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Polls close in Wisconsin; NBC News declares governor’s race ‘Too Close to Call’ - @NBCNews

TCTC = Too Close to Call

he numbers are crazy.

Dane County (home of Madison):

Voters and public officials are reporting long lines at many Wisconsin polling places Tuesday — with Dane County Clerk Karen Peters calling the local turnout “just wild” so far.

"It ranges from 28 to 42 percent already; it is a huge turnout. We could hit 80 to 88 percent," Peters said of Dane County’s turnout. At midday, she was fielding calls wrapping up a status report from local clerks.

Democrats need to run up huge margins in Dane in order to have any chance of success. Hitting 88 percent would go a long ways toward victory.

But the bigger issue is Milwaukee, where African American and other Democratic-leaning voters stayed home in 2010 and cost Democrats the governor’s mansion. Madison can’t make up the margins that Gov. Scott Walker will run up in rural Red Wisconsin. We need Milwaukee to come in big. On that front, things are looking promising:

Heavy turnout in Milwaukee led the city Election Commission to call out the reserves Tuesday.

Extra poll workers were sent to polling places at Becher Terrace, Bradley Tech High School, Keenan Health Center, Morse Middle School, Rufus King International School Middle Years Campus and Cass Street, 53rd Street, Grantosa and Parkview schools, said Sue Edman, the election commission’s executive director.

The backup workers were needed to handle long lines, partly because a significant number of new voters were registering at the polls, Edman said.

“We knew things would be busy, but we didn’t know how busy,” Edman said.

State elections officials predicted that between 60-65 percent of eligible voters would turn out. We need that number to be around 65-70 percent to win.

h/t: Markos Moulitsas (Kos) at Daily Kos

My message to the Wisconsin voters.

Important for tomorrow if you’re a voter (or potential voter) in Wisconsin.

After 16 months of bitter wrangling over the direction not just of a state but of the national discourse about economic policy, budget priorities, the role of labor unions in the public sector and democracy itself, Wisconsin will decide today on whether to bounce Governor Scott Walker — the primary American proponent of a European-style austerity agenda based on cuts to wages, benefits, public services and public education — from the position to won in the 2010 “Republican Wave” election.

Walker is only the third governor in American history to face a recall election. And he is the first to be challenged by progressives. The previous recalls deposed a left-wing populist (in North Dakota in 1921) and a Democratic mandarin (in California in 2003). This one could remove a favorite of the Tea Party movement whose campaigns have been heavily financed by the billionaire Koch Brothers and their right-wing allies.

At the same time, control for the Wisconsin legislature could shift to the Democrats in parallel recall challenges to Walker’s lieutenants.


Though the recall election was forced by the mass movement that developed to protest Walker’s anti-labor policies — including a law that stripped most public employees of essential collective-bargaining rights — that does not mean that everyone in Wisconsin is opposed to the governor. More than 900,000 Wisconsinites signed petitions to recall Walker — more than 40 percent of the electorate from the 2010 gubernatorial election — while more than 800,000 signed petitions to recall his lieutenant governor and another 100,000 petitioned to recall four Republican state senators.

That’s incredible, and if everyone who signed a recall petition votes, Democrats will be well on their way to deposing Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Senator Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald and three of his colleagues.

The truth is that Wisconsin has since the 1950s been a closely divided state politically. This is a state of extremes, home to passionate progressives like former Governor and Senator Gaylord Nelson and former Senator Russ Feingold, and conservative firebrand such as former Senator Joe McCarthy and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan.

Elections are closely fought. In 2000, Al Gore won the state by just a little more than 5,000 votes out of 2.6 million cast. In 2004, John Kerry won by barely 11,000 votes out of almost 3 million cast.

When both sides are mobilized — as they are this year — Wisconsin elections are decided by the narrowest of margins.


That’s what Walker and his amen corner in the media say will happen. They got some good poll numbers in mid-May and parlayed them into a sense of inevitability.

But the only people who buy the argument that Walker is a safe bet to win are national pundits who have not been near Wisconsin.

