Tree disputes or not, Dane County voters hit the polls in droves yesterday for the spring primary election. According to an unofficial count, Dane County saw 36% of registered voters casting a ballot yesterday – a number that’s higher than a typical spring primary.
“Traditionally, turnout is in the low 20s for an election like this. To have it in the mid-thirties is unprecedented,” says Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell.
Dane County voters also turned out more when compared to the rest of the state. According to the Associated Press, 27 percent of registered voters in Wisconsin cast ballots in the hotly contested state Supreme Court race.
Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz will move on to the spring election in April, after winning about 46 percent of the vote statewide. In Dane County alone, Protasiewicz won more than double the votes of the other three candidates combined.
Former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly will also move on, coming in second with about 24 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Everett Mitchell came in a distant fourth, at just seven and a half percent of the vote across the state. In a Twitter post today, Mitchell thanked supporters in a “letter of gratitude” and quoting civil rights leader John Lewis. Mitchell would have been the first Black justice elected to the court.
Meanwhile, local races were on the ballot. Incumbent Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway glided through the night, with almost 60 percent of the vote. As polls closed and results rolled in, Rhodes-Conway celebrated at a watch party at the Argus, a Capitol Square bar, with supporters and a handful of current alders.
Rhodes-Conway tells WORT that she isn’t slowing down heading into April.
“We aren’t going to take anything for granted,” Rhodes-Conway says. “We are going to keep working hard to make sure that we reach all voters and share the record of the last four years and the vision for the next, and really address the concerns that people have. I have been very consistent in telling people what I’m going to work on and then working on it, so I think folks know when I say I’m going to work on something, they can trust that I will.”
Rhodes-Conway will face former police officer and Deputy Mayor Gloria Reyes, who got about 28 percent of the vote last night. Reyes tells WORT that she’s happy with the results of yesterday’s election.
“I feel great! I just feel blessed that I passed the primary and am going on to the general election, and I’m so glad that so many Madisonians came out to vote,” Reyes says.
Going forward, Reyes says that she’s digging in.
“I’ll really inform voters about who I am, what kind of leader I will be as mayor,” Reyes says. “I think that, obviously, it’s really tough when you’re running against an incumbent, but people are not happy in this city. I need to really engage the voters in the next five weeks, grassroots, and really broaden and expand our circle.”
Meanwhile, city traffic engineer Scott Kerr did not make the cut after throwing his hat in the ring just two months ago. He says he’s finding the positive in last night.
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t move on,” Kerr says, “but I’m also happy that I managed to run my campaign without spending money, without taking donations, and still garnered 12% of the vote.”
Just under 1 percent of Madison voters cast a write-in vote for Mayor. The number of write-in votes? 6-0-8, of course.
That’s eleven times more write-in votes for Madison Mayor than there were for Wisconsin Supreme Court in the city. That could be due in part to a fourth candidate for mayor, social worker Daniel Howell, who did not appear on the ballot yesterday after failing to file paperwork, but had been running as a registered write-in.
Meanwhile, several races for Madison alder could be tight in April.
One district on Madison’s west side saw two incumbent alders make it on to the spring general, but within just five votes of each other. Incumbent alder Matt Phair of District 20 squeaked past fellow incumbent alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney, who represents District 1 but had to switch districts this election cycle due to redistricting.
In District 14 in south Madison, Isadore Knox, Jr. definitively took the top seat, but the race to decide who he will face in April was significantly closer. With just a seven vote advantage, Noah Lieberman beat out Katherine Pedracine to make it on the ballot in the general election.
Other alder races were not so close last night. In District 2, sitting alder Juliana Bennett took over 70% of the vote, and will take on Colin Barushok in April. In District 9, incumbent alder Nikki Conklin will take on Nino Amato. In District 10, incumbent alder Yannette Figueroa Cole took second place, with a different sitting alder, Sheri Carter, winning over 50% of the vote in the district. And in District 12, where no incumbent is running, Julia Matthews was the top vote-getter, trailed by just 114 votes by Amani Latimer Burris.
32 provisional ballots were issued by the city of Madison yesterday. Those provisional voters have until 4pm on Friday to return to the clerk’s office with the appropriate identification to have their ballot counted.
You can find the full results of all the races around Dane County yesterday on the Dane County Elections website. The 2023 spring general election will take place on Tuesday, April 4.