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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

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You are currently viewing all posts written by Thor Tolo. Thor Tolo is an Emmy winning broadcaster with 18 years of major market experience. He earned his Master of Communication in Digital Media degree from the University of Washington while anchoring news for KOMO Newsradio. Before his four-year run as host of Live from Seattle, Thor anchored sports for NBC affiliate WKYC-TV in Cleveland, co-hosted one of America's first sports-as-entertainment morning shows (WKNR), anchored the 62-station Minnesota Vikings Radio Network, and hosted a nightly talk show for the world’s first radio station (KDKA) in Pittsburgh – where he freelanced for CBS affiliate KDKA-TV and Fox Sports.

July 16, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Some conservative evangelical leaders worry about Rob McKenna on same-sex marriage

A referendum to roll back legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington State is a “wild card” in what Politico confirms will be this country’s most closely contested gubernatorial race.

Attorney General & GOP candidate

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna’s lead over Democrat Jay Inslee is now within the margin of error in his bid to become this state’s first Republican governor in 28 years. (Photo courtesy of “McKenna For Governor” campaign)

SEATTLE — The political script playing out for Rob McKenna, the Republican candidate for governor of Washington, is one with which Americans are familiar: uncertainty over trust and a wariness of agendas.

This dynamic is always a challenge for a candidate running for office, particularly when concerns are emerging from voters expected to be a politician’s strongest supporters.

McKenna these days is at odds with some very recognizable conservative evangelical Christians — a voting bloc determined to repeal state legislation that legalizes same-sex marriage.

November’s Referendum 74 proposes to reject a same-sex marriage bill passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire in February.

In an interview with UW Election Eye, McKenna said he wants to make three things perfectly clear:

  1. He voted to expand the rights of domestic partners.
  2. He will not be voting to legalize same-sex marriage this November.
  3. “None of this has anything to do with whether I become governor,” he said.

Joseph Backholm disagrees, and he matters. Backholm is directly responsible for submitting more than twice the number of valid signatures required to put Referendum 74 on the November ballot.


Comments | More in State | Topics: Antioch Bible Church, attorney general, Christine Gregoire

June 6, 2012 at 1:34 AM

Wisconsin’s governor made history, now he must make amends

For UW Election Eye, it has been an epic two weeks traveling to every nook and cranny of the most divided state on America’s political landscape. Now that Scott Walker has secured a decisive victory, the once recalled — now redeemed — governor of Wisconsin has a second, more important mandate: heal his embittered electorate.

Gov Walker wins

A gentler, more gracious Gov. Walker promised Wisconsin he would learn from his mistakes during his victory speech on June 5, 2012. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

WAUKESHA, Wisc. — Scott Kevin Walker brought something to the victory podium last night that few folks had seen him exhibit on the campaign trail: some humility.

I’ve made mistakes, he said, and I’ve learned from them. I didn’t communicate as well as I should. I wish I’d taken more time to work through disagreements.

It seemed a remarkable turnaround for a governor nearly done in by his own wince-worthy words: “divide and conquer.” If Walker keeps his pledge from that podium, it’s now going to be “unite and overcome.”


Comments | More in National | Topics: campaign trail, Collective bargaining, Divide and conquer

June 5, 2012 at 7:22 PM

Tea Party’s Walker wins Wisconsin to become first U.S. governor ever to survive recall

Lori Mallett shouts for joy at the first network projection of a Walker victory at Waukesha Expo Center on June 5, 2012. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye) WAUKESHA, Wisc. – Sixteen months and more than 63 million advertising dollars later, Republican Scott Walker has become the first incumbent governor in U.S. history to survive…


Comments | More in National | Topics: Recall election, Scott Walker, Tea Party

June 5, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Bitter Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election entirely up for grabs: voices from the state

UW Election Eye is on a slow crawl from Wausau to Waukesha, Wisconsin — in search of those unique small town stories that can tilt critical elections one way or the other. Polls close here at 8pm Central, 6pm Pacific. We will be with GOP Gov. Scott Walker — win or lose — later this…


Comments | More in National | Topics: Appleton, Milwaukee, Scott Walker

June 5, 2012 at 12:43 AM

Wisconsin chooses a governor today while many wonder about wisdom of expensive recalls

Stevens Point protest rally

Anti-Walker protest rallies around Wisconsin became even more vocal as today’s recall election neared. About 100 demonstrators showed up for the governor’s arrival at Stevens Point Brewery on June 4, 2012. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

For 16 months, Wisconsinites have been living a surreal dream – one in which the heroes and villains are strictly a matter of political preference. If Milwaukee Mayor and Democratic challenger Tom Barrett beats incumbent GOP Governor Scott Walker in today’s recall election, it will be the biggest political shocker in Wisconsin history.

UW Election Eye will have a front row seat to either the governor’s victory or defeat tonight in Waukesha. But first, we will be “live” blogging from various precincts throughout the day.

WAUSAU, Wisc. – There may be a trickle of undecided voters left as Wisconsinites awaken to the most politically charged day in anybody’s memory, but good luck finding any.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Ashland, Lake Superior, Madison

June 4, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Wisconsin governor finds shaky constituency in law enforcement

Walker toasts Lt. Gov. Kleefisch

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch toasts her boss, Gov. Scott Walker, inside Stevens Point Brewery as if nothing extraordinary is going on outside the iconic building on June 4, 2012. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

UW Election Eye is in the middle of Wisconsin after reaching every corner of the state over the past two weeks. What we saw today south of Wausau is a governor spinning tumbling poll numbers and drinking beer for a photo op on the eve of only the third gubernatorial recall election in U.S. history.

