State Government and Political Roundup: Today is Election Day (again)Wisconsin News
-- Wisconsin voters will decide today who will run against Democrat Tammy Baldwin for the U-S Senate seat that’s being vacated by Herb Kohl.
Wisconsin voters will decide today who will run against Democrat Tammy Baldwin for the U.S. Senate seat that’s being vacated by Herb Kohl.
State officials say about one-of-every-five eligible voters will turn out to choose one of four Republican candidates – Tommy Thompson, Mark Neumann, Jeff Fitzgerald, or Eric Hovde. A lot of things have kept the Senate primary off the front pages of newspapers – including the governor’s recall effort, the Olympics, the choice of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate, and even the Sikh Temple shootings in Oak Creek when the Senate campaign could have hit a fever pitch last week. Still, Marquette pollster Charles Franklin says the Wisconsin race is important nationally – because it could help determine whether Republicans have a chance to take control of the U.S. Senate in November. Franklin also said a lower turnout could mean a tighter result tonight. The latest Marquette University Law School poll gave former Governor Thompson an eight-point lead over hedge fund manager Hovde. And 21-percent of likely voters were undecided as of last week. Other recent polls showed a dead heat between Thompson, Hovde, and former Congressman Neumann. Also today, voters will decide a hotly-contested U.S. House primary for the seat Baldwin’s giving up. And numerous state legislative and county primaries are on today’s ballot. All polls close at eight tonight.
The U.S. Justice Department is keeping an eye on some of the voting in today’s Wisconsin fall primaries. Civil rights personnel planned to monitor polling places in Milwaukee to watch for discrimination, harassment, and intimidation. The state Government Accountability Board has sent a warning to partisan poll-watchers not to interfere. During the busy recall elections this year, groups like the American Civil Liberties’ Union complained that poll watchers improperly spoke to the voters. Legally, the only people they can talk to is the polling place’s chief inspector. Reid Magney of the Accountability Board said interference by poll watchers has become more frequent and intimidating. And the Board told poll workers they can call police if necessary.
Meanwhile, the state says it’s been educating poll workers on the recent changes in voting laws, so fewer violations take place today. Voters do not have to show ID’s at the polls – but they must sign poll books, and new voters must show only specified documents to prove their residency. They must live in their present locations for 28 days instead of the previous 10. Also, officials remind voters they can only choose candidates from one party in today’s primary. The polls opened at seven, and will close at eight tonight. Voters are choosing party nominees for the U-S Senate, Congress, the state Legislature, and a number of county offices.
Janesville U.S. House Republican Paul Ryan met his share of hecklers during his first solo speech as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate. At the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines yesterday, two women were removed after they shouted at him from just several feet away. And that was only a few seconds into Ryan’s 12-minute speech. Ryan tried to make light of it, asking if there were any Packers’ fans in the crowd to settle things down. At least two older men also heckled Ryan from a further distance later in his address. They calmed down, but some others kept yelling. Ryan said Romney’s economic plans would create a stronger middle-class by creating 12-million U.S. jobs, helping workers get better job skills, promoting free-and-fair trade, cutting the corporate income tax to help small businesses, and stopping the growth in federal spending. The loudest applause came when Ryan said President Obama gave the country four years of trillion-dollar deficits and quote, “We’re not going to stand for that.” Obama campaigned at the Iowa State Fair last evening. The president added the fair to his list of stops on a bus tour of the Hawkeye State. Today, Ryan campaigns at a high school in Lakewood Colorado. Obama plans to spend two more days in Iowa.
Republican Mitt Romney is trying to convince Florida voters that his Wisconsin running mate Paul Ryan now supports America’s long-standing embargo of Cuba. While campaigning in Miami yesterday, Romney told a Spanish-speaking radio station that Ryan changed his position a few years ago after meeting with Cuban-American Republicans. It’s a hot-button issue in Florida, where many Republicans continue to fight efforts to lift the embargo. In 2002, the Janesville congressman told reporters that the U.S. embargo of Cuba was a failed policy – and Ryan said it might have been justified when the former Soviet Union used Cuba as a threat to the U.S. But eventually, he said it became more of a crutch for Fidel Castro to repress the Cuban people while blaming the embargo. Ryan did vote against easing trade sanctions against Cuba in 2007. But a year later, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said Ryan did another flip-flop, saying quote, “If we’re going to have free trade with China, why not Cuba?” Ryan has not commented on his current position.
Wisconsin Democrats took Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to task yesterday. They said Clarke provided better security for Republican Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan on Sunday, than he did for President Obama in his visit to Milwaukee’s Master Lock plant in February. Clarke provided deputies for Romney’s and Ryan’s joint appearance in neighboring Waukesha County on Sunday. And State Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said it looked like quote, “a campaign contribution using tax dollars.” Clarke was taken to task in February for not having deputies guard freeway ramps during the president’s visit to Milwaukee. At the time, Clarke spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin cited budget cuts – and she said the State Patrol had agreed to handle the freeway duties. Yesterday, McLaughlin would not say how many deputies were assigned to the Republican presidential ticket. She said the Secret Service was in charge of the security detail. Clarke issued a statement calling it a “fabrication” that some dignitaries get better protection than others from his department. He calls such criticism “political gamesmanship.” Clarke is officially a Democrat, although Republican Governor Scott McCallum first appointed him about 10 years ago as the Milwaukee County sheriff.