- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014
Walker, Burke make last-minute campaign push

Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke are making last-minute pushes to boost turnout in an election that hinges on which candidate gets more supporters to the polls.

Here’s a look at one of the hottest governor’s races in the nation:

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THE LATEST

Walker continued his bus tour that has been taking him around the state. He planned stops Saturday at a coffee shop in Minocqua, in a lot across from the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, and at GOP offices in Eau Claire and La Crosse. Burke began her day in Wausau, where she wore a Packers jacket and told supporters the election would come down to voter turnout. From there, she was scheduled to go on to Rhinelander, New Richmond, La Crosse and Appleton.

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THE INCUMBENT

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Absentee voting up in Wisconsin from 4 years ago

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke have been saying for weeks that turnout will be the key to victory in Tuesday’s election. The number of absentee ballots cast so far is up from four years ago, but which candidate will benefit most is unclear, political analysts said.

Voters had cast 240,308 absentee ballots by mail or in-person as of early Friday morning, according to state election officials. That’s about 10,000 more absentee ballots than voters cast in the November 2010 gubernatorial election that saw Walker defeat Democrat Tom Barrett.

The deadline for requesting absentee ballots by mail was the end of the day Thursday. About 22,400 ballots hadn’t been returned to local clerks as of Friday morning, said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which oversees state elections. Those ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday and in municipal clerks’ offices by 4 p.m. Nov. 7 to count. Early in-person voting ended Friday.

The absentee turnout tends to favor Walker, who holds a 7-point lead over Burke among likely voters according to the latest Marquette Law School poll, said University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist Ken Mayer. Absentee voters tend to be richer, more educated and more engaged, which favors Republicans.

But the absentee numbers are only one piece of the puzzle. GAB officials predict at total of 2.5 million people will vote in the election, through absentee ballots or showing up at the polls on Election Day. That would equate to 56.5 percent of the state’s voting-age population and set a new turnout record for a gubernatorial election, surpassing the 52.4 percent mark set in 1962. Turnout for the last two presidential elections, which are held in years without a governor’s race, has been around 70 percent.

Conventional wisdom says the larger physical turnout favors Burke - more voters means more poor, less-educated people who tend to support Democrats, said Mike Wagner, a UW-Madison journalism professor who specializes in politics and elections. But Walker’s lead among likely voters skews things, he said.

“According to the Marquette poll, more Republicans are going to vote than Democrats,” Wagner said. “It’s hard to be confident in who (the turnout numbers) give the edge to. There’s a lot of evidence that goes in both directions.”

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FBI investigates hazardous materials in Oshkosh

OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) - Roads in an Oshkosh neighborhood are closed and neighbors can only return to their homes under escort as the FBI and local police investigate hazardous materials found inside a home.

Oshkosh police blocked off a four-block area Friday afternoon after a “potential hazardous material” was found in a home in the 800 block of Frederick Street.

Police said the material wasn’t considered a threat to public safety and it was contained.

As of Saturday afternoon, roads were still closed to outside vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Area residents are being allowed to leave with their vehicles, but will only be allowed to walk back to their homes under police escort.

The National Guard Civil Support Team and Oshkosh Fire Department are helping investigate.

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After swans recover, Chippewa tribes begin hunt

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Members of seven Chippewa Indian tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are allowed to hunt for swans during a two-month season that started Saturday. It represents the first legal swan hunt in the Mississippi Flyway and the first hunt anywhere that allows trumpeter swans to be legally killed.

While swan lovers have been critical of the hunt, its approval shows the trumpeter’s swan comeback from a population of nearly zero a few decades ago to perhaps 10,000 in Minnesota today, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported (http://bit.ly/10cpUo5http://bit.ly/10cpUo5 ).

The hunt, approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is only allowed for tribal members and only on huntable waters across parts of east-central Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

To protect the trumpeter swans, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission says the season will end after a total of 10 trumpeters are shot. Otherwise the season ends Dec. 31. Each hunter can shoot two swans of either species daily; there’s no season limit on tundra swans.

The 10-trumpeter swan ceiling was new in the tribes’ proposal to federal authorities, after previous proposals were rejected. The two types of swans are nearly indistinguishable in flight, and the allowance of only 10 was an acknowledgement of that, the newspaper reported.

Under the hunt rules, every swan must be registered within 48 hours and must be brought, fully feathered, to a wildlife biologist for identification.

Steve Cordts, who oversees migratory bird hunting for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said there’s no biological issue in taking 10 trumpeter swans. Cordts said the DNR hasn’t expressed an opinion on the hunt. Trumpeters were never listed as a federally threatened or endangered species and were removed from the state’s list years ago.

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