Government and Political Roundup: Early voting coming to an end in WisconsinWisconsin News
-- Early voting is about to come to an end in Wisconsin.
Early voting is about to come to an end in Wisconsin. The in-person absentee voting at local clerks’ offices will end tomorrow evening. And those wanting absentee ballots by mail have until five this afternoon to get them. Majority Republicans in the state Legislature scaled back early voting this time. They were responding to clerks who were inundated with paperwork four years ago, when absentee voting was allowed on the day before Election Day. The GOP also shortened this year’s early voting to two weeks. Recent media reports explained how Democrats have done a better job than Republicans of making early voting an integral part of their campaign strategy. And the latest Marquette Law School poll seems to reflect that – although pollster Charles Franklin said the early results could not be accurate in predicting the total outcome. About one-of-every-10 likely voters said they had already cast their ballots when the Marquette University pollsters first came calling a week ago. 56-percent said they voted for President Obama, and 36-percent for Mitt Romney. Fifty-two percent of early voters went with Democrat Tammy Baldwin in the U.S. Senate race, to 36-percent for Republican Tommy Thompson. The rest wouldn’t say what they did.
President Obama plans to visit Wisconsin twice in the next three days. He has an airport rally this morning in Green Bay, where he canceled an appearance Tuesday night due to Superstorm Sandy. On Saturday, pop singer Katy Perry will join the Democratic president at Milwaukee’s downtown convention hall, which is now named the Delta Center. Tomorrow, Republican Mitt Romney has a rally planned at State Fair Park in West Allis. That event was pushed back from Monday night. A new Marquette Law School poll released yesterday puts Obama back in the lead, after the two were in a statistical dead heat in mid-October. The new poll of 1,243 likely voters has the president up by eight points, 51-43. Both campaigns say they still have a great chance to win next Tuesday. The Obama camp says it will lock up a victory with wins in Ohio, Wisconsin, and either Nevada or Iowa – and the president leads in all four of those states. The Romney campaign says Americans are negative about the direction of the country, and independents will be the ones to decide the contest. The new Marquette poll gives Obama a 46-41 edge among independents in Wisconsin, after Romney had a four-point edge in that same group in mid-October. Last night, former President Bill Clinton campaigned for Obama in Eau Claire, and he’ll do the same today in Waukesha. Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, held rallies in Eau Claire, Green Bay, and Racine – where he attacked Obama’s assistance to the auto industry. Vice President Joe Biden has appearances set for tomorrow in Beloit and Superior.
The Seventh District congressional race in northern Wisconsin has become the most expensive House contest in state history. Federal reports show that more than eight-million dollars have been raised by the two candidates and outside groups. That breaks the state’s previous spending mark, set in 2006 when Democrat Steve Kagen beat out Republican John Gard for an open House seat in northeast Wisconsin. In the Seventh District race, Republican Sean Duffy of Weston raised two-point-three million dollars through September in his bid to win a second term. Former state Senate Democrat Pat Kreitlow of Chippewa Falls raised one-point-one million. And special interest groups pumped in another three-point-six million dollars through mid-October. Duffy says redistricting is one reason for the higher costs – especially the addition of Saint Croix County, where folks get their local T-V from the Minneapolis-Saint Paul stations where it’s more expensive to advertise. Kreitlow agrees somewhat, but he says the cost is more about the people running – plus the outside money. Both candidates say they’d like to see less spending, and more transparency. Kreitlow says today’s technology should make it easier to see who’s putting the money behind the political action groups. State elections’ officials have tried to force more disclosure, but they’ve been stymied by legal challenges.
Wisconsin taxpayers will pick up the legal fees of Democrats who challenged the boundaries of the state’s new legislative districts. A settlement was announced yesterday, in which the state will pay over 257-thousand dollars to the Milwaukee law firm of Godfrey-and-Kahn. It helped Democrats and Hispanics pursue a case that challenged the constitutionality of the districts which were secretly drawn by majority Republicans last year. A three-judge federal panel ruled that all but two of the 132 districts met the constitutional requirements of being relatively equal in population according to the most recent census. The judges ordered that two Milwaukee Assembly districts be re-drawn, to assure that Hispanics are represented in the lower house. Taxpayers have covered several hundred thousand dollars for the GOP’s legal bills – and the clock is still ticking. The plaintiffs have accused the Republicans of hiding some of its information on how the districts were drafted and approved – even though the court demanded that it all be disclosed. Recently, a law firm found 34 Republican e-mails that were never released. And a search continues for more.
Former President Bill Clinton will visit Wisconsin’s most Republican county today, to make a pitch for Democratic President Obama. Clinton is speaking in Waukesha this morning, but no other details were immediately released. Clinton will speak in Eau Claire tonight. Meanwhile, the GOP says vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan is discussing the importance of the race during his Wisconsin campaign stops today – and he’s stressing the importance of early voting which runs through Friday. Ryan was in Eau Claire and Green Bay this morning, and he scheduled a rally in Racine this afternoon. Tomorrow, the president will rally his supporters at the airport in Green Bay. It’s the first time Obama will have made a campaign appearance since last Saturday in New Hampshire. He’s been tied up with matters involving Superstorm Sandy – and Green Bay will be his first stop tomorrow in a day that also includes visits to Las Vegas and Boulder Colorado. Vice President Joe Biden has campaign visits scheduled in Beloit and Superior on Friday – and Republican White House nominee Mitt Romney has a West Allis rally planned Friday morning at State Fair Park.