Baker, Shannon advance in primary election
After a particularly strong turnout, Portage County Circuit Court Branch 2 judge candidates Trish Baker and Robert Shannon will advance from the Tuesday, Feb. 16, primary election to the general election to be held in April.
Baker ended up narrowly beating Shannon in the county-wide race by nearly 150 votes with a total of 2,700. Shannon received 2,571.
Runners up David Knaapen received 2,218 and Jared Redfield received 689 votes.
On the state level, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley and State Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg will face each other in April for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Bradley received 245,293 votes, or 45 percent. Kloppenburg received 236,116 votes, or 43 percent. Joe Donald was knocked out of the race with 65,110 votes, or 12 percent.
Portage County Clerk Shirley Simmons said Wednesday, Feb. 17, that voter turnout in the county was 14 percent. However, Stevens Point City Clerk John Moe said Stevens Point’s turnout was exceptional.
“There was actually an extremely good turnout in the city of Stevens Point, total turnout was 19 percent,” Moe said. “To put this in perspective, last spring when we had the mayoral primary that was 14.42 percent of the turnout.”
“We had quite a few election-day registrations too. Every single polling place I went to, they said ‘Whoa, people are coming in and registering.’ When you think of a spring primary, they’re usually more on the quiet side,” he said.
He speculated the higher turnout could have something to do with the charged presidential campaigning.
“I think with all the presidential debates and all the candidates’ media coverage, the general public is starting to get engaged a little sooner than they have in the past. I think that draws their attention to local races as well, so people are starting to tune in earlier and are interested in participating, which is great for democracy,” Moe said.
This primary election is the first election in Wisconsin which voters were required to produce a valid form of identification and it wasn’t without growing pains.
“There were several situations where people had to leave the polling place to get an ID, we had people try to use documents they thought could be used as proof of identity and they weren’t able to do that. So, they had to bring a different form,” Moe said. “It was kind of what we expected. It was a good election to start with (the new ID laws) because of the voter participation. As more people talk and more people get out there it should work out. Hopefully, come November, all the little glitches and all the little ‘what if’ scenarios have been addressed.”