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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

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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