Gretchen Schuldt

District Attorney Election Divided by Race

Swanigan won most majority black wards, Chisholm won everywhere else in county.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Aug 22nd, 2016 12:47 pm
John Chisholm and Verona Swanigan.

John Chisholm and Verona Swanigan.

Unsuccessful district attorney candidate Verona Swanigan lost every ward in every Milwaukee County suburb, won just one Milwaukee ward south of I-94, and swept to victory through much of the city’s central city, according to county election results.

The south side ward Swanigan won, ward 254, boasted a total of seven voters. She won five, and District Attorney John Chisholm, who won re-election to his third term, won two.

Swanigan averaged 60% of the vote in the 116 city wards she won; Chisholm received an average of 69% of the vote in the 204 city wards he won.

Chisholm’s biggest margin of victory came in Shorewood, where he won 87% of the vote; Swanigan came closest in Milwaukee, Brown Deer and West Milwaukee. She won about 40% of the vote in each of those communities.

Swanigan’s election strategy depended on a coalition of black voters and the machinations of dark hat political operative Craig Peterson, who is a money-funneler for Eric O’Keefe and the right-wing Club for Growth.

​It didn’t work. Chisholm had a strong record, and the liberal Greater Wisconsin Committee came to his aid. Swanigan, on the other hand, had significant liabilities, including a paucity of experience, questionable ability, a history of mental and physical health issues, and a bankruptcy. One woman, Shalonda Ezell, even offered voters gift cards to cast their ballots for Swanigan.

​Overall, Chisholm won in a landslide, 65% to 35%.

The map below shows voting results, some of which follow reflect the city’s traditional geographic racial divisions. The green areas represent Chisholm wins; light areas are Swanigan wins; and the blue areas are where the two candidates tied. The data source is unofficial Milwaukee County election returns.

Below that is a chart showing each municipality’s vote totals.

Voting results

Voting results

Municipal voting results

Municipal voting results

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “​To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and ​encouraging civic engagement in and debate ​about the judicial system and its operation.”

Categories: Politics

4 thoughts on “District Attorney Election Divided by Race”

  1. Jason says:

    Thanks for the numbers. I am impressed with the city numbers 60% to suburbs 40% .

  2. Milwaukee Native says:

    Gretchen, might you be able to compare votes in the Chisholm-Swanigan race and the Barnes-Taylor race? Taylor also received dark money from the same sources as Swanigan (Leaders for A Better Community).

    They were also both endorsed by WNOV and the Community Journal, whose editor chastised Barnes for getting support from “white” organizations.

    Of course,Taylor already had a base of support. However, they were packaged together, including calling them Queen Lena and Queen Verona.

    Might they have helped drive turnout for each other?

  3. outsider looking in says:

    You expected something else? I was hoping Swanigan would win, just to get Chisholm off the Walker hate trail. But this story sounds like the Presidential election of 2008. How many Blacks voted for Obama just because he has a black skin color (even though he’s from a mixed mother and father)

  4. outsider looking in says:

    “One woman, Shalonda Ezell, even offered voters gift cards to cast their ballots for Swanigan.” Isn’t this illegal?

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