TODAY'S TMJ4 Election Results
MADISON - Michael Gableman, a virtual unknown who galvanized support from conservatives behind a law and order message and a barrage of third-party ads, narrowly defeated four-year incumbent Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler.
Gableman won 51 percent compared to Butler's 49 percent Tuesday in a race that will go down as one of the nastiest in state history.
Gableman, 41, will take office in August and serve a 10-year term.
But the effects of the race will linger. There are complaints pending against both Butler and Gableman with the Judicial Commission, and calls for reforming how Supreme Court justices are chosen will only grow given the mudslinging and big money spent this year.
Millions of dollars spent by liberal and conservative interest groups, funneled largely into negative attack ads that blanketed the state's airwaves for weeks, pushed the race into the national spotlight.
But it was one ad by Gableman, a Burnett County circuit judge, who drew the most criticism for misleading voters into thinking that Butler was responsible for a sex offender being set free early and committing another rape.
Gableman didn't want to dwell on that controversy Tuesday night when he was declared the winner shortly before midnight.
Despite Amendment, Wisconsin Governors Will Wield A Strong Veto
Wisconsin voters put a dent in their governor's unprecedented veto power but it will remain the nation's strongest.
Voters overwhelmingly agreed in a statewide referendum Tuesday, with 71 percent approving a constitutional amendment banning what critics call the "Frankenstein veto." That's when Gov. Jim Doyle has crossed out words and digits and cobbled together others from multiple sentences in spending bills to create policies never intended by the Legislature.
But Doyle and his successors will still have many ways to use their partial veto power to rewrite budget policies and taxing and spending levels to their liking.
"The governor still has a strong veto, and he'll continue using it to protect Wisconsin taxpayers and priorities when the Legislature goes to extremes," Doyle spokeswoman Jess Erickson said.
Wisconsin governors have the unique ability to approve spending bills "in whole or in part" under a 1930 constitutional amendment. Courts have said that gives them broad authority to remake budgets approved by lawmakers.
The amendment only prohibits governors from crossing out words and numbers to create a new sentence from two or more sentences. They could still cross out words within a sentence to change its meaning, remove individual digits to create new numbers or delete entire sentences from paragraphs.
Indeed, Madison lawyer Fred Wade, an expert on the veto, said lawmakers should have gone farther in trying to restrict the partial veto authority.
Alderman Who Ran Re-election Campaign From Jail Loses Seat
A Milwaukee alderman who ran his re-election campaign from behind bars lost the seat he has held since 2004.
Political consultant Milele A. Coggs was elected Tuesday to a four-year term on the Milwaukee Common Council, defeating Alderman Michael McGee Jr.
Coggs finished with 58 percent, or 3,098 votes, while McGee received 42 percent, or 2,244 votes, according to complete, unofficial returns.
Coggs, 30, is the niece of state Sen. Spencer Coggs and the cousin of state Rep. Leon Young, both Milwaukee Democrats.
"We're happy, we're elated and quite honestly we're a bit tired," Coggs told The Associated Press Tuesday night. She said her victory "reflects the community's desire to move forward in a different direction."
McGee, 38, has been in prison without bail for 10 months awaiting trial on charges of election fraud, bribery and extortion.
He is a vocal figure in his mostly black district in one of America's most segregated metropolitan areas. The son of former Alderman Mike McGee Sr., he has been involved in many racial issues since taking over the district in 2004.
Milwaukee County Executive Survives Challenge
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker survived a challenge from state Sen. Lena Taylor in Tuesday's election.
Taylor, a Milwaukee Democrat, conceded defeat but said she "just ran out of time" in her bid to unseat Walker, a former Republican legislator.
"A little more money and a little more time, we probably could have done more," she said.
Walker said he hoped to work with Taylor and other legislators on the many issues confronting the county.
Unofficial returns showed Walker with 59 percent of the votes and Taylor 41 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting.