Timohty Hughes photos
Local political races often suffer from a lack of media exposure.
Not this time.
While the state Supreme Court race has had the standard sleepy coverage, almost every local media outlet — television, newspapers, online and radio — has done solid work covering the race between incumbent Paul Soglin and challenger Ald. Scott Resnick.
Numerous outlets not only covered the various debates, they hosted them.
Isthmus and WORT sponsored a debate at the Barrymore Theatre, a very public location in the heart of some of Madison's highest-turnout neighborhoods. Resnick and Soglin deserve credit too for accepting so many debates.
Local reporters covered the race in new media — Bryna Godar at the Cap Times did an in-depth look at all the candidates during the primaries through a series of podcasts. They covered the race in old media — WISC Channel 3 preempted NCIS for a local political debate, for a race a good portion of the media market can't vote in. An hour of primetime television is serious; that's a rare representation of the old idea of media as a tool for public service.
The candidates have repeatedly been asked about big questions like homelessness, race and transportation. They've also been asked about more niche issues, like support for the arts.
Madison media have kept covering the race even as the tragic shooting of Tony Robinson dominated the headlines. Think of all the other news stories over the last two months as well: massive proposed budget cuts coming out of the state Legislature; a governor running for president; the emerging cult of Frank Kaminsky and spring elections. That is a lot to cover in a midsized market like Madison.
There's just one problem: The public doesn't really seem to care. I touch on it in this week's Off the Square cartoon; going into this election, there's a tremendous amount of apathy. Maybe it's because Soglin and Resnick haven't done enough to show how they are different as candidates. If you remove ridesharing from the discussion, their positions on many issues are similar if not identical. Maybe Madisonians are distracted by the state budget or Walker.
No matter the reason for the perceived apathy, Madison's collected local media have done their job. Voters have everything they need to be informed; now it's up to them to make it to the polls on Election Day, April 7.