With the closing of the polls at 8 p.m. this evening, Election Day is officially over. The book on election night remains wide open, though, as candidates wait for and receive word on both unofficial and official results from poll watchers and the Dane County Clerk's Office, respectively.
Many candidates for office are gathering with supporters at restaurants, taverns, supper clubs, and coffee shops throughout the city. They will be learning the fate of their bid for office, and with it, the future of their home. Control of both the Madison Common Council and Board of Education will be decided by today's elections, and with them some of the most significant choices facing each in a generation.
Live-blogging of the election results and parties follows below. Updates on poll conditions, turnout, candidates' plans, and other Election Day ephemera is available here.
When Dave Cieslewicz was first elected in 2003, he was a rookie mayor presiding over a council numerous veteran alders. Four years later, these roles are now significantly reversed, as he embarks upon a second term alongside a Common Council with nine freshman alders. This could significantly change the dynamics of city government, and give him a stronger hand in guiding future policy.
Given the outcome of tonight's aldermanic races, the mayor judges the council to be generally more weighted in its center than during its previous session. "I think this is a real opportunity," says Cieslewicz. "With half the council turning over, it gives us an opportunity to reshape it, as I want to keep them focused on issues that bring people together and have less divisiveness than in the past."
What issues? "I think we need to move away from some of the regulatory things we have done," the mayor says. He suggests a focus on issues like workforce transportation and child care as policy avenues that can bridge the primary ideological gap in the council, that being perception towards the city government's approach to fostering economic development. "I think we can bring the progressive and business communities together," he concludes, "and build bridges that way."
"We might not have won tonight, but we did not lose," says Semmi Pasha, the campaign manager for Ray Allen. "We are extremely proud of the efforts we put into this campaign, we raised some issues that Madison is facing, and hopefully they're going to be on the minds of policymakers for the next four years," Pasha continues. "We changed the political landscape in Madison and for that we are proud."
Indeed, Allen's most significant impact over the course of his campaign may have been his serious focus on the issue of growing levels poverty in the city, and its connections to crime and eductaion. What would he suggest Mayor Cieslewicz and the new Common Council do first to address these problems? "He can pick up our campaign lit and find our suggestions," says Pasha. "We were the only ones to pick up these issues, and that will be a good blueprint for the city to move forward."
Also instructive in the unofficial canvass provided by the Dane County Clerk are the ward-by-ward results for the District 8 race, in which Eli Judge defeated Lauren Woods.
In the four wards comprising the district, the margin between the two candidates was fairly close. Woods' vote totals in Ward 46 (covering the Langdon neighborhood and the east corner of the district) was enough, in fact, to outweigh Judge's margins in Wards 47 and 48, which cover the southern and western portions of the district, respectively, in the Lakeshore portion of the UW campus and in the Randall neighborhood.
Judge crushed Woods by nearly a margin of 2 to 1, though, in Ward 45, which consists of the dense thicket of student housing at the southeast corner of the UW campus. In the end, in that rich source of votes that are the Southeast dorms, Judge received enough support to convincingly win the district.
Due to the fact that the election was held in the midst of spring break, it appears that Judge was far more successful than his opponent in the race to cast absentee ballots.
10:33 p.m. The Beltline served as a major dividing line in the aldermanic race for District 20, in which Thuy Pham-Remmele defeated Gary Poulson by 13 votes. In the two wards located to the south of the highway in neighborhoods adjacent to District 1, she cleaned up with hundreds more votes than her opponent. The converse was true on the other side of the road, though, where the older parts of Madison voted heavily for Poulson. Like the elections in 2003, Madison is increasinly becoming defined electorally by a division between the central and more outlying portions of the city.
Enough wards across Madison have reported to declare victors in the three races for the school board. Beth Moss received about 65% of the vote in her victory over Rick Thomas, just a point less than Johnny Winston, Jr., who defeated Tom Brew with 67% of the vote.
The nail-biter through the entire night, indeed the whole election season, though, was the race between Maya Cole and Marj Passman. In her second try at the school board, Cole wins with 53% of the vote.
With over two-thirds of results in from around the state, Annette Ziegler is continuing to lead over Linda Clifford by nearly 20 points in the race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This is enought to declare her the victor in the election.
What about the remaining races for the Madison Common Council? There are no surprises. Incumbent Jed Sanborn defeats challenger Aaron Backer in District 1, incumbent Larry Skidmore defeats challenger Larry Pasha in District 9, Brian Solomon defeats Chris Ogden in District 10, Julia Kerr defeats Duane Steinhauer in District 13, Joe Clausius defeats Sarah Florino in District 17, and Mark Clear defeats Curt Brink in Distict 19. Every race was won by an incumbent or by the candidate supported by the outgoing incumbent. Indeed, the victors in each of these races won by 20, 30 or more points over their opponents.
In terms of the Madison Common Council, this has largely been a night defined by the status quo.
After asking supporters to give a round of applause to the Allen campaign, Cieslewicz begins a fairly standard victory speech thanking his supporters and promising to continue his approach to governing the city of Madison. "The biggest challenge we have going forward is that we're a successful community," Cieslewicz concludes, "and we need to manage our success."
"We wan a race about poverty," says Ray Allen in his concession speech at the Avenue Bar. "We ran a race about public safety, and we talked about our schools, our children, and our future," he continues. "We have nothing to be ashamed of tonight."
With over half of the returns in from around the state, Annette Ziegler has received about 57% to the 43% garnered by Linda Clifford in the race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
There are about 25 people in the second story portion of Brocach Irish Tavern on Capitol Square for the Maya Cole party, reports Isthmus correspondent Kenneth Burns. As there is no TV in that portion of the establishment, some people are spending their time huddled around a laptop watching the unofficial canvass results get published by the Dane County Clerk.
Cole, who has been leading for most of the evening by a handful of points, is optimistic about the vote totals on the east side. She tells Burns a story from the campaign about holding signs atop a pedestrian bridge over Park Street with her children when five passing cars flashed them the bird. "I just told my kids," Cole says, "this is what happens when some people take politics too seriously."
Cole jokes that if she wins, her first action will be to have a celebratory drink at her party.
Back at the High Noon Saloon, the Gomers are still playing though Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is preparing to make his victory speech. He is leading Ray Allen by roughly 62% to 38%, with this difference widening as more results are reported ward by ward.
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk recently took the stage at the club on East Washington Avenue, and offered to tell the crowd stories about her experiences with Mayor Dave. "We were environmental warriors together down in the trenches," she says, noting that they go also go hunting every year. "You learn a lot about a person when you share a hunting blind with them," Falk notes. She subsequently proceded to tell no stories, reports Isthmus correspondent Jason Joyce.
As one Mayor Dave supporter said at the High Noon, "it's all over but the drinkin'."
"It has a real neighborhood-y, small-town Wisconsin feel," says Isthmus correspondent Linda Falkenstein about the Mark Deadman party at Busse's Markway Tavern, "one where everybody knew each other, but I felt completely welcome." Given his loss to Satya Rhodes-Conway, most people at the party are offering consolation to the defeated candidate, patting him on the back and telling him it was a good fight. The most notable element to the party? The mountains of food.
Outgoing District 8 alder and city council president Austin King offers comments to Isthmus correspondent Jason Joyce about Eli Judge's victory over Lauren Woods.
"Eli ran a brilliant campaign in that he adopted all of our issues as our own," says King, referring to Progressive Dane's endorsement of Woods. "A lot will be made about a PD candidate losing, but in fact their politics are very similar if not exactly the same."
Any parting thoughts from King? "The last few days have epitomized the worst part of local politics, with my friend Zach Brandon accusing a city employee of mishandling votes," he says. "To me, that kind of thing is one of the best reasons to leave."
There are about 75 people at Fyfe's Corner Bistro attending the parties for Madison school board hopefuls Beth Moss and Maya Cole, reports Isthmus correspondent Kenneth Burns, including one woman draped in yard signs for both candidates. Both Moss and Passman are hopeful about their races, he notes, with the latter saying "they've left all the decisions to the new board" when asked what her first action would be if elected.
The vote totals are in for District 20, which covers neighborhoods on the near west and southwest sides of Madison. Thuy Pham-Remmele, who was endorsed by retiring alder Cindy Thomas, received 1655 votes. Her opponent Gary Poulson, meanwhile, got 1642.
With more report wards continuing to trickle in, Madison school board candidates Beth Moss and Johnny Winston, Jr. are maintaining broad leads over their opponents, Rick Thomas and Tom Brew. In the other race, though, Maya Cole is slowly opening up a lead on Marj Passman, and currently has about 53% of the vote.
Annette Ziegler continues to hold a very wide lead over Linda Clifford in the race for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat. With one-fifth of wards across the state reporting, the former is leading by 59% to 41%.
Joe Chase will remain the mayor of Sun Prairie, having defeated challenger Bill Clausius by 2452 to 1603 votes.
It looks like the next alder for District 20 is going to be Thuy Pham-Remmele, who defeated Gary Poulson by 13 votes as counted in the unofficial canvass.
The first results are starting to come in for the Madison school board races from wards scattered around the city. There are no surprises there, with favorites Beth Moss and Johnny Winston, Jr. holding wide initial leads over their opponents Rick Thomas and Tom Brew, and a neck-and-neck race between Maya Cole and Marj Passman.
Isthmus correspondent Linda Falkenstein reports from the Rhodes-Conway party at a crowded Sandlot next to Demetral Field. "It was very neighborhood-y, with quite a few people sitting around eating pizza," she notes. There wasn't huge excitement, though, except on the part of the victorious candidate.
Radio talker Mitch Henck is in high dudgeon on WIBA, bemoaning the loss by Mark Deadman to Satya Rhodes-Conway in District 12 on the north side. The talker salutes the "heroic and gallant insurgency" of the former in the face of an alleged Progressive Dane juggernaut, with guest commentator Zach Brandon providing support.
Isthmus correspondent Jason Joyce has returned to the Cieslewicz party at the High Noon Saloon. Around 8:45 p.m., Gomeroke is in full swing with a large fellow singing MÃtÃrhead's "Ace of Spades" atop the stage. Most folks are watching TV, Joyce notes, but the atmosphere is pretty festive with hopes remaining high.
Also reporting from the High Noon, Casey Brown notes that the head count at the door so far is 130 persons. The latest arrival? Kathleen Falk, who is conducting interviews on the patio deck just outside the club.
Michael Schumacher will be the next alderperson for District 18 on the north side, who defeated Jon Becker by roughly 63% to 37%.
A victorious Robbie Webber calls to report the vote totals for District 5, in which she received 763 votes to 600 for challenger Troy Thiel. She also notes an incredibly but unsurprisingly lopsided vote total for the state supreme court race in her near west side district: "Linda Clifford totally kicked ass in the ward where I vote, where the total was 572 for Clifford to 73 for Ziegler. I'm proud of my neighbors!"
Unofficial canvass numbers for District 8 have been published on TDPF, which detail Eli Judge winning 519 votes to the 416 cast for Lauren Woods.
Brenda Konkel, who has been receiving unofficial canvass numbers from the slate of Progressive Dane-endorsed candidates, provides results (sans numbers) in four more races. The results? incumbent Robbie Webber defeats challenger Troy Thiel in District 5, Marsha Rummel defeats Carl DuRocher in District 6, Eli Judge defeats Lauren Woods in the student-dominated District 8, and incumbent Tim Gruber holds onto his seat in District 11 by 31 votes over challenger Chris Schmidt.
The final result for the party that local talk radio and the State Journal editorial page loves to hate? They will hold onto six seats in the Madison Common Council, one less than they held in the previous term. The seat lost by the party is that for District 8, which has been vacated by outgoing council president Austin King and won by Eli Judge.
With a scant 2% of statewide results in, Annette Ziegler is clobbering Linda Clifford in the race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, with the former leading by 60% to 40%.
The Fitchburg mayoral race is decided, with incumbent Tom Clauder to remain in office. Challenger Jeff Nytes just conceded the race.
Larry Palm will continue to represent District 15 on the east side of Madison, report PD poll-watchers following the initial canvass. The incumbent received 1,560 votes to the 1,108 cast for challenger Vicky Selkowe.
The next alderperson for District 12 will be Satya Rhodes-Conway, as reported by Progressive Dane poll-watchers on the north side of town. She carried 1,399 votes to 1,285 cast for Mark Deadman. This is generally considered the bellwether district for this spring's election, and suggests that the Cieslewicz campaign may fare well through the night.
A few initial results are starting to trickle in to the Dane County Clerk's office, with the unofficial canvass already providing numbers for some rural Dane County wards in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race between Linda Clifford and Annette Ziegler. The former is barely leading, at least as measured in these very early returns.
Ray Allen just showed up to the Avenue Bar, reports Isthmus correspondent Jason Joyce. The mayoral challneger has the back room reserved, with about two dozen people present as the party gets underway. One of these supporters is Jeff Stanley, the owner of Dotty Dumpling's Dowry, who is sitting at the bar sporting an Allen button. There are a variety of other patrons also present at the Avenue, though many of them are watching the Brewers on TV.
One triffle to note: When Allen arrived at the Avenue, he did not park in the space in back with a sign declaring "Reserved for Mayor-Elect Ray Allen." Is there any meaning in this?
Joyce, who recently arrived at the Avenue from the Cieslewicz party at the High Noon just blocks away, also notes a definite color scheme between the candidates. The incumbent's gathering is swathed in red and white, while the challenger has made blue and white his colors.
Both mayoral, most school board, and many Common Council candidates in Madison are holding election night parties throughout the city. The locations of their gatherings are compiled here.
Polls are now closed. Counting of the ballots now begins, with the unofficial canvass to be provided by the Dane County Clerk's office as results are submitted.