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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

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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