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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: Wisconsin

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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

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.”


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

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

May 30, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Lessons for Washington on the politics of alcohol from Wisconsin

Washington’s new liquor law is bringing big changes to the state’s alcohol industry. What can we learn from a state known for its alcohol about the future of booze?

Whether it is bars, restaurants, or distilleries, all will be affected by the new Washington law, and everything that comes with it. (Lucas Anderson / UW Election Eye)

MILWAUKEE — The politics and economics of alcohol in Washington change tomorrow, when sales of liquor move from a state enterprise to a private one. The state of Wisconsin is rich with lessons for what might come next for Washington.

Wisconsin is the birthplace of Miller Brewing and contains the city with the most liquor licenses per capita, some of the lowest taxes on beer, and one of the highest percentages of adults who binge drink. In short, it’s a state that knows alcohol.

What the history of Wisconsin makes clear is that alcohol is political.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Alcohol, Bars, Beer

May 28, 2012 at 2:00 PM

As much politics as patriotism in small Wisconsin town Memorial parade

The UW Election Eye team of Kirsten Johnson, Will Mari and Thor Tolo blanketed the Memorial Day parade in Beloit, Wisconsin. We found a few avid supporters of Gov. Scott Walker amidst a sea of blue Tom Barrett signs and stickers along the parade route. Lifelong Beloit resident Rick Rath welcomed the challenge of feeding…


Comments | More in National | Topics: Beloit, control spending, deficit

May 26, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Wisconsin pastor has junior-high students pushing for same-sex marriage

UW Election Eye is on the road for three weeks, covering politics in the heartland of America. In Wisconsin, we found the same currents on same-sex marriage as we see in Washington. In Madison, we met a pastor whose 7th and 8th grade Confirmation students are writing to politicians advocating for same-sex marriage.


Reverend Sue Schneider in her office of Trinity Lutheran Church in Madison. (Photo by Kirsten Johnson/ UW Election Eye)

MADISON, Wisc. — Same-sex marriage is on the ballot in Washington state this fall. In this upper-Midwest state, same-sex relations last faced voters in 2009 when a domestic partnership plan was passed as part of Wisconsin’s biennial budget bill.

Reverend Susan Schneider, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Madison, wants to see marriage, not just partnerships, on the ballot — and soon.

Schneider’s junior high school Confirmation class at Trinity Lutheran is writing dozens of letters to political officials pushing for marriage equality.

“God loves everyone,” read the letters we saw. “One way we see a need for change in our state and in our world is that not everyone can marry the person they love…We want it to be a better state for all people.”


Comments | More in National | Topics: domestic partnership, ELCA, election

May 25, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Two Midwest tales of weathering the Great American Recession

UW Election Eye is on the road for three weeks, covering politics in the heartland of America. One of our points of focus is Wisconsin, where voters will decide on June 5 whether to recall their governor. A big issue there, like everywhere, is the economy. Here’s two towns that have different, yet both challenging, tales.

A tumble weed is the only sign of movement you would expect to see at the General Motors Janesville Assembly in Janesville, Wisc. The factory closed its doors in June 2008 and is in standby until its fate will be reconsidered in 2015. (Allison Int-Hout/UW Election Eye)

ON THE ROAD IN WISCONSIN — A total of 49 miles apart in this state anchoring the upper Midwest, Janesville and Middleton tell two very different stories of how some towns in America are weathering the Great Recession. They represent economic turmoil on one hand and prosperity on the other.

Their experiences point to the issue that hangs over all of American politics like a cloud this election season: jobs. It’s certainly front and center as Wisconsites consider whether to oust Governor Scott Walker in a recall election on June 5. And it is jobs that will go far to determine the fate of many other elections in November.

From Puget Sound to Lake Michigan and beyond, it’s on everyone’s mind, even those who are doing relatively well.


Comments | Topics: Economy, General Motors, Janesville

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