Evening State News Briefs: Wanggard refuses to concede electionWisconsin News
-- Van Wanggaard says he’s not about to hand control of the Wisconsin Senate to the Democrats, without a thorough review of the votes cast in his recall election.
RACINE - Van Wanggaard says he’s not about to hand control of the Wisconsin Senate to the Democrats, without a thorough review of the votes cast in his recall election.
The Election Night tally showed that Wanggaard lost to Democrat John Lehman by 779 votes, or one-point-one-percent out of 72,000 votes cast yesterday. But Wanggaard tells WRJN Radio in Racine that at least 600 absentee ballots have still not been counted. The station says there have been reports of voting irregularities throughout Racine County, and problems with the unofficial tally. So Wanggaard says he’ll hold tight before conceding, and see what the county’s official canvass has to say. That canvass is required to be done by June 15th, and Wanggaard could then seek a recount no later than June 20th. He said people across Wisconsin and the country have asked him to seek an immediate recount – but he can’t until the canvass is done. If the canvass shows that he lost by more than one-half-of-one-percent, his campaign would have to pay for a recount instead of taxpayers. Wanggard defeated Lehman in the last Senate election in 2010. If his loss holds up, Democrats will have a one-vote majority in the Senate at least until the scheduled fall elections.
Governor Scott Walker received a three-minute standing ovation from his Cabinet this afternoon. He and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch circled the table in the Governor’s Conference Room and hugged the head of every state agency. The Republican Walker survived his recall challenge yesterday with a seven-percentage point victory over Democrat Tom Barrett. Walker said he spoke with Democratic legislative leaders and state public school Superintendent Tony Evers – and he offered to work with them to create jobs. Walker said he has a sense that most people want to move on from the politically-divisive recall effort. And he said he would not back down on his promise to create a quarter-million private sector jobs by the time his term is scheduled to end at the start of 2015. Walker said quote, “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, to get people of the state back to work.” After his initial comments, Walker met in private with the Cabinet.
Democrats took steps today to assume the majority in the Wisconsin Senate – even though a Republican who lost in the Election Night tally has not conceded yet. Monona Democrat Mark Miller proclaimed himself as the new Majority Leader, saying his party now has a 17-16 majority in the Upper House after Van Wanggaard’s apparent loss to former Senator John Lehman. Wanggaard lost by one-point-one-percent – and he said there’s a chance that absentee ballots and voting irregularities might put him over the top once the canvass of the ballots is completed. That canvass begins next Tuesday. When it’s done, Wanggaard will decide whether he should seek a recount. Meanwhile, Lehman insists he won yesterday and quote, “We’re happy to have prevailed.” Miller said he has spoken to Senate GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald about the details of the transition. If the Democrats do take over, new committee chairs would be named – but they won’t have much, if any business until after the November elections when half the Senate’s up for new terms. Fitzgerald – who survived his own recall effort yesterday – has not commented on the situation.
The group that helped ban gay marriage in Wisconsin now has a new target – Internet gambling. Wisconsin Family Action and similar groups in a dozen other states have asked Congress to toughen the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. That’s after the U.S. Justice Department ruled last December that it’s not against federal laws to run in-state on-line betting that does not involve sports teams. In a letter, the 13 family groups said they don’t want the Internet to become a giant on-line casino. They said the costs to society would far outweigh the tax revenues that cash-strapped states are clamoring to get. Kent Ostrander of Kentucky’s Family Foundation said an expansion of gambling would quote, “separate a family from its assets.” And he said there would be more broken homes and families than society can afford. The Wisconsin Family Action group was the main force behind the approval of a constitutional amendment several years ago to ban gay marriage and civil unions in the Badger State.
A TV station’s news video of a woman slapping Tom Barrett in the face has gone viral on the Internet. Those who use MSN and Yahoo for their home pages saw a link to WISN’s video today. And the Politico was among the national news outlets reporting on what happened to the Milwaukee mayor, right after he conceded to Governor Scott Walker last night in the recall election. Barrett told the WISN reporter that the woman asked if she could slap him for conceding, while people were still standing in line to vote. The polls had closed two hours before that, but those in line at eight o’clock could vote no matter how long they’re in line. Barrett told the woman he’d rather hug her – and when he leaned down to do so, the woman slapped him in the face. Nothing else came from it, but Barrett was stunned that the lady reached up and slapped him.
Waukesha’s Common Council picked its person to be the next city administrator, but he’s not coming. Four candidates were interviewed last week. The selection committee decided on Shawn Gillen, currently city administrator of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Negotiations on a new contract were coming up next when Gillen notified Waukesha he was withdrawing. It’s possible the city will start advertising the opening again since no consensus was reached on the remaining candidates. Some aldermen would like interim city administrator Steve Crandell to take the job permanently, but he has indicated several times he prefers to be the city’s community development director – his permanent position.
Law enforcement officers from several agencies finally chased down a man suspected of driving drunk in the Village of Caledonia. People in one vehicle flagged down police after they said the 33 year old suspect had hit their car. That was a little after 6 p.m. Racine County sheriff’s deputies joined the pursuit of the 33 year old man who has already been convicted of drunk driving five times. Stop sticks were used to bring his SUV to a halt. The man was arrested for hit-and-run of an occupied vehicle while intoxicated and resisting arrest.
It’s good to know what you might find before you head to the beach. A new smart phone app offers all that information and it is available for free from the Great Lakes Commission. It reports important information like weather, if there are winds which could cause dangerous riptides, or what bacteria levels in the water have been measured. The same information is also available online at WiBeaches-dot-com.