Friends Pick Sides at Walker's Home Polling Place
Strong early turnout includes neighbors of the governor who get along just fine without having to agree on everything.
Wauwatosa's Ward 11 poll gets more attention than most in town, since Scott Walker entered politics.
Lately, as Walker's home ward, it's gotten as much notice as any polling place in the country – like New York Times and national TV network notice.
But maybe neighboring Ward 12, which shares polling space with No. 11 at Jefferson Elementary School, should get its due. For reasons no one can quite explain, it always has a significantly higher turnout than its sister ward, and among the highest in the city.
In fact, voters at Ward 11 could breeze through in Walker's footsteps while the line for Ward 12 stretched out the door.
By 9 a.m., 500 residents had voted at Jefferson, with nearly 100 more votes cast from No. 12 than from 11.
Walker voted at 7:08 a.m., trailed by "a retinue of about a dozen reporters," according to poll watcher David Levy.
With that excitement over early, poll workers settled down to assisting a steady stream of regular citizens.
Mike and Stacy Ryan voted at about the same time as a close family friend, Amy Hawthorne – but not the same way.
The Ryans both cast their ballots for Tom Barrett, while Hawthorne voted for Walker, as, she assured, would her husband Brian.
Hawthorne was best friends growing up with Stacy Ryan's older sister, and now they are near neighbors in Ward 12. They don't avoid talking politics all together, but keep it on the down low.
"You don't talk about it too long at dinner parties," Stacy said. "Otherwise, people start to get all... aghhhhhh!"
Stacy works for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and though she would typically vote Democratic anyway, she was particularly steeled against the Republican in this race.
"We were stripped of some of our rights," she said, "and we were already 25 percent underpaid compared to other comparable sized universities in the country. Our benefits were looked on as compensation for that salary deficit that we suffer, and now it's gotten much worse."
Her old friend Amy takes just the opposite tack.
"I have a sign in my front yard for Scott Walker," she said, "and I just voted for him for – what would it be now? – the third time.
"I think it's time to have some conservative fiscal policies in our state and in our country, and I think we're running into some serious budget problems that I don't want my children to have to deal with in the future."
Mike Ryan, on the other hand, is among those voters who have decided to back a different horse. He voted for Scott Walker for governor in 2010, and considers himself a fiscal conservative and an independent voter who more often leans Republican than not.
"Historically, I try to choose the best candidate," Mike said. "I look at the person more than the party. That really determines who I vote for. But I am a fiscal conservative, yes.
"I just haven't agreed with Scott Walker. I don't think he has initiated the platform that he ran on. I think he's made a lot of changes from what he said he was going to do, so I thought it was time for a change."