On the ground in Wisconsin, Democrats and Republicans agree that the race is very close. The pollsters agree: Even those who say Walker is ahead agree that his “lead” is well within the margin of error. The latest public poll has the governor up by three, who internal party polls have shown a dead heat.


Walker’s money has certainly helped him.

He acknowledges raising more than $30 million and final figures will probably put him closer to $40 million. His allies — the billionaire Koch Brothers, advocates for privatization of education — will end up spending $20 million more on  so-called “independent” expenditures and other schemes to advance this candidacy.

Even with significant union support, Barrett’s campaign will end up being outspent by at least 6-1. His allies will spend millions more. But the Republican advantage is unprecedented in the modern history of statewide elections.

But Barrett has the advantage of a remarkable grassroots mobilization on his behalf. It is estimated that, by the time the polls close, Barrett backers and their allies will have knocked on 1.2 million doors. Over the weekend, in stops in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Racine, Burlington and Baraboo, Wisconsin — communities of every size, characters and partisan make-up — I say thousands of activists working phone banks, knocking on doors and distributing literature.

Unions often talk about their “superior ground game.” This time, as AFSCME Council 24 director Marty Beil says, “It’s for real.” And it is the key to Barrett’s viability.


While the Democrat has to renew his party’s appeal statewide — after the disastrous 2010 election — his primary focus is on the Democratic heartlands of Dane County (Madison) and Milwaukee County, as well as industrial cities such as Sheboygan and Racine.
Statewide, turnout fell from 69 percent in the very strong Democratic year of 2008 to 49 percent in the very Republican year of 2010.

Much of the falloff came within the city of Milwaukee, where 90,000 people who did vote in 2008 did not vote in 2010. Countywide, 134,000 people who voted in 2008 did not vote in 2010.

Scott Walker’s winning margin in 2010 was 124,000 votes. A presidential-level turnout in Milwaukee County could reverse it with 10,000 votes to spare.


Um, no.

Governor Walker and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus have been claiming that Wisconsin has a major problem with voter fraud. Both have suggested that Republicans have been cheated out of as much as two- to three-percent of the vote in past elections.

Just to be clear: This is pure fantasy. Wisconsin has no history of serious (or even not-so-serious) voter fraud. Ask Republican Attorney General JB Van Hollen; after the 2008 presidential election, Van Hollen investigated charges of illegal voting. He found 20 cases, almost all of which involved mistakes rather than actual fraud.


They are afraid they could lose. The talk of voter fraud sets up an argument that, if they do lose, the election was surely stolen.
If the result is close, as could well be the case, the promotion of the voter fraud fantasy helps  to set up a claim that Republicans were cheated — as opposed to legitimately defeated

Wisconsin law allows for a full recount — at no cost — if the margin in a contested election is less than 0.5 percent. The governor’s race could be that close, as could several of the state Senate contests.

h/t: The Nation

MILWAUKEE — Right now, Wisconsin has a Republican governor and lieutenant governor. But after Tuesday’s recall elections, the top two officials could be from different parties.

In normal elections, the two candidates run on a single ticket. But in recall elections, public officials are on their own. So theoretically, Gov. Scott Walker (R) could hold on to his seat, while Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) could lose to Mahlon Mitchell, meaning Walker would have to work with a Democrat.

"Highly unlikely," former Wisconsin Democratic Senator Russ Feingold told The Huffington Post when asked about this scenario.

Both Mitchell and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) also dismissed the possibility, arguing that people were likely to choose two candidates from the same party.

"We don’t see that split-ticket scenario at all. We’re not factoring that in," said Barrett.

Still, it could happen. People might check the box for Walker but leave the box for lieutenant governor blank — while more Democratic voters fill it in for Mitchell.

Technically, the lieutenant governor is in charge of Wisconsin whenever the governor is “absent,” but with modern technology, it’s possible to conduct business even when out of state.

But as the Associated Press noted, a lieutenant governor could still declare him- or herself in charge every time the governor leaves the state — and cause an incredible amount of mischief.

