Election Predictions 2022 From Caffeinated Politics: Democrats Retain U.S. Senate, Wisconsin Splits Votes, Democracy On Ballots Nationwide

Let me start this post with something out-of-this-world.  As if the absurdity of some of the political campaigns around the nation has not been enough of an example.  There will be a complete lunar eclipse on November 8th, when the entire moon will illuminate coppery-red from 5:17 A.M. until 6:42 A.M. Eastern Time. Just in time for the polls opening!  Not sure what the Mayans would make of this celestial event of which I take note, but I offer it as the start of this post about my predictions for the 2022 midterm elections, and the unsettled time in which we find ourselves. The fear that might have registered on the faces of Mayans as they gathered at sites near Chichen Itza to watch the moon might be akin to the dread many Americans feel about the health of our democracy as we head to the polls.

(The portion below, prior to the predictions, was written at my desk on the Madison Isthmus on September 14th.  The Tim Michels quote was added at ‘press time’.  I mention this as the themes of the 2022 midterm elections and their critical importance are not new.  Or to be taken lightly.)

Fifty years from now researchers will better try to understand, while historians will employ their best writing skills in explaining, what happened in the midterm elections of 2022. The subtitle for books about this year will be rather pointed, basically asking how voters could not (or willfully would not) understand that fascism is a far greater concern than high gas prices and inflation?  We can add our own thoughts in the current time as to why a sizable swath of conservative Americans have forsaken facts, shunned actual journalism, and disdained being informed even when given all the opportunities that one can avail themselves of in our tech-driven world. (Talk about a reason for education reform in the country!)

If these midterm elections were about policy ideas regarding equitable taxation, a robust debate about reducing our carbon footprint, or adjusting our prison systems to meet the needs of inmates upon their release voters could say, once the voting was completed and counted that win or lose, the elections had merit.  A meaning.  But most of these elections across the nation were not about ideas or policy, even though spending on these elections will be in the billions of dollars. (At the time of publication spending on federal and state midterm campaigns had topped $16 billion, the most expensive in our nation’s history.)  Due to a continuous and willfully desired chipping away at the foundations of our political institutions and electoral processes in many races from coast to coast, the very essence of what makes our nation a working democracy is on the ballot. That is just a stunning and dispiriting fact.

Using the Big Lie from Donald Trump as the foundation with races for congress, attorney general, governor, and statehouse seats has placed nearly 305 white conservative candidates on the ballot who refuse to accept the presidential election of 2020.  I make the point concerning the ethnicity of the candidates as the angry white base of Republican voters are the ones who have brought this nation to the precarious place it is today. It is that segment of voters that historians will study to understand what made them turn against democracy and the ideals of our nation. The internal danger to our nation at this time, in my estimation, has never been higher since the South sought to undermine the United States in early 1861. It was then, too, that angry whites sought to undermine democracy.

The impending threats Republican candidates have made about the fate of our future elections have not been nuanced.  Many actions to curtail voters started shortly after Trump lost in 2020.   They have made bold statements about their fascist intentions. Senator Ron Johnson cannot even commit to accepting the results of the election.  As I publish this post Johnson stated for the press “I sure hope I can”. Elsewhere in Wisconsin, Tim Michels, the GOP nominee for governor stated it clearly with a bullhorn effect.  “Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I’m elected governor”.  This is where our democracy has landed. Badger State taxpayers saw their money spent to placate the most absurd of the Republican base by employing an ex-Supreme Court justice who I suggested at the time he served—should write his opinions in crayon. It was most remarkable when Michael Gableman aped out in 2022 that caricature!  

The threat of election victories of attorney generals who are not wedded to facts or federal candidates who disregard commitments to electoral integrity means a grave threat to our future electoral rigors and accountability is in store. 

Every two years, since 1980, I have placed my thoughts and predictions into print regarding the races on the ballot.  I thrill to politics and history and while this biannual undertaking has always been entertaining and hopeful, I find this year it feels weighty and foreboding. The best and brightest ideals have given way to the base of the Republican Party; conservative voters and many candidates who have proven most worthy of being defined as absurd, witless, and unschooled.  Election Night will be a tough one for anyone who ever cared about this place called America. Though I predict Democrats retain the U.S. Senate the damage that has been done to our democracy due to some of the Republican candidates and their voters will take a very long time to be reversed. Brown shirts are sure to be selling briskly in some places around the nation come Wednesday morning. (How soon before they round up bloggers?)


While most folks will be watching the Georgia Senate race or the congressional race in Western Wisconsin, (those and many other races are ones this blogger will be keenly monitoring too), I want to call attention to what will be taking place in legislative races and which party will control one, or both chambers, of a statehouse in January. And why it seriously matters.

