In recent days, a number of friends from outside Wisconsin have asked: Why is my state continuing with its scheduled election despite the danger posed to voters’ health by the Coronavirus?
Wisconsin is again, sadly, a political epicenter in what should be entirely considered a health crisis. WI Gov. Tony Evers has asked the Wisconsin Legislature to postpone the election scheduled for April 7, citing the danger to citizens and election workers involved in having large numbers of citizens assemble at voting places (the number of sites reduced due to so many long-serving senior-aged poll workers’ understandable withdrawals to avoid the crowds) during the week that on April 5 Trump Administration Surgeon General Jerome Adams called “… the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives.” The Wisconsin Legislature has refused to postpone the election. The reason is simple: Republican Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Daniel Kelly, recently cited in these pages as hosting a fund raiser at a gun range the day after five people were killed in a shooting at the Molson Coors Headquarters in Milwaukee, is, due to what will probably be a depressed turnout, likely to defeat Democratic Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Jill Karofsky if the election is held as scheduled. Ms. Karofsky’s electoral chances are arguably enhanced if the election is delayed, thereby affording a greater number of Wisconsinites the opportunity to cast ballots. (Note: through no partisan fault, Wisconsin voting authorities have had trouble accommodating a recent understandably-unanticipated surge of absentee ballot requests). The currently-projected outcome is obviously devastating for Ms. Karofsky, who perhaps anticipated victory at the end of January because a contested Democratic presidential primary would have brought thousands of liberal-leaning voters to the polls. Now – and this ranks among the observations I have made in these pages that I would most like to see proven wrong – she will probably lose, a political victim of the Coronavirus.
My answer to the friends that have inquired, and speaking as one who is pleased to acknowledge that he supported former Wisconsin Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson in each of Mr. Thompson’s Gubernatorial runs: current Wisconsin Republican lawmakers are in large measure venomous, vindictive, self-righteous and small-minded – but a gussied-up partisan rabble. They must have their way. Their behavior makes manifest that only winning – not electoral fairness, not their citizens’ health — matters to them. Under these circumstances, I find the prospect of Ms. Karofsky’s defeat disheartening … but it is what it is. One can only feel embarrassed at the state’s decline from one of congenial feeling and forward thinking.