Five things to know about Wisconsin's election
MADISON Wisconsin voters helped give President Barack Obama four more years, ordained the state's first female U.S. senator in Tammy Baldwin, forced Republicans to face Obama's health care reforms, kept the state's congressional corps virtually the same and made sure hometown hero Paul Ryan still had a job.
Here's a few things worth knowing about Election Day in Wisconsin:
1. BIG BLUE RETURNS
Wisconsin's reputation as a purple state, meaning it never stays too blue for Democrats or too red for Republicans, reasserted itself with President Barack Obama's re-election win and Tammy Baldwin's victory in the U.S. Senate race. Republicans did make some gains ‚Äî they re-took control of the state Senate and held on to their advantage in the Assembly ‚Äî but the races at the top of the ticket were the biggest prizes. The Democratic wins come after a string of defeats over the past two years, including Republican Gov. Scott Walker's recall win just five months ago.
2. PSSSST. WHAT ABOUT OBAMACARE?
Gov. Scott Walker last year stopped implementation of the federal health care law passed by Obama and congressional Democrats. The governor said he wanted to wait for the outcome of the presidential race before moving ahead. Now, Obama's victory puts the spotlight on Wisconsin as it faces a Nov. 16 deadline to tell the federal government whether it will implement health care exchanges or leave it up to the federal government. Republican legislative leaders said they're waiting for direction from Walker.
3. PAUL RYAN
Janesville's favorite son won't be vice president, but the congressman won't be lifting weights in obscurity either. The noted fitness buff easily retained his southern Wisconsin congressional seat, even though he couldn't deliver the state for Mitt Romney. Ryan's name is already being kicked around for a possible run at the presidency in 2016, and exit polls show he remains popular in Wisconsin, even with voters who backed Obama.
4. MEET THE NEW CONGRESS, SAME AS THE OLD CONGRESS
Millions of dollars poured into a couple Wisconsin congressional districts in swing parts of the state, but the money didn't sway voters. All seven incumbents on the ballot held on to their U.S. House seats. In the one open district, Democrat Mark Pocan easily won to succeed Democrat Tammy Baldwin. That leaves Wisconsin with the same 5-3 Republican edge in congressional representation. Baldwin's win in the Senate race keeps that seat in Democratic control as it's been in since 1957.
5. STATE BUDGET
With the season of elections (finally) over, attention will soon turn inward to the state Legislature where Gov. Scott Walker will be introducing his next two-year state budget early next year. The process should be smooth, since Republicans have control of both the Senate and Assembly just as they did in 2011, when Walker introduced his first spending plan. But that proposal tore the state apart, as Walker went after public sector unions to help solve the state's budget shortfall. The state's finances are in better shape now, but there's still not enough money around to meet needs. And Republicans are pushing for tax cuts.