The Supreme Court will hear Moore v. Harper, which involves a challenge to gerrymandered congressional maps in North Carolina and in so doing very well could (given the unbridled conservative ideological whims of the Court) rule for what is known as independent state legislature theory. It is an attempt for undermining democracy being pushed by conservative zealots who brought us, Donald Trump.  In a nutshell—quite literally–this crazed interpretation of the Constitution claims that state legislatures have unfettered authority to set rules for federal elections and cannot be countermanded by any other state-based entities, thus eliminating any checks and balances.  In the pending court case, the North Carolina Supreme Court rejected the radical argument that the state legislature had the sole authority to draw congressional maps without consideration of the state constitution and without review by state courts. The court correctly concluded that the ISL theory would upend long-settled precedent and is “repugnant to the sovereignty of states, the authority of state constitutions, and the independence of state courts, and would produce absurd and dangerous consequences.” Nonetheless, continuing its radical quest, the North Carolina legislature asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and reinstate its maps.

If the court does so state legislatures could have a pathway to overrule the popular vote in presidential elections by refusing to certify the results and instead sending their own slates of electors. Consider the fact that 44% of Republicans in crucial swing-state legislatures used the power of their office to discredit or try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The data was compiled by The New York Times.

Republicans have complete control over legislatures in states that have a total of 307 electoral votes — 37 more than needed to win a presidential election. They hold majorities in several battleground states, meaning that if the Supreme Court endorsed the legal theory, a close presidential election could be overturned if just a few states assigned alternate slates of electors.

Democrats’ chances of bringing Republicans’ total below 270 are narrow: They would need to flip the Michigan Senate or the Arizona Senate, and then one chamber in both Pennsylvania and New Hampshire in 2024, in addition to defending the chambers the party currently controls.

Democrats and Republicans have set their sights on half a dozen states where state legislatures — or at least a single chamber — could flip in November. Democrats hope to wrest back one of the chambers in Michigan and the Arizona Senate and flip the Minnesota Senate. Republicans aim to win back the Minnesota House of Representatives and take control of one chamber, or both, in the Maine, Colorado, and Nevada legislatures. They are also targeting Oregon and Washington.

Now you, too, know why state legislative races far from your living room on Election Night matter.

In Wisconsin, though the legislature will remain deeply red due to the lack of redistricting reform, it seems a very steep climb to me to reach a veto-proof majority this cycle.  I predict this GOP yearning is not achieved.  If they were to achieve their desire it would require flipping five seats in the Assembly, and one in the Senate.

In WI 25th Senate District, to put a face to the reason why I made my prediction is that Democrat Kelly Westlund, a former staff member for Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin has run a tough and smart campaign.  She has connected with rural voters—a must in this district—and will defeat Republican Romaine Quinn by 2%. Democrats have proven strong at the ballot box in this region and will do so again this cycle.

United States Senate

The United States Senate will be retained in Democratic hands. The historical tide is certainly against the party in power in the White House. The economy, a barometer for any election, is a deep concern for many voters.  But there will be just enough voters in just the right states to keep one chamber of Congress in the hands of proven supporters of democracy. The effect Trump-endorsed candidates will have on the electorate in the key three states holds the primary reason as to why Monday morning quarterbacking from the GOP will simply be precious to hear. (Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona—listed in line with when their polls close.)  In these admittingly close races, each of the Republican nominees was an Election 2020 denier.  While I might be called out on these predictions being just wishful thinking I believe the races will break for the Democratic candidate in each case due to voters saying, ‘this is a serious office and needs a serious person’.

I also want to note the group in the nation that I will be closely following in senate voter returns.  The Hispanic and Latino vote is growing, and its power cannot be discounted. Currently, 38 members of the House are Latino, and some estimates over the past weeks have placed the number at 45 following Election Night. Hispanics are the largest racial and ethnic minority group in the country. They numbered 62.1 million in the 2020 Census or about 19% of the U.S. population. There are two places I am watching for how this segment of the electorate casts their ballots.  In Nevada and their unionized cities, and then in Florida’s Miami-Dade County. The former will be key to which candidate wins, and the latter is just nerdy political watching. I am not predicting that the Flordia county goes red. Not at all. But I am prepared for a bit of a shocker in the numbers that will be cast at the polls, given the election history of this place. Hispanics make up almost 60% of the electorate there, and I wish to point out that Hillary Clinton won by almost 30% in 2016.  Ron DeSantis lost the county by more than 20 points four years ago. But as Florida Hispanics are proving to be more conservative what will they show us at the polls this year? You see now why this county is one to watch and why the conservative nature of some Hispanic voters will be one both political parties will need to contend with in years to come.

