It's a perfect day for just about anything in Wisconsin. It's sunny. Temperatures are in the low 70's. There's a light breeze. It must be "voting weather".
State officials are expecting 1.2 million Wisconsin voters(near-record turn-out) to visit the polls for today's primaries. It probably doesn't hurt that there are some motivated Republican voters and competitive primary contests.
In the Badger-Land gubernatorial race, both major parties have primary contests for the seat being vacated by two-term Democratic Governor Jim Doyle. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is heavily favored in the Democratic primary. Barrett faces a sole opponent, Tim John, a printing company owner from Oconomowoc who also proudly points out on his campaign website he is the great-grandson of the founder of Miller Brewing Company.
In the Republican primary for governor, there's a lingering battle between Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former Congressman Jeff Neumann. Walker won the party's endorsement but Neuman has stayed close in the race reportedly due to his willingness to pump millions of dollars of his own money into his campaign. Political observers predict at night's end, Walker will be victorious.
In Wisconsin's 2010 U.S. Senate Race, the field seems set, even though there is one contested primary. Russ Feingold, seeking a fourth Senate term, faces no primary opposition. The Republican primary field isled by Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson. Johnson is the prohibitive favorite versus tea-party-fueled David Westlake of Watertown and Stephen Finn out of Milwaukee.
Johnson wasn't even in the race until late April, and surprisingly waded into the state party convention and won the Republican endorsement. More surprising is that while Johnson is still introducing himself to Wisconsin polls show him even or slightly ahead of Feingold who's a household name.
There are a few Congressional primaries to watch as well. When vote totals are in, there will be a political junkies looking to see who got the most primary votes in their respective un-opposed contests. Will it be Republican Sean Duffy or Democrat Julie Lassa?
Longtime 7th District Democratic Congressman David Obey abruptly announced he would not seek re-election in May. That left Democrats scrambling to replace Obey and Lassa emerged. Meanwhile, Duffy (a county District Attorney) already committed to run in the race and suddenly found himself out front in a dominantly Democratic district. And it's no accident the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brought early TV time to run attack ads on Duffy.
The 8th Congressional district of Wisconsin is traditionally a toss-up contest, and Dr. Steve Kagen knows it. The two-term Democrat faced down the angry town hall voices before and after he voted for the federal healthcare overhaul. Now, three Republicans, current State House member Roger Roth, former State Rep Terri McCormack and roofing contractor Reid Ribble, are vying for a chance to run against Kagen in the short (just seven-weeks) general election campaign.
Steve Brown is an author, radio broadcaster and seminary professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.