April 24, 2014

County races used as Walker referendums

Like the hotly contested Wisconsin Supreme Court race, the state’s two largest county executive races seemed to be a referendum on the policies of Governor Scott Walker.

Philanthropist Chris Abele gained 61-percent of the vote over Assembly Republican Jeff Stone to claim the final year of Walker’s Milwaukee County Executive term.

At his victory gathering, Abele said citizens of the county’s 19 municipalities were all concerned of the status quo, “If there was one constant through this campaign it was the need for change.”

Stone said his loss “reflects the divide we have in Wisconsin right now.”

State Assembly Democrat Joe Parisi easily won the Dane County executive’s race with 70-percent of the vote over County Supervisor Eileen Bruskewitz. Parisi said his victory is a message from voters that “we don’t things in the Dane County the Scott Walker way, we do things the Dane County way.”

The conservative Bruskewitz admits that voters were channeling their perception of Walker’s policies into her arena. “What we’re seeing is that the county executive race was simply overshadowed by all the politics that were going on.”

In the Appleton area, former Assembly Democratic leader Tom Nelson was elected the new Outagamie County Executive. He got 55-percent of the vote over former GOP State Treasurer Jack Voight, to replace retiring executive Toby Paltzer.

Although the Government Accountability Board had said Madison and Milwaukee would a see a slightly larger number of voters showing up than the 20-percent statewide prediction, the state’s two biggest cities saw a much bigger turnout. Officials in the capital city said about 70-percent turned out, unheard of for an April election. Statewide about 33-percent of voters cast a ballot.