Ron Johnson 1,125,287 (52%)
Russ Feingold 1,020,650 (47%)
Madison liberals will have a lot of choice words for Ron Johnson in the coming weeks, as the sting of his win over their beloved Sen. Russ Feingold slowly wears off. But they can't accuse Johnson of running a dirty campaign or adopting the harsh, sometimes goofy rhetoric of the Tea Party movement seen elsewhere in the country.
If anything, the Oshkosh plastics manufacturer is the most boring politician to come along in years. Since he showed up on the radar at last spring's tax day Tea Party rally at the State Capitol, he has stayed irritatingly on message.
"America is precious, and it is exceptional," he intoned at every opportunity. "But it's in peril."
Johnson steadfastly refused to get into specifics, preferring to cite general themes like fiscal sanity, job creation and repealing the health-care reform bill as his top priorities. He made the race a referendum not just on President Barack Obama's first two years, but Washington excess in general. Now we'll see exactly what he plans to do about it, if anything.
One interesting question: Will Johnson go against his own party as often as Feingold, whose maverick status he belittled, took stands against the Dems?
Feingold's independent streak has been a source of pride for Wisconsin residents, who can now only hope that the senator's election-night references to future battles presages a run for Herb Kohl's seat in 2012.
- Jason Joyce
Scott Walker 1,127,798 (52%)
Tom Barrett 1,004,802 (47%)
Here's a line of analysis written before the results of Tuesday's election were known: The state of Wisconsin has elected a dishonest career politician as governor.
This was the inevitable result of a race that quickly degenerated into a mudfest, with both Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker making mostly unfair accusations against each other and undeservedly grandiose claims about themselves.
Might the outcome have been different had one or the other candidate shown a bit more class? That, as they say, is destined to remain one of those hypotheticals.
Luckily for the victorious Walker, the public tends to have amnesia when it comes to campaign rhetoric. Campaign promises, however, have a bit more staying power.
Walker, elected on his 43rd birthday, has boxed himself into a corner, promising to slash spending and make state government run better. He's committed himself to delivering billions of dollars of tax breaks to corporations and the very rich while coping with a multibillion-dollar deficit without inconveniencing anyone else.
He must find some way to break signed contracts, at a cost to the state of hundreds of millions of dollars, to derail a planned Amtrak expansion, all in order to save a relatively trifling annual expense. And he must create hundreds of thousands of new jobs without any additional government programs or spending.
Good luck with that. The good news for Walker is that state voters gave total control of the Legislature to the GOP; the bad news is, should he fall short on keeping his promises, Walker will have no one else to blame.
- Bill Lueders
Rebecca Kleefisch 1,127,798 (52%)
Tom Nelson 1,004,802 (47%)
Candidates for governor go to the polls with the lieutenant governor picks they've got, not the ones they want. And while GOP victor Scott Walker purportedly voted for Tea Party fave Rebecca Kleefisch in the primary, she was not the party's first choice to share the ticket.
"The pairing of Walker and Kleefisch was not destiny, but rather the result of the primary election," says UW political science professor Barry Burden. "Now they will have to learn how to govern together, or not."
Kleefisch has stirred concern with her campaign nods to Jesus Christ and comments likening gay marriage to people marrying dogs. Both she and Walker have signaled that she will serve as an "economic ambassador," helping attract new businesses into the state.
But, notes Burden, her role could be much larger, if Walker should follow the trend of leaving the governor's chair in pursuit of higher office. Then Kleefisch will have fresh opportunity to renew the Facebook page post she made on winning the primary: "His will be done."
- Alicia Yager
J.B. Van Hollen 1,219,777 (58%)
Scott Hassett 889,692 (42%)
In many ways, this was the most exemplary race for state attorney general in decades. The candidates behaved well and ran mostly on their records, with a minimum of TV ads and outside spending.
The campaigns' messages were occasionally pointed but mostly on point, and what little media attention the race got followed suit. The key questions: Is Van Hollen too much of a conservative ideologue? Does Hassett's background as DNR secretary prepare him adequately for the job?
There's no reason to believe voters were paying close attention. But clearly Hassett did a better job showing he would make a good AG than he did making the case that Van Hollen is a bad one.
Not to get sappy, but this was a race in which there was more than one winner.
- Bill Lueders
Congress, 2nd District
Tammy Baldwin 190,433 (62%)
Chad Lee 118,037 (38%)
The irony was delicious. In the face of one of the worst nights in the history of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, scores of Democrats cheered with glee.
"Tammy, Tammy, Tammy," they chanted as Rep. Tammy Baldwin came to the podium at the Brink Lounge.
Although the Democrats ceded control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans, Baldwin cruised to reelection with 60% of the vote, even winning Mount Horeb, the home of challenger Chad Lee.
Still, the six-going-on-seven-term congresswoman did not ignore the larger election results.
"With fewer journalists out on the beat, and ever more entertainers masquerading as journalists...outright lies have replaced facts," Baldwin told her supporters, making specific reference to "death panels" and the nation's "Kenyan president."
Despite having $900,000 in campaign cash, Baldwin refrained from running ads, instead relying on her district's solidly Democratic leanings. But even that is now subject to change. With state government firmly in GOP hands, the district will now be subject to Republican-friendly congressional redistricting.
- Jack Craver
State Assembly, 77th District
Brett Hulsey 12,138 (49%)
Ben Manski 7,761 (31%)
David Redick 4,666 (19%)
Wisconsin Democrats took a drubbing Tuesday, losing control of both houses of the state Legislature to Republicans. At least 16 seats switched from Democrat to Republican, handing governor-elect Scott Walker a license to lead.
One district in which Democrats did well was the 77th, where the most formidable rival to Democrat Brett Hulsey was Green Party contender Ben Manski. Hulsey campaign manager Ben Tobias attributes his candidate's success to "party-line voting."
So does former County Supv. Mark Opitz, who supported Manski: "It wasn't that Ben was a Green, but he doesn't have that 'D' next to his name."
Hulsey didn't help his cause by committing some embarrassing errors in the campaign's final week, claiming endorsements he never had and using a quote from retiring Rep. Spencer Black without permission, which led Black to reconsider his support.
On Tuesday, Hulsey was gracious in victory, saying, "We ran a positive campaign the whole time."
- Joe Tarr
Dane County Sheriff
David Mahoney 152,996 (71%)
Shawn Haney 60,998 (28%)
Republican Shawn Haney ran a largely negative campaign against incumbent Sheriff David Mahoney, a Democrat. Haney blasted Mahoney for mishandling jail inmates on electronic monitoring, questioned his honesty, and said he goes along with County Executive Kathleen Falk and drives a fancy car.
None of those attacks made much impact, with Mahoney handily winning reelection with more than two-thirds of the vote.
It's possible that Haney never escaped the impression of sour grapes, having been fired from the Sheriff's Office by Mahoney in 2007, after Haney admitted lying over the release of records from a teenage drinking party.
- Joe Tarr
Madison College construction
(passed multi-county region, in Dane County 128,242 to 74,472, 63% in favor)
(passed in Dane County, 159,408 to 51,746, 75% in favor)
(on ballot in 45 county municipalities, rejected overall by more than 70% of the voters)
Of the three referenda on ballots in Dane County, only one has an immediate policy impact, while the other two are advisory in nature, geared toward marshaling political momentum for activists.
The first, a binding referendum to provide $133.8 million in construction funding to Madison College (MATC) via a property tax increase, passed easily in an area encompassing all or part of 12 south-central Wisconsin counties. The referendum, supported with visible campaigns by business and education advocates, defied the general success of Republican anti-tax and deficit arguments.
One advisory question, on approving medical marijuana in Dane County, won overwhelming support. Three quarters of voters cast their ballots in favor, more than voted for either Russ Feingold or Tom Barrett. Intended to spur state lawmakers to support medical marijuana, the referendum may be spun as just another example of the Madison area's political differences with much of the state.
The second advisory referendum, actually a series of questions asked in 45 primarily suburban and rural Dane County communities, concerned a sales tax for commuter rail via the Regional Transit Authority. Every voting community, save the town of Madison, rejected the referendum.
Rail supporters note that the RTA plan is not yet finalized and will encompass multiple transit options. But the overwhelming rejection will nonetheless deliver significant political capital to rail opponents.
- Kristian Knutsen
All vote totals are unofficial. Local races are based on 100% reporting, statewide races on 99% reporting.