Some Thoughts on Wisconsin’s Superintendent Race

After covering last night’s election, we noticed a few things.

  1. John Humphries campaign was, in retrospect, a non-starter: his signature on the recall petitions made him not only a persona non grata with county parties, but with the conservative voters themselves.
  2. Liberals showed up for their guy. Madison’s turnout, and Danes in general, was considerably higher than usual for a spring election. It was never going to approach general election levels, but it was so large, Dane County cast far more ballots than Milwaukee County, despite having a fraction of the population.
  3. Conservative interest in this race has not really manifest. Turnout in Washington, Waukesha, and Ozaukee was higher than Milwaukee but fell way behind Dane. Usually, Waukesha competes in turnout with Dane, but it wasn’t a contest yesterday. They’ll have six weeks to unify and activate.

This could be a nice shot in the arm for progressives in-state, who have suffered loss after loss since 2012. Walker was re-elected, Republican Statehouse majorities expanded, Senator Johnson won re-election, the State Supreme Court Chief Justice is now a conservative, and the left didn’t bother to run a candidate against the latest State Supreme Court Justice up for election. Defending the last statewide office holder of any real authority, Evers, will likely become a bit of a rallying point for them.

Complicating conservative efforts to unseat Evers is that his office and Governor Walker’s are mostly in agreement on the current budget. With the Governor basically giving the Superintendent most of what he’s been asking for, conservatives have an uphill battle to unseat a guy who really isn’t getting in the way, at least in the eyes of most of the state’s voters. Making things even more difficult for them will be the lack of interest in the race. While turnout overall was slightly higher than expected, it was still in the single digits state wide.