A Whitefish Bay professor has launched a last-minute write-in campaign against state Sen. Alberta Darling that has picked up some momentum.
Beth Lueck, an English professor at UW-Whitewater, said she believes voters deserve a choice in the 8th Senate District. Supporters have been publicizing the effort on social media and blogs. The state Democratic Party is also pushing the write-in candidacy.
However, Darling told Patch that voters' choices should be educated ones. She said that voters have even less of a reason to not re-elect her than they did in the high-profile recall election she survived because Act 10’s reforms are becoming apparent.
“Act 10, daily, there are positive results,” she said. “In terms of taxes, municipalities are making choices to do things cost effectively and efficiently, and school boards are making choices to do things cost effectively and efficiently, and teachers haven’t lost their jobs. School boards like Shorewood were able to choose a health insurance plan for a lot less money but not less quality. We prevented teacher and government official layoffs.”
However, Lueck said the write-in effort has progressively gathered force.
"I noticed that Alberta Darling was running unopposed and that seemed to me contrary to democracy that people didn’t even have a choice," Lueck said. "I said to my friends, 'You do have a choice, just write me in,' and, as things moved beyond the primary, I got a little more serious about it and registered with the Governmental Accountability Board. Then people got interested. We were running a stealth campaign at first, but more people were interested and said they want an alternative to Alberta Darling. I was surprised at the strength."
Lueck, the mother of two sons, lives in Whitefish Bay, is a professor of English at UW-Whitewater and a former professor at UW-Milwaukee. She is the author of a book on 19th century female writers. Lueck grew up in Pennsylvania but said her family has ties to Wisconsin going back to 1848.
Lueck said she believed there was a "a lot of energy left over" from the recall. She said that the Republicans had "gerrymandered" the 8th Senate district to give Republicans more of an advantage.
Lueck said she believes “completely in our rights to unionize,” pointing out that UW System schools were moving in that direction before Act 10. She supports more public transit in Milwaukee. “I very much would like to support respect for unions and education in this state,” she said. “I support women’s reproductive rights.” She said she was shocked that some Republican male legislators at a recent debate forum “said that women don’t need equal pay legislation because so many of them stay at home.”
But Darling said the choice is "clear cut."
“We’ve already had this debate," she said. "A year ago, I laid out the case for why I wanted to be re-elected and wanted to continue to fight for my constituents, and the case is very clear.”
As for the write-in nature of the opposition, Darling said, “nobody got the signatures to get on the ballot against me, and that’s significant. I’ve been a strong representative of the 8th Senate district. I’ve been a protector of the taxpayers, and I survived a recall election last year where $8 million was spent against me by special interest groups, but people voted for me overwhelmingly because I get results and get things done, and I do what I say I will do.”
The 8th District has new boundaries this year in the wake of redistricting prompted by population shifts in the 2010 census. The district encompasses portions of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Waukesha and Washington counties. It includes Whitefish Bay, Fox Point and Menomonee Falls.
Wisconsin state senators serve four-year terms and earn $49,943.00 annually. The also receive a per diem of $88 per day for each day they work in Madison.