Georgia….If there is one Senate race that just baffles me–as well as nauseates me–it is Hershel Walker’s efforts in Georgia. In late summer, I was reading Henry Clay: The Essential American by David and Jeanne Heidler where Senate luminaries like Daniel Webster and William Seward lifted off the pages to be reckoned with as the daily newspapers in the pile on the floor alongside me reported on the latest behavior of Walker. It was a stark contrast that just could not be missed. A serious and very important elected office could be occupied by a complete embarrassment—the very type of character that conservatives railed about when welfare reform was thy issue. Now conservative Republicans have embraced and adopted into their camp for tribal purposes someone they would in any other scenario lambast. The absurdity makes for additional proof of why the GOP has become a punchline for every dinner party in the nation. It certainly solidifies national views that there is always a lower level to the basement when it comes to Republican choices for their nominees. Raphael Warnock wins by 175,000 votes. No runoff. Key will be women, and Blacks who will support Stacy Abrams, (who will lose her race for governor) and due to that sliver of religious conservatives who will not cast a ballot for Walker due to his repeated boorish behavior. Think back to how a sliver of conservatives pulled back their vote in 1992 on the national ticket. Those votes matter.

Nevada….Democrats lose a seat as Adam Laxalt wins over incumbent Catherine Masto. The reason I mention this race is how a single county in the state will prove to be the story of the night for Nevadans. Much like Sauk County in Wisconsin is often viewed as the state’s political barometer, so too does Washoe County play that role in Nevada.  When one looks at the political alignment of the county it is clear the numbers do not tilt blue or red. Similar numbers of registered Republicans (100,000) and Democrats (95,000), with about 82,000 more Washoe residents registered as nonpartisan.  So, keep your apps, regardless of whichever election sights you are monitoring on Election Night, keyed to Washoe County.  A blowout in Washoe and it is over in that state.  

Ohio….If it were not for the track record of this state leaning more conservative I would predict that a Democratic victory was possible. I would base such a call on the fact that heading into Election Day GOP Governor Mike DeWine who is up for reelection sports a strong 15% lead while senate nominee J.D. Vance is regarded as the worst campaigner in the nation. OK, maybe tied with Arizona’s Democratic nominee for governor, Katie Hobbs. Vance is lazy, disjointed in conversation, and seemingly bored most of the time. With DeWine blowing his opponent away, Vance is in a dead heat with ever-ready, energized, and truly intelligent, Tim Ryan. I am not going to engage in what-ifs during this prediction post, but if I did, the question of where the SDCC was during the past six months would be questions 1, 2, and 3 when it comes to this race. Vance wins and if he thought the campaign was tedious, let him try out committee hearings. Middle-class Republican voters lost a great deal for falling for someone who fluffs Donald Trump.

Wisconsin….Many of us grew up learning about the painful and damaging chapter in our nation’s history that was due to Joe McCarthy.  Lives were ruined, some committed suicide, and national policy was twisted while priorities were skewered due to an alcoholic senator who falsely raved about communists being everywhere.  Now Ron Johnson, a-COVID-vaccine-denying-Big-Lie-advocate-and-democracy-damaging Republican is doing our state another massive disservice. Regardless of the metric used, Johsnon is the most absurd U.S. Senator now serving. Using racist ads and blatant lies he easily defeats (by 3%) Mandela Barnes. The question is of course, not what was wrong with Joe, or what condition currently plagues Ron, but rather what is wrong with us…the voters in the Badger State who allow this to happen? The shame is on the electorate who falls for such rubbish on a ballot.

I have placed my predictions for the contested seats in blue or red.  I do not believe, just for clarification purposes, that Georgia will require a run-off election. Due to ranked voting in Alaska, I predict that Lisa Murkowski will be reelected, and the attempt to undermine Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell through the Trump-backed candidacy of Kelly Tshibaka will fail.

U.S. House Races

The House of Representatives will be in Republican hands when the new session convenes in January.  When all the ballots are counted, I predict the GOP will have a majority with 18 members.

Alaska….Democrat Mary Peltola will continue to win, as she did earlier this year. She faces, among others in the ranked voting congressional match-up, Wasilla Hillbilly Sarah Palin. Palin has worked to dumb-down her would-be voters by attacking ranked voting. Apparently, Scholastic Weekly Reader has not had a story on this manner of voting so as to assist Palin with her education. After this election, Palin will fully grasp her time on the national stage is over. As a result, we will never again need to hear her call another female candidate a “chick”!

FL-10th….Maxwell Alejandro Frost gets mentioned here for the simple reason he will be the first Gen Z member of Congress after winning his primary victory in this safely Democratic district.  Just a slice of history is the reason I note this man.

GA- 2nd…..Given there are 435 House seats it is truly troubling that only a very small number are what can be called competitive. The need for redistricting reform can be viewed all night long in America as the votes are counted.  Only a small number are in question as to the outcome. One of them will be in Georgia where Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop, the longest-serving member of the state’s delegation squares off with GOP nominee Chris West. As I watched and read about elections for this November it turns out this congressional race is the only competitive one in the entire SouthThink about that.  Voters should demand redistricting reform. Bishop is part of the Blue Dog Democratic coalition and with his decades of experience working with white farmers and having deep roots in the Black community, he prevails.

NY-17th….Every election has one of those shockers, except this one was seen coming down the tracks for the past 2 weeks. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Maloney will be defeated.  His hubris was way out of control when he selected to run in the 17th as opposed to the 18th, the one he had represented. Getting new voters to know him and like him has not been easy. It needs to be noted that President Biden won this area by 10% in 2020.  Michael Lawler makes a little history with his predicted win by beating a DCCC member of Congress for the first time in 40 years.

