Predictions For Wisconsin Spring Election: Dry Ephraim, Sanders, Bradley, Berninger

It has been many a year since the April election in Wisconsin has had so many consequential races.  From the presidential primaries that will determine who has added momentum and more delegates as the campaigns move east, to the future course of the state’s high court, or how the Dane County coliseum project unfolds, and last but not least how one community might retain its long and proud history all will come to a head at the ballot box.

Oh, and let us not forget that 54 school districts will have referendums seeking funding during these stressful times in our state.

Attempting to determine who or what has the advantage this year in the Badger State is challenging due to such vocal races and competitive candidates.  With a heated Milwaukee County Executive race (Larson handily defeats Abele), or where followers of Bernie Sanders are determined to be heard, while Donald Trump supporters are making every effort not to be outdone it comes as no surprise that voter turn out will be high.  A 40% turnout is expected–some 1.75 million of the state’s 4.4 million voters-are expected to cast a ballot.   If that occurs it will be the highest turnout for a presidential primary since 1980.  In this chaotic, ginned-up-angry electorate what that turn-out means for the end results are hard to predict.

I predict Ted Cruz wins the GOP primary–but not with the 10% spread over Trump that last week’s Marquette Law School Poll reported.  Though Trump had the worst week of his race smack dab in the middle of the Wisconsin primary, and many in the party find him unacceptable, I feel a tightening of the top contenders will put Cruz ahead when the ballots are counted at only 5%.    Playing to the polite mid-western values still seems like the best way forward from a personal perspective but John Kasich will not do what  many of us privately hoped for–that is pull a win out by being likable and competent.  Rather he will languish in third place on Election Night.

Bernie Sanders will win Wisconsin–but not in any blow out fashion.  The spread will be no more than 5% over Hillary Clinton.

The hardest nail to bite for me with these predictions is going with my gut when calling Rebecca Bradley the likely candidate to win the Supreme Court race.  The facts would seem to show JoAnne Kloppenburg the winner.  Governor Walker has appointed Bradley to various jobs, his approval numbers are in the basement while Bradley is best known for writing hate-filled rants against gays, AIDS victims, and women.    Yet my gut tells me when the totals for Sanders and Clinton are added together Tuesday night they will not match with the total for Kloppenburg.  Too many enthusiastic voters for their favorite presidential candidate will not understand the gravity of selecting a justice for the court.

There are several county board races in Dane County but District One most intrigues me.    While there is no doubt incumbent Mary Kolar will prevail, and rightly so, I am curious as to how many will actually cast a ballot for her opponent, Rob Franklin.  I find him one of the least qualified local candidates this cycle and would truly be amazed if he received more than a smattering of votes.  I admire all who step up and add their voice as candidates but being earnest is not the same as being qualified.

After having lived for 4 years in Door County while working in broadcasting I can say with first-hand knowledge there are many special places to escape as one travels north of Sturgeon Bay.  From fish boils to romantic sunsets there is no better place in the summer or early fall than the peninsula.   Ephraim is one of the great spots that brings back memories.  This year, again, the idea of allowing alcohol sales in this dry community is making another go at the polls.  I think it will be defeated.    And for good reason.   There is a rich tradition in this village founded in 1853 that has not ever allowed alcohol sales.    I suspect the greed that some desire by removing the ban will be dealt a defeat.   I predict 60%-40%.

In Deerfield, Wisconsin there is a contest for town board pitting the race for two town supervisor seats between incumbent Nick Brattlie, Ken Frejlich, and Brian Berninger.  For clarity I need to note Berninger was a good friend during my days at the statehouse.  I can attest to his sincerity, civic-mindedness, and resolve when committed to a cause.    And there is no doubt one of his reasons for seeking office is due to the continuing concerns over quarry blasting in the town that has caused damage to homes, a historic Norwegian church and a cemetery.  Berninger, who owns a home about a quarter-mile north of the quarry, has no doubt brought the consensus of opinion to his candidacy and will be a victor Election Night.

