Update on Kathy Nickolaus, the clerk of neighboring Waukesha County who "found" those 14K ballots to swing last spring's WI Supreme Court election away from the challenger...
She didn't even begin to report her election results until after 2am on Tuesday night - six hours after polls closed. Apparently, her computer reporting software (of which she uses a different program than the other 71 counties in the state) did not work, despite her claims of several successful practice runs. Staff had to tally votes from various precincts themselves. Candidates and reporters had to visit her office and get the information they were looking for by doing the math themselves from printed reports posted on the wall.
She got pushback from her own party, from the right. The Waukesha county executive gave her two options on Wednesday: Resign outright, or step aside and let the deputy clerk work with state officials for the upcoming recall elections. She chose the latter.
Nickolaus is a big X-factor which could have swung the recall election in Walker's favor through questionable methods. It would put an asterisk after a potential Walker victory. Thank goodness she's gone.
Worth noting: Nickolaus faces a Republican primary in August and, if she survives that, an actual Democratic challenger in Waukesha County. She's also not going to be presiding over her own reelection.
Also worth noting: Milwaukee, Dane (Madison,) and Waukesha counties are the top three deliverers of votes for both parties in this state. Despite the Democratic slant of Madison and the Republican slant of Waukesha. Population.
It's 2:30am. I've been doing data entry for an hour since I got off work from my job. I'm compiling mailing addresses of all those who were on the ballot in spring elections. They'll be getting postcards from Lori's campaign, won or lost.
I'm compiling the Lost section of that now. I know there will be other familiar names in there, but I got to the name of one of my recall county coordinators and stopped. Taking a break here to distract myself a moment after that. Sadly, there's going to be a few more of those familiar names before I'm through.
On the home front: Nomination signature collection period has passed. Everything has been submitted, some might be thrown out in the challenge phase. That ends on Tuesday, I think. There could be some interesting things to report about that if I get time. Not now.
I would like to give a shout-out to the Hulu original program Battleground, filmed primarily in Madison before any of this happened. It centers around the staff of a Democratic candidate in a fictional U.S. Senate campaign in Wisconsin, posing as the work of a documentary crew. (Inevitable obligatory comparison to The Office here.) Things are never as good as they look on TV, but I'm following the series. It also doesn't hurt that I learned of the show's existence when one of its bit players, a guy who went to high school with me, said I'm one of the two guys he thought of when they were shooting... and that if he's lucky, he might even get speaking lines in a potential second season But nice nonetheless.
Six weeks to the recall elections. Two weeks to the primaries.
I earlier described the Lori Compas campaign as the "marquee" senate race. Not entirely, upon further reflection. Does it get more attention from statewide media and people within the movement than the other three senate recalls? Yes. That level of support isn't necessarily mirrored by the Democratic Party. She's last in line behind Walker/Kleefisch and the "official" three senate recalls.
I've only seen one poll on the Lori race. Fitzgerald 54 Compas 40 Undecided 6
Now, to any casual/outside observer this might seem like a completely lost cause. But I live in the fifth-reddest senate district (of 33) in the state. The best any Scott Fitzgerald opponent has done in the past decade has been to lose by thirty points. Lori is already outperforming every November opponent Fitzgerald has had in my voting lifetime - six weeks ahead of the election. No matter what happens, that's progress.
Recall primary is Tuesday. All six races have primaries.
Wisconsin has an open primary system, in which voters can cross over on the ballot. Republicans are taking advantage of this once again by running a candidate of their own in every race.
In the gubernatorial and Lt. Gov. primaries, they are re-running two people who ran in the summer senate recalls. In the Lori Compas race, they are running the man who founded a Walker Walkers group (who marched with signs in the commons daily and, at times, heckled signature collectors) in a nearby city.
Four weeks from Tuesday will be the main event.
Democrats (the legitimate ones) running for the right to challenge Scott Walker: Tom Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee who lost to Walker in 2010. Kathleen Falk, former Dane County executive (Madison's county.) Doug La Follette, Secretary of State and great-grandnephew of "Fighting Bob." Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, one of the WI14.
Tom Barrett leads his closest rival, Kathleen Falk, by about 17-18 points according to the most recent poll. Vinehout & La Follette poll at around 8% in advance of the primary.
Running against Lt. Gov. Kleefisch is Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Wisconsin professional firefighters union and fixture at the capitol protests.
It's kind of disappointing. I had liked a different option altogether, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, who chose not to run. After over a year of rallying, sleeping inside & outside the capitol, traveling the state to work the summer recalls... I still consider myself undecided. Barrett & Falk have both run for the job before. I liked Barrett in the 2002 primary in which the previous governor, Jim Doyle, eventually won. I wasn't so enthused by his run in 2010. Falk strikes me as a bit of an ice queen and an opportunist. When I lived in Madison & she was my county executive, I eventually started voting for her Republican opposition because I was sick of her running for some state office or another during the term & knew I could safely cast a protest vote for the GOP in deep blue Madison. Doug La Follette, I can admire and respect, but he doesn't seem like the fighter I want. He did what he could to prevent the budget repair bill from passing initially, through his Secretary of State power to cause the bill's enaction by officially publishing it - which he refused to do with pending court action. Kathleen Vinehout, were all other things equal, would get my vote. She's a dairy farmer with two or three degrees, and is rather friendly & folksy when she speaks. She fled the state to deny the senate quorum, and was the only legislator to actually propose an alternate budget in 2010. When she's at an event, she's usually the only candidate who not only takes Q&A but sticks around to mingle instead of just leaving after speaking. She definitely wins the proverbial "Who would I want to have a beer with?" question in this race.
Part of me wants to vote Vinehout, if only because she's the only one of those four for whom I have never cast a vote. It is realistically a Barrett vs. Falk race in the Democratic primary, though. As I said, I feel "meh" about it. I can't believe we went through such an extraordinary, unconventional year... only to have a rematch of the 2002 primary minus its winner.
I suppose the open primary system works both ways. This is a good time to reintroduce everyone to Arthur. Arthur collected the requisite signatures to get on the Republican primary ballot against Scott Walker on Tuesday. Rather than running as a "fake Republican," he styles himself as a "Lincoln Republican" or the "real Republican." Since there's already a primary on the other side of the aisle, he's not necessarily running to game the process for optimal timing for fellow partisans.
I have mentioned him in this thread before. I first met him last July, traveling from Madison to protest a private fundraiser headlined by Walker with our mutual friend Batman Jenna. He is a regular at the capitol. I've shared some of his video clips here - the two I can name off the top of my head are Lori Compas' speech at the ReclaimWI rally and the video of Rep. Joel Kleefisch voting for absent Assembly colleagues.
Last August, I was within a day of being on a lease with Arthur, Jenna & a few others - like the guy who dumped a beer on Rep. Robin Vos' head and a girl who attached herself to a legislative gallery with a bike lock. In retrospect, I am both rueful and relieved that I didn't get in on that experience. I signed his nomination papers instead of any of the Democrats running, and (since I am allowed to choose a partisan primary for governor) I just might give him my vote on Tuesday.
Tom Barrett 58% (Milwaukee mayor) Kathleen Falk 34% (Former Dane County executive) Kathleen Vinehout 4% (WI14 state senator) Doug La Follette 3% (Secretary of State) (I voted for Vinehout.)
Mahlon Mitchell, president of the state firefighters union, won the Lt. Gov. primary with 52% of the vote against a "fake Democrat" and a fringe blast-from-the-past legitimate Democrat.
My friend Arthur got 3% of the GOP primary vote against Scott Walker, receiving nearly 20K votes statewide.
The race I care about most gets its own post, next.
Today I ran the office, made some phone calls, did a literature drop, made a couple rounds of driving voters to the polls, and once the polls closed I went to a nearby township and got the numbers to report to the campaign chair. It was one of those days of being fueled by nothing but caffeine & nicotine. There will be more to come.
To give you an idea of the razor-thin race we've got going here:
GOP: 651,300 (All GOP primary votes + fake Democratic candidate.) Democrats: 665,436 (Combined total of all four Democratic candidates.)
I wonder how many more grey hairs I'll earn before this is through.
We have a billboard. No, I'm not in it, I was at work when that was taken Its purchase was donated to a campaign by an older lady, I'm told. I knew it had been donated, but by chance my girlfriend ran into its donor at a women's rally at the capitol (while I babysat) and struck up a conversation in which she came up. The woman said she had never really been politically involved, but that she thinks the world needs more women like Lori and was inspired to generosity.
We had four state senate primaries in the state, too. Each of them with their own faux Democrat running. The real Democratic senate candidates won with the following margins: Lori Compas 72-28 Lehman 68-32 Kristin Dexter 64-36 Donna Seidel 64-36
In the beginning back in November, I was the only person in this district willing to lend my name to the committee when Lori sought support to recall Fitzgerald. I had a WisDems staffer tell me we were "crazy" to be doing this, and he wasn't alone in thinking this couldn't happen. Nobody else wanted to touch it until the final week and a half, when we had nearly proven it could be done by ourselves. Considering all that, there is a certain sense of vindication to be had as Lori's lone founding co-member of the Recall Fitz committee. Lori outperformed the three Democratic candidates recruited by the party to run in the 'official' recall efforts. Lori possibly outperformed the four Democratic gubernatorial candidates combined in this district. (Can't track down precinct totals at the moment, only county.) Lori got more votes in this primary than signatures we collected to recall Fitzgerald. Lori polls (as of a couple weeks ago) at 40% vs. Fitzgerald, when his previous November general election opponents received 32, 32, 31 and 30 percent of the vote... and she still has a month to go and room to grow. Lori is going to give Scott Fitzgerald the fight of his political career, and I'm glad to be right there behind her.
That woman is Walker's largest individual donor. She is a billionaire & has given $510,000 to his campaign. The usual $10K campaign contribution maximum, plus another half-million during his unlimited recall fundraising period. She attends Koch brothers semiannual strategy enclaves. I swear, the only time I ever get to hear my governor speak the truth is when he's talking to a billionaire - or thinks he is...
And yes, I did see what Dropkick Murphys had to say about Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald using their music - and good on them for speaking up. He's the Speaker of the Assembly, and the younger brother of Sen. Scott Fitzgerald we are trying to recall. He isn't my Assembly representative, but he represents the district just to the north of my Assembly district. He is running for U.S. Senate rather than remain in the Assembly. He's running roughly fourth place out of four candidates. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson appears to be the front-runner, but might have issues with the Tea Party. Also in the running are former Congressman Mark Neumann (who always seems to be running for something - he primaried Walker for governor in 2010) and millionaire political newcomer/hedge fund manager Eric Hovde also seem to have more traction in that race with him.
"I don't for one minute believe she is the organizing force behind this whole thing." Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, waxing chauvinistic about Lori Compas, who initiated his recall and is challenging him in the June 5th election. Quoted from this isconsin State Journal article which ran in yesterday's edition.
This is Lori's response video, filmed just yesterday. It's gotten pushing-10K views in the past day or so and got coverage on the ten o'clock news.
I don't think that Time naming "You" its 2006 Person of the Year & Time naming "The Protester" its 2011 Person of the Year are unrelated. Just saying.
The thing that has a lot of movement people up in arms is that the Democratic National Committee has refused a request by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to help fund this election. From what I gather, DPW asked the DNC for a half-million for field operations & Get Out The Vote over the next three weeks.
I'll admit I'm disappointed, but I don't seem as outraged as some people around here are. They're outraged because they're surprised. I think they should have seen it coming when Obama didn't come out to march in his "comfortable shoes."
This is Kati. She lives in Madison, but claims a city in my area as her hometown. She is an elementary school art teacher, Democracy Addict, fellow volunteer, and a friend. She is the first recall election voter in the entire state of Wisconsin, in Madison early this morning. Advance in-person absentee voting began today and runs through June 1st. General election is June 5th.
Sad how that, just as everything comes to a head here, I might not be updating this thread as much as it deserves. It certainly won't get the post-game attention it deserves, because I'm hitting the road for Bonnaroo the morning after the election.
Polls suggest a variance of +1 for Tom Barrett to +5 for Scott Walker, with their various critics. Mahlon Mitchell has moved up to within the margin of error in other polls. The only poll I've seen in the Lori Compas vs. Scott Fitzgerald race had Fitzgerald up, 54-40 with six weeks to go. I'm ignoring polls from here on out. This election is too unprecedented to gauge by conventional means. Polls focus on registered and/or likely voters. I have heard rumors that 30% of the people who signed the petition do not fit into these categories.
Lori Compas had a "Vote Your Values" whistle-stop tour throughout the district this past weekend, and I think it went well. She has a highly anticipated debate against Fitzgerald this Wednesday night. Even if we haven't gained a single point in the past month, which I doubt, we're still going to give that bastard the fight of his political career. I'm feeling optimistic.
Scott Walker has agreed to two debates with Tom Barrett, half of what Barrett has requested.
We have about another week of trying to canvass, call & otherwise persuade whatever persuadable voters remain... but honestly, you could count their percentage points on one hand.
As a side project during the off hours, since most campaigning is done after school/work hours, what we're doing is (finally) making a visible presence to counter the local Walker's Walkers group. It's the same handful of people, simply waving Walker/Fitzgerald signs. We launched it today, and I sadly wasn't there, with more informative signs about what's going on here.