"Once in control, the lieutenant governor could sign or veto bills, issue or revoke executive orders, make judicial appointments, call lawmakers into a special session, demand access to confidential governor files or issue pardons,” reported the AP. “While the governor could undo most of those moves upon returning, a pardon is irreversible, and any secrets learned by the opposition wouldn’t be unlearned.”

If Democrats pick up any one seat, they regain control of the state Senate, while Republicans will retain the majority in the Assembly. The victory would be the result of not only this recall election, but also a previous round of recalls in August, in which Democrats took over two seats and narrowed the gap with Republicans.

While the victory would be meaningful symbolically, it might not mean much practically. The legislature is out of session until November, when regular elections for state senate will be held.

If Barrett wins, he could theoretically ask the legislature to come back for a special session, but it would require the consent of both the state Senate and the Assembly.

h/t: Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post Politics

Yesterday, at a teabagger rally in Racine, Wisconsin featuring Walker/Kleefisch apologists, including Wisconsin Congressman and potential Romney VP choice Paul Ryan (R-WI01), Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R), The Dana Show’s lead substitute host Tony Katz, and of course CNN, KFTK, and Breitbart’s Dana The Devil. The rally featured tons of anti-union right-wing talking points.

Key Loesch falsehoods:

  • Loesch: “I love your cheese curds, I love your beer, and I love your [pro-Walker/anti-recall] fighting spirit. I love your Governor (Scott Walker), I love your Lieutenant Governor (Rebecca Kleefisch), and I love your four State Lawmakers who are standing up to the machine!” (approx. 0:34)
  • Loesch: “Andrew Breitbart (now deceased) inspired the fight that we’re fighting.” (approx: 1:45)
  • Loesch: “Breitbart is still here.” (approx. 1:55)
  • Loesch: “All of this started when some out-of-state union bosses want to exploit the working man.” (approx: 3:14). Wrong! It’s out-of-state billionaires like the Koch Bros. that are exploiting the working class, as is the GOP.
  • Loesch: “Public sector unions aren’t our enemies, but the bosses, in my opinion, are.” (approx: 3:33)
  • Loesch falsely claimed that “out-of-state union fatcats who make 6 figures while they bleed paychecks off the working families so they can do what? Donate to candidates who vote against your best interests.” Who’s acting against the best interests of Wisconsinites? The GOP, that’s who! (approx: 3:45)
  • Loesch misleadingly stated that the “war on working families are perpetuated by union bosses and the Democrat Party.” No way, it’s being perpetuated by ALEC, Koch Bros, and other anti-union-based groups.”
  • Loesch said “Shame on Mahlon Mitchell because he signed a petition to boycott pro-Walker Businesses.” Mitchell was well within his right to do that. (approx. 5:20)
  • She said “Shame on Tom Barrett.” (approx. 5:40)
  • She misleadingly stated that “there’s no difference between Barack Obama and Tom Barrett.” (approx. 6:25)
  • Loesch baselessly stated that “Barrett will run the State of Wisconsin to the ground like what he did to the city of Milwaukee.” (approx. 6:38)
  • Loesch misleadingly blamed the Democratic Party for the loss of jobs and starting the “War on Women.” Wrong, it is you and your own party that’s responsible for that. (approx. 8:27)
  • Loesch: “You have 7% of the workforce that holding 93% of the population hostage. We are the 93% Percent.” Baloney. (approx: 8:56)


Campaign donations to help the #WIRecall effort and piss off Dana Loesch:
Tom Barrett (D): Governor for Wisconsin 
Mahlon Mitchell (D): Lt. Governor for Wisconsin 

The Wisconsin vote pitting Gov. Scott Walker against Tom Barrett will send a message about Americans’ attitudes toward candidates who cut collective bargaining rights.

And in many ways it is. The outcome of the election on Tuesday will not just decide the state’s leanings on matters of budget, taxes and policy, as well as the ultimate trajectory of Mr. Walker’s fast-rising political prospects. It will also send a message about a larger fight over labor across the country, and about whether voters are likely to reject those who cut collective bargaining rights, as Governor Walker did here last year for most of the state’s public workers, setting off this battle in the first place.

