Before closing the book on the last week's electoral showdown, let's wander one last time onto the battlefield to shoot the wounded, award medals for bravery and acknowledge other achievements. To wit:
Lone Wolf Award: Jay Heck. The head of Common Cause in Wisconsin courageously opposed the flow of shadowy third-party money into the "nonpartisan" races for state Supreme Court and Dane County executive. Heck decried the attack ads launched by the Greater Wisconsin Committee, Advancing Wisconsin and even Planned Parenthood, which told voters, "Nancy Mistele is dangerous to your health."
'What, Me Sully?' Award: Kathleen Falk. Her campaign took the high road with soft, fuzzy ads in which young kids flashed her the thumbs-up sign. She left the low road to the third-party henchmen, cementing her reputation as the master of the good cop/bad cop routine. Speaking of which...
Most Overexposed Cop: Dave Mahoney. Dane County's sheriff appeared, in uniform, in television and print ads for both Falk and Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson. Can Mahoney ShamWow commercials be far behind?
Money Magnet: Kathleen Falk. The Dane County executive trailed challenger Mistele in fundraising in recent months but nonetheless benefited from unprecedented amounts of spending by outside special interests. When it's all accounted for, expect the total on her side to be two or even three times that of Mistele. Yet if Nancy Mistele had imported hundreds of thousands of state and national special-interest dollars to pummel Kathleen Falk, there would have been headlines for days in the local press, and the outcry would have been deafening.
Split Personality Award: Dane County Voters. Falk rolled up huge margins in the city of Madison, while Nancy Mistele won the rural vote. Falk claimed voters gave her a "mandate." Mandate? How 'bout a coalition government? There are more people residing in the Other Lands of Dane County than in the Emerald City. But for those living outside the castle walls, feudalism and serfdom are not just historical concepts.
Worst Imitation of a Daily Newspaper: Wisconsin State Journal. Years ago, Madison's then-conservative-leaning newspaper would run an end-of-the-campaign profile piece on the major candidates the Sunday before the election. This year, the big issue on Sunday, April 5, was subdivision water runoff near Oregon. The election was barely mentioned, except for the letters page and an editorial from The Capital Times.
The week before the election, Madison police filed a complaint over the handling of a 911 call in March in which a man died in his car from carbon monoxide poisoning. The WSJ waited until April 9 (two days after the election) to comment editorially on this development and even then couldn't bring itself to mention the words "Kathleen Falk" in its editorial.
Somewhere, tucked deep within Lee Enterprises' vaults, there must be a secret contract prohibiting the State Journal from criticizing Falk on its editorial page.
Humanitarian Award: Shirley Abrahamson. The chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court ran ads on how she is the only thing standing between homeowners and foreclosure. Who knew? From now on, thousands of Wisconsin homeowners faced with the threat of foreclosure will stand in line outside the Capitol, waiting to see Abrahamson and her colleagues. "Just take a number...a justice will be with you shortly." Bring a snack and a small gift for the justice.
Slip of the Tongue Award: Rick Berg. This aggravating local pundit twice referred to Rose Fernandez as Rose Hernandez on WHA's election night coverage. My apologies to Fernandez; it was a long and tiring day.
Rick Berg is a Madison-area freelance writer and political commentator.