Finally, I am an optimist when it comes to our democracy. Elections thrill me.  So I will predict that this state will out-perform the 1980 voter turnout.  Put me down for 42% turn-out!

Now plan to undertake your civic responsibility by voting and then have fun watching the returns be counted!

Elect JoAnne Kloppenburg To Stop Political Shenanigans On Wisconsin Supreme Court

The actual makeup of the Wisconsin State Supreme Court is highly important not only for the outcome of cases, but also for how it functions.

Given the attempts by conservatives at both the state and national level to stretch, manipulate, and torture legal reasoning it is vital that liberals and progressives get to the polls Tuesday and cast a ballot for JoAnne Kloppenburg.  The need to support Kloppenburg, an energetic and thoughtful candidate, is a no-brainer given the type of person she faces from competitor Rebecca Bradley.

Bradley keeps mentioning she is the only judge in the race with experience at all levels of the judiciary , and therefore better suited for the Supreme Court.   But she seems to forget that our long tradition in Wisconsin has voters respecting diversity of profession when voting for justices.

In our recent past the majority of those serving on the bench came from outside the court system.  As an example, it is clear that Justice Abrahamson is a remarkable member of the court.  Abrahamson practiced law for 14 years and was a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School.

On the conservative side an argument might be made for the legal mind of former Assembly Speaker of the Assembly Dave Prosser.  It is clear one can make a strong case for placing a candidate on the bench with real life-problem solving skills.

Kloppenburg brings remarkable skills along with decades of experience in government, teaching, and state bar involvement along with her service as being elected for the Court of Appeals.  Her involvement in a whole series of federal and state cases during her career makes her more than qualified for the job as justice.  The resume of Kloppenburg is simply stunning.

She was a graduate of Yale University who earned a Master in Public Affairs degree from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and a JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School, Kloppenburg interned with Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and clerked with U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb. For two decades she served with Democratic and Republican attorneys general as a top lawyer with the Wisconsin Department of Justice. She began teaching at the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1990 and has served as a mentor with the Dane County Bar Association.

Meanwhile Bradley is known best for her vile written remarks that undermined women, ranted against gays, and scorned those with AIDS.  She has a large stain on her name, but should not be allowed to smear if on the state.  That stain will appear statewide should she be elected.

Bradley is also known for getting to positions only with the assistance of Governor Walker who always places partisanship over substance and merit.

The governor appointed Bradley, a supporter of his partisan campaigns, to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in December 2012. Walker appointed Bradley to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in May 2015. Walker appointed Bradley to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in October 2015.

Being so beholden to partisans is not in the best interest of our state judiciary.

Citizens deserve a Supreme Court that can be viewed as a fair arbiter on the big judicial questions that face the state.  Bradley has proven to be anchored to conservatives and special interest money.   Meanwhile we have seen too many political shenanigans created by conservatives over the past years to allow for another right-winger to be elected.  The removal of Abrahamson as chief justice sums up the level to which conservatives will drop for pettiness.

I  find it sad  that at a time when public approval of our government and public institutions are shrinking the conservatives on the Supreme Court seek to tarnish the court’s reputation.  That trend needs to be reversed and the way to start applying a remedy is by electing JoAnne Kloppenburg.

While this race seems to be tight I trust the better judgement of the voters will come forth like spring flowers and allow for a bright and reasoned justice to be elected.

Her name is JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Anti-JoAnne Kloppenberg Ad Shows Ethical Lapse Of Media

This week the much respected Jessica Arp reported one of her must-see “Reality Check” segments on WISC-TV’s 5:00 P.M. newscast.  The topic was an independent group ad which is nothing more than a thinly veiled anti-JoAnne Kloppenberg piece aimed at making it harder for voters to discern fact from fiction.

There was no way to miss the points which Arp reported.

The bottom line evaluation by Arp showed almost the entire ad to be downright misleading in various ways and in dire need of clarification.  She further reported that the ad, produced by former Republican staff for the sham group Alliance for Reform, was falsely using the graphic “CONVICTION OVERTURNED” to describe the case in question and that while the creators disagreed that it was misleading, agreed to remove that graphic airing statewide in a $700,000 ad buy.

