Wisc. Stays In Play Even After Primaries

The presidential primary is over, but there are plenty of hotly contested elections still to come in Wisconsin this year. Chuck Quirmbach of Wisconsin Public Radio reports on the state's high profile among this year's political campaigns.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When a presidential campaign leaves a state, political activists and the local reporters who cover the candidates often take a vacation. Not so in Wisconsin this year, where Mitt Romney won the GOP primary this past Tuesday. As Chuck Quirmbach of Wisconsin Public Radio reports, recall elections scheduled during the next two months mean there is no spring break in Badger State politics.

CHUCK QUIRMBACH, BYLINE: The bruising state election battle made the Republican presidential candidates compete for the public's attention when they campaigned in Wisconsin. The upcoming recall votes target Republican Governor Scott Walker, his lieutenant governor and four GOP state senators. This weekend, the recall effort collided with the start of baseball season.

TOM BARRETT: Good Packer weather for a Brewers game, huh.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Isn't it though? Yeah.

QUIRMBACH: On a chilly afternoon, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett shook hands outside the Milwaukee Brewers home opener and made his case as one of the four Democrats running against Scott Walker. Barrett got encouragement from many people, but only a polite reception from retired accountant Dick Seelig. Seelig says he strongly believes in Scott Walker and contends the recall just adds to divisiveness in Wisconsin.

DICK SEELIG: It's exhausting , it's frustrating, it's embarrassing, because the whole country is looking at us and they're laughing at us. I see so much that could be done and it's not getting done because too busy fighting each other.

QUIRMBACH: There's nothing embarrassing about the recall to the flock of democratic volunteers helping candidates ahead of next month's primary. Former Milwaukee teachers' union president Dennis Oulahan attended at a town hall meeting where he promoted the candidacy of former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.

DENNIS OULAHAN: You want bumper stickers or a $10 donation?

QUIRMBACH: Oulahan says the extended fight against incumbent Scott Walker is not something he's seen before.

OULAHAN: This is different. This has been going been going on for over a year now. Doesn't look like it's going to slow down anytime soon.

QUIRMBACH: Shyquetta McElroy is not a union member. She's motivated to campaign against Governor Walker because of his proposed cut in the state health care program. Still, she concedes it's all very tiring.

SHYQUETTA MCELROY: And I can't wait till it's over, really, to tell you the truth. But, I mean, we have to do what we have to do. We have to reclaim Wisconsin. So, at the end of the day, that's what it's about.

QUIRMBACH: At a Republican dinner last weekend, the usually mild-mannered Scott Walker said, in effect, bring it on.

GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER: You see, I look forward to this opportunity. I relish this. This for me and for Becky and for the senators is a chance for us to go across the state and to tell one of the most powerfully positive messages in all the country: we're turning things around.

QUIRMBACH: Republicans may not like to spend so much time, energy and money helping Walker just 15 months into what's supposed to be a four-year term. But the GOP faithful appear ready to work for Walker between now and the gubernatorial election in June. For NPR News, I'm Chuck Quirmbach in Milwaukee.

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