State Government and Political Roundup: Two Assembly Dems lost in the primary TuesdayWisconsin News
-- A Democratic political strategist says the Republican redistricting plan played a role in the defeat of a 29-year state legislative veteran yesterday.
MILWAUKEE - A Democratic political strategist says the Republican redistricting plan played a role in the defeat of a 29-year state legislative veteran yesterday.
State Assembly Democrat Peggy Krusick of Milwaukee only got a-third of the vote in losing her primary to Daniel Riemer, a law student who wasn’t even alive when Krusick first joined the Legislature in 1983. Joel Gratz of the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee said a lot of new territory was added to Krusick’s district – and that forced her to connect with people she never knew or represented before. Riemer agreed that the redistricting played a role in his victory. He said he really wasn’t running against anybody, and he only ran because he thought he could do a good job. Riemer will get his chance, because nobody’s running against him in November. Krusick’s fellow Democrats got upset with her last year, when she proposed the elimination of race as a factor in giving out student grants for college. Milwaukee Democrat Leon Young was so angry, he wanted Krusick to stop attending their party’s strategy meetings. Milwaukee state Assembly Democrat Jason Fields also lost his seat after eight years in office.
Six Assembly members were effectively re-elected yesterday, since they don’t have opponents in November. They are Milwaukee area Democrats Sandy Pasch, Fred Kessler, Jocasta Zamarripa, and Josh Zepnick – Madison Democrat Brett Hulsey – and Hartford Republican Don Pridemore.
State officials say it’s the most serious election problem they’ve seen in years. A disabled woman was deprived of a secret ballot yesterday, after she could not use a broken wheelchair lift at her polling place at Milwaukee Juneau High School. 66-year-old Marsha Valance arrived with a walker – and she called for a poll worker because she couldn’t get up the stairs. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the poll worker handed her a ballot without a sleeve – and she had to complete it at the bottom of a stairway with no privacy. Valance said she saw the poll worker reading the ballot while walking back upstairs. And she called it “outrageous” that she was deprived of her right to vote in secret. Reid Magney of the Government Accountability Board said his agency audits up to 10-percent of Wisconsin’s polling places each year. And while they find very few problems, the agency follows up with local officials to make sure they’re fixed. Valance said the wheelchair lift was also broken during both recall elections in May and June. If it’s not fixed by November, Milwaukee Election Commission director Neil Albrecht says he’ll find another voting site. Valance said she complained to both the city and the state earlier this year. But Albrecht said he didn’t know anything until school officials brought it up three days before yesterday’s primaries. And he said quote, “Three days before an election is not sufficient time to change the voting site.” He said the polling place did offer curbside voting to those needing it.
Don’t be surprised if there’s a recount in a northeast Wisconsin Assembly primary. Only one vote separated two Democrats running for the seat now held by veteran Republican Garey Bies of Sister Bay. According to the Election Night tallies, Patrick Veeser received 1,582 votes to 1,581 for Arnie Johnsrud. The final winner will move on to face Byes in November. The most crowded legislative primary was in the Stevens Point area, where nine Democrats got in line for the chance to replace fellow Democrat Lou Molepske, who’s stepping down. Katrina Shankland won the primary with 27-percent of the vote. Corey Ladick was a close second, 44 votes behind Shankland out of almost five-thousand cast. Shankland won the right to face Republican Patrick Testin for the Assembly seat in November.
Former State Democratic Party chairman Joe Wineke has lost his bid for a second stint in the Wisconsin Legislature. Wineke, of Verona, lost to incumbent Sondy Pope-Roberts in a three-way Democratic primary in the 80th Assembly District. Pope-Roberts, of Middleton, got 49-percent of the vote to 43-percent for Wineke and eight-percent for Charles Uphoff. Pope-Roberts has served for a decade in the Assembly. Wineke was in the Assembly for 10 years and the Senate for six years before leaving the Legislature in 1999. Pope-Roberts was among 13 Assembly incumbents who won primaries yesterday.
Mark Pocan got quite a present for his 48th birthday – the Democratic nomination for the Madison area’s U.S. House seat. Pocan, a state Assembly representative, got 72-percent of the vote yesterday in defeating fellow Assembly Democrat Kelda Helen Roys of Madison, who got 22-percent. Matt Silverman had four-percent, and Dennis Hall two-percent. Pocan will now face Republican Chad Lee of Mount Horeb in November for a House seat that’s been held for decades by Madison area Democrats. Tammy Baldwin has held the post for almost 14 years, but she’s stepping down to run for the U.S. Senate. Pocan, like Baldwin, is openly gay – and he’s been a champion for gay-and-women’s rights in the Legislature. He has also has experience in budgeting, as a former co-chair of the state’s finance committee. Pocan says he wants to bring factory jobs back to America, and help as many people as possible get access to affordable health care. There was only one other U.S. House primary in the state yesterday. And it was no contest, as Republican incumbent Tom Petri of Fond du Lac got 82-percent of the vote in defeating Lauren Stephens. Petri, who’s held the post for 34 years, now faces Democrat Joe Kallas of Princeton in November.