Political newcomer Chris Abele was elected Milwaukee County Executive Tuesday, defeating state Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) by a wide margin.
Stone conceded the race around 10 p.m., with Abele holding a 20-point lead in the polls. According to the Associated Press, Abele finished with 61 percent of the vote (134,848) while Stone took 39 percent (87,913), as of 12:30 a.m. and with 100 percent of precincts reporting.
Abele, 44, has never run for political office. The son of wealthy Bostonian John Abele, founder of Boston Scientific, Abele has spent the last decade running the family's Argosy Foundation, which has donated to arts, environmental and social causes.
He spent $1 million of his own money during his campaign, during which he embraced his image as a political outsider. In his victory speech, Abele touted the need for a "new approach" to county politics, one which focuses on the overall betterment of all 19 municipalities.
"Milwaukee County is the economic engine of the state but we face a budget from Madison that slashes transit, health care, schools and universities," Abele said. "Milwaukee County also contains UWM, MPS, MMSD, the Wisconsin Center District ... all of which are serving the same citizens and yet too often we interact as if we're different countries.
"It's time for a new approach. It's time to start working apart and start working together."
Abele pointed to the location of his victory party, the Pabst Brewery complex, as a symbol of his vision for the county.
"It represents something," Abele said. "For decades, Pabst was the largest brewer in the nation. Milwaukee was an industrial powerhouse. Unemployment was low and Milwaukeeans were justifiably proud of where they lived. I wanted us to be here tonight not just because this place is a great reminder of what once was but to perhaps inspire us to what we can all be again."
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett attended Abele's victory celebration at the Pabst Brewery and again voiced his support for the new county executive.
"I am delighted to have a partner who wants to address the issues that face not only the city of Milwaukee, but also the suburban areas, and is willing to work with local officials to try to address these issues," Barrett said.
Abele vowed to work together with Stone, who will retain his seat in the state Assembly.
"I will enthusiastically take any opportunity I can to work with Rep. Stone on anything that can advance the interests of this county," Abele said.
Abele's term will last one year -- the final year of the four-year term which now-Gov. Scott Walker won in 2008. Abele has said he plans to run again next year for the full term.
High court race is "too close:" The race for Wisconsin Supreme Court won't be decided until at least later Wednesday. As of 1:30 a.m., the Associated Press said the race was "too close to call" with 98 percent of all precincts reporting and incumbent David Prosser holding a 585-vote lead over challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg.
In Milwaukee County, it was believed that 12 precincts representing parts of St. Francis, Cudahy and West Allis had not yet been counted.
"We won't know 'til we know," said Prosser spokesperson Brian Schimming.
"We look at the present margin and we feel pretty good about that margin given what is still out, but anything can happen," Prosser said. "We're confident that things will be better in the morning."
At the Edgewater Hotel in Madison, Kloppenburg echoed a similar sentiment.
"Let's get a good night's sleep and see what tomorrow brings," Kloppenburg said.
Regardless of the final outcome, it seems both sides are preparing for a recount. State law allows candidates to request a recount within three days of an election. The request must include a reason and is paid for by the candidate, unless the vote differential is .5% or lower.
"There is little doubt there is going to be a recount in this race no matter who comes out on top," Prosser told his supporters.
Full details on Wisconsin recount procedures are available here.
Large turnout: Predictions of voter turnout of 20 percent were surpassed Tuesday as 33 percent of eligible state voters went to the polls.
Other local results:
Milwaukee County Circuit Court
- Branch 18 -- Pedro Colon (I) def. Christopher Lipscomb, 51-49
Milwaukee County Board
- District 10 -- Eyron Biddle def. T. Spencer, 56-44
- District 14 -- Jason Haas def. Steven Kraeger, 56-44
Milwaukee School Board
- At-large -- Terry Falk def. Susan Schmidt, 61-39
- District 1 -- Tim Petersons (I) def. Mark Sain, 50-50 (5,785-5,678)
- District 2 -- Jeff Spence (I) def. Gerald Glazer, 70-30
- District 8 -- Meagan Holman def. Candy Jo Lesniewski, 67-33