Broadly, the results will be held up as an omen for the presidential race in the fall, specifically for President Obama’s chances of capturing this Midwestern battleground — one that he easily won in 2008 but that Republicans nearly swept in the midterm elections of 2010.

On a recent afternoon, Mr. Walker, who is only the third governor in the nation to face a recall election, dashed onto a makeshift stage on a loading dock here as supporters screamed, the song “Only in America” pounded from loudspeakers, a bank of television cameras rolled and Mr. Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, beamed behind him.

Mr. Walker’s Democratic opponent, Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, who holds the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents who began seeking Mr. Walker’s recall just a year into the governor’s first term, has trailed in some public polls, though Mr. Walker’s lead has generally fallen within each poll’s margin of sampling error.

He has drawn his own outside help from national Democrats as well as from union groups, which are operating at least 32 field offices here and say they have been building neighborhood alliances with advocates for environmental issues, women, retirees and other causes. In the last few months, Mr. Barrett has raised more than $4 million in contributions — a lot, though not on the same scale as Mr. Walker, who benefited from a quirk in state law that allowed him to raise unlimited contributions (in some cases, as much as $500,000 from individual donors) for his campaign’s expenses before a recall was officially declared by the state.

At a restaurant in Mondovi, a small town in western Wisconsin, a table of women continued their bridge game the other day as Mr. Barrett asked for the crowd’s votes, pledged to end the “civil war” that has boiled over in Wisconsin in the last 16 months and poked at his opponent’s blossoming national profile.

“He loves being the poster boy for the Tea Party movement in this country,” Mr. Barrett, addressing another group jammed into a cafe in Menomonie, said of Mr. Walker. “And he has had a lot of success — he’s become the rock star of the far right.”

Former President Bill Clinton was expected to arrive here on Friday to campaign for Mr. Barrett, but to the disappointment of some voters, Mr. Obama has not appeared in person to bolster the campaign, nor have his top surrogates.

Although the president has conveyed his support for Mr. Barrett, the recall is an undeniably complex calculus for Mr. Obama’s strategists: Wisconsin has voted for Democrats in every presidential election since 1988, but the margins have sometimes been remarkably slim, and the recall election has led independents and Republicans who voted for Mr. Obama four years ago to take sides. He needs their votes in November and may not want to alienate them by stepping conspicuously into the fight.

Wisconsin residents once brimmed with stories of bipartisan cooperation — or at least civilized discourse between opposing political sides. Overflowing here now: stories of marriages, friendships, workplaces, Thanksgiving dinners divided by the fight that began in February 2011, when Mr. Walker announced plans to cut benefits and strip collective bargaining rights for most public workers.

Winning this election may be less a matter of convincing undecided voters, if there are any, than of getting people to the polls. The splintering that started when Mr. Walker cut bargaining rights has seeped into other issues: austere budget choices; a voter ID law; removal of a law that allowed people to seek punitive and compensatory damages in state court over employment discrimination; efforts to encourage iron ore mining,

Among the voters, the sides are stark and, more than a year after tens of thousands of protesters marched around the State Capitol in Madison, surprisingly raw.

“We don’t want the state taken over by the Koch brothers,” said Mary Jean Nicholls, a former teacher, referring to Charles and David Koch, billionaire industrialists who are among Mr. Walker’s supporters.

Craig Dedo, a computer consultant and Walker supporter, said the race boiled down to one question: Who runs Wisconsin? “The Democrats and the unions, who are the takers?” he asked, “or the Republicans, the party of the private sector and the people who pay the bills?”

h/t: Monica Davey at The New York Times

Today, I found out that Dana Loesch is still playing her bullying games at her foes on twitter, and the main targets were Adam Shriver (@stlactivisthub) and Milwaukee Mayor (soon-to-be possible Governor of Wisconsin) Tom Barrett (@barrett4wi).

Nope, your BFF Walker ducked and dodged questions like a typical Rethuglican. Tom Barrett, on the other hand, was honest and direct in calling his lies out.

Campaign donations to help the #WIRecall effort and piss off Dana Loesch:
Tom Barrett (D): Governor for Wisconsin
Mahlon Mitchell (D): Lt. Governor for Wisconsin


Reasons to Recall Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch (by scottwalkerwtch)

Time to say Sayonara to these two morons!

1 week left until Walker and Kleefisch are toast!

The dueling candidates for the state’s second highest office met for the first and only time earlier this month for a joint appearance on a Milwaukee Sunday news show.

Their brief time together prompted Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch to describe opponent Mahlon Mitchell as a “really nice guy,” whose decision to become a firefighter is a job she “honors and thanks” him for.

Mitchell, in turn, describes Kleefisch as a bit more polished, a result of her years as a television anchor, and a “rubber stamp” for Gov. Scott Walker’s conservative agenda.

On June 5, the date of Wisconsin’s historic recall elections for governor and lieutenant governor, it will be the voters’ views on the two candidates that will matter. They’ll choose whether the state will switch gears and give Mitchell, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin and a 15-year veteran of the Madison Fire Department, a chance to add the lieutenant governor title to his resume or stick with Kleefisch, who has devoted most of her 17 months in office to job creation, the results of which have not kept pace with her boss’ promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs during their first term in office.

The incumbent

Kleefisch, 36, rode the tea party wave that swept the state in 2010, handily winning her first bid for statewide office.

In the style of other so-called “mama grizzlies”— female candidates who look out for their young — Kleefisch announced her candidacy via webcam from her kitchen table. She told her audience she was running to make the state a better place for her children. She and her husband, state Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, have two daughters, ages 9 and 6.

That lean approach to government spending continues to earn her the support of other big-name conservative women, including former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who coined the “mama grizzly” term.

“She’s setting an example for every other state in the union because responsible state and local governments will be the entities that defend our republic at a time when there is less and less reason to believe our big centralized federal government will address its self-perpetuated economic problems,” Palin writes on Kleefisch’s website,

Named the administration’s “jobs ambassador” by Gov. Scott Walker, Kleefisch cites 23,321 jobs created during 2011, the pair’s first year in office, as a sign the state’s economy is turning around.

Many, however, dispute the validity of that number since it has yet to be verified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The federal agency will release the verified numbers in late June, weeks after the recall election.

The contender

Mitchell, 35, is the middle child of three boys, all of whom are firefighters. Born in Milwaukee, he spent part of his youth in Illinois before his family moved to Delavan, the same town where Scott Walker grew up.

“I joke that he and I took some different classes,” says Mitchell, who now lives in Fitchburg with his wife, daughter, 13, and son, 8.

Mitchell quickly rose to prominence at the Capitol protests that erupted in February 2011, just days after Walker “dropped the bomb” when he announced he planned to scale back collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

During one of the first of the Capitol protests that would become the norm for the following six weeks, Mitchell was pulled from the crowd by Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin chapter of the AFL-CIO, and told to make a speech.

With no words prepared, Mitchell thought of a phrase a fellow firefighter had started to use that had been running through his thoughts. When he stepped behind the podium, he said it.

“The house of labor is on fire. We’ve got to put it out,” Mitchell recalls telling the crowd. “When I said it, people loved it. It sparked something. I spoke at almost every rally after that.”

Additionally, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wisconsin lost 5,900 jobs in April and 3,600 jobs in March.

“Walker has done an effective job painting all unions as Democrats. It’s how they vilify everybody,” Mitchell says. “Gays, guns and God are the three issues police officers and firefighters are voting on. And that’s got to stop.”

Mitchell says he believes in a woman’s right to control her reproductive decisions and in marriage equality. In contrast, Kleefisch does not. Her views on marriage equality, in particular, drew much attention during her last run for office.

“At what point are we going to okay marrying inanimate objects? Can I marry this table, or this, you know, chair? Can we marry dogs? This is ridiculous,” Kleefisch said during an interview prior to the 2010 election. This time around, Kleefisch is talking less about social issues and more about jobs.

