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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

June 1, 2012 at 11:30 AM

On the road in Wisconsin: voices from Sheboygan

Part of the UW Election Eye team headed north from Milwaukee toward Green Bay, making stops along the way to meet people from a small Wisconsin town.

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — Mac, a 40-something-year-old who lives here really hates the “L”, “R” and “C” words.

Mac's house in Sheboygan, featuring his homemade Scott Walker sign on the front lawn. (Lucas Anderson/UW Election Eye)

In everybody-else speak, that’s “liberal,” “recall election” and “collective bargaining.” Another word that, to use one of his phrases, “sticks in [his] craw” is “recount.” Mac wasn’t a fan of the Florida election recount for the 2000 presidential election.

What really gets him going is mention of the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election.

But it’s no surprise: This life-long Wisconsinite (“you-can-call-me-Mac-and-just-that”), agreed to chat with us when we stumbled upon his giant, hand-painted “SCOTT WALKER IS SAVING WISCONSIN” sign. The sign’s other side is more succinct: “SCOTT WALKER YES.”

Mac is a Tea Party supporter and says that he wants what’s right for his state. But he’s careful with his terms.

“There’s a difference between right wing and correct,” Mac said. “Right, meaning what’s right for the people. Right wing is people who think they’re doing right.”

Mac thinks that Scott Walker, who he believes balanced Wisconsin’s budget within his first year as governor, is what’s right for the state — and for Sheboygan. He said that Sheboygan is a Walker place. Not surprising, considering that two weeks ago, Walker paid a visit to the town of about 50,000.

“This is what they call a conservative community,” Mac said. “See that car dealership across the street? He’s pro-Walker. Everyone up and down the street is pro-Walker. Down there is pro-Walker. I don’t know a single person who is pro-Barrett,” referring to Democratic challenger Tom Barrett.

Mac references some of the gubernatorial candidates using a bit of wordplay. (Lucas Anderson/UW Election Eye)

The numbers don’t lie. The residents of Sheboygan — named by Business Week in 2011 as one of the best places to raise kids — have donated more than $1.3 million to various campaigns, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, with a majority of the money going to Walker.

Mac thinks that Walker is going to win the recall election, but “by the slimmest of margins.” He thinks Barrett has a chance.

If Barrett wins, Mac already has a contingency plan: “Within 30 days [after Barrett wins], I’m going to apply for a visa and I’m going to get a passport,” Mac said. “I’m moving to Mexico, because I’m not going to put up with a [Jim] Doyle Jr. in Tom Barrett.” (Doyle is the previous Democratic governor of Wisconsin.)

He told us that Puerto Vallarta or Acapulco seem like nice places. Or maybe even Cabo.

If Walker wins, Mac will celebrate with a few drinks.

Despite the contentious recall election, set for next Tuesday, and despite Mac’s laundry list of things he doesn’t particularly like, there’s one word that’s okay in his book — and it begins with a “W.”

“I believe in Scott. I believe what he’s doing is working. I believe it with the entire fabric of my body,” Mac said. “The other side don’t play fair. They never did.”

–by Kat Chow

Photo by Allison Int-Hout/UW Election Eye

Found sitting on the wraparound porch of her daughter’s colonial-style home in eastern Sheboygan, a woman named Florence shared a little secret — not everyone is taking sides in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall election.

“I haven’t really given it a lot of thought, one way or the other,” she said.

Florence recently moved to Sheboygan from New York state, but she said she hasn’t had the desire to follow the recall election between Walker and Barrett. This is something that anyone looking toward her house from the street would believe. Florence’s daughter, who formed her own opinions about the recall, has decided not to participate in the neighborhood’s subtle yard sign battle.

“She feels that it’s the catalyst for maybe somebody not liking who you’re for, or damaging your house,” Florence said.

Even though Florence and her daughter aren’t outspoken in politics, Florence said she still plans to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the process. But for her, being an informed voter is part of her responsibility.

“I have never not voted. But, I don’t know, I just hate to vote for someone I don’t know much about,” she said.

Unlike Mac, Florence’s dedication is to the political process, instead of to party lines. This might be something that those worried about the rift growing between Wisconsinites should consider.

“I’m a Democrat by party, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t vote for a Republican if I thought he was a better candidate,” she said. “It’s not my party, right or wrong.”

–by Allison Int-Hout

Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: campaign signs, Governor Walker, Tea Party

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