ballots said “D” and “R” on them? I don’t think so. Sure, lots of us that have followed things closely kind of made that comparison, but there’s a lot of disengaged people who just vote out of civic duty that may know that Scott Walker and the GOP suck and that Dems are the ones that can stop them, but don’t make that association with non-partisan races or the judicial branch.

    For further evidence, there are definitely places that had “Prosser/ more liberal local candidate” votes, such as Milwaukee and Outagamie Counties. This actually makes WisGOP prospects look even worse in the next few months than they already are.

    And we don’t even want to go into some of the things that might be found out during this recount, especially with that hack in Walkersha County. We’re gonna get a nice reminder of how incapable Republicans are of governing.

    1. I’m still convinced Judge Pedro Colon’s endorsement of Prosser had an impact on the vote totals for Kloppenburg in Milwaukee County.

      1. And I’m convinced that the pathetic Journal-Sentinel endorsement of Prosser also threw a few votes his way. But then again, Charles Sykes, Jeff Wagner and the WTMJ sqwaukers and J-S editorial staff get their checks from the same place, don’t they?

        1. Agreed. I’m not sure what goes into the endorsement thought process over there at the JS, but their endorsements haven’t really made much sense.

    1. Honestly if someone wanted to theoretically steal the election on any side? It would not be one county alone. This is why a complete recount is important. Not just one county. Another County that was being weird was Oconto County when I was watching, similar with what happened to Waukesha County. Aka, giving the number of people voting first before revealing how many reported precincts.

      1. Not saying there shouldn’t be a recount, but it’s really shocking to me how little people have learned or remember from the 2000 Presidential election. The TV results are unofficial. Yes, it’s all we have to go by at that time – and yes, they tend to be more or less accurate given that the vast majority of races are decided by more than a tiny fraction of votes. But they’re still unofficial numbers reported to them subject to human error at a dozen different steps.

        Election results are determined by the counts in the official county by county canvassing that goes on after election night. The final number are always different than the ones the news agencies report. It looks like at least a dozen counties have changes – so far. It certainly was atypical for as big of a screw up to slip by. That said, the vast majority of times, when these things happen it’s never even noticed because the margin is significant enough to make the changes irrelevant.

        1. The final number are always different than the ones the news agencies report

          Just for the lulz, I calculated what share of the entire state’s vote total discrepancy in the supreme court race can be attributed to Kathy Nickolaus: 83.4%.

          Waukesha County had a 12.4% error rate. Milwaukee County, .3%. Dane County, .03%.

  5. Probably only of passing interest to most of you, the Outagamie County Executive race was won by former Assembly Majority Leader (and Lt. Gov candidate) Tom Nelson. He narrowly defeated former State Treasurer, Jack Voight 52-48 or so.

    It was one of those rare cases where I think we had two quality candidates. Voight did a fine job as Treasurer and was pretty apolitical. He was one of the decent, quality individuals who lost out because of the revolt against his party. In recent years, that’s been true of a handful of both Republicans and Democrats as the pendulum has swung back & forth. He would have been a very good County Executive.

    Nelson on the other hand – despite my general philosophical disagreements – has my respect as a damn hard worker and has always made major efforts to see & hear form his constituents.

    1. Yeah, Nelson is a hard worker, and despite the loss in November 2010 he’s got a bright future in the Democratic Party.

      1. I will say though, that he’s one of those guys who would be better off spending a few years in the private sector. He’s spent basically his entire adult life as an elected official. No family & his work seems to be his life – he is his job. Though people that driven can certainly be successful, I’d prefer my elected officials to have some semblance of a work-life balance and the perspective that tends to give a person.

        The sting of a electoral loss, and time spent in the private sector is something I’d prefer to have every office holder go through.

        1. “He’s spent basically his entire adult life as an elected official.” That hasn’t been an impediment to Gov. Walker.

  6. I’ll sum up a previous comment with two quick points.

    Let’s give all candidates equal time on the airwaves and prohibit false or misleading ads.

    I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of Americans would quickly agree with these ideas. Only those concerned that the election results would impede their private or ideological agenda would holler and scream about the First Amendment.

    1. I would actually be fine with anyone spending any amount they want on elections and stupid ads, as long as they signed their name to it. Giving karl rove a few hundred million to put out the stupid ads does not give you free speech, it makes you a coward. I hate that many companies/millionaires give millions to the WMC’s of the world then claim neutrality. If you feel so strongly and your right put your name on it.

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