At this point we should all agree it is due to reporters like Arp who help keep the campaigns running slightly more on the  straight and narrow.

But then would you believe that within 15 minutes what to my wondering ears and eyes did appear on WISC was that very ad with the adjudged misleading graphic and assertions being aired ON THE SAME NEWSCAST!

I am bewildered as a voter and citizen of this state.  As one who once gathered and reported the news and also later in life worked within the state legislature I have witnessed the tug and pull from both sides of the divide when it comes to campaigns, crafting policy and the reporting that goes along with that territory.    I readily admit there are gray areas and reasons all can claim the high road at one time or another.

But I am at a total loss as to explain what I witnessed on WISC TV.

What responsibility and ethics does the media use to make their decisions?   What high box does one need to stand upon so to reason it to be fine to question a most misleading ad but then accept payment for repeatedly airing it?

I have always held that reporters and journalists are as important to our democracy as are military men and women.  Arp is certainly one of those who I place in the camp of doing the work the citizenry requires when it comes to knowing more about the elections.    But in the larger mix of the media there needs to be those in the top offices who understand their responsibility as well to make sure the media is working for the best of the state and nation.

David Prosser Unable To Recall If He Was At The Governor’s Office After Election

One can be forgiven if unable to recall what was consumed for breakfast last Thursday.  But I suspect one might recall a visit that took place at the Governor’s office.

Right?

Well, actually no.

No, that is if you are Supreme Court Justice David Prosser.

In an interview with WKOW27 News,  state supreme court justice David Prosser denied meeting with Governor Walker the day after voters decided between Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg in a hotly-contested race,  but said it was possible he was at the governor’s office.

How does one handle the reams of paperwork on the high bench, and recall odd bits of law and nuances of legal strategy but then claim not to know if  a visit to the Governor’s office took place!

And might I add a visit at a very critical moment following a massive voter turnout that resulted in a razor-thin difference in the outcome at the time the Prosser visit occurred.  A meeting that took place a day  before thousands of votes turned up in his favor.

I am not suggesting anything….just making a point of  fact.

Are we the idiots for wondering this question, or is Prosser trying to be too cute by half.

I think it only proper that we now ask, and demand answers to the following questions.

Who on the governor’s staff did  Prosser meet with?” 

What contact did Prosser or anyone on his staff have with Walker, or anyone on Walker’s staff?

If I were more snarky I might ask if anyone had a black marker and unmarked ballots.

“It is conceivable that during that week,  I stopped down to the governor’s office,”   Prosser told WKOW27 News

Prosser told WKOW27 News any visit would have been to request gubernatorial mementoes for visiting international students.

In a sworn complaint to the government accountability board seeking a special investigation into Nickolaus’ handling of the vote,  Kloppenburg campaign manager Melissa Mulliken alleged “…Justice Prosser was observed entering the Governor’s Office late in the evening and attending a private,  on (sic) -on-one meeting with Governor Scott Walker”  on the night after the April 5 election.   Mulliken also quotes Walker from that day suggesting votes may turn up “out of the blue.”

“I certainly never went beyond the reception person,”   Prosser told WKOW27 News about his possible presence in the governor’s office.

“I never met with the governor personally in his office.”

One might note by the time the interview concludes Prosser seems more certain that he was indeeed at the Governor’s office.

Really…too cute by half.

Waukesha County’s Recount For Supreme Court Starts Off With A Snag

Who could have predicted problems in the recount would occur in Waukesha County?  What is wrong with those folks?

After more than a half-hour of meticulous instructions and ground rules relayed by Waukesha County’s chief canvasser, retired Judge Robert G. Mawdsley, questions were raised about the very first bag of ballots to be counted, from the Town of Brookfield.

As canvassers and tabulators compared a numbered seal on a bag with the number recorded for that bag by a town election inspector who prepared the paperwork on election night, the numbers didn’t match.

“What a great way to start,” one official tabulator said.

