Every vote certainly counted in the spring 2009 primary election on Tuesday, February 17. The number of voters hitting the polls was expectedly low, with both Wisconsin and Dane County officials predicting that turnout would likely top out below 10%.
Anybody who actually did cast a ballot today could attest to this personally, simply by citing their low voter number. I was a mere #18 at my downtown Madison polling place despite voting in mid-afternoon, and anecdotal commentary shared online offered similar flat numbers. Talk on social networks and chatting applications turned to the results come evening, though.
The closest watched of the night in Madison was that for the District 2 Common Council seat on the near-east side, where four challengers stepped up to take on long-time incumbent Brenda Konkel. As expected, this election focused on the race for second place behind the high-profile alder, with Bridget Maniaci edging out Adam Walsh by 230 votes to 210, a margin of 3%. Konkel, meanwhile, finished with 347 votes, or 40%, a relatively low figure that is likely leaving her detractors with hope that supporters of the also-running candidates will unite behind the challenger.
Just a short distance to the west, the UW student-dominated race for the District 8 seat being vacated by Eli Judge saw Byron Eagon come in first handily with 50% of the vote, while Mark Woulf unexpectedly edged out Katrina Flores by 117 votes to 100.
Two other city council seats were contested in the primary, with expected outcomes in each. Recently held by Zach Brandon, the District 7 seat on Madison's southwest side will be contested by Steve King, who ran away with 67% of the vote, and Aric Vander Werff, who received 21%. Meanwhile, incumbent District 17 alder Joe Clausius likewise received 67% of the total for the northeast side seat, while Scott Schroeckenthaler came in second with 20%.
The closest, and potentialy the most significant race in the county apart from media hype, though, was that for the mayoral seat in Fitchburg. Longtime alder Jay Allen came in first with a health 38% of the vote. The other spot in the general election was decided by a single ballot, though. Another alder, Marc Jones, received 394 votes, while former mayor Mark Vivian fell short at 393. A recount is expected.
Finally, Dane County Circuit Court Judge candidate Julie Genovese received 63% of the vote in that primary, setting herself up well for the general election against Stephen Ehlke, who received 21%.
Ultimately, the vote totals speak for themselves. The top two candidates in each race now advance to the general election on Tuesday, April 7. The complete ward-by-ward spring primary election unofficial canvass results are available from the Dane County Clerk, with a few races highlighted below.
Madison Common Council
Brenda Konkel -- 347 (40%)
Bridget Maniaci -- 230 (27%)
Adam J. Walsh -- 210 (24%)
Sherman Hackbarth -- 61 (7%)
Dennis DeNure -- 5 (1%)
Write-In -- 5 (1%)
Steve King -- 405 (67%)
Aric Vander Werff -- 127 (21%)
Jeremy J. Ryan -- 80 (13%)
Write-In -- 4 (1%)
Byron Eagon -- 263 (50%)
Mark D. Woulf -- 117 (22%)
Katrina Flores -- 110 (21%)
Jacob J. Schmidt -- 38 (7%)
Write-In -- 3 (1%)
Joe Clausius -- 272 (67%)
Scott Schroeckenthaler -- 82 (20%)
Chuck Litweiler -- 52 (13%)
Write-In 3 (1%)
Jay Allen -- 619 (38%)
Marc Jones -- 394 (24%)
Mark Vivian -- 393 (24%)
Roger Laurel Tesch -- 211 (13%)
Write-In -- 9 (1%)
Dane County Circuit Court Judge
Julie Genovese -- 15,104 (63%)
Stephen Ehlke -- 5,032 (21%)
Charlie Schutze -- 3,835 (16%)
Write-In -- 165 (1%)
All candidates in italics are advancing to the general election on Tuesday, April 7.
Other races around Dane County in the Spring 2009 primary election included: Village President for Cottage Grove and Mount Horeb; Town Board Supervisor seats in Cottage Grove, Cross Plains, and Springfield; and, school board seats in the Marshall and Mount Horeb districts.
County results in the race for the Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction differed slightly from statewide totals, meanwhile. While state deputy superintendent Tony Evers received about 37% and virtual schools proponent Rose Fernandez some 30% of the vote totals across the state, the former ran away with the race in Dane County, cleaning up with over 50% of its vote. County voters also supported National-Louis University professor Todd Price at a slightly higher level than Concordia University professor Van Mobley (12% vs. 11%), whereas the latter had a slight edge amongst all Wisconsin voters. Beloit schools superintendent Lowell Holtz also underperformed in the county compared to the state. All of these figures generally reflect the higher proportion number of liberal and progressive voters in Madison and the surrounding metro area compared to several other areas of Wisconsin.
The stage for the spring campaign that will likely generate the most attention and passion has already long been set, though. Incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson will defend her seat against challenger and Jefferson County Judge Randy Koschnick. Given the rancorous and hard-fought races for other seats on the court in the last couple of years, this one is likely to be similarly expensive and contentious.