Post-election roundup: Republican tilt increases; Hudson referendum fails but SCC improvements OK'd; 12 more Wisconsin stories
At least two Wisconsin House Republicans say they're looking forward to ending gridlock on Capitol Hill.
Ryan told CBS News that the House passed almost 400 bills that never went anywhere, because majority Senate Democrats held them up.
Ryan says it's now possible for Congress to send legislation to President Obama for his signature.
Ryan -- who won his ninth two-year House term Tuesday -- said lawmakers can finally give the president "a chance to actually make a decision."
Ryan said he hoped the Democrat Obama would work with the GOP congressional majority, and stop making unilateral decisions with executive orders.
Ribble, who won his third term in northeast Wisconsin, said Congress can finally start approving budgets and review expenses now that Democrat Harry Reid will no longer be the Senate's majority leader.
Christie credits Walker win to voters wanting to 'get things done'
The chairman of the Republican Governors Association says Scott Walker's win in Wisconsin is just one example of voters choosing leaders who will "get things done."
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made the remark Wednesday morning, while analyzing his party's election victories.
Christie made the rounds of the network TV talk shows, saying voters made it clear they want results over ideology.
He said it spurred Republicans into winning control of the U-S Senate, as well as helping G-O-P governors with possible White House aspirations. Walker and Christie have been mentioned as two of them.
There are also White House rumblings about governors John Kasich of Ohio and Rick Snyder of Michigan, both of whom won second terms.
Christie said the GOP's success was fueled by an unpopular President Obama. Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul said the Republican wins were a "referendum not only on the president's policies, but really a referendum on Hillary Clinton," the Democrats' front-runner for 2016.
Republican National Committee chief-of-staff Mike Shields said his party's White House hopefuls will need to be active in the next three months, as the field competes for the same group of donors and staffers. Walker's acceptance speech Tuesday night was clearly aimed at a national audience, while he told the Associated Press he won't consider a White House bid until after he signs the next two-year state budget next summer. Walker has also said he wouldn't run if Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan decides to enter the race.
Walker carried 56 of Wisconsin's 72 counties in winning his second four-year term. With all but on percent of the vote counted, the Republican Walker defeated Democrat Mary Burke 52- to 47 percent.
The margin was about two points less than in Walker's 2012 recall election, when he survived a fierce challenge from opponents of his Act 10 law which eliminated most public union bargaining. That law isn't going anywhere, and Walker has said he would not try to extend it to the groups that were exempt in 2011 -- police, fire, and transit unions.
Walker's victory also fuels speculation that he won't serve his entire four years, so he can run for president in 2016.
The governor told the AP he won't consider a White House run until after he gets a new state budget signed next June. However, his victory speech to supporters in West Allis was aimed at least partially at national supporters looking in.
"In America, the opportunity is equal, but the outcome is up to you. That's the difference between what we believe here in Wisconsin, and what they're selling in Washington," he said.
In her concession speech in Madison, Burke quoted Packers' legend Vince Lombardi in saying, "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get back up. Tonight ... for many of us ... it feels a bit like getting knocked down."
Burke was a state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive before she accepted the State Democratic Party's overtures to run against Walker. She remains on the Madison School Board.
Burke carried the state's two largest counties of Milwaukee and Dane, both traditional Democratic strongholds. She also carried five of Madison's neighboring counties -- Columbia, Sauk, Richland, Green, and Rock.
Burke also won in La Crosse and two counties to the south, Vernon and Crawford. She was also victorious in traditional Democratic places along Lake Superior -- Douglas, Bayfield, and Ashland counties. She also won in Eau Claire, Portage, and Menominee counties in the state's mid-section.
Republicans maintain control of both State houses
MADISON -- Just like they've done for four years, Republicans will keep controlling both houses of the state Legislature, giving Gov. Walker virtually everything he wants.
Unofficial results show that the Senate increased its GOP majority from 18 members to 19. Democrats tried but failed to gain three seats from the GOP, which would have created a split Legislature and made life tougher for the governor.
The Assembly easily remained Republican, with victories in 60 of the 99 districts and two contests undecided during the night.
Democrats set their sights on three Senate seats, where well-known GO-P incumbents stepped down but they didn't win any of them.
Representative Howard Marklein replaces moderate Senate Republican Dale Schultz of Richland Center. Former GOP Representative Roger Roth takes over the seat given up by Senate President Mike Ellis. And a Sheboygan area seat stays in Republican hands, as Devin LeMahieu replaces Joe Leibham, who ran and lost for Congress.
AG-elect Schimel promises to make growing heroin problem a top priority
MADISON -- The state Justice Department will stay in Republican hands, as Republican Brad Schimel defeated Democrat Susan Happ 52- to 45 percent Tuesday.
Both were county prosecutors hoping to succeed outgoing Republican Attorney General J.B Van Hollen.
Schimel, from Waukesha County, said his top priority will be to combat the state's growing heroin problem.
He told supporters, "I am sick and tired of meeting with parents who have buried their children. Tonight, I am putting drug dealers on notice. You are Public Enemy Number-One."
Also, Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette was re-elected to the office he's held for 36 years. He defeated Republican Julian Bradley 50-to-46 percent. La Follette and the state treasurer have virtually lost all of their powers in recent years.
Republican Matt Adamczyk ran for treasurer with the promise of trying to eliminate the office. He'll get his chance, after winning 49- to 45 percent over Democrat David Sartori.
Also, Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly said yes to using gas tax revenues only for transportation purposes. The vote was 80- to 20 percent in favor of banning raids on the transportation fund, like those made by former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle to prop up schools amid large budget deficits.
Exit polling shows men favored Walker, lower income folks favored Burke
Men gave Governor Scott Walker more of their support than women gave to Democrat Mary Burke. The Republican Walker also won Tuesday's independent vote.
Those are just two findings from an exit poll of 2,300 Wisconsin voters for the Associated Press and the major TV networks.
Walker won his second term by about five percentage points over Burke.
The poll found Walker got three of every five votes from men. Two-thirds of white men voted for Walker, while nine of every ten blacks chose Burke.
The governor did well with those making over $50,000 a year who are married and go to church at least once a week.
Burke got strong backing from those making less than $50,000 a year and she had a slight majority among moderates and singles.
About half of Wisconsin voters said the economy was the nation's biggest issue, and they were evenly-divided among voters for both Walker and Burke.
Those who cited health care as the biggest issue went with Burke. Walker got the most votes from those citing foreign policy and illegal immigration.
Eight of ten voters in the exit poll said they were worried about the U.S. economy over the next year, and most of those voted for Walker.
The Republican governor had cited an improved economy with over 110,000 new jobs since the recession. However, only four of ten voters said their own economic plight got better during that time.
As for Walker's presidential aspirations, most said he would not make a good president and voters were split when asked the same thing about Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan.
Three Assembly Democrats tossed by voters; three promoted to Senate
MADISON -- Three Wisconsin Assembly members lost their re-election bids Tuesday but one is eligible for a tax-funded recount if she wants it.
Unofficial returns show that Wausau Democrat Mandy Wright lost to Republican Dave Heaton by just 86 votes out of 22,000 cast.
Democrat Amy Sue Vruwink of Milladore lost to Republican Nancy VanderMeer 53- to 47 percent and Democrat Stephen Smith of Shell Lake was defeated by Republican and former Rice Lake mayor Romaine Quinn 55- to 45 percent.
Vruwink has spent 12 years in the Assembly. She lost the largest city in her district, Marshfield, in the GOP's redistricting of 2011.
Republicans targeted her after she narrowly defeated VanderMeer two years ago. Wright and Smith were both going for their second terms. Wright's margin of defeat was just 38 hundredths of one percent -- well within the half-percent threshold in which she would not have to pay for a recount.
Thirty-two other Assembly incumbents won re-election contests, giving Republicans at least a 60- to 39 majority with two races still extremely close.
