Monday, November 06, 2006

Elections tomorrow

So, tomorrow is yet another election day.

I originally started this blog back in 2004, during the runup to that year's presidential election. That particular election didn't go very well.

This year looks like it will be at least as interesting. There are a number of hotly contested races that I'll be voting on tomorrow. I thought I'd try something entertaining, and see if I can predict the outcomes of any of these races. So here goes:

The biggest choice on the ballot tomorrow will be whether or not to amend the State Constitution thus: "Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state." Obviously, this is not only a ban on marriages between same-sex couples (which are already illegal, but I guess the nutjobs are so afraid of the gay menace that they felt the need to preemptively enact this amendment), it would also deny any sort of protection to domestic partnerships. It's interesting to speculate on why the 2nd part of the referendum was included: Was it included because the proponents of this amendment were such raving loonies that they actually want to make sure that "living in sin" remains illegal and unprotected, or was it included as a poison pill by opponents of the amendment? Or were the loonies doing a Santorum and trying to make sure bestiality remains illegal? I don't know the answer, honestly. As for predicting the outcome, this is a really tough call. If it were just gay marriage that was on the table, and if it were a normal election (so much as those can be said to exist), I would predict easy passage. But it's not just about gay marriage, and this is not a typical election year. Furthermore, I've seen a lot of evidence that this issue cuts across standard party lines. A couple of examples: Recently, the Madison Chamber of Commerce endorsed rejection of the amendment, on economic development grounds. It seems that the University down there has been losing millions of dollars in research grants as major researchers take their domestic partnerships elsewhere (a while back, a law was passed making it illegal for the University system to provide domestic partnership benefits). Madison has also been trying hard to recruit new high-tech manufacturers, and the Madison Chamber believes this process would become even more difficult if this amendment were to pass. Second example: Months ago, when this referendum was still being debated in the State Legislature, my own Assemblyman, a diehard Republican, voted against it on the grounds that the State Constitution should not be used as a means to discriminate against particular groups of people. What all this means, basically, is that the most important question on the ballot is a complete tossup. I have no idea how it'll go. Naturally, I am hoping like hell that the referendum/amendment fails to pass. (I'm also hoping like hell that people like my brother will have enough sense to vote against it. While he is a bit of a standard-issue midwestern homophobe, there is no escaping the fact that he lived with his current partner for three years, and even bought a home with her, prior to them getting married in 2004. If people like my brother recognize that this amendment is aimed squarely at them, and not just at gay people, this amendment hasn't got a chance. But that's a pretty big "if.")

Second race: The Governor is up for reelection tomorrow. Democratic Governor Jim Doyle was easily elected four years ago over Tommy Thompson's Lt. Governor, Scott McCallum. McCallum's problem was that, when Governor Tommy Thompson was appointed HHS Secretary in 2001, he left the State in a bit of a mess, and McCallum got blamed for it. Plus, McCallum was kind of a nobody. Having run for various offices back in the 1980's and losing all those races, he found himself inheriting the Governor's post, without ever winning a major election. Incumbent Jim Doyle, on the other hand, is a DLC-style Democrat, an attorney who worked as a prosecutor for most of his career. In other words, he's about the only kind of Democrat who had a hope of getting elected in the political climate of four years ago, even given how weak McCallum was as a candidate. Ironically, though, what worked so well for Doyle then may be his undoing today. His opponent, Republican Congressman Mark Green, is running a solid and well-backed campaign, and Doyle has, quite honestly, seemed to be on some shakey ground. So, in an election year where the Democrats are looking at big gains in the national sphere, I'm thinking it may go the other way with this race. I have to call this one for Green, unfortunately.

Third race: U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, Democrat, is up for reelection for what I believe will be his fourth term. I see little chance that he'll be defeated. Easy call, here.

The other race of interest to me is my local Assembly race. The aforementioned Republican who voted against the constitutional amendment referendum is retiring at the end of his current term. The race between the two frontrunners (Democrat and Republican, of course), has been pretty hot and a bit nasty of late. The Democrat actually ran against the retiring incumbent last time around, but lost due to a good showing by a Green Party candidate. The Green Party doesn't have a viable candidate this time, so the Democrat actually has a fair chance of winning, in an Assembly district that's been Republican for as long as I can remember. If the student population turns out in big numbers (and they might, based on the gay marriage referendum), I'm thinking he'll win. If not, his female Republican opponent will take this race. Either way, I'm thinking it'll be close. I'll call it marginally for the Democrat. I do hope he wins, because I think he'll make a pretty good legislator, once all this campaign mess is behind him.

There are quite a few other, smaller questions on the ballot, such as a garbage tax referendum, a Coroner's election, and so on. I'm not even sure what all. I'm primarily concerned with the big four I described above. I hope I'm wrong on the Governor's race.


Post a Comment

<< Home