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Death Penalty Debate Continues in Wisconsin

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Even though Democratic Governor Jim Doyle has resolved to veto any legislation coming out of Madison that supports the introduction of the death penalty in the Badger State, seven Republican Assemblymen sponsored a bill on Wednesday that would execute "vicious" murderers.

Even if the bill passed an Assembly floor vote and got by the Democrat-led Senate, Doyle is adamant in his opposition to the death penalty, whose 150+ year ban in Wisconsin is the longest of all states in the country without the death penalty. The last (and only) execution in Wisconsin was in 1851.

But it is not the Republican Assembly lawmakers who are out of step with Wisconsinites on this issue. Voters passed an advisory referendum last November by a double-digit margin (55.5 to 44.5 percent) to bring back the death penalty. In fact, voters in 68 of Wisconsin's 72 counties supported the introduction of the death penalty for persons convicted of first-degree intentional homicide if the conviction is supported by DNA evidence. Even Democratic mainstay Milwaukee County narrowly approved the referendum, with 50.2 percent supporting the measure. Only voters in Dane County (home to the state's most liberal city, Madison), Iowa County (bordering Dane—Dodgeville, Mineral Point), Eau Claire County, and Portage County (Stevens Point) voted against the death penalty referendum.

Wisconsin's support for the death penalty in Election 2006 is particularly meaningful, as the ballot box was flooded with votes for high-profile Democrats at the top of the ballot (Governor Doyle, Senator Herb Kohl). Voters also put the Democrats back in power of the Senate and took back one Congressional seat (WI-08).

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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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