Wisconsin roundup: Walker, Priebus on joining Trump administration; more state election news among 12 state news stories
Gov. Scott Walker says there are hints that President Elect Donald Trump wants him for a post in the new administration -- and Time Magazine says Kenosha native Reince Priebus is the "inside favorite" as Trump's chief of staff.
But on WTMJ radio in Milwaukee Wednesday morning, Walker said he could best serve a Trump White House by carrying out his pending chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association and helping GOP state leaders work together with Trump. Meanwhile, Priebus -- a former Wisconsin GOP leader who has spent the last six years chairing the Republican National Committee – told NBC's "Today" show he's had "no conversations" about being Trump's chief of staff.
Time says Priebus took a major role in encouraging Trump to stick with his message in the home stretch of the campaign -- and the RNC took an "unprecedented role" in helping Trump manage field and financial operations.
Wisconsin voters elect first Republican president since 1984
Donald Trump pulled off a stunning upset by winning the presidency and became the first Republican since 1984 to carry Wisconsin.
The businessman got 49 percent of the state's popular vote to 46 for Democrat Hillary Clinton -- and it capped off a big night for state Republicans as they kept a U.S. Senate seat and its current House majorities, and strengthened their already large dominance of the state Legislature.
Trump won even though he never led all year in the statewide Marquette poll. Clinton never campaigned in Wisconsin after the primary, while Trump's repeated visits paid off as exit polls showed that he did well with white factory workers and "non college men." Trump beat Clinton by 29 points in rural areas where Democrat Barack Obama prevailed in both of his victories -- and Clinton carried just 13 of the 72 counties including Milwaukee -- five counties around Madison -- counties with UW campuses in La Crosse, Eau Claire, Stevens Point, and Superior as well as Madison -- and the home of the Menominee Indian reservation.
Walker calls Trump victory a 'win for taxpayers'
Gov. Scott Walker calls Donald Trump's presidential victory a "win for taxpayers and a win for America."
Walker -- the first of 17 Republican White House candidates to drop out of the race -- encouraged his party leaders to look to Wisconsin, tweeting that the GOP should "make the decisions needed to enact serious reforms, just like in the Badger State."
Last Sunday, former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that if Trump wins, the nation would go through an assault on labor unions like Wisconsin saw five years ago with Walker's Act 10 public union limits -- and Gingrich predicted massive protests similar to what Madison had. But that didn't sway Wisconsin voters who went with Trump, re-elected U.S. Senate Republican Ron Johnson, and increased the large Republican majorities in the state Legislature.
More Wisconsin communities vote to overturn Citizens United
Rock County and Delafield are among the latest in Wisconsin to pass referendums to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and get money out of politics.
Eighty-six-percent of Rock County voters and 80-percent in Delafield voted yes Tuesday to support a constitutional amendment to throw out the ruling that lets corporations give money to political campaigns. As of April, the group "Wisconsin United to Amend" says 73 state communities passed measures that say only humans are entitled to constitutional rights -- not businesses, unions, or other groups.
The Wisconsin United proposal also declares that "money is not speech." Two thirds of both houses in Congress, or two thirds of states would have to approve the amendment, and then at least 38 states must ratify it.
Former school employee charged with crime
JANESVILLE -- A former employee in the Beloit and Edgerton school districts is free on a signature bond, after being charged with exposing a child to harmful materials.
Thirty-three-year-old Kyle Bowman, who now lives in Waunakee, is due back in Rock County Circuit Court Nov. 30 to complete his formal initial appearance in the case. Edgerton Police say they started investigating Bowman last November for possible inappropriate conduct with a student.
Bowman resigned from the Beloit district last December after officials there caught wind of the investigation. Officials say he managed a special education program in Beloit, and did not have daily contacts with students.
State Senate leader declares narrow victory
LA CROSSE -- Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling has declared a re-election victory, while she was leading by only 44 votes out of 80,000 cast.
The La Crosse Democrat was running against the man she defeated in 2011, when Republican Dan Kapanke was recalled due to his support for the Act 10 public union law. Both had 49 percent of the vote as of 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, with four voting districts to be counted. Kapanke says he'll wait until every vote comes in, including provisional and military ballots -- and he won't respond until after the official ballot canvass in the coming days.
