John Dickert will be the next mayor of Racine.
The real estate agent and former lobbyist defeated state Rep. Bob Turner, D-Racine, in Tuesday's special election. Dickert walked into his campaign's party at 9:05 p.m. to declare victory. Turner conceded the race.
"We won," Dickert said in his first interview after learning of the results.
Preliminary results from the 34 precincts showed Dickert with 6,027 compared to Turner's 4,841. No total was given for write-in Jody Harding, since those votes have to be counted by hand.
At right, a victory kiss
for his wife, Teresa.
for his wife, Teresa.
Turnout -- despite the importance of the election and the 11 candidates in the primary -- was awful. Voters cast 10,127 votes in the primary; so far the City Clerk shows just 10,868 cast for the two candidates on the ballot. The city had prepared 45,000 ballots, enough for 70% of the electorate.
"I'm so proud of the people who have worked together to get this done," Dickert said. "That's what the campaign is about tonight; I represent them. This was a movement for change. I truly believe that."
Dickert said his first act of mayor would be to call businesses and start working on bringing jobs to Racine.
Dickert pulled off an election that appeared close early on. He led after the first districts reported results, reaching a 300-vote lead after just six precincts had reported. But it kept getting closer, and when the 13th precinct was counted -- keep in mind, we don't know which precints these are, just the totals -- Turner led for the first time, by 27 votes, and then 75 votes... and then 52 .... But in the end, it was Dickert's night.
At his victory party at Salute's on Main Street -- a raucous affair marked by cheering supporters and even a bagpiper -- Dickert thanked his wife, Teresa, for telling him early on "to get off your butt and get to work." Then he saw his mother in the crowd and gave her a shout-out: "Hi, Mom, we did it!"
He praised Turner as "an honorable man," and said he looked forward to working with him in the Legislature. "This is not about me," he said, as he has during the campaign. "It's about us, and we've got to get to work." And he gave his supporters their first marching order: "Pick up those yard signs."
Turner's "party" was a gloomier affair, at Park Six, where the former candidate was standing alone near the window, right, face lighted successively by green and red disco balls, as he conducted a radio interview, seemingly with himself.
Turner said he wasn't disappointed by the results and offered a simple explanation of the election.
"The people decided they wanted John Dickert as mayor instead of me," he said.
Turner said his only regret was not winning the election for his supporters. He'll head back to the Assembly now after spending the last three months splitting time between his job in Madison and the mayoral campaign in Racine.
You can get the final results here, though they're lagging behind the campaign's numbers.
The new mayor will be sworn in in two weeks. Mayor -- interim mayor in actuality, though not in title -- Tom Friedel was at City Hall watching the early results come in, as poll workers arrived with their red two-wheeled suitcases full of ballots and totals to present them to the City Clerk. Asked what he will do for the next two weeks, Friedel said, "Whatever comes across the desk. That's what the job is in the short-term."