I have made my Bonnaroo arrangements. The morning after the election, I am picking up a rental car from Milwaukee & heading directly to Tennessee. The election may or may not be decided then. If it comes down to a result within one-half of one percent, there will be a recall recount. If something like that goes down, or if there's some shenanigans, and the capitol becomes re-occupied... I'm going to hate myself for it. We'll see.
One of the big stories around the state this week serves as a reminder that this is still the state that sent Joe "Have You No Decency, Sir?" McCarthy to the U.S. Senate.
On Sunday, Janesville Gazette subscribers received a flyer with their newspaper. It lists the names and salaries of teachers within the district who signed the recall petition, with no mention of their training, seniority, etc. affecting their pay. At the bottom of the flyer is a form which allows parents to request their children not be placed in the classrooms of these "radical" teachers.
I was actually in Janesville on Monday, on the way to visit my girlfriend's ailing grandmother further south along the Illinois border. It's one of the most hard-hit cities in the state in this economy, with GM and other businesses having closed over the past few years. I saw more "For Sale" and "Going Out of Business" signs than I have anywhere in the state since the economy tanked. It's a bit telling that the "divide and conquer" clip with Walker & his largest donor (shared earlier in thread) was taken by a filmmaker doing a documentary on the city entitled "As Goes Janesville."
The paper did not officially include this flyer. It was placed separately, but with the Sunday edition, in the proper boxes for newspaper delivery. It was placed in those boxes without the paper's knowledge and consent.
Now... who did this? One of my blogger friends looked into it. Made an open records request about who had made the open records request into teacher salaries. There was only one name. It was a man with the Milwaukee group Citizens for Responsible Government.
This group has a history with recalls in this state. In 2002, when the sitting Milwaukee County Executive (a Democrat) was engaged in scandal stealing from public employees' pension funds, it was Citizens for Responsible Government who initiated the recall effort against him. The new Milwaukee County Executive coming out of that was, not surprisingly, one then-Assembly Rep. Scott Walker. It became his stepping stone to the governorship in 2010.
Back to Sen. McCarthy. He had his communist witch hunts, his House Un-American Activities Committee, the use of government functions to target and malign political opponents. I don't think those tactics were necessarily productive or conducive to a functioning democratic republic. Though McCarthy is gone, it tainted our country for some time. It eventually came to a point where his fellow legislators of both political parties decided that enough was enough. He was the subject of a rare censure resolution in the Senate, passed overwhelmingly, in one of his final years. Had he survived to run for a third senate term in 1958, his standing with citizens of Wisconsin had dropped considerably and he likely would have lost.
So it is with Scott Walker. McCarthyism lives on, but it's Walkerism now. Same tactics, different name, same lack of progress or results. It had to be stopped then, and it has to be stopped now.
For a state with the motto "Forward," we have been spending too much time fighting battles of the past. This is yet another blast from the past which we should have hopefully moved past, but sadly have not.
The last words I said to my former employer were in February 2011, a week after up-and-quitting my assistant manager gig at a convenience store three blocks from the capitol during the first week of the protests: "I've gotta go run this motherquacker out of office now. Bye." Now that it's technically Tuesday, it's a week until the election. It is full-out campaign mode from here on out. Knocking on doors, literature drops, phone calls, visibility... it all comes down to this. I don't know whether we'll have a desirable result, but I do know this: I'll be glad this part of it will be over.
I pick up my rental car for Bonnaroo at 10am the day after the election. Work hard, play hard.
Lori & Scott Fitzgerald had their debate last Wednesday. She did great, and the crowd was overwhelmingly behind her. I haven't seen a poll on this race other than the one conducted with six weeks to go, so I have no idea what to expect. We definitely seem to be gaining momentum and giving Fitzgerald the fight of his career, but we're outspent by at least 7:1. Tom Barrett's campaign is outraised by the Walker campaign by something more like 20-25:1. Walker could raise unlimited funds from when the recall was filed in November until it was certified this spring; Barrett just won a primary three weeks ago.
Television is pretty much a non-stop onslaught of political ads. We're the only big election going on, due to the unconventional nature. Walker's got his own financial advantage, and both sides have PACs stepping in on their behalf, and it seems the actual Barrett campaign is behind them all. In my race, even Lori Compas is running ads - something we didn't think was going to be possible at the onset of this race.
I keep hearing similar, unverified reports of where all the money coming into this race might be going. There's two stories that keep popping up from people in and out of my area. First is the paid volunteers rumor, hiring unemployed Wisconsinites (or out-of-state College Republicans) through temp agencies to canvass for Walker & his allies. There's also the sign rental story, in which it's alleged that people with high-profile locations are offered rent money for yard sign space on their property.