WV 2nd…If Allen Drury were alive and writing books this plot line would be one of his creations. I only add this race as it does remind me of the famed author’s creative and lively narratives. The gay subplot in Advise and Consent crossed my mind with this race where right-wing conservative Congressman Alex Mooney, a  Trump-backed Christian conservative who is anti-abortion, pro-coal, and thinks marriage should be ‘between a man and a woman’ faces his complete opposite on the ballot. The Democratic candidate, Barry Wendell, is an openly gay Jewish man who supports abortion rights and replacing fossil fuels with clean energy.  The Republican wins, but at least I was able to easily place Drury, a favorite of mine, into this prediction post.

WI 3rd….Central casting could not have offered a better person to fit the role of a congressional candidate for this district had they tried. This week, as Indian Summer made for glorious afternoons in Madison, I was discussing the election with a biker in the neighborhood. I mentioned that Brad Pfaff is the modern-day Andy Hardy. He might overplay his lines a bit and strikes me at times as being over-rehearsed but Pfaff receives high praise for his strong and correct stand for democratic (small d) values.  The very ones I wrote about at the top of this post. His troubling and low-brow Republican opponent, Derrick Van Orden, was at the insurrection on Jan 6th.  That lack of character and his desire to foment political discord should alert voters to a glaring lack of honor.  But for many conservative voters, honor, and regard for our national ideals is not as important as their tribal politics.  The seat held by Congressman Ron Kind turns unpatriotic red.

Governor Races

Michigan….No one should need to consider if they will be kidnapped while holding an elective office. Yet, that is precisely what Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer confronted as 13 men orchestrating a domestic terror plot to kidnap her while also plotting violence to overthrow the state government. My glee for the predicted victory for Whitmer will be stronger perhaps than for any other governor…. even my own in Wisconsin when Tony Evers wins.  That is due to the fact the Michigan voters, based on news stories and Op-Ed pages in their newspapers over this summer and fall paint an electorate that knows one salient fact. Given the absolute threat to democracy’s survival, there is no place for a wishy-washy citizen. Whitmer wins by 3%.

Oklahoma….I strongly sense that some news will be made in the interior of the nation that will be greeted with smiles on the faces of Democrats late Tuesday night.   Democrat Joy Hofmeister will do something that many said could not happen.  She will defeat incumbent Republican Governor Kevin Stitt. Yes, she is a lifelong Republican who switched parties to tangle with the ethically challenged Stitt. But she is a strong supporter of education, understood the gravity of the COVID pandemic, and will prove to be a bit of a tonic on Election Night.  I suspect a very, very tight win.  But still, a win for Hofmeister.

Wisconsin….Tony Evers wins by 37,000 votes.  Another close victory for the Democratic candidate.  Why there is ticket-splitting among Republicans for candidates on the Wisconsin ballot can be explained here. One of the striking similarities I have heard in many conversations since the August Primary is how some self-defined Republicans were upset with how Tim Michels came into the state with huge amounts of money and undid all the painstakingly grassroots efforts of Rebecca Kleefisch. In each of these conversations from stores in Madison, to a Spring Green outdoor theatre, and online chats each of these voters had one thing in common. Each was a woman. They were not able to support the Republican nominee. Add in the abortion factor and the narrow loss by Michels coming Tuesday can be better understood.

Below is the blue and red alignment of the races for governor as I predict them on Election Night.

Attorney General Races

Wisconsin….The days when this state split votes between top races are not over. 2022 will prove that case as Ron Johnson wins, but so do Tony Evers and Josh Kaul.  Women and abortion are key as to why I feel able to predict this race, along with what I am growing to believe, more and more, will be a strong turnout on university campuses (especially Madison and Milwaukee). One example of my views is shaped by two women, both political campaign professionals from Boston, who flew in for a week to work the campuses locally up to Election Day.  They stayed rent-free with a neighbor. The numbers of early voters from these areas are most impressive.  Kaul prevails.

Drinking Referendums 

My Mom grew up in Arkansas, so I have for many years–since the internet came into being–followed regional news from the Northwest region of the state. So, I predict that Rogers and Bentonville residents will vote separately on allowing Sunday alcohol sales in each of the cities. Currently is it illegal to sell alcohol, unless it’s served in restaurants, bars, or breweries, on Sundays, but residents can vote to allow it. And they will.

