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Capital City Sunday: Gov. Evers, Sen. Wanggaard & Digital campaigning during a pandemic

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MADISON (WKOW) -- After weeks of peaceful protests, one demonstration in Madison evolved into destruction and violence leaving lawmakers seeking answers as to why things escalated in the first place. 

Governor Tony Evers said he will continue to do everything in his powers to make sure the violence that occurred Tuesday in Madison won’t happen again. 

“High level of frustration, this cannot happen again,” said Evers. “People are going to get arrested and people are going to get hurt, I mean, Senator Tim Carpenter got the crap beat out of him and that's unacceptable," said Evers.

Full story on Governor Evers response to protests.

Sen. Van Wanggaard, a former police officer, has been very outspoken since protests began after the death of George Floyd.

He joins other Republican lawmakers who are “fed up” with how the Evers administration and the City of Madison handled weeks of demonstrations, especially once they took a turn. 

“You don’t allow this to get out of hand,” said Wanggaard. “It’s not acceptable and to damage our capitol, this is the people’s house.”

The Republican Senator from Racine doesn’t believe a large police presence would escalate protests going forward. Madison Police disagree, they say at times they keep a distance to prevent rising tensions.

“That is not good policing my views,” he said. 

On police reform, Wanggaard said he met with Governor Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul to discuss banning chokeholds and other reforms to the criminal justice system. 

The Senator said most of the proposals supported by Democrats are already in state statutes.

“They are already codified in law, but once you step out of the common sense of policy and procedures in place, the minute you do that your out on your own and you will have to pay for the consequences.”

Wannggard said he’s working on legislation that would create a law enforcement response team to be dispatched to situations that involve use of force, or an officer was involved in a shooting. 


Campaigning during a pandemic has its challenges, some have adjusted just fine, but for others, it's been difficult to get that face to face interaction with voters. 

In April the New York Times featured the state and it’s efforts on virtual campaigning, “Look to Wisconsin for Lessons on a Digital Campaign During a Pandemic.”

One of those success stories comes from Sachin Chheda, a political strategist who had to dramatically shift their campaign during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Chheda’s worked on multiple campaigns and most recently for Judge Jill Jarofsky’s campaign who defeated incumbent Daniel Kelly for a seat on the State Supreme Court.

He said their campaign had to change plans “on the fly” during the pandemic which started to get more severe in the final weeks leading up to election day.

“What was missing was door knocking, we had to replace that with phone calls and texting,” said Chheda. 

On April 7th, the Karofsky campaign sent more than 125,000 text messages to voters, a way to reach voters without having face to face interactions. 

Chheda said they also had to rely more on social media and digital ads to reach people as many were home under the state's stay at home order.

One of the biggest challenges Chheda said is engagement as campaigns are shifting events online through video conferencing like Zoom and Skype.

“It’s not the same in an online event, it doesn’t feel the same or have the same organics when you meet in a room filled with people,” he said.

Look ahead to November, Republicans continue to criticize presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden for hosting virtual campaign events. Meanwhile, President Trump and Vice President are making in-person trips to Wisconsin.

“I think Joe Biden is making fantastic decisions, he’s doing the best he can but he’s showing real leadership by not ignoring public health experts.” 

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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