Observers from the campaigns of Justice David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg both agreed, however, that the error seemed to be in the inspector’s use of a “2” instead of a “3.” Numbers on the sealing tag and on the bag did match. Both sides and the Board of Canvassers agreed that the bag should be opened and the votes counted.

In addition to the mis-numbered inspection sheet, another matter was the absence of three applications for absentee ballots – detected when all the “R’s” of an alphabetized collection were missing. The applications were summoned from the town hall, and they were reconciled with the absentee ballots, Mawdsley said.

The final question of the morning involved a missing “remade” ballot – a copy of an original absentee ballot that could not be fed through the ballot-reading machines. That occurs, for example, if the voter used pen instead of pencil to connect the arrows on the ballot. The canvass board had five original ballots that could not be fed through machines, but only four copies. The Government Accountability Board was being asked for advice on that matter.

JoAnne Kloppenburg Correct To Seek Statewide Recount In Supreme Court Race

As it should be.

How dare the David Prosser forces try to force earlier this week Kloppenburg to not seek a recount in the Supreme Court race.  Democracy in Wisconsin needs a fair recount in every corner of this state following the stain placed on the electoral system by Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus.  For anyone to snicker and state that there is no need for such a recount denigrates the process that rightly allows for a recount.  In addition, anyone who smirks at the recount also takes a slap at the voters who cast a ballot and deserve a fair tally be made of their intentions.

This all should make Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus look bad as she is the reason in large part a recount needs to be made.  Anyone who dare talk about the cost of a recount might suggest that Nickolaus chip in with some wads of Republican cash to help pay for it.

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus is, after all, why people are having problems with faith in the system today.

Refusing to concede defeat, state Supreme Court challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg asked election officials Wednesday for a statewide recount in her flagging upset bid against Justice David Prosser.

The Government Accountability Board confirmed in a statement Wednesday that it is moving forward with a statewide recount at Kloppenburg’s request.

Prosser’s campaign pressured her not to seek a recount, saying there was no way she would find 7,000 votes and a recount would be costly for taxpayers.

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin Asks U.S. Attorney General To Investigate Supreme Court Election

The mess in Wisconsin resulting from the sloppy (or worse) undertaking of  Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus in relation to this past week’s Supreme Court race will require federal investigation.   I have thought this was the route needed, and folks I have talked with over the last 48 hours think the same.  It is vital that the integrity of the voting process not be allowed to be sullied by anyone in Wisconsin. 

That David Prosser is opposed to having the U.S. Attorney General investigate is troubling.  I would think that everyone would want to get to the bottom of this matter.

Right?

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a federal investigation into the handling of vote records in Waukesha County in the wake of Tuesday’s election for the state Supreme Court.

Baldwin’s office said she sent the letter Friday night.

Baldwin wrote Holder: “Following this week’s election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, numerous constituents have contacted me expressing serious doubt that this election was a free and fair one. They fear, as I do, that political interests are manipulating the results.”

Baldwin asked Holder to assign the Justice Department Public Integrity Section, which oversees the federal prosecution of election crimes, to investigate.

In Waukesha County, thousands of votes from the City of Brookfield that were not reported by the county clerk on election night were discovered the day after. Justice David Prosser’s margin of victory in Brookfield helped push him ahead of challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg.

“We, the people, must be assured that our votes are fairly counted and reported and our democracy remains intact and untainted,” Baldwin wrote.

Agency Will Not Certify Court Race Until Probe Of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus Completed

Good.

The agency overseeing Wisconsin elections will not certify results of Tuesday’s state Supreme Court race until it concludes a probe into how a county clerk misplaced and then found some 14,000 votes that upended the contest.

Michael Haas, Government Accountability Board staff attorney, told Reuters on Friday the watchdog agency was looking into vote tabulation errors in Republican-leaning Waukesha County which gave the conservative incumbent a net gain of more than 7,000 votes — a lead his union-backed challenger seems unlikely to surmount.

“We’re going to do a review of the procedures and the records in Waukesha before we certify the statewide results,” Haas said.

“It’s not that we necessarily expect to find anything criminal. But we want to make sure the public has confidence in the results.”