Two images which have been popping up a lot in my social media lately:
Scott Walker fishing.
This was sent into PostSecret and got a lot of people in a tizzy.
I don't know what's going to happen. I have faith enough that I keep doing what we're doing. Win or lose, it doesn't end for us on June 5th. Another post for another time?
Regardless of how the election ends up, I hope you and a your fellows up there feel proud of the work you have done! Now certainly I join you in hopin' fer the best and that bunghole clown Walker gets recalled!
Taking a break from being eyeballs-deep in a database for the campaign manager.
Updates Bill Clinton is coming to Wisconsin to campaign for Tom Barrett. There's a rally in Milwaukee tomorrow morning, but no word on whether other events will be scheduled.
Russ Feingold has been traveling the state with Barrett. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has been campaigning for Barrett. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has campaigned for Walker. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is campaigning for Walker tomorrow. The Tea Party Express is on a bus tour throughout the state this week. They kick it off in my county tomorrow. Boo.
The second & final Walker-Barrett debate was tonight. Barrett seems to have gained some momentum in the polls after the first one. Could be interesting. Best line of the debate went to Barrett: "I have a police department that arrests felons; he has an administration that hires them." There were a minimum of eight consecutive political advertisements immediately following the debate.
A 13th person, Walker's former Milwaukee County spokeswoman, has been granted immunity in the ongoing John Doe investigation. If immunity is still being granted now, I find it highly doubtful any action will come before the election Tuesday. The home of Brett Davis, Walker's preferred Lt. Gov. candidate whom he appointed state Medicaid director, was raided in association with the investigation.
In the most recent fundraising period, in-state vs. out-of-state contributions were inverse for the two candidates. Walker raised 70% from out of state & 30% from Wisconsin. Barrett raised 30% from out of state & 70% from Wisconsin. Jesus.
Last day of in-person absentee early voting is today/Friday. I wouldn't be surprised if 150K absentee ballots have already been cast. I voted on the second day of absentee early voting, two weeks before election day. I'm going to be too busy and lines are going to be too long for my liking.
Turnout is expected to be high. The 2010 election had just under 50% turnout. The 2008 election had 69% turnout. The Government Accountability Board anticipates turnout around 65% for the recall election.
Oh, and bringing things full circle to last February... Tom Morello is making his return to Madison. He's playing a Get Out The Vote rally in Madison, with Jackson Brown & others. Unfortunately, I'll actually be getting out the vote on the home front while that's taking place.
In the most recent fundraising period, in-state vs. out-of-state contributions were inverse for the two candidates. Walker raised 70% from out of state & 30% from Wisconsin. Barrett raised 30% from out of state & 70% from Wisconsin. Jesus.
Things like this (among many others) make me want to shake people and shout at them.
That "felons" line was easily the best line of the debate.
This is probably the last time I'll be checking in before the election. Shame, because there's so much I could/should/would share with you if only I had the time.
One update I'm too giddy about to not share immediately: Bill Clinton was in Milwaukee Friday to campaign for Tom Barrett. I got to shake his hand ;D
Win or lose, this is going to be one of the most epic days of my lifetime. Polls open at 7am and close at 8pm (Central time.)
My day tomorrow: Starting off: Getting ready for the day & finalizing my Bonnaroo packing while my girlfriend uses my car to drive voters to the polls. 11am-7pm: All of my fellow team leaders are working at polling places, so I am in charge of the office. Sending people out to knock on doors, drop literature, make phone calls, and whatever else comes up. 8pm: Arrive at a polling location TBD, get their results, and report them to Lori's campaign manager. 8:30pm: Lori's campaign party is halfway between my city and Madison. 9:??pm: Go to the capitol square in Madison, where it all began, to see how this ends. Time unknown: Return home.
10am Wednesday: Pick up a rental car in Milwaukee & head to Bonnaroo.
Ed Schultz will be broadcasting his MSNBC show live from The Great Dane brewpub in Madison just a block from the capitol, for those of you with the luxury of watching television.
I just waited 35 minutes to vote, which is at least 2 or 3 times longer than any other time I've voted. That includes '08 presidential, '10 midterm/gubernatorial etc. The funny thing is almost anyone I've talked to had to wait longer. It's just insane.
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Exit polling looks like this is going to be tight a$$hole. Union household numbers are up from 2010 and support for Obama/Romney is 51/45 in the poll TPM recently cited. Obviously, those bode relatively well for whatever gap Barrett might have to overcome tonight...