Democrats rejoice in Madison after two years of election night blues

2012-11-07T06:15:00Z 2012-11-07T17:30:10Z Democrats rejoice in Madison after two years of election night bluesJESSICA VANEGEREN and STEVEN ELBOW | The Capital Times |

It was like someone popped the cork on a bottle of pent-up Democratic frustration Tuesday night when it became clear that Republicans would not extend the lock they have on state government to the federal level.

When news broke that President Barack Obama had beaten back Republican challenger Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin had defeated Tommy Thompson, the state’s once immensely popular four-time governor, Democrats and progressives in downtown Madison issued a collective sigh of relief that quickly rolled into a rambunctious celebration.

At Madison’s Monona Terrace Convention Center, where Baldwin held her election-night party, and at the Majestic Theatre, where liberal-leaning election-night parties for liberals are becoming a tradition, Democrats blew off steam after two years of stinging defeats that included a complete flip of control of the state Legislature and the governorship from Democratic to Republican, the ouster of popular progressive U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold by tea party millionaire Ron Johnson and a failed effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker.

Republicans, who lost control of the state Legislature in the recall elections last summer, gained two seats in the state Senate to win back control on Tuesday, ensuring that on the state level at least, they will still run the table. But Baldwin, 50, will provide a stark counter-balance to Johnson’s right-wing agenda on the federal level.

“I am well aware that I will have the honor of being Wisconsin’s first woman senator. And I am well aware I will be the first openly gay senator,” Baldwin told the cheering crowd at Monona Terrace. “But I didn’t run to make history, I ran to make a difference.”

Her 2nd District congressional seat, which she held for seven terms, now goes to Mark Pocan, a Democratic state representative from downtown Madison who easily beat Republican challenger Chad Lee.

“I think we’re going to have a really good night tonight here in Wisconsin,” Pocan told the crowd shortly after his race was called, which was well before the results of the Senate and presidential races were announced.

The dance-party atmosphere at Monona Terrace started about an hour after polls closed at 8 p.m. and lasted until after midnight

Sensing the Republican wave might be spent, Madison resident Maureen O’Leary got out of her pajamas around 9 p.m. and headed down to the Baldwin victory party. She said she originally planned on staying home because after two years of Republican dominance in the state and the crushing failure of the recall effort against Walker, she was afraid to be hopeful.

“I am relieved and I am happy,” she shouted over the noise of the crowd. “Up until now it’s been so many lies and dirty tricks.”

Richland County resident Gloria Hays expressed similar feelings. Wearing Obama earrings and holding a “Yes we Can” sign, Hays was moving and shaking once news broke that Democrats were winning.

“I feel relief right now, just relief,” Hays says. “I was worried it was going to turn out like the recall.”

Ruth Bronston of Madison said she supported Obama in 2008 but didn’t actively campaign for him. This time around, she campaigned for him and Baldwin.

“I’m relieved,” Bronston said. “This wasn’t a sure thing.”

Throughout most of the summer, Thompson was leading Baldwin in statewide polls. But when his campaign coffers dried up after a punishing primary battle, Baldwin hit the airwaves and her numbers started to rebound.

The last Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday showed Baldwin with a 47 to 43 percent lead over Thompson, with 10 percent undecided or not offering a preference. In the previous poll, Thompson received 46 percent support and Baldwin 45 percent.

“Tonight we have won a huge victory for Wisconsin,” Baldwin said.

She called it a victory for the middle class.

“They told me the special interests have too much power in Washington,” she said, referring to people she’d met on the campaign trail. “And it’s time for the people’s voice to be heard.”

At the Majestic, a crowd of more than 300 broke into a euphoric cheer that continued for several minutes when the TV networks called the presidential race for Obama.

“I wish it wasn’t so close, but this means the world to me,” said Tara Toupal, 25, a Madison nurse.

What Obama’s re-election means depends on who you talk to.

For Ashley Ellingson, 30, an online sales coordinator, it means that women’s issues won’t get brushed aside.

“That was the big thing I was really concerned about,” she said.

For Ted Timothy, a 24-year-old biochemist, it was a vindication of Obama’s handling of the economic crisis.

“I think tonight showed that the auto bailout, while highly contentious, proved to be a good thing for the economy, and people voted accordingly,” he said.

And for Anette Hansen, 49, a small-business owner, Obama’s victory was pay dirt after she hit the campaign trail on his behalf. Hansen has spent the last four days working 12-hour days as part of a neighborhood team at Goodman Community Center on the near east side, knocking on doors and calling neighbors as part of an effort to get everyone in her district to get out and vote.

“In my heart I knew he was going to win,” she said.