To overcome the conservative voting tendencies of many law enforcement officers, Mitchell started speaking to unions last year about the need to focus their voting power not on candidates that support their social issues but on those who will maintain their union rights.

“The funny thing about Republicans is they say they are for smaller government and less government in your life,” he says. “But they want to be intrusive in everybody’s life on every social issue.”

h/t: Jessica Vanegeren at The Capital Times

Mahlon Mitchell - Problem Solver (by Mahlon Mitchell)

Donate to Mahlon Mitchell here.

It is 11 days away from the critical, all-important recall election that will decide the fates of not only Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch; but the 4 GOP State Senators under recall (Scott Fitzgerald, Van Wanggaard, Terry Moulton, and Jerry Petrowski)

The polls open at 7AM CDT and close at 8PM CDT, on June 5th, 2012.

Donation Links from ActBlue (Desperately needed to counter the Koch Brothers and their cronies):
Governor/Lt. Governor:
Tom Barrett (WI-Gov)
Mahlon Mitchell (WI-Lt. Gov)
Donate to Defeat Scott Walker group
Daily Kos Wisconsin Recall Fund
Wisconsin Democratic Party
DFA Wisconsin (Recall Campaign)

State Senate:
Lori Compas (WI-SD13)
John Lehman (WI-SD21)
Kristen Dexter (WI-SD23)
Donna Seidel (WI-SD29)
Flip The Wisconsin State Senate

Remember NOT to let Kathy Nickolaus, Karl Rove, The Koch Brothers, and their buddies win this battle! Wisconsin’s sanity is counting on every single voter and the GOTV operation.

Handy Hashtags on Twitter to use: #wirecall#recallwalker#wiunion#recallkleefisch,#reclaimwi#unitedwi

cross-posted from Daily Kos

It’s time for a rematch in Wisconsin.

Democrat Tom Barrett cruised to victory in the Wisconsin recall primary contest on Tuesday night and will face Gov. Scott Walker on June 5. Barrett’s win sets up his second gubernatorial fight with Walker in less than two years. With 81 percent of precincts reporting, Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, led his top challenger, former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, 57 percent to 35 percent.

Firefighter and union leader Mahlon Mitchell, who dominated the Democratic primary for the lieutenant governor, will join Barrett on the Democratic ticket in the June 5 recall. Mitchell’s impassioned support for workers’ rights and public-sector unions during the 2011 protests transformed him into something of a celebrity in progressive circles in Wisconsin.

Labor unions, who poured money and manpower into backing Falk, wasted no time Tuesday night throwing their full support behind Barrett.

"Unlike Scott Walker, we believe in democracy," said Rick Badger, a local leader within the powerful American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union. "We are unified in our support for Barrett and will do everything we can to make sure he defeats Scott Walker on June 5." Dian Palmer, president of the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Wisconsin, added: "Tonight’s results prove that Tom Barrett has connected with working families across the state." And Mary Bell, head of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers union and an avid Falk supporter, also announced her support for Barrett.

Falk, for her part, urged her supporters to unite behind the cause of booting Walker out of office on June 5. She especially appealed to those in her camp who helped ignite and grow the popular protests that engulfed Madison, the state capital, in the winter of 2011. “Just as you supported me, we must now support [Barrett],” Falk said in an email to supporters. “We must support him with all our energy and enthusiasm. This movement needs the passion of all of you who have worked so long and with such sacrifice to make this recall happen.”

In 2010, Barrett, a five-time US congressman, lost to Walker by nearly 125,000 votes in a landslide year for Republicans. The GOP not only reclaimed the governor’s mansion that year, but also seized control of the state legislature. This time, the political climate is changed, and the state is divided on whether to vote Walker out of office 17 months into his first term.

When I spoke with Maslin in March, he believed that candidate was Kathleen Falk. Now it’s up to Tom Barrett to convince those coveted undecided voters that he’s the one to heal Wisconsin’s wounds.

H/T: Andy Kroll at Mother Jones