Tagwisconsin

Stories about Wisconsin

Jill Underly, Deborah Kerr advance from Wisconsin superintendent of public instruction primary

The statewide spring primary for Wisconsin was held on Feb. 16, 2021. If two or fewer candidates filed for each seat on the ballot, the primary was canceled and the candidates automatically advanced to the general election on April 6.

The primary for the Wisconsin superintendent of public instruction was the only statewide nonpartisan race on the ballot. Incumbent Carolyn Stanford Taylor did not file to run for election. Taylor was first appointed to the position in January 2019 by Gov. Tony Evers (D), who resigned the seat after being elected governor in 2018. Seven candidates filed to run in the race. According to unofficial results, the highest number of votes went to Jill Underly (27.3%) and Deborah Kerr (26.5%). Both candidates advanced to the general election.

Two partisan state legislative special elections were on the otherwise nonpartisan ballot. 

Wisconsin state Senate District 13 became vacant on Jan. 1 after Scott Fitzgerald (R) was elected to the U.S. House. One Democrat, three Republicans, and two independent candidates filed for the seat. John Jagler defeated Todd Menzel and Don Pridemore in the Republican primary, receiving 57.1% of the unofficial vote. He faces Melissa Winker (D), Ben Schmitz (American Solidarity Party), and Spencer Zimmerman (Trump Conservative Party) in the general election.

State Assembly District 89 became vacant on Dec. 2, 2020, after John Nygren (R) resigned his seat to work in the private sector. One Democrat and five Republicans filed for the seat. Elijah Behnke won the Republican primary with 44.5% of the unofficial vote. He faces Karl Jaeger (D) in the general election.

The general election ballot will feature more offices, including three state appellate court seats and local nonpartisan seats.

Additional reading:



Previewing Wisconsin’s spring primary elections on Feb. 16

The statewide spring primary for Wisconsin is on February 16, 2021. The filing deadline to run passed on January 5. If two or fewer candidates filed for each seat on the ballot, the primary was canceled and the candidates automatically advanced to the general election scheduled for April 6.

Wisconsin’s spring elections feature nonpartisan offices, and the fall elections feature partisan offices. However, two partisan state legislative special elections are on the otherwise-nonpartisan ballot. Wisconsin State Senate District 13 became vacant on January 1 after Scott Fitzgerald (R) was elected to the U.S. House. State Assembly District 89 became vacant on December 2, 2020, after John Nygren (R) resigned his seat to work in the private sector.

Candidates are also running in the nonpartisan election for the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Ballotpedia is also covering local primaries in the following areas: 

• Dane County (1 seats)

• Milwaukee County (2 seats)

• Madison (3 seats)

• Middleton-Cross Plains Board of Education (1 seat)

• Milwaukee Board of School Directors (2 seats)

The general election ballot will feature more offices, including three state appellate court seats.

Additional Reading:



Four states have ended their statewide mask requirements

New Jersey became the first state to implement a statewide mask order in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on April 10, 2020. Seven other states implemented mask orders later in April 2020 and, in total, 39 states have issued statewide mask requirements at some point during the pandemic.

In recent weeks, states have begun to repeal mask requirements or allow them to expire. Today, thirty-five states have statewide mask orders, including all 23 states with Democratic governors and 12 out of the 27 states with Republican governors.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) announced he is letting the state’s face-covering requirement expire on Feb. 12. Former Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued the face-covering requirement on July 15, 2020. 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) lifted her state’s mask order on Feb. 7. Reynolds first issued the face-covering requirement on Nov. 17.

The Wisconsin State Assembly also voted 52-42 on a resolution to end the statewide mask mandate and coronavirus public health emergency on Feb. 4. In response, Gov. Tony Evers (D) immediately issued two new orders reestablishing the public health emergency and mask mandate. All Democrats and seven Republicans voted against the resolution. Republican legislative leadership is challenging the mandate in the state Supreme Court. The Wisconsin State Senate voted 18-13 to overturn Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) coronavirus emergency order on Jan. 26. 

Mississippi became the first state to lift a statewide mask requirement on Sept. 30, 2020, followed by North Dakota on Jan. 18, 2021. Montana is the fourth state to lift a statewide mask order. Iowa was the third state to lift a statewide public mask mandate. All four states that have lifted statewide face covering requirements have Republican governors.



Candidate filing deadline in Dane County, Wisconsin, is Jan. 5, 2021

The filing deadline to run for elected office in Dane County, Wisconsin, is on January 5, 2021. Prospective candidates may file for county executive, two of the 37 county supervisor seats, and seven circuit court judgeships. The offices of county executive and circuit court judges are up for regular election in 2021, but the county supervisor seats for District 4 and District 12 are up for special election due to vacancies on the board.

The primary is scheduled for February 16, and the general election is scheduled for April 6, 2021.

Dane County in Wisconsin had a population of 531,273 in 2013, according to the United States Census Bureau. 

Additional reading:



Wisconsin State Senate District 13 special election set for Apr. 6, 2021

Election officials have scheduled a special election for the District 13 seat in the Wisconsin State Senate on Apr. 6, 2021. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said he will resign on Jan. 1 before he is sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3. Fitzgerald was elected to Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District on Nov. 3. The primary is on Feb. 16, and the filing deadline is on Jan. 8.



John Nygren resigns from Wisconsin State Assembly

Rep. John Nygren (R) resigned from the Wisconsin State Assembly on Dec. 2 to pursue work in the private sector. He represented District 89 from 2007 to 2020. 

During the 2019-2020 legislative session, Nygren served on Employment Relations Committee, Joint Legislative Audit Committee, Joint Finance Committee, Joint Legislative Council Committee, Audit Committee, Employment Relations Committee, Finance Committee, and Substance Abuse and Prevention Committees. He was the co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee and chair of the Finance Committee. 

Nygren ran for re-election on Nov. 3 against Democratic candidate Karl Jaeger. Nygren was re-elected by a margin of 68.7% to 31.2%. Gov. Tony Evers (D) will call a special election to fill Nygren’s now-vacant seat. 

As of Dec. 8, there have been 121 state legislative vacancies in 40 states this year. Ninety-five of those vacancies have been filled, with 26 vacancies remaining. Nygren’s vacancy is one of 67 Republican vacancies to have occurred in 2020. So far, 48 vacancies have been filled by Republicans, while 47 have been filled by Democrats.  

Additional reading: 



Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) wins Wisconsin

As of Nov. 4, former Vice President Joe Biden (D) is the projected winner of the presidential election in Wisconsin. As of 4:00 p.m. E.T., 99% of the popular vote had been tabulated in the state, with Biden receiving 49.4% of the vote and former President Donald Trump (R) receiving 48.8% of the vote. Wisconsin is worth 10 electoral votes.

In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin with 47.2% of the vote, beating Hillary Clinton (D) by a margin of .7%.

Wisconsin favored Democratic presidential candidates in the four elections between 2000 and 2012, then voted for Republican Donald Trump in 2016. Between 1900 and 2016, Wisconsin supported Republicans candidates in 50 percent of presidential elections and Democratic candidates in 47 percent.

There were 23 counties in Wisconsin that voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. These counties accounted for 17.35% of Wisconsin’s population.



Effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers fails to collect enough signatures

The chief organizer behind an effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) told supporters on Monday that the effort had failed to collect enough signatures to require a recall election.

Chief organizer Misty Polewczynski wrote in a Facebook post about the failed recall effort on October 26, “It is with a heavy heart we announce that after proofing and what came in over the weekend we have fallen short. We do not have enough signatures to turn in.”

Supporters of the recall effort had until Oct. 27 to submit 668,327 signatures to require a recall election. Polewczynski also filed a recall effort against Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D).

Polewczynski’s announcement came a little over a week after she told the Racine Journal Times that supporters had collected more than 620,000 signatures. At that time, the Wisconsin State Journal cast doubt on her claim after she posted on Facebook that she would be lying to the media about the recall effort. She said,

“I’m going to do an interview this afternoon and will probably make up some crap to tell them,” Polewczynski said in a Facebook post. “I like when they look dumb. Plus they drug my name through the mud.”

Polewczynski started the recall efforts against Evers and Barnes in August. Both recall petitions criticized Wisconsin’s governor and the lieutenant governor over their responses to the coronavirus pandemic and over the violence and protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August.

Wisconsin is under a divided government and does not have a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the Wisconsin State Senate by an 18-13 margin with two vacancies and the Wisconsin State Assembly by a 63-34 margin with two vacancies. Evers was elected as Wisconsin’s governor in 2018 with 49.5% of the vote.

Sixteen gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. Nine of those efforts are against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 21 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.

Additional reading:



Signatures due next week in recall efforts against Wisconsin governor, lieutenant governor

Supporters of the efforts to recall Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) have until October 27 to submit 668,327 signatures for each of the petitions to require a recall election. Both recall efforts are being organized by Misty Polewczynski.

Polewczynski told the Racine Journal Times on October 15 that supporters had collected more than 620,000 signatures. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, statements made by Polewczynski in a Facebook post that has since been removed, cast doubt on her claim on the number of signatures that have been collected. When asked about the number of signatures that she provided to the media, she said in the social media post, “I would not pay attention to that number given to them! Sometimes any press is better than no press.”

Polewczynski began the recall efforts against Evers and Barnes in August. Both recall petitions criticize Wisconsin’s governor and lieutenant governor over their responses to the coronavirus pandemic and over the violence and protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Courtney Beyer, the spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said about the recall efforts, “Trying to recall a governor with a 57% job approval rating in the midst of a global pandemic and civil unrest is irresponsible and absurd.”

Conservative commentator James Wigderson wrote in August about the governor recall, “…recalling Evers should not be attempted because it’s the wrong thing to do.” He went on to say, “One of the reasons Republicans were so successful in fighting the recall elections after Act 10 is that the public correctly perceived that it was an attempt to undo the previous election. Republicans made the case that recalls should only be used in very limited circumstances to get rid of politicians who were corrupt and using the office for their benefit.”

Wisconsin is under a divided government and does not have a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by an 18-13 margin with two vacancies and the state House by a 63-34 margin with two vacancies. Evers was elected as Wisconsin’s governor in 2018 with 49.5% of the vote. Barnes ran on a joint ticket with Evers in the election.

Seventeen gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. Nine of those efforts are against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 21 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.

Additional reading: