It all comes down to this. Nearly sixteen months of protests, petitions, and politics not-as-usual comes down to one day, Tuesday, June 5, when Wisconsin voters decide the outcome of the long-anticipated gubernatorial recall election. After the polls close, volunteers and supporters of Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, as well as both candidates for lieutenant governor, will gather to watch the results and alternately share in celebration or commiseration as the winners are declared.
But first, campaigns need to get-out-the-vote on Election Day. This usually means phone banks and doorbells, but both need plenty of enthusiastic volunteers.
The rally, really a rock concert, features performances by an all-star lineup of politically minded musicians. Guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave played at the Capitol protests in 2011 as The Nightwatchman, and is returning to town to headline this show. He will be joined on stage by singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, Tim McIlrath of Rise Against, hip-hop artist Brother Ali, and Mike McColgan of Street Dogs. Rounding out the bill are Sean Michael Dargan and participants in the Solidarity Sing Along. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
The rally is free, but admission will require signing up to help get-out-the-vote for the election.
As for election night, supporters of any of the four statewide candidates will need to trek to Milwaukee to attend a party if they want to see any victory or concession speeches in person.
Barrett and Madison firefighter Mahlon Mitchell, who are the Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, will gather with supporters for a party at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center, starting at 8 p.m. after the polls close. Republican incumbents Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch gather with their supporters for a party at the Waukesha County Expo Center, likewise beginning at 8 p.m.
Here in Madison, the highest profile gathering is likely to be the Election Night Watch Party at the Majestic Theatre. The evening will feature DJ Nick Nice and performances by the Solidarity Sing-Along. Doors open at 5 p.m., and admission is free. Over on the east side at the Crystal Corner Bar, DJ Reverend Velveteen will host the This Walker's Made for Bootin' Dance Party, playing music from the Cheddar Revolution: Songs of Uprising compilation album.
Meanwhile, the monthly Pints & Politics discussion hosted by the Republican Party of Dane County serves double duty as an election night gathering, at Halverson's Restaurant in Stoughton. Normally running from 5:30-7:30, this meeting is likely to run longer.
Finally, four Wisconsin state Senate seats will be contested in the June 5 recall election. The highest profile race is in District 13, where Democratic challenger Lori Compass of Fort Atkinson is taking on Senate Co-Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican from Juneau. Compas will host a party at the Keystone Grill in Cambridge on Tuesday night, starting at 8:30 p.m. The Fitzgerald campaign did not respond to a query about information about an election night event.
A year-and-a-half of unprecedented political struggle across Wisconsin will culminate when the polls close statewide at 8 p.m., and these parties will offer a front row seat.