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Tammy or Tommy: We'll make history either way; Haven't voted since June? Maybe your polling place has changed; more briefs

Wisconsin voters will make history tomorrow when they elect a new U.S. senator to replace the retiring Democrat Herb Kohl.

If they choose Democrat Tammy Baldwin, she would become the state's first female U.S. senator - after she became the state's first woman to be elected to the House of Representatives in 1998. Also, Baldwin would be the nation's first openly gay person to serve in the Senate.

If Tommy Thompson wins, Wisconsin would have two Republican senators for the first time in about 60 years. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Joe McCarthy and Alexander Wiley are the last pair of Republicans to serve Wisconsin in the Senate in the 1940's and 1950's.

Also Thompson, 70, would be the state's oldest first-time senator. According to the University of Minnesota, the average of age of Wisconsin's newly elected senators is 45 over the course of a century. A Thompson victory would raise that number to 47. At 50, Baldwin would also be older than the state average.

In addition, it's very possible that Wisconsin voters will choose a president and a U.S. senator from different parties - something that's happened only twice in the same