Decision 2016: Crucial local races up for grabs

Posted at 9:46 PM, Apr 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-05 20:52:25-04

Follow our running blog on today's crucial elections in Wisconsin, with updates from both TODAY'S TMJ4 and the Associated Press:

5:52 p.m.
TODAY'S TMJ4 I-Team reporter Eric Ross reports long lines to vote on Marquette University's campus. If you're not currently registered to vote, lines are about two hours long. 
If you are in line to vote by 8:00 p.m., you are guaranteed your vote will be counted.
5:06 p.m.
   Justice Rebecca Bradley's ties to Gov. Scott Walker are driving some Wisconsin voters to cast their ballots for JoAnne Kloppenburg.
   The Republican governor has appointed Bradley to three judicial positions in three years, including her spot on the Supreme Court this past October.
   Tom Kleese of Verona says he voted for Kloppenburg because Walker gave Bradley all her judicial jobs and he was never been enamored with Walker. Tim Howell of Sun Prairie said he voted for Kloppenburg because he believes Bradley lacks experience since Walker has advanced her so quickly.
   Steve Hanrahan of Sun Prairie said he voted for Bradley. He said she's done a good job on the high court even though she hasn't been a justice for long.


4:40 p.m.

Chris Larson arrives at his campaign event in Milwaukee - he's in a tight race for Milwaukee County Executive against incumbent Chris Abele.


4:35 p.m.

We're set up at Senator Ted Cruz's event in Serb Hall, and there's a lot of media already in place. Sen. Cruz has been leading in many of the recent polls leading up to Wisconsin's primary.


4:26 p.m.

   Republican and Democratic voters in Wisconsin say the economy is weighing heavily on their minds as they head to the polls Tuesday.

   Nearly three quarters of Democratic voters say they are worried about the direction of the country's economy, according to early results of exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.  More than a third say the economy and job is the most important issue facing the country and 3 in 10 consider income inequality to be of paramount concern.

   The Republicans who came out to vote are even more troubled by the direction of the economy, the early exit polls show. More than 9 in 10 say they are either very or somewhat worried.

   Similar to the Democrats, about 30 percent of Republicans consider the economy and jobs the country's top problem, and just about as many consider government spending the most important issue.


   1:50 p.m.

   Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus says the outcome of Wisconsin's election is important, not just for the individual who wins the delegates, but to the outcome of the race in general.

   Priebus said in an interview Tuesday on WTMJ radio in Milwaukee that the outcome of Wisconsin's primary will play an important role in whether there is a contested GOP convention this summer in Cleveland. A win by Ted Cruz would make it more difficult for front-runner Donald Trump to get the 1,237 delegates needed by the end of the primary season to secure the nomination.

   But Priebus says the outcome in Wisconsin is also important "on the narrative side." He says since no other state is voting Tuesday, the focus has been on Wisconsin for two weeks and how the outcome will influence the race going forward.


   1:40 p.m.

   Republican Ted Cruz is continuing his call for Ohio Gov. John Kasich to get out of the presidential race.

   Cruz said in an interview Tuesday on WTMJ radio in Milwaukee that any candidate who doesn't have a path to winning should end their campaign.

   "At this point," he said, "Kasich has been mathematically eliminated."

   Cruz's comments come as Wisconsin voters cast ballots in that state primary. Cruz was leading in the polls, but Kasich was trying to win in at least one congressional district. The statewide winner gets 18 delegates, while three delegates are awarded to the winner of each of the state's eight congressional districts.

   Republican front-runner Donald Trump has also called on Kasich to get out of the race. Both Cruz and Trump see their chances improving without Kasich taking votes, and delegates, away from them.


There's a lot at stake Tuesday as voters across the state come out to vote and shape the course of local politics.

The next Milwaukee County Executive, Milwaukee Mayor, and Wisconsin Supreme Court justice will all be decided today - and that's not even mentioning the two presidential nominating races that are taking place as well.

In the Milwaukee mayoral race, it is incumbent Mayor Tom Barrett versus outspoken critic, Alderman Bob Donovan of the city's south side.

Mayor Barrett spent part of the day with the 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton. We asked him if the former president gave him any advice.

"Keep working, absolutely keep working!" said Mayor Tom Barrett.

Mayor Barrett has heard jabs from outspoken critic, Alderman Bob Donovan, who claims Barrett has lacked in leadership specifically on lowering the cities crime rate by not pushing to hire more Milwaukee police officers.

The mayor is focused on what's to come if he is elected to his fourth term.

"What we want to focus on is the area on the north side of the city of Milwaukee near Capitol Drive, and that's really an area where we have a dire need for jobs," said Incumbent Mayor Tom Barrett.

Alderman Bob Donovan's campaign tells us he cancelled all of his events this afternoon because of a sudden death in the family. His spokesperson sent us this statement:

"I'm humbled by the overwhelming support I received by the residents across the city during this campaign. I encourage everyone to get out to the polls tomorrow [Tuesday] to have their voice heard and I'm looking forward to tackling Milwaukee's important issues as its new mayor."

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee county executive race heated up after Senator Chris Larson won against Incumbent county executive Chris Abele by a close race, with 292 votes separating them.

Senator Larson spent the final hours of his campaign, cheering on the Brewers on opening day. He still took jabs at his competitor, Chris Abele.

"I think a lot of people have made up their minds already so really it's just making sure they remember to vote tomorrow we won the primary despite being outspent 20 to one," said Sen. Chris Larson, candidate for Milwaukee county executive.

Incumbent county executive Abele told TODAY'S TMJ4 he has been ready for a hard fought election.

By the numbers, Chris Able spent more than $1.7 million dollars on his campaign from July to December of last year. Larson spent more than $55,000 in that same time.

Abele has worked to remind voters he is a democrat, and believe he has made strong strides in the past five years.

"I've always prided myself on having a good relationship with almost everybody and you're not going to get everything right, but I think I do reasonably well. I think I have a great relationship with Mayor Barrett," said Incumbent Milwuakee County Executive Chris Abele.

In the Supreme Court race, it's Rebecca Bradley against JoAnne Kloppenburg. A lot of the focus in the race has been on Bradley's controversial college writings, but the candidate has decried the criticism as political mudslinging.