Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


State awaits big primary turnout

As the dust settles across the nation from Super Tuesday?s
round of presidential contests, Wisconsin officials are gearing up for a state
primary with a new degree of importance and attention on the national stage.

A higher-than-usual turnout, especially from Democratic
young people, is also in the forecast for the Feb. 19 primary.

Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle has become an outspoken supporter
of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and will actively campaign for him in
Wisconsin in the coming weeks.

?I think that he has really ignited this country,? Doyle
said of Obama. ?Just the level of turnout in the country for these primaries is
extraordinary, and the level of excitement he has generated among young voters
in the United States is something that shows what he will be able to do as
president to inspire and unify this country.?

The state Department of Elections released an appeal for
volunteers to work at the polls, as they expect the highest turnout in a
Wisconsin presidential primary since 1988 at around 35 percent of registered
voters. In 2000, only 22 percent of registered voters hit the polls for the

Kyle Richmond, public information officer for the Wisconsin
State Elections Board, said the prediction comes from clerks, media reports and
staff, and can be upped for a variety of reasons.


?In this case, there?s always more interest in presidential
politics,? Richmond said. ?Some people don?t pay attention to county
supervisor, but do pay attention to the highest office there is.?

Recounting his appearance at a packed University of
Wisconsin Students for Obama kickoff this year, Doyle said he has seen young
voters particularly energized.

?I think after yesterday, that excitement is going to
multiply,? Doyle said.

However, Mark Jefferson, executive director of Wisconsin?s
Republican Party, said the emergence of U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as a
frontrunner would make Wisconsin?s primary less critical for the GOP.

?It?s not going to be as overwhelming as it is on the
Democrats? side, in part because the Republican race isn?t going to be as
open,? Jefferson said. ?That cuts into student enthusiasm a bit more than
regular enthusiasm.?

Doyle also speculated that U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton,
D-N.Y., might skip campaigning in Wisconsin altogether. Representatives from
the Clinton campaign did not return calls as of press time.

Richmond added calls to some clerks? offices Tuesday also
showed Wisconsinites? enthusiasm to vote.

?We got a whole bunch of phone calls in Milwaukee and here ?
saying, ?Why isn?t my polling place open” Richmond said.

Neither Richmond nor Doyle had any specifics about potential
candidate visits to Wisconsin, though both said they expect campaigning to pick
up significantly in the lead-up to the primary.

?I think all of the campaigns are in a re-evaluation mode
after Super Tuesday,? Jefferson said.

Doyle added Wisconsin?s primary is particularly important
because the only other primary that day will be in Hawaii, which will likely go
to Obama, and because Wisconsin?s primaries are open, requiring no pledge to
either party beforehand.

?This will be a primary where we will really test who can
reach the independents and even Republican voters,? Doyle said.

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