Election Results

Nora Hertel

Campaigners and candidates are breathing a collective sigh, whether in relief or frustration. Nov. 7, Election Day, marked the end of a number of close races and controversial referendums.
A general trend in the votes that affected Appleton was that Democratic candidates were selected for the largest seats while conservative values prevailed on the specific issues of the referendums.
The race for the U.S. Representative of Wisconsin’s eighth district drew national attention for the mudslinging during the campaign and its status as a key race.
Steve Kagen (D) and John Gard (R) were neck and neck until the election when Kagen pulled out a victory with 51 percent of the vote.
The other national race was the senate seat. Incumbent Herb Kohl (D) retained his position with 67 percent of the vote.
Incumbent Jim Doyle (D) had to work to maintain his place as Wisconsin governor. Doyle managed 53 percent of the vote to Mark Green’s 47 percent.
Several students have admitted to feeling apathetic towards congressional and state elections, though many expressed opinions on the issues presented in the referendums.
The Lawrence campus and downtown Appleton have been littered with simple signs reading “Vote Yes,” and “Vote No” that refer to complicated and controversial topics.
The three referendums that directly reflect Appleton residents’ convictions and affect Appleton residents were the proposed ban on civil unions, the implementation of the death penalty, and reconsideration of the smoking ban in our downtown.
Each of these issues was and continues to be hotly debated.
Statewide, 59 percent of voters chose “yes” for the ban against civil unions. Many Lawrence students have expressed anger and disappointment at this decision.
Senior Clare Raccuglia passionately stated, “I would hope that much of Wisconsin didn’t understand the repercussions of this ban. I think we’ll look back on this decision the same way we now view the ignorance and intolerance that preceded the civil rights movement.”
Erik Prichard was not surprised that the ban passed saying, “It’s disappointing that it went through, though not totally unexpected. Before the election the Republicans won the battle on discourse and succeeded in convincing people that the ban was about gay marriage, not civil unions.”
The decision regarding the death penalty also indicates the conservatism in the state. The referendum referred to use of the death penalty only when DNA evidence was present. Wisconsin supports this referendum with 56 percent of the vote.
Appleton’s smoking ban applies to all public buildings in the city limits, but the referendum sought to amend the ban to exclude a long and specific list of restaurants and bars.
Bars up and down College Avenue displayed signs and banners asking patrons to vote yes on the amendment. Only 43 percent voted yes, so the smoking ban is to remain unchanged.
Prichard noted, “It’s been shown that the smoking ban is hurting downtown bars, and yet the citizens of Appleton don’t seem to care.”
The political and social flurry that accompanied the election has temporarily slowed until the newly elected and reelected officials take office and the topics of the referendum rise again for debate.