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(21) Comments

  1. Dode
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    Dode - November 10, 2012 11:54 am
    Well, it's been 3 days of a nearly 4% downhill for the DOW. Just a twitch? I think the slide is just getting started. Check out this web site:
  2. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - November 07, 2012 6:37 pm
    Onward and upward.. last night hate lost! Now let's get back to work.
  3. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - November 07, 2012 6:35 pm
    A 1-day 2.4% twitch in the DJI is the basis for your bold prediction of 4 years of economic catastrophe? I understand Harold Camping's old job is open.
  4. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - November 07, 2012 6:06 pm
    Sanity in Wisconsin will not come from the Democratic minority in the Legislature, since the power-drunk Republicans will feel free to ignore them the same way they did beginning in 2011. It will come, albeit more slowly, from the courts.
  5. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - November 07, 2012 6:04 pm
    My prediction, posted here last week on the basis of zero research but paying close attention to the news, was that Obama would carry Wisconsin, 53-46, and drag Tammy Baldwin with him, 51-48. Actual results: Obama, 53-46; Baldwin, 51-46.
    So I'm doing a little quiet personal celebrating of my own. My main regret is that I never could talk any of those "Romney will win in a landslide, it's a lock, book it!" right-wing blowhards into putting any money where their big mouths were. But at least they aren't showing up here to gloat, which is a small consolation prize, I guess. Still, I would rather have had their money.
  6. wisconsineye
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    wisconsineye - November 07, 2012 2:40 pm
    Right Theo- they both want the debt ceiling increased (this week) to 19 trillion. Get right on that mandate thing.
  7. rosaleeee
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    rosaleeee - November 07, 2012 12:07 pm
    People who sold low out of panic are idiots. People who bought low from the idiots know that this is a temporary fluke and it will all pick up again soon.
  8. rosaleeee
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    rosaleeee - November 07, 2012 12:05 pm
    Great, thank you very much.
  9. newbook
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    newbook - November 07, 2012 11:49 am
    Like Mitch McConnell said.... " It's will be our agenda, from day one, to make sure that President Obama is only a two term President" Well done Mitch!
  10. Farmdog
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    Farmdog - November 07, 2012 11:37 am
    The Repubs are retaking control of the Wisconsin Senate, meaning they can do what they want in the next legislative session. This can not be undone in future years very easily as it is rare one party controls both the governorship and the legislature. This is especially so given redistricting. The Dems may be celebrating various wins, but those wins will be lost in Washingston gridlock. The Repub win in the Wisconsin senate will not be lost in Madison gridlock as there is none now. It is the latter which effects us all more directly. So why is there a big celebration by the Dems?
  11. Big_Joe
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    Big_Joe - November 07, 2012 11:13 am
    Congratulations to Obama and all of his supporters. While I voted for BO the first time, I was strongly opposed this time around. I like many parts of his agenda, but I sincerely fear for the future of America's economy. Here's hoping for better results this time around.
  12. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - November 07, 2012 11:01 am
    President Obama ran on a Liberal Agenda:

    President Obama withstood terrible odds of reelection after the rise of the Tea Party and their rout in the 2010 midterms. Conservatives were licking their chops in anticipation of 2012 and who they left with their tails between their legs. Most of the right and some in the media said that Obama didn't put out an agenda for reelection, but he did propose a program built on liberal ideology, even if he doesn't consider himself one.

    Obama ran on regulations for Wall Street.

    Obama ran on defending Social Security and Medicare.

    Obama ran on immigration reform and the Dream Act.

    Obama ran on raising taxes on the wealthy.

    Obama ran on letting the Bush tax cuts expire.

    Obama ran on income equality for the working class.

    So did our Senate candidates. The Senate was thought to be a lost cause for the Democratic Party, with the possibility of losing up to twelve seats. In the end, remarkably, Democrats picked up seats instead.

    President Obama won a mandate with this victory, and don't let anyone say otherwise. Republicans have been running on a Hate-Obama platform ever since he was first elected. The fact that he won a second term after getting through a financial and economic disaster is amazing.
  13. Rosalie
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    Rosalie - November 07, 2012 10:54 am
    Care to name any recent union "abuses"?. The fact is that unions have been declining for the past thirty years and their power and influence is nowhere near that of conservative big business pacts.
  14. Cheezer
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    Cheezer - November 07, 2012 10:43 am
    Headlines today

    1. Sell off picks up steam, Dow down over 300

    2. Obama - the next four years

    Perhaps "doctor" the party is over before it really started?
  15. pony
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    pony - November 07, 2012 10:38 am
    how is your 401k and pension plan doing today
  16. mequondoctorrob
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    mequondoctorrob - November 07, 2012 7:49 am
    think about it- what idiot plans a campaign where you lose by double digits among women, blacks, hispanics and asians all at once? The party of old white men better wake up.
  17. lloll
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    lloll - November 07, 2012 7:46 am
    I think the signal sent by voters is that the middle doesn't like what the far right is doing. Van Holden and the governor will find it more difficult to win their statewide races
  18. ShoePolishHead
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    ShoePolishHead - November 07, 2012 7:14 am
    Don't get too excited...lots of gloom ahead for Wisconsin.

  19. stcroixcarp
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    stcroixcarp - November 07, 2012 7:14 am
    Now I feel that I can say goodbye to Herb Kohl and wish him a long and happy retirement. Thank you Sen Kohl for all those good years of service. Your senate seat is in good hands. T
  20. Norwood44
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    Norwood44 - November 07, 2012 7:02 am
    Wisconsin went for Obama and Baldwin, but rejected union abuses in the recall. Here's hoping Dems moderate their view towards unions and their money, and look to serve citizens,not unions, first. Congrats to Barack, Tammy and Mark Pocan.
  21. Theo
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    Theo - November 07, 2012 5:05 am
    Congrats to Obama and Baldwin.

    Time to use the mandate to put America on the right track again.
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