5 Election Takeaways
A horrible turnout, a big night for Evers, and who the heck is William Crowley?
What did we learn from Tuesday’s spring primary election? The biggest takeaway is the general apathy towards actually voting. The polling places were dead and the turnout was terrible, both in Milwaukee and throughout the state.
But for those of us who actually showed up, what happened? Municipal Judge Valarie Hill scored a big win, but will it be enough to hold on to her job? State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers beat the pants off his two challengers. And William Crowley scored a surprise victory — who is he?
1. Shame on Wisconsin for Not Voting
Turns out all that post-Presidential election energy was used up posting memes on Facebook about Donald Trump. In Milwaukee there are 352,765 registered voters, and only 8.67 percent of them bothered to vote in yesterday’s election. The numbers don’t get any better when you look at the state, with 360,559 voters casting ballots, approximately eight percent of registered voters.
Here’s a challenge to everyone that did take the time to vote: convince one friend to vote in the general election. Make their life easy and agree to go vote early with them at City Hall. No excuses about not knowing where to vote, when to vote, what’s on the ballot or having to wash their hair.
The general election takes place on April 4th. Polls open at 7 a.m. Learn more about where to vote and who’s on the ballot by visiting the state’s My Vote Wisconsin site.
2. Valarie Hill Might Lose
Hill, the incumbent Municipal Judge, won the battle on Tuesday, but she might lose the war. She received almost two-and-a-half times more votes than the second-place candidate, but still failed to receive even half of the total votes cast in the race. Hill will face William Crowley head-on now, with Crowley likely to pick up a substantial number of the votes in the general election that were split between the other two challengers on Tuesday.
3. Tony Evers Crushes Challengers
The incumbent state superintendent crushed the competition on Tuesday. Evers garnered a resounding 69.7 percent of the vote. Evers has held the office for eight years, having been elected in 2009 and re-elected in 2013.
It’s unlikely he’ll be able to repeat such a strong performance in the general election, with outside groups poised to spend in support of challenger Lowell Holtz now that the field has been cleared.
Holtz, a school choice proponent, unfortunately isn’t likely to see financial support from a big-time school privatization supporter. The new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, whose family has contributed millions to candidates and political action committees, particularly in Wisconsin, stated that “If I’m confirmed I will not be involved or engaged in political contributions and my husband will not be either” during her recent confirmation hearing.
4. The Rise of Bill Crowley
In a rather tough-to-predict Municipal Court race, not a single person I talked to had William Crowley finishing in the top two. Yet, Crowley did it, coming in second with just over 19 percent of the votes. So the surprise winner now faces Hill in the general election.
A handful of political insiders noted that the last time Crowley ran for office he didn’t even manage to get on the ballot. Crowley was one of four candidates who didn’t appear on the 2012 spring ballot because of issues with their nomination papers. Crowley had attempted to challenge fourth district Alderman Robert Bauman.
5. Decker and Michel Split Votes, Humphries and Holtz Don’t
Based on anecdotal surveying of people leading up to the race, many voters I encountered were wavering between Kail Decker and Brian Michel for their municipal court judge selection. That appears to have hurt both candidates. Decker finished with 4,342 votes and Michel pulled in 4,880, thus opening the door in a four-way race for Crowley to finish second with 5,356 votes.
Perhaps the biggest insult to Decker and Michel? Of the 30,601 people that voted yesterday in Milwaukee, 2,743 voted only in the State Superintendent race. Either candidate would have finished second if they could have simply received half of those votes.
On the top of the ballot, John Humphries and Lowell Holtz didn’t suffer the same fate. Humphries (7.4 percent) got trounced by Holtz (22.9 percent). Humphries’ campaign had a number of problems and unforced errors, which may have made it easy for conservatives or voters looking for change to pick Holtz.