STEVENS POINT, Wisc. — It is the ultimate political paradox.

The people ultimately responsible for protecting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are not anywhere near his strongest constituency.

In fact, a few police officers from this charming Midwestern town joined with state patrol in joking with protesters angrily opposed to Walker and passionately in favor of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in Tuesday’s statewide recall election.

One officer initially told protesters he always separates his personal opinions from work duties, but then laughed: “Get back to me Wednesday and we’ll maybe have something to celebrate.”

Dave Kratzke remained silent a few feet away, at one point staring at the ground prior to Walker’s arrival. “I’ve heard he’s a really nice guy, and some friends of mine who’ve met him say the same thing,” Kratzke told me later after a hundred protesters dispersed. “Whenever [Walker] is around people, he seems to be super friendly so I’m not sure what the deal is.”


Comments | More in National | Topics: Governor Scott Walker, State Highway Patrol, Stevens Point

June 4, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Wisconsin governor recall debate spilling over Michigan border

UW Election Eye had high hopes for a brief respite from the fiery Wisconsin gubernatorial recall race, enjoying a Sunday afternoon drive across the border into Ironwood, Michigan. Instead, the welcome we got along old Highway 2 was business as usual: Wisconsin politics.

Pera on range

John Pera fires his treasured Flintlock rifle on a range in Marenisco, Michigan on June 3, 2012. This is where he trains for his reenactment role from the French-Indian War of the mid 18th century. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

MARENISCO, Mich. — The sight of a cemetery near a children’s playground and Little League diamond is a common scene in small towns across America, including this tiny Michigan town 10 miles north of the Wisconsin border.

The sight of a shooting range running parallel to the first base line of a baseball park — separated by only a narrow blacktop road — is not at all common. And the sight of a restored Flintlock rifle is rarer still.

Welcome to Wisconsin North, not a bad nickname for this stretch of land not far from the western shores of Lake Superior. This, as expert rifleman John Pera put it, is “Walker Country.”


Comments | More in National | Topics: concealed carry, Flintlock rifle, Highway 2

June 3, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Northwest Wisconsin wrestles with governor’s failed mine proposal as recall election nears

UW Election Eye traveled to Wisconsin committed to reach every region of this state before the June 5 gubernatorial recall election. On Friday we reached the northwest corner and found a number of folks upset with GOP governor Scott Walker after the incumbent tried to rush through an open-pit iron ore mining bill not long after taking office.

Joe Barabe

Wisconsin's longest serving mayor, Joe Barabe, photographed after a day of fishing on June 2, 2012. He told UWEE a governor's aide said Scott Walker doesn't speak directly by phone with his constituents. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

MELLEN, Wisc. — In a scene ripped straight out of a script from the Andy Griffith Show in Mayberry, a dusty dinged-up pickup truck pulled up and parked along the shoulder of State Highway 13 in this tiny blue-collar town half an hour south of Lake Superior.

Out stepped the longest serving mayor in Wisconsin, Joe Barabe, holding his favorite fishing pole and looking resigned to a recall election victory this Tuesday by the man he called “an entirely worthless clown.”

Nobody worked harder than Barabe to defeat Scott Walker in his first governor’s race against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett two years ago.

This 24-year serving mayor is furious over Walker’s attempt to strong-arm a mining bill he calls an “embarrassing act by a disgraceful governor.”


Comments | More in National | Topics: Ashland, Assembly Bill 426, Chris Cline

May 31, 2012 at 10:09 PM

Sparks fly in more conversational Wisconsin governor recall debate

Barrett & Walker before Marquette debate

Gov. Scott Walker (right) chuckles at the moderator's quip about the bright lights moments before the debate with Tom Barrett (left) in Milwaukee on May 31, 2012. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

We were at Thursday’s debate between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger, Tom Barrett. It was a case study in face-to-face verbal combat that sets the tone for the final five days before Tuesday’s recall election.

MILWAUKEE — Marquette University political science professor John McAdams saw it coming: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s internal polling shows a tighter race than the Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday that has Walker up 52% to 45% over Democratic challenger Tom Barrett heading toward Tuesday’s gubernatorial recall election.

If that’s true, McAdams said, Walker would go hard after Barrett in Thursday evening’s debate.

Last Friday in a debate across town, Barrett assailed Walker without much push back. Would things be different Thursday?



Comments | More in National | Topics: Collective bargaining, John Doe investigation, Marquette Law

May 31, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Wisconsin governor’s premature exit from college remains mystery to Marquette professors

It has been 25 years since Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker sought the student body presidency of a large private university. Just days before what could become only the third successful gubernatorial recall in U.S. history, UW Election Eye wondered whether polarizing perceptions of Walker were as prevalent back then as they are now.

MILWAUKEE — Polite. Dishonest. Respectful. Conniving.

Only three men have a chance to wake up next Wednesday as governor of Wisconsin. One is Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The others are the two personalities of Scott Kevin Walker.

Marquette Professor Emeritus Boles

Marquette Professor Emeritus Janet Boles archived every assignment score of every student she taught between 1980 and 2009. (Photo by Thor Tolo/ UW Election Eye)

Depending on whom you ask, the embattled Tea Party hero fighting for his political life was either an average, well-intentioned student at Marquette University — or a disillusioned, narcissistic buffoon devoid of any moral compass as he walked over friend and foe alike in repeated failed efforts to become student body president.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Athan Theoharis, campaign violations, Greg Stanton

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