School Boards

Yes, even school board races in Arkansas get a nod this year.  I do so as it aligns with the theme of this year’s campaigns, and the place our nation finds itself. At the Bentonville School District in Arkansas, the Board has five seats up for election. There are seven seats, in total.  In, and of itself, that would not carry weight for this biannual posting.  What is disturbing is that, once again, candidates in a school race have received assistance and endorsements from the hostile-to-facts group, 1776 Project PAC based in ……yes….New York. The candidates accepted in-kind campaigning in the form of a flyer mailed to residents and text messages to Bentonville voters. Just to put this aid into context the 1776 Project has spent between $25,000 and $30,000 total on the races, according to the news from the organization. While I desire balanced and reasoned members to be elected to school boards it must be understood that this should not be a place for conservative groups to play politics.  When fact-less claims are made by conservatives about curricula regarding transgender students or how racial history is studied voters must put their foot down firmly in the ballot box and say to a bogus outside group, ENOUGH!  I can only surmise that partisan outsiders pushing an agenda will be met with disagreeing voters.  I predict a majority of the ones lying about CRT will be rejected by the voters.  It needs noting the Bentonville School District says none of the New York group’s claims are true. I add, just as they have not been true in the many other places around the nation, where racists like to make partisan mischief.

School Referendums

The lack of proper education funding is most evident in 81 ballot measures facing voters across the Badger State.  Parents do not desire steep cuts to programming, and school boards are being responsive to the needs of families. Hence, a steep increase in the need to head to referendums to stop the painful choices too many schools are being forced into by the legislature’s lack of action. There are eight questions before voters in Dane County and I predict all will pass with room to spare.  But then comes the question about the outcome of such ballot measures in the rural areas of the state. Now that it is the law for such ballot issues to be placed on general election-type days, it needs to be asked how many conservatives who go to the polling places to support the likes of Ron Johnson, can be counted on to also support local education?  No, I am not closing this prediction post with a joke. While there are 39 capital referendums facing voters be mindful that more than half of all the questions before Wisconsin voters with a school referendum (42 of them) deal with issues of staffing and utility bills.  Republicans in the legislature placed school districts in this position. Many of the voters this fall voted for those elected Republicans. Will those conservative voters now do the right thing or cut off their local education funding for the sake of their political purity?

Lifelong Republican Voting For Democrats In Wisconsin Midterm Election, James Wigderson Shows Decency And Intellect For Democracy

This week a lifelong conservative Republican wrote an article that made it clear how far the GOP has departed from Constitutional norms, to the point James Wigderson will cast votes for Democrats in the races for governor and senate. I bring this topic to the level of a post, not for a partisan point or to crow over or poke a stick at one political party or another, but rather to call attention to the needs of our democracy. Wigderson writes that the GOP has strayed too far from the Constitution and reason that he can not vote for their top candidates for office in the midterm elections.

But even more dear to me, and more important to the country, is protecting the Constitution. On this, Sen. Ron Johnson and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels cannot be trusted.

Even prior to the assault upon our Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Johnson actively worked to undermine the peaceful transfer of power. Johnson held fake hearings on the election to cast doubt on the result, then announced he would join 10 other senators to vote to overturn the 2020 election, disenfranchising voters in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

On Jan. 4, 2021, Johnson was in a conference with Trump administration officials and Mike Lindell who considered using fake intelligence reports as an excuse for invoking the Insurrection Act. Johnson did not reveal his participation in this conference until it was uncovered by the Washington Post.

On the morning of the Jan. 6 insurrection, Johnson was in contact with Trump’s lawyer Jim Troupis and his office attempted to pass along the names of the fake Republican electors to Vice President Mike Pence, part of an effort to derail certification of the election.

Meanwhile, Tim Michels willingly used the endorsement of Donald Trump to secure victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary election. The price, we have since learned, is Michels’ willingness to continue to be a pawn in Trump’s game of trying to undermine confidence in our elections. Michels claims President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 was fraudulent, citing the conspiracist propaganda film “2000 Mules” as evidence.

I have always known thoughtful Republicans and had many as friends. I was the Door County Democratic Chair at the time my boss, and radio station owner was the GOP Chair. Though it could have been most awkward it turned into a series of remarkable conversations that I have long reflected upon as to how politics should be conducted in this land. But then it was easy to have such a relationship as the boss was a traditional believer in democracy, too. In February 2022 I wrote the following.

We must be mindful of the thoughtful voices and credible people who–though in the minority of the GOP at present and though we may differ with them about policy issues–are seeking a return to normalcy. In any legislative body, the coalition of people in support of one issue today will not be the same as the group opposed or in support of another issue tomorrow. Today the one topic that unites people from varying political perspectives is the threat to our democracy. 

Every thoughtful citizen can approve of and applaud the position that Wigderson has taken on behalf of democracy, and doing so forthrightly and with much publicity. His concern for the nation is on par with Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Many Americans are truly troubled with what took place in the weeks following the 2020 election, and the continuing threats to our democracy. In January 2022, I wrote of the larger theme that Wigderson has given voice to this week with the following point.

The Big Lie about a ‘stolen election’ that Trump spawned and continues to repeat has found a wide range of converts within the GOP. The threat of more violence in the years ahead from those who might lose an election is a very plausible possibility. Especially, if the laws and penalties for taking such actions, like that occurring almost a year ago, are not put into effect.

