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Greg Peck: A voting dilemma Tuesday

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Greg Peck
August 11, 2014

I read with interest a story in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about former Gov. Tommy Thompson urging Milwaukee Republicans to cross over and vote for Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

Don't think crossover voting won't happen. Rock County's traditionally Republican voters also have a decision to make when they head to the polls Tuesday: Do they vote Republican or do they vote Democrat? They can't do both.

Many traditional Republicans in Rock County will be tempted to cross over and vote as Democrats so they can help choose our next sheriff. Incumbent Robert Spoden and challenger Gary Groelle are engaged in a lively campaign, and both are Democrats. With no Republican on the battle for the Nov. 4 general election, the winner Tuesday between Spoden and Groelle will in all likelihood become our next sheriff.

Wisconsin primaries are partisan elections, meaning you can only vote for Republicans or Democrats. You can't choose a Democrat in, say, the sheriff's race and then choose a Republican in another race.

Rock County residents who lean Republican can vote in the sheriff's race as long as they only vote for Democrats in Tuesday's primary. They could also choose their favorite Democrat of the three running to replace Tim Cullen in the state Senate, even though the winner will face Republican Brian Fitzgerald in November. The three Democrats hoping to land that Senate seat—for those of you on extended vacations and not following this highly contested campaign—are Janis Ringhand, Austin Scieszinski and Mike Sheridan. Ringhand now serves in the Assembly. Scieszinski has served as an aide to Cullen. Sheridan once served as Assembly speaker.

So here's the dilemma for Rock County Republicans: Those who vote as Democrats on Tuesday then cannot vote for one of their favorites, Congressman Paul Ryan. That's right, Ryan, 44, is on the ballot Tuesday, as well. He faces a challenger, 25-year-old Jeremy Ryan—no relation—of Madison in Tuesday's primary. Though he's running as a Republican, Jeremy Ryan has been arrested during protests against Gov. Scott Walker's policies. Should this younger Ryan somehow win the race, he would have to move into the 1st Congressional District. Two Democrats are also on Tuesday's ballot in the 1st District. Kenosha's Rob Zerban, in his second go-around, faces Amar Kaleka of Franklin. The winners in Tuesday's Republican and Democratic primaries will face off Nov. 4.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.



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