Nine Senate incumbents survived challenges, as the upper house increased its GOP majority by one member for a 19-14 edge.
Racine Republican Van Wanggaard returns to the Senate seat he lost when he was recalled in 2012.
Former Assembly Republican Roger Roth of Appleton defeated current Assembly Democrat Penny Bernard-Schaber to replace GOP Senate President Mike Ellis.
Three Assembly members won promotions to the Senate -- Spring Green Republican Howard Marklein, Ashland Democrat Janet Bewley, and Evansville Democrat Janis Ringhand.
New Congressman Grothman promises conservative agenda; Rep. Kind re-elected
Wisconsin's U.S. House delegation will still have a 5- to 3 Republican edge, after Glenn Grothman won the only open seat Tuesday.
Grothman, a veteran state senator from Campbellsport, defeated Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris 57- to 41 percent to replace retiring Fond du Lac Republican Tom Petri.
Grothman was one of the Legislature's most conservative members, speaking out against what he called excessive public benefits and abortion rights. He vows to take those causes to Washington.
Meanwhile, Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan -- whom, like Walker, is considered a possible 2016 presidential hopeful -- easily won Tuesday.
Ryan received 64 percent of the vote over Democrat Rob Zerban.
The closest House race was in western Wisconsin, where Democratic incumbent Ron Kind out-polled Tony Kurtz by 14 percent.
Menomonee Falls Republican Jim Sensenbrenner had the largest victory margin among the state's House contingent -- 70- to 30 percent over Democrat Chris Rockwood.
Other easy House winners were GOP incumbents Sean Duffy of Wausau and Reid Ribble of Sherwood along with Democrats Gwen Moore of Milwaukee and Mark Pocan of Madison.
Hudson school referendum falls; St. Croix Central OK's $24 million remodeling projects
Wisconsin's largest school building referendum went down to defeat yesterday in Hudson.
About 58 percent of voters said no to borrowing $99.6 million dollars for a new high school, plus improvements to Hudson's existing high school building. The same percentage of voters also rejected borrowing $6.6 million for a new Hudson school auditorium. School Board president Jamie Johnson said the district would consider its options, and come up with a new plan to resolve space shortages at the high school and middle school.
Meanwhile, it appears that a 15-year, $128 million dollar tax increase for the Racine School District will be approved. With 72- of 92 districts counted, the referendum had over 22,000 yes votes and 16,000 no votes. School officials asked taxpayers for $8.5 million above the district's revenue cap each year for 15 years.
It would pay for various facilities like student computers and building repairs.
The Eau Claire Leader-Telelgram reported that two referendum questions in the Durand district failed. Electors rejected the $17.55 million project would have provided for renovation to Caddie Woodlawn Elementary, the middle/high school and Arkansaw Elementary. Another bid to improve the track and football field also failed.
Voters in the St. Croix Central School District approved a request for $24 million for additions, renovations, remodeling and site improvements at each of the district’s three school buildings by a margin of 1,755-1,195. They also approved a question to exceed revenue limits by $300,000 for 2015-16 was being approved 1,643-1,299.
Black River Falls are voters approved a $22.5 million question that called for the demolition of an old elementary school and construction of a new one, plus some remodeling and an addition to the high school.
Tribe allegedly offered food, prizes to would-be voters
HAYWARD -- An Indian tribe in northwest Wisconsin faces possible legal action, after it reportedly offered free food and prizes to those who voted Tuesday.
The Sawyer County District Attorney's office said it received a couple calls about the alleged offers from the Lac Courte Oreilles tribe.
The office would not say whether it was investigating for possible state election law violations.
The conservative Media Trackers broke the story Tuesday afternoon.
It said the Hayward-based tribe offered voters free lunch or dinner at the tribal convention center, and fliers reportedly promoted a late afternoon drawing.
It's against the law to offer "anything of value" in exchange for a vote.
The Media Trackers report said the tribe was using its web site to recruit canvassers for the League of Conservation Voters, in an unsuccessful campaign to remove Gov. Scott Walker.
The tribe has been opposed to the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine, which Walker and other Republicans have supported in order to create jobs for the region.
Rural mail-carrier killed when SUV rolls over
PORTAGE -- Authorities now say a woman killed in a sport utility vehicle crash near Portage on Monday was delivering mail for the U.S. Postal Service at the time.
The victim was identified yesterday as 22-year-old Jessica Halvorsen. Columbia County authorities said she was driving from the right-front passenger seat on a rural delivery route, when the SUV veered to the right and over corrected twice.
The vehicle went into a steep ditch on the left, and overturned in a cornfield. Halvorsen was ejected, and officials said she was not wearing a seat belt.
The crash happened Monday afternoon on old CTH U in the town of Caledonia near Portage.
Woman gets 7 years for crash that killed two friends
MERRILL -- A Merrill woman will spend seven years in prison for killing two friends in a drunk driving crash.
Ashley Baumann was sentenced Tuesday, after a jury found her guilty of seven felony charges in a June 2012 mishap that killed Jessica Hartwig and Misty Glisch.
Investigators said Baumann was driving about 100 mph when she flipped her vehicle and her blood alcohol level was still almost twice legal minimum about four hours after the crash.
Lincoln County Circuit Judge Jay Tlusty said Baumann had a history of problems with alcohol, starting with three underage drinking citations as a teen. The judge mentioned that she also got into a fight at a party where she was drinking and it showed what he called a "pattern of undesirable behavior."
Baumann, who turns 27 next Tuesday, said she didn't have the answers about what happened the night of the crash and she wished she did.
Corn harvest 25 percent behind average
MADISON -- Wisconsin farmers are making better progress in harvesting their crops. The National Ag Statistics Service said 80 percent of the state's soybean crop was brought in as of Sunday. That's just one-percent behind the average for the past five years, after farmers harvested a whopping 21 percent of the beans last week alone.
Thirty-three percent of the state's corn for grain has been harvested. That's up from 20 percent a week ago, but still behind the norm of 58 percent for this time of year.
Farmers have been letting their corn dry out in the fields to try and reduce some of the high moisture content.
Thirteen percent of Wisconsin farm fields have surplus moisture. Corn for feed is still being harvested, as farmers had to deal with light snow and colder temperatures last week.
The current forecast calls for a dry day with highs in the 40's and 50's under partly to mostly cloudy skies. There's a chance for rain and snow in parts of the Badger State Thursday.
Mom, daughter face charges for allegedly trying to arrange for murders
NEILLSVILLE -- A mother and her 21-year-old daughter were due in court Wednesday, for allegedly trying to hire a person to kill two men over a child custody issue.
Clark County sheriff's deputies arrested Porscha Rizza and her mother Shari Klimmer, 46, late Monday night.
Sheriff Greg Herrick said the two wanted to hire somebody who would kill two men who had babies with Rizza.
The women apparently told the purported hit-man that one of the fathers wanted to change custody arrangements, so he could have the children after moving out of state.
The sheriff said the woman gave the hit-man photos of the targets, along with their addresses and vehicle descriptions.
The two women are in the Clark County Jail, awaiting charges.
In the meantime, a judge was expected to set bond for both Wednesday.
Online court records showed that both suspects did not have prior criminal records in Wisconsin.
Man receives 32-year sentence for role in fatal beating
WAUSAU -- A 20-year-old man will spend at least 32 years in prison for robbing and killing a popular bowling personality in Wausau.
Zachary Froehlich of Wausau was sentenced Tuesday to 35 years behind bars. He was given credit for 868 days he spent in jail while his case moved through the court system.
Froelich must also spend 15 years under extended supervision once he's released.
Police said he and another man broke into a detached garage where Kerby Kneiss, 49, was living in June, 2012.
They apparently tried to get liquor and cigarettes when they attacked Kniess with a baseball bat. Froehlich was charged with 13 criminal counts, but several were dropped in a plea deal.
-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau