A quick summary of results across the state and near Whitewater suggests that while voters may be concerned, or even worried, they’re not angry. If voters were angry, more incumbents would have been defeated. That didn’t happen.
The same state that re-elected Gov. Walker last year re-elected Justice Bradley last night. Those two have little in common, except perhaps an ability to win a clear majority in support of their continued service. If voters were significantly angry, or motivated only one way ideologically, they wouldn’t, both of them, have won.
That was true locally, too. (All of the results that I cite are, as yet, unofficial.)
Common Council. Patrick Singer and Stephanie Abbott were returned to office (At-Large and District 5, respectively). Neither was opposed; both won comfortably. In particular, Patrick Singer’s 903 votes citywide was a solid showing. (Mr. Singer ran ahead of the leading, contested judicial candidate on the local ballot. A significant number of voters in that race re-elected him regardless of their ideological differences over the candidates for high-court justice.)
The other two races followed a predictable result: Patrick Wellnitz ran as a write-in for District 1, but it’s hard for write-ins to do well against an on-ballot candidate, as winning candidate Craig Stauffer was. (The race went 210-54 for Mr. Stauffer.)
In the Third District, Chris Grady easily defeated Ken Kienbaum, 166-74. I’d guess there’s almost no one in the city who saw that result as a surprise.
Whitewater Schools. I’ll preface these remarks with the disclaimer that I supported Kelly Davis and Dan McCrea.
Last night’s overall results were Davis 1498, McCrea 1061, and Stewart 1038. Specific results from the City of Whitewater & the Town of Whitewater reflected this same order among the candidates.
Having worked hard to visit and speak widely across the district, and demonstrating a diligent and stylish campaign, Mrs. Davis won a seat on the school board easily. With a much lower campaign profile, Mr. McCrea was re-elected to his current position.
Kelly Davis replaces Thayer Coburn, who chose not to run again. She had his endorsement in the race, and likely represents a general agreement with much of his perspective, and all of his solid role on the board. Having listened to her speak more than once, I’ve no doubt that she will set her own course, based on her judgment of the issues before the district. She’s personable, but forthright and clear in her own views.
The race illustrates something about these April 7th elections: voters will favor energetic newcomers, but also be unwilling to unseat capable incumbents. Mrs. Davis was the former, Mr. McCrea the latter. It’s hard to break past that combination.
There’s also something funny, really, about calling Mrs. Davis a newcomer; she’s been here for years, after all, and is known to many for her community and charitable work. It’s only from a lingering, but fading, view of community life that she would be called a newcomer.
Institutional Support. There’s a significant benefit of having individual supporters who will help knock on doors, place signs, talk to friends, etc. I doubt, though, that there’s much value for local candidates in support from bigger groups, such as the landlords’ and realtors’ lobby, for example. Yard signs on their properties may have had value years ago, but for city races now they probably hurt as much, or more, than they help.
I don’t think this contention is clear among some town notables yet, but after a couple of local elections to come, I think it will be better understood.
It’s probably better to run with a cross-section of residents as supporters than with larger businessmen’s support. Those sort of larger groups can pressure local government (often quite effectively), but they’ve far less clout with the overall electorate. Their support is closer to a net loss than a net gain, even now.
Change comes slowly, but Whitewater’s politics is different now from what it was like a decade ago. It seems probable to me that it’s not done changing.
We’ve challenging, different, and altogether interesting times ahead.