Janesville55.3°

Mischievous voters are unlikely during primary

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
May 6, 2012
— It's a sure bet Scott Walker and Tom Barrett will be the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor, right?

So why vote in Tuesday's primary? Just wait till June 5 and make your choice in the recall election.


Walker and Barrett victories are what the smart money says, but that's not the only possible outcome Tuesday.


Among the wild cards is voter turnout. There's no previous primary for a gubernatorial recall election to give any hints about what turnout might be.


Then there's the confusion factor.


Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler said she's been hearing from people who don't understand the ballot.


"Many Republicans don't understand that (Republican Gov.) Scott Walker is on the ballot with an opponent, and many people are uninformed about the fake Democratic candidates that are on the ballot who happen to be listed first on the ballot," Stottler said.


Both parties are emphasizing the June 5 election, while Barrett and Walker are already slugging it out as if they are the only candidates for governor, "and that could have some very serious ramifications if people sit out the May 8 ballot and certain things happen," Stottler said.


For instance, Democrats could decide to vote for Arthur Kohl-Riggs, who is running in the Republican primary against Walker, Stottler said.


Kohl-Riggs reportedly is associated with the anti-Walker protest movement.


If Republicans don't turn out because they believe Walker has a lock on the nomination, and if Kohl-Riggs wins instead, the Democrats would be assured of victory, Stottler said.


Or Republicans could decide to vote for fake Democrats Gladys Huber for governor and Isaac Weix for lieutenant governor, Stottler said. If they won, the Republicans would be assured of victory June 5.


Those are highly unlikely scenarios, said political observer Jeff Mayers, president of the website WisPolitics.com.


"I would classify that as entertaining parlor talk or bar talk," Mayers said.


Local Republicans and Democrats contacted by The Gazette acknowledged that they've heard the talk, but they aren't encouraging mischief at the polls.


"I don't encourage anybody to get involved in any cross-voting or anything like that," said Jason Mielke, chairman of the Rock County Republican Party.


Mielke said it's important for Republicans to vote, though.


"I think there is a PR component to it. We certainly want to make sure the governor knows Republicans are behind him and that he has strong support in the state," Mielke said. "The other thing is, it is a serious primary. He (Walker) does have an opponent, so we do need to go to the polls and vote."


Cathy Myers, vice chairwoman of communications for the Democratic Party of Rock County, said she has heard such talk as well.


"It's been more of an amusing conversation," Myers said.


Stottler noted that those who show up will make the decision.


Absentee balloting has not been heavy, Stottler said, so it looks as though turnout could be light, which means each vote would have more weight.


"This one is worth showing up for. This is not the one to sit out. I don't want to make it sound like I'm being partisan," said Stottler, a Democrat. "There's every good reason for both parties to show up and vote."


Mayers said mischief voting would need to be highly organized to be effective, and he doesn't see that happening.


Mayers, like most political observers, figures Barrett to win Tuesday.


Democrat Kathleen Falk trails in the polls, but she might have a slim chance if her union backers do what they have done for Democrats in the pastóget out to vote, Mayers said. A big, last-minute negative attack on Barrett might also throw the outcome into doubt, Mayers said.


No matter the result Tuesday, the key for the Democrats is to show unity immediately because only four weeks remain until the June 5 recall election, Mayers said.


Democrats are prepared to do just that, Myers said.



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