Voters across Wisconsin went to the polls in one of the highest turnout spring elections in recent history, albeit still only a 39% turnout. Over 1.8 million voters participated in the Supreme Court race that shattered previous national spending records for a judicial race. Janet Protasiewicz cruised to an easy double digit victory over Daniel Kelly while winning Brown, Outagamie, and Winnebago Counties. She will take office on August 1st and flip the majority to 4-3 liberal-led court for the first time in 15 years.
Voters sent a different message further down the ballot. For the statewide constitutional amendments on bail reform passed by the Republican legislature, voters overwhelmingly supported them with two-thirds of the vote. The advisory question on requiring able-bodied, childless adults to work in order to receive welfare passed with almost 80% of the vote.
Closer to home, the conservative county judge candidate in Winnebago County, Scott Woldt, defeated a former Governor Tony Evers appointee with 52% of the vote, while Protasiewicz received 54% of the vote in the county.
So what message did voters send? Every pundit can read into the results however they would like. There’s pros and cons for both sides to take away. At the Supreme Court, it’s clear that the overwhelming early money blitz by Protasiewicz and her allies, while avoiding a bruising primary the conservative candidates had, put her in a good position for the short six week spring between the primary and general election that Kelly could not recover from.
Kelly was also a lackluster candidate. No one on either side would likely question Kelly’s legal mind and credentials, but he could never connect with the voters he needed to win the election. For better or worse, in Wisconsin, we elect judges. It’s not enough to be a solid judge calling balls and strikes. You need to be a politician and have people want to vote for you. The Kelly campaign never gained the traction it needed to.
Appleton Approves Road Diet for College Avenue
Last night, the Appleton Common Council voted almost unanimously to approve the pilot project to reconstruct College Avenue between Richmond and Drew. Once completed, the $150,000 project will create two lanes of traffic with a middle lane for left-hand turns along with bike lanes on either side. Proponents say this will lower traffic noise and make the road safer for bikers and pedestrians. Opponents contend this will harm businesses and visitors to downtown with increased congestion.
The pilot project will last for 18 months and may or may not become permanent depending on the results of the implementation. Full story here.