Spring snow may impact Tuesday’s election as Wisconsin voters settle Supreme Court race

MILWAUKEE -- Voters in some parts of Wisconsin may be dealing with a few inches of snow as they head to the polls for Tuesday's spring election, where they'll decide who wins a 10-year term on the state Supreme Court.

The storm could result in 8 to 12 inches of snow in central and northern Wisconsin by Wednesday morning, with lesser amounts in Milwaukee and Madison, FOX6 Weather Expert Stephanie Barichello said.

The snow could depress what's already expected to be a low-turnout election. Statewide, voters will choose a winner of a nasty Supreme Court race and decide whether to eliminate the state treasurer's office.

Since 2000, there have been seven spring elections with a contested statewide election for Supreme Court, but without a presidential primary.  The average turnout is 21.5 percent in those elections, said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

State Supreme Court

Both parties will be watching the Supreme Court race to see if the “blue wave” –- a recent string of Democratic victories in Wisconsin and other states –- continues here.

Rebecca Dallet, Michael Screnock

As is often the case in Wisconsin judicial races, this one has become negative and personal as Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Dallet and Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Michael Screnock traded blows over outside money in the campaign and light sentences of violent offenders.

The Brennan Center for Justice says outside groups have spent more than $2 million so far on TV and online ads, many of them negative. And the candidates have been raising significant sums, too: $2.3 million between the two, as of last week.

The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has spent nearly $1 million, including on one TV ad that has been scrutinized over the final week of the campaign because it details how a Milwaukee sex offender named Donald Skenandore abused his grandchildren and says Dallet gave Skenandore a light sentence. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office has said the ad re-victimizes the family.  Thursday, Skenandore was arrested in Milwaukee County as a noncompliant sex offender.

Screnock says Dallet will be an “activist judge,” while Dallet charges that Screnock will be a “rubber stamp” for Gov. Scott Walker and business interests that are supporting him. Republicans have won a series of Supreme Court races over the past decade.

Eliminate the treasurer?

Voters will have the option to eliminate the constitutional office of state treasurer Tuesday, and it’s not a stretch to say most don’t know about it. The ballot question has gotten little attention and, until recently, not much campaigning was happening on either side of the issue.

Wisconsin has a multiyear mechanism for amending the state constitution. The issue must first pass the Legislature twice in consecutive sessions before it goes to voters in a statewide election.

Members of both parties have long targeted the state treasurer’s office for elimination – taking away many of the office’s powers over the past 25 years and giving them largely to the Department of Administration, which is under the governor’s control.

Matt Adamczyk

The current treasurer, Republican Matt Adamczyk, says his job should be eliminated. (Adamczyk has his sights set elsewhere; he’s running for an Assembly seat.) He has no staff, and the job isn't worth the $70,000 taxpayer-funded salary. Walker has endorsed eliminating the treasurer's position.

But Democrats and a former Republican treasurer, Jack Voight, says voters ought to keep the office as a check on the executive and legislative branch. Voight says like-minded groups are spending $80,000 on TV ads, including some in Milwaukee.

Jack Voight

Abele vs. County Board

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has contributed $790,000 to the group Leadership MKE as he tries to flip five county board seats in his favor.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

As of March 25, Leadership MKE had spent $508,000 on the five races. That’s roughly 10 times what all the candidates in the five races have spent combined.

The three top county supervisors are targeted: Chairman Theo Lipscomb and supervisors Peggy West and Steve Taylor.

There are few connections between the candidates Abele is supporting. Casey Shorts, who’s challenging Lipscomb, is a former Democratic congressional aide and lawyer at a prominent Democratic firm. Patti Logsdon, who’s challenging Steve Taylor, is endorsed by Republicans Leah Vukmir, Kevin Nicholson, and Alberta Darling.

Abele’s critics say one thing ties all of his chosen candidates together: they’ll all be rubber stamps for the county executive’s agenda. But Abele says he hasn’t required any of the candidates to pledge allegiance to him, and those FOX6 has talked to have disagreed with some of Abele’s more controversial policies, like a $60 wheel tax.

Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said absentee voting has been "pretty robust" and predicted 28 percent voter turnout.

The polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday. CLICK HERE to find your polling place.