As it stands now, Republicans have gained one Senate seat after Stevens Point Democrat Julie Lassa was defeated and Dan Feyen kept the Fond du Lac area Senate seat in Republican hands, thus giving GOP has a 20-12 majority -- their biggest in the upper house since 1971.
Most large school referendums OK'd but not state's largest
Wisconsin public school voters were in a generous mood, as many of the state's largest building and tax increase referendums were approved.
But in Chippewa Falls, voters said no to Wisconsin's largest proposal -- $159 million of borrowing for a new high school, a rebuilt elementary school, and renovations of other facilities. In Sun Prairie, 66-percent of voters said yes to an $89 million package of improvements while projects of at least $50 million each were approved in Germantown, Oconomowoc, and McFarland. Hartland Arrowhead voters said no to about $65 million in school renovations and upgrades.
The state's largest revenue cap exemption was also approved, as voters in the Eau Claire school district agreed to raise their taxes by $88 million above state limits for a total of 15 years -- Madison voters approved an extra $26 million in taxes for four years -- and in Marshfield, almost six of every ten voters favored a four year, $12 million dollar cap exemption.
Early voting appeared to ease pressure at polling places
More than 820,000 early voters appeared to take at least some pressure off busy polling places in Wisconsin.
Milwaukee Election Commission director Neil Albrecht credits the July federal court ruling that ended restrictions on absentee voting, at least for this election. More than 52,000 people voted early in Wisconsin's largest city, and Albrecht says up to 30 percent of Milwaukee's registered voters cast ballots during the first two hours the polls were open.
Officials urged many people to vote early, especially in college towns where long lines held things up in some places during the earlier primaries. There were still long lines Tuesday morning at UW-Eau Claire and Milwaukee's Marquette University but they eased up later on -- and in Madison, a judge allowed polls in the 29th Ward to stay open one hour later, after a fire may have kept some people from voting earlier in the day.
Johnson tops Feingold in U.S. Senate rematch
Republicans will keep control of both houses in Congress as Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson won for the second straight time against the man he unseated in 2010, Democrat Russ Feingold.
Johnson got 50 percent of Tuesday's vote to 47-percent for Feingold. It helped the G-OP win at least five of eight contests that Democrats were hoping would help them regain the Senate's majority and create a split in power on Capitol Hill.
Feingold entered the race last year with a sizable lead in the polls -- but Johnson caught up in the final weeks, and many pundits considered the race a tossup at the end. Because of the national significance of the race, it was also an expensive one, as Johnson and Feingold raised a combined $40 million and special interest groups spent millions more for their own ads.
Gallagher wins, state's U.S. House delegation remains 5-3 Republican
Wisconsin's U.S. House delegation will keep its 5-3 GOP majority, after Green Bay Republican Mike Gallagher won the state's only open seat on Tuesday.
The former Marine got 64 percent of the vote against Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, to keep the Eighth District seat in Republican hands as incumbent Reid Ribble steps down in January. In southern Wisconsin's First District, GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan picked up 67 percent of the vote in defeating Democrat Ryan Solen -- and Ryan's chances of keeping his speaker's post grew with big GOP sweeps for both Congress and the White House. Wisconsin's other House incumbents won, as Republicans Sean Duffy, Glenn Grothman, and Jim Sensenbrenner and Democrats Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore all had between 58 and 75 percent of the vote in their contests. La Crosse Democrat Ron Kind was unopposed.
Wasau voters say one wheel tax is enough
WAUSAU -- Almost two-thirds of Wausau voters have rejected a proposed $20 wheel tax to help pay for street improvements.
All fees that affect more than 10 percent of Wausau residents are required to be approved in referendums -- and 63 percent rejected Tuesday's wheel tax vote while 37 percent favored it. Starting next month, Wausau residents will pay a $25 wheel tax imposed by Marathon County.
Communities have been looking to those taxes help pay for their road work, citing a drop in state funding. Gov. Scott Walker vows to increase local road aids as part of his next state budget.
Fatal fire still being investigated
OWEN -- Officials in central Wisconsin say it might take a few months to get to the bottom of a house fire that killed its 93-year-old owner.
Owen Police say a preliminary investigation found nothing suspicious, but the probe continues. The victim was identified as Ervin Mohr, who was a truck driver from 1947 until he retired 41 years later. The fire broke out early last Saturday. The owner's remains were not found until Monday.