There was plenty of room to argue with Reagan in the 1980s over policy moves regarding unions, tax cuts, and massive defense spending. But no one doubted for a nanosecond that Reagan was not immersed in the love of country and abiding faith in democracy. When was the first time anyone accused Trump of being like-minded?

One can have a contrary perspective regarding the policy goals of conservative Republicans, but that is not at all what the pressing topic is about these past many months. What is needing to be discussed is the mission to bring the Republican Party back to reason, to have it morph back to sanity. Let us hope an ever-growing number of Republicans care more for the nation than short-term partisan goals in this midterm election cycle. Most of us know why it is important to recognize and value decency and intellect regardless of party affiliation. Wigderson made that point perfectly this week.

Governor Tony Evers Must Veto Republican State Budget For ‘Folks Back Home’

There are times when even the most genial of elected officials need to show that behind the smile is resolve, determination, and political spine. That moment is approaching for Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers as the Republican-controlled legislature inches its way to completing the biennial budget.

Once that document reaches the Governor’s desk, there is but one way to deal with it. No line-item veto’s this time, or pining about what was hoped for when it was first introduced earlier this year, what the citizenry needs, but what they now must accept. Given what has transpired this budget cycle such reactions are not acceptable. Given how the majority party in the statehouse handled the array of issues presented to them in the budget Evers has only one path to take.

He must veto the entire measure and send it back to the legislators with a stern note attached. Plan to spend the summer in Madison doing the people’s business.

The policy reasons for such a move by Evers have made headlines for weeks. When presented with the need for the expansion of Medicaid, and tapping into federal funds the Republicans rolled their eyes and tossed the matter away. The health care and long-term medical services for Wisconsinites, however, must not be treated in so cavalier a fashion. Let us not forget that state taxpayers absolutely deserve to have their fair share of federal tax dollars returned so as to use them in accordance with the services our citizens require. $1.6 billion in federal funding should not be discarded for partisan reasons.

When asked to ensure that federal dollars to the tune of $2.3 billion for public schools could be accessed the Republicans used a shell game to provide more state aid but in the form of lower tax levies without providing the additional spending for our cash-strapped schools. The Governor requested $1.6 billion for education funding, but the Republicans saw fit to provide roughly 1/10th of the package. As such, there are 421 reasons (school districts) with a massive statewide constituency, that underscores as to why the behavior of the budget-writers was so harmful with this one issue, thus necessitating a veto.  

The absolute requirement for broadband expansion, and the funding for it, has no middle squishy ground upon which to stand. Evers made it clear that the digital divide in this state must be closed. Thus, he requested $200 million for this project, but the GOP Joint Finance Committee was only able to find $125 million. Even what Evers proposed is but a small amount of what will be required to address full broadband connectivity, so to not have it accepted by the committee is too tough a pill to swallow. There are an estimated 400,000 residents who do not have broadband, and the majority reside in rural red counties. The Governor can demonstrate he works for all citizens by showcasing this issue as another reason to veto the budget.

The lack of any regard by Republicans for the needs of redistricting reform has created an electoral stranglehold in the legislative branch. But that does not preclude the needs of the citizenry. It is very important that the people be properly reflected in this budget. While Assembly Republicans elected Robin Vos to the chair of Speaker, that does not make him the governor or the final arbiter on policy.

Only Tony Evers was elected by a statewide vote, and now is the time to show his political mettle and steadfastness with the people of this state. He more than did his share of compromising in the 2019 budget process and was rewarded with even more partisan showmanship from Republicans in this years’ process. If anything over the past weeks the JFC has proven Will Rogers to be correct. “There are men running governments who shouldn’t be allowed to play with matches.”

Therefore, Governor Tony Evers must veto this budget and demand, on behalf of the people, that the summertime is spent by legislative Republicans meeting the needs of the ‘folks back home’.

And so it goes.

Wisconsin’s Pride Month Needs Focus On Transgender Rights

Last week a press release from Democratic Governor Tony Evers stated that the LGBT Pride flag will again fly over the State Capitol. This decision matters for many citizens in our state. Let us make no mistake about the visual importance of the flag bending with the breeze over this wonderful and symbolic building.

At moments like this, I think of gay teenagers in this state who live in rural areas.  I know they need support and assurance that living authentically is truly an option as they prepare for adulthood. The flag and the message it imparts is meant as much to recognize past achievements, as providing continued assurance and hope for the future.

But this year, in light of the national conversation about transgender rights, along with legislation being debated under our Capitol dome about girls’ and women’s sports, makes the flag being hoisted high even more important.

The reason is due to discriminatory legislation aimed at creating sports participation bans for transgender people. We apparently have not had enough culture wars in the state. Outside of the political arena, I have not noticed a groundswell of examples in female sports that required a partisan resolution. Once again, however, a solution is in search of a problem and it is taking up far too much bandwidth with some legislators.

Therefore, if anyone wonders why the pride flag needs to fly over the statehouse should simply follow the news about bills that would allow students to join teams only that correspond to their biological sex as assigned by a doctor at birth. In time, that type of discourse will be as ancient as defining being gay as a mental illness. Until that time we must stay vigilant and fight on.

From a national perspective, this month should also focus our attention on states that are attempting to prohibit gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. We all should be most concerned that partisan legislators are working feverishly in some states to get in between a doctor, who is guided by science and ethics, and a teenager who is in search of medical advice and therapy.

We know that forgoing gender-affirming medical procedures can have tragic consequences with mental health problems which can also lead to drug use and increased rates of suicide. We absolutely must do better for the young people who look to us for guidance and a helping hand.

I can not speak about transgender rights from more than a humane perspective. But as a gay man, I know full well the way it felt when politicians were writing and signing laws to deny my rights over the decades. They had no idea how I felt, or the stresses it placed on my life. As such, I can understand how others now facing discriminatory actions must feel.

It is why I press the case that we must not do harm to those who are dealing with being uncomfortable in their bodies. When it comes to these children I feel a deeper sense of responsibility to speak up and stand alongside those who need our support.

For too long gay Americans were the ones who were vilified by Republicans and used as nothing more than partisan tactics and a means to raise money in letters to the base. Now it is transgender people, including children who are so treated to this abuse.

THAT is the reason the Pride flag needs to fly above the Wisconsin State Capitol.

And so it goes.

GOP Partisanship Over COVID Must End At Wisconsin Statehouse

One paragraph, comprising one sentence, jumped from the newspaper Saturday. The news story reported by Mitchell Schmidt for the Wisconsin State Journal said everything we know to be true about the current state of affairs when it comes to passing a COVID relief bill in our statehouse.

(Senate Majority Leader Devin) LeMahieu said the amendments were necessary for the package to get support from both GOP-led chambers.

With a mere 17 words, we can see the central problem as to why we are entering another year with no far-reaching COVID-relief legislation. Reaching across the aisle and opting for a bipartisan plan to address a medical crisis, one unlike anything we have seen in over a century, seems to have never been contemplated. A strong centrist type bill grounded to science could pass both chambers if the Republicans did not feel a need to placate every far-right conservative member.

The greater good be damned!

The latest storylines in this too-long saga as the state legislature, dormant for most of 2020 as the virus raged and ravaged our state, is now in a confrontational stance with Governor Tony Evers. On Friday a veto was used to stop the bill from being enacted. What is most dispiriting about this entire episode is that only a couple weeks ago a senate version of the bill had the approval of Evers. But with ever-more conservative amendments added over a back-and-forth with the assembly, the final version passed by the senate was not one any governor could countenance.

Front and center is thy most outlandish power play I have ever witnessed from any legislature in this state during my lifetime. I say that unequivocally as the issue at hand, the very health and well-being of the citizenry, is at stake. The constitutional discourse Republicans wish to have over the use of masks, and the means by which such orders can be put in place, and by whom, so to ensure the widest use of them at a time of pandemic is so over the line of absurdity that we are in need of creating a new word to best define it.

If Evers is so out of bounds and abused his authority so great then, by all means, the GOP-led legislature should pass their own measure with such health orders mandated. (Tick, tock, tick…) The reason the GOP has played so callously with the greater needs of the state during the pandemic, is their desire to be viewed as adhering to small-government and opting that individuals best know how to stay safe from a virus that has killed over 6,000 of our state residents.

The problem with the GOP approach is that they leave science and medically-driven data out of the equation. That can be justly stated given the bill which was vetoed would have prohibited employers from mandating vaccines for employees and limited local public health officials the ability to limit gatherings at churches. The most shockingly bad inclusion in the bill, from my perspective, was the business liability protections.

As one who has adhered to the health orders and advice over the past year, I yearn to return to stores and shop. I want to eat at restaurants. But if there are loopholes in the way a business can go about its prevention measures and thereby not face legal consequences, it greatly reduces the sense of safety required before entering a brick and mortar establishment. And spending money.

This all cycles back to the bottom line that before there is any economic revival, so to restore employment and the bottom line to a business, we first must win the battle over this virus. But if the majority party only thinks of the issue in partisan terms, and who can make a political score then the entire state will continue to suffer. There must be an abrupt end to the idea of working for only the needs of the GOP-led chambers.

Wisconsin Residents Urged to “Shelter In Place” As Pandemic Rages

Having grown up in Wisconsin where strong and severe summer storms were not to be scoffed at made the recent words from Governor Tony Evers even more pronounced. He called for state residents to voluntarily “shelter in place” as the number of coronavirus infections climbs to troubling heights. His words struck a tone and feeling that took me back to the days when the dark bluish-greenish clouds were bearing down on the Hancock home of my youth.

Just as folks in my rural upbringing did not stop to ponder if there was a need to take precautions against the advancing wind clouds neither should people now question the severity of COVID or the reasoning about being careful. This week the state reached a new peak of 5,262 cases, record death tolls reported, and hospitalizations now stressing our medical facilities.

This blog was been continuously on the side of science and medically-backed data in the struggle to make it through this pandemic. Like so many in Madison and Dane County who pressed for a more thoughtful way forward, other than the announced plans at UW-Madison, it comes as no pleasure to now learn the Badgers’ game this weekend against the Nebraska Cornhuskers has been canceled. It is reported 12 members of our football program tested positive for coronavirus in the past five days.

As of this morning, six football players and their head coach Paul Chryst have tested positive. All team-related activities are cancelled for this team for the next seven days. Common sense calls for the football program to be shelved for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile our state today reported 3,815 new COVID-19 cases and 45 more deaths. Clearly, more of our citizens need to take this virus far more seriously and adhere to the warnings.

State epidemiologist Dr. Ryan Westergaard stated the gravity of the matter by calling the virus’ trajectory in Wisconsin “a nightmare scenario, frankly, that this could get quite a bit worse in the next several weeks or months before it gets better.”

My perspective on a raft of issues has been shaped by decades of listening to information and basing my actions upon the advice of professionals. I have no way to explain the reluctance of people to accept facts. I can not fathom why anyone would not heed the words of someone steeped in knowledge. Do act so recklessly is absurd.

I know when the clouds shout that danger is near one does not take a tractor out to the ‘back forty’. When a governor says to stay home, that is where I will be found.

I trust my readers are equally as prudent.

Wisconsin Tavern League: Profits Over Public Health

The facts about the pandemic in Wisconsin are staggering. On Tuesday Wisconsin passed two records that no one wanted to cross during this pandemic. Our state had already passed a grim milestone of having 150,000 COVID cases. But then in one day, we had a record 3,279 new cases added to the count and a most horrible record number of deaths at 34. It is a truly sobering time in the state.

Which is why it stuns the sensibilities to learn this morning a Sawyer County judge blocked Governor Tony Evers’ latest order to curb the spread of coronavirus by limiting public gatherings and the number of customers bars and restaurants may serve at one time. 

While bars and restaurants can lament the sluggish cash flow to their businesses let it be made clear the reason for not only the spike in cases, but also the economic calamity, is due to the lack of a federal and comprehensive response from the Trump White House. One has to ask where the Wisconsin Tavern League was when so many were pressing for an encompassing plan to combat the virus.

The order put in place by Evers capped customers to 25% of the establishment’s capacity limit. That sent the Wisconsin Tavern League into a lather and to court to stop the order. The county judge did that today on a temporary basis while the state will make their case on Monday in a hearing as to why the order makes not only sense but was framed to meet the Supreme Court ruling from earlier this year.

We know how the virus is spread and also what happened in Wisconsin when the bars were allowed to recklessly reopen this spring. The data and contract tracing tells the story of how these establishments played a large role in the ability of the virus to spread.

It is truly concerning when the tavern league can undo public health orders so their members can make money by conducting themselves in ways that continue the spread of a deadly pandemic. I trust the courts will correct the Sawyer County judge next week.

Law And Logic Prevail With Wisconsin Mask Mandate

Today was one of those examples when our checks and balances came into play concerning the role of government during a public health emergency. The ability of those who disagree had their opportunity to weigh in and the legal process produced a ruling. In a larger sense, everyone came out as a winner as the process played out in a democratic fashion.

What this blogger hoped for and thought would be the outcome, based on state law, occurred when St. Croix County Judge Michael Waterman rejected arguments from Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty concerning the mask mandate put in place by Governor Tony Evers. The group was encouraged by the Republicans in the legislature who have failed to address the pandemic in their official capacity.

Conservatives have tried to argue that Evers exceeded his authority in issuing the mask mandate. But the judge made it clear that it was the Republicans in the statehouse who have tried to dodge any responsibility for the health needs of the citizenry who are front and center in this matter.

Waterman made it clear it is the Legislature who has the power to terminate Evers’ order. But they have not acted in any fashion on the matter, so no one should be looking for the courts to do the work of those who are elected to the legislative branch. But the GOP knows that the mask mandate is popular in the state. And they also know how ironic it is for them to seek a court answer…given they carp about ‘activist judges’.

The judge made it clear when he wrote, “The 60-day limit provides an important check against run-away executive power, but it does not prevent the governor from issuing a new executive order when the emergency conditions continue to exist,”

There is no doubt about the vital need to get the virus under control given the growing COVID caseloads in Wisconsin, the overwhelming number of patients in hospitals, and the continuing detrimental economic impact. Any governor would be derelict in the duties of the office to not take proactive measures to limit the pandemic.

From a purely partisan perspective with three weeks until the elections it needs to be noted from this blogger’s desk that things look tough for the Republicans. They have endorsed the actions of the 17-year-old White vigilante from out-of-state with an AR-15 who shot and killed on a city street while at the same time they are working to undermine a mask mandate to stem a relentless pandemic. They are playing a very bad hand heading into the election. Conservatives have proven not to have morals, law, or science on their side.

And so it goes.