Voters Have Their Say in Six Contests With Implications for November

BY Christina Bellantoni and Katelyn Polantz  June 5, 2012 at 8:50 AM EDT

Wisconsin signs; photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Neighbors in Beloit, Wis., display opposing signs for Tuesday’s recall election. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Tuesday marks an exciting Election Day as voters in six states head to the polls to decide, among other things, whether Wisconsin should become the third state ever to recall a governor and if some members of Congress should go home for good.

The NewsHour has you covered, starting with a richly reported piece from Jeffrey Brown and Morning Line co-pilot Terence Burlij about the recall effort against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

Jeff explored the competing visions of the political laboratory that is Wisconsin, talking with not just voters and the politicians on the ballot but with people affected by Walker’s moves on labor issues. In a visit with a school system, he examined what those changes actually have meant for teachers and administrators.

As Jeff said in the piece:

Wisconsin has been living through a political drama for nearly two years now, with a great debate over the size and scope of government, budget deficits and spending, and the power of corporations and unions.

If all that sounds familiar, well it should. This state is a laboratory for many of the issues playing out in, and dividing, the nation. It all began in November 2010, when then 43-year-old Scott Walker defeated Tom Barrett by five points. And Wisconsin, which had voted for Barack Obama in 2008, changed overnight from Democratic to Republican control of both houses of its legislature and the governor’s office.

It’s a race that has attracted national attention and stars from both parties. President Obama, however, has stayed mostly on the sidelines. The White House has made it clear that the president backs Barrett, and Mr. Obama tweeted a personal message on the Milwaukee mayor’s behalf Monday night, but he did not campaign for the Democratic hopeful.

Watch the NewsHour’s piece here or below:

Jeff also lifted the curtain to give you a peek at how his report was made in this great blog post. He admits after some beer at Mader’s, “I think I now get how to hold the glass so the bubbles from the toe don’t jump up into your nose.”

Rounding out the coverage, Christina talked with Gwen and Jeff (filling in for Judy Woodruff) in this week’s Political Checklist.

Watch that here or below.

In related Wisconsin news, Talking Points Memo reported late Monday that Wisconsin issued a deluge of absentee ballots for the recall and the Washington Post assessed other outcomes of the recall election.

Follow the results Tuesday night in our Vote 2012 Map Center. Polls close at 9 p.m. ET.

ALSO ON THE BALLOT

Walker’s fate is not all voters are deciding.

There are major battles in California and New Jersey. Thanks to redistricting, two Democrats in each state were thrown together within the same boundaries. That means only one will return to Congress next year. Several members — two Democrats and one Republican — have already been ousted in the same manner.

Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad offers up a detailed primer about how California’s contest is the first major test of new “jungle” primary rules in which the top two finishers advance to the general election, meaning it won’t necessarily be a Republican versus a Democrat on the Nov. 6 ballot. The Golden State is also Ground Zero for Democrats aiming to reclaim the House this fall.

Trygstad writes:

At least 10 California House Members elected or re-elected in 2010 won’t return to Capitol Hill in 2013, with today’s primary results offering fresh clues about others who might not make it back in a year of upheaval in the Golden State.

A nonpartisan redistricting commission’s remap of district lines mixed with an aging delegation and a rush of ambition is resulting in an unusually competitive election cycle in a state largely uncontested at the presidential or Senate levels.

The state is holding its first-ever “jungle” primaries in a federal election cycle, and there is no shortage of races to watch tonight — especially the 31st district, where Rep. Gary Miller (R) could be the first incumbent to lose. Under a new primary format approved by voters in 2010, all candidates will appear on a single primary ballot, and the top two vote-getters will advance to the general election, regardless of party preference.

The unconventional process adds another layer of intrigue to California, where the Congressional delegation, once a model of stasis, will see more turnover than any other state this cycle. Just one seat changed party hands in the past decade. At the start of the 112th Congress, the average tenure for a delegation Member was eight terms.

The most watched contest there is what some have dubbed the battle of the “ermans”: Rep. Howard Berman vs. Rep. Brad Sherman. It has divided members of Democratic party leadership and Hollywood, with even Betty White having her say on this one. Both men are expected to advance to the November ballot.

Across the country in the Garden State, Reps. Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell have been locked in a nasty fight, and this one has pitted President Obama against former President Bill Clinton.

An operative summed it up for Roll Call’s Abby Livingston, noting that no matter who prevails, “Wednesday’s going to be brutal.”

LISTEN TO ME: WISCONSIN EDITION

Although Tuesday’s recall election is the race on most Wisconsinites’ minds, the NewsHour heard over the weekend from some of the state’s voters about the upcoming presidential election. The biggest issues for the Badger State? They run the gambit — from the economy to health care, and from education to women’s rights. But there was one common thread we found in the responses: a desire for political unity and compromise.

Throughout the election cycle, we’ll be hearing from voters across the country as a part of the NewsHour’s [Listen to Me project](http://www.universalsubtitles.org/en/teams/newshour/p/listen-to-me]. It’s just getting started, and by Nov. 6 we will have a rich tapestry of voices showcasing what Americans really want from their government.

Politics production assistant Allie Morris captured the videos below over the weekend.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Mitt Romney’s campaign released a web video rebutting a Spanish-language Obama web ad asserting, “We’re on the right path.” It says Romney would do better for Hispanics.

  • Tuesday marks Romney’s first public appearance since last week. He’s been attending a series of fundraisers and has not tweeted since Saturday.

  • The Boston Globe’s Brian MacQuarrie and Bobby Caina Calvan travel to Indiana to tell one of Bain Capital’s many stories If you don’t have time to read the piece now, bookmark it for later.

  • The Wall Street Journal’s Mark Maremont delves into how Romney was able to pass health care in Massachusetts.

  • The Washington Post looks at the GOP’s anti-celebrity campaign against the president.

  • NewsHour politics desk assistant Alex Bruns was on a conference call Monday with the Obama campaign’s David Axelrod, who detailed a new television ad, which we noted in Monday’s Morning Line. Axelrod said the spot — in nine battleground states — will cost the campaign around $10 million.

  • “President Obama is creating more jobs than Gov. Romney ever did,” Stephanie Cutter says in a new web video for the Obama campaign. In it, Cutter goes after Romney’s record on job creation with a series of charts. She closes with an ask to spread the word, including, “Email this video to your grandparents.”

  • Judy is interviewing former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday. What would you ask? Tweet @judywoodruff. Tune in to the NewsHour to see the conversation.

  • And NPR’s Morning Edition dubs Clinton as Mr. Obama’s No. 1 surrogate.

  • According to a pool report from the Obama-Clinton fundraiser, Jon Bon Jovi (who flew with the president to New York on Air Force One) performed “Living on a Prayer” and a cover of “Here Comes the Sun” for campaign donors at the Waldorf Astoria.

  • Six people joined the “Evening with Two Presidents” after winning the Obama campaign’s fundraising contest. They were small business owner Francisco Maldonado of Chicago, nonprofit worker Rachel Klick of Falls Church, Va., and human resources employee Joe Ardito of Estes Park, Colo. Maldonado and Klick brought their significant others, while Ardito brought his father.

  • Valerie Jarrett is now on Twitter representing the White House as @vj44. The Hill reports it’s a move to gather support for the Paycheck Fairness Act.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • This week’s routine denial of vice presidential hopes comes from Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, via Roll Call. And don’t miss Jonathan Strong’s look at the Republican who has risen in the GOP ranks on the Hill.

  • With GOP Rep. Thad McCotter out of his own re-election race, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is sending a staffer to Michigan’s 11th District in a sign it could become competitive, Roll Call reports.

  • Pew Research Center is out with its Trends in American Values survey, which shows intense polarization over the last decade. The NewsHour will have a closer look at the study later this week.

  • Talking Points Memo’s Ryan J. Reilly looks at what is happening with Florida’s voter ID spat.

  • Hermain Cain is [getting a radio show] (http://blogs.ajc.com/radio-tv-talk/2012/06/04/neal-boortz-announces-retirement/).

  • New York Magazine has started a petition asking the Obama administration to go public with its preparation plans for a zombie apocalypse.

  • David Arquette recalls his film directorial debut, a box office slump that featured a killer in a Ronald Reagan mask. Heard on the Hill asks if he will take another stab at the concept. “It’s like John Edwards wanting to give it another run,” Arquette said. “I just don’t think it would be wise.”

  • The NewsHour’s Sandi Fox looks at the role of social media in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case.

  • Don’t miss the NewsHour’s slideshow of Queen Elizabeth meeting with presidents of days past.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama has no public events.

  • Vice President Joe Biden attends an education roundtable at the White House at 12:15 p.m. with college presidents and system leaders, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other administration officials, and an event for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at 6:30 p.m. in Alexandria, Va.

  • Mitt Romney campaigns in Fort Worth, Texas, at 3:10 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon and @dePeystah.