November 16: Behind the Mid-Term Election Results

–submitted by Sharyn Alden

In speaking to the Madison Rotary Club November 16, Professor Barry Burden offered an important overview and political narrative pertaining to the 2022 mid-term elections.

“There were a complicated set of stories intersecting this year,” he noted.

Nationwide, the mid-terms brought out 40 percent of voters, one of the highest numbers in several years. In Wisconsin, known for strong voter turnouts, 60 percent of registered voters turned out to vote.

Interestingly, Burden pointed out some candidates who lost races might have won if it weren’t for their lack of experience or funding.

Concerns about the mid-terms were abundant before the election. They ranged from worries about keeping the integrity of democracy nationwide, possible violence in the streets, or election losers’ failures to concede. “None of that happened,” said Burden.

There had also been concerns that redistricting would shake things up, but across the country that didn’t appear to make a dent in the results.

Historically, it’s true that during midterm elections seats are typically lost within the party of the current president. “You pay a price for being the guy in the White House,” Burden said.

In tabulating votes in Wisconsin’s 72 counties, Governor Tony Evers was elected by a larger margin than projected while Senator Ron Johnson won by a smaller margin than expected.

One of things anticipated prior to the election was a “red (Republican) wave” of victories across the country. But Burden concurred with the amusingly proffered result offered by a Washington Post article that called it more of a “red puddle.”

Burden explained there was less shifting back and forth of voters of party preferences this time around because there are fewer blocks of swing voters as there were among hotly contested swing states in previous elections.

Many topics brought people to the polls to cast their ballots. A vote against Trump was one, along the pro-choice movement. In Wisconsin abortion and inflation were important voting motivators.

But at the end of the day, it appeared, at least by Wisconsin’s large voter turnout, people simply wanted to get involved and have their choices counted-a good sign of democracy in the works.

Our thanks to WisEye for videotaping our guest speaker on November 16. You can watch the video here:

November 9: Women Veterans Then and Now

–submitted by Janet Piraino

Jodi Barnett, Women’s Veteran Coordinator at the State Department of Veterans Affairs,  spoke to the club about the challenges of being a woman in the military.  She talked about the discrimination she faced, such as the time she was told at a veterans’ meeting that the women’s auxiliary met on Tuesdays.  Or, the time she was told at the VA Hospital that she could not sign in for her husband.  

She also highlighted the gains women veterans are making as the fastest growing demographic of veterans. She credited State DVA Secretary Mary Kolar (the first female Wisconsin DVA secretary) as helping her and other women veterans break the glass ceiling. She praised the election of Verona Veteran Denise Rohan as the American Legion’s first female national commander in the group’s 100+ year history.  She also applauded the first all-female Wisconsin Honor Flight that took 88 women veterans to Washington, D.C. in May to visit the nation’s war memorials.

Barnett praised Wisconsin services for veterans and encouraged club members to check out the I Am Not Invisible campaign currently traveling around Wisconsin to increase awareness of and facilitate dialogue about women veterans. 

If you missed our Rotary meeting last week, you can watch the video here:

November 2: “Research is Music to My Chancellor Ears”

–submitted by Bill Haight

UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin (center) pictured here with Music Committee members Darin Harris and Elaine Mischler

After just about three months on the job UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin says she’s been meeting with as many stakeholders as possible.

She got input from the Rotarians present by using an app ( that allowed her to gather responses to the question “What word or words come to mind when you think of UW-Madison?” Rotarians answered on their phones. Two of the most prominent were “Bucky” and “Research”.

“’Research’ is music to my Chancellor ears,” she said, and “Bucky, this mischievous, loving mascot, gives people a warm feeling about this university and that is a not insignificant.”

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here:

October 19: Trends in Upcoming Election

–submitted by Joy Cardin

From left: Barb Wiley, Liane Kosaki, Charles Franklin and Andrea Kaminski

The race for Wisconsin Governor between Democratic Governor Tony Evers and his Republican challenger Tim Michels has tightened and is now considered a tossup according to the latest Marquette Law School Poll.  Poll director Charles Franklin says among likely voters 47% support Evers and 46% support Michels.  Michels gained support since the September poll mainly from independent voters.  

The race for US Senate between Republican Senator Ron Johnson and his Democratic challenger Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes has widened since the last poll. Franklin say Johnson now as a six point edge over Barnes, 52% to 46%.  Once again, independent voters are trending toward Johnson. 

Professor Franklin says the close races show how important voter turnout will be on November 8.

The final Marquette poll for this election cycle will be released on November 2. 

If you missed the program this week, you can watch it here:

October 12: The Need for “Badger Engineers”

–submitted by Joy Cardin

UW-Madison’s College of Engineering Dean Ian Robertson explained the growing demand for engineers in Wisconsin and how he plans to recruit and educate more students to meet the demand.   UW-Madison ranks 7th best in the nation among public universities for the quality of its undergraduate program and nearly all undergraduates seeking jobs have one before their senior year.  However, there are thousands of more jobs than graduates at this time and the demand is growing because of retirements in the field.  Dean Robertson highlighted how “Badger Engineers” are involved in research that will improve the economy and the quality of life in Wisconsin – from better environmental sustainability to health care technology – to happier cows!  The one thing holding back the College of Engineering when it comes to educating more students and even more research breakthroughs according to Dean Robertson is its aging infrastructure and lack of space.  He shared plans for a new $355-million dollar state-of-the-art engineering building that he believes will attract more students, faculty, and employers to UW-Madison.  

Did you miss our meeting last week? You can watch the video here:

October 5: The Power of Rotary

–submitted by Joy Cardin

Why did you join Rotary?  Why do you stay in Rotary?  And what is needed for Rotary’s future?

District Governor Ben Bauer got us thinking and moving at the October 5 meeting by asking us to answer these questions and move to different parts of the room representing four important components of Rotary membership: Giving, Service, Fellowship, and Networking.  The audience participation portion of the program was a fun way to illustrate what Rotary means to all of us as individuals and how we all might unite to take Rotary to the next level. Perhaps not surprisingly, we ended up with a large group in the middle of the room where all four benefits of Rotary membership intersected. 

He also presented the club with a Rotary Citation for 2021-22 year for achieving the required number of goals chosen from a list of a possible 25.  He encouraged us all to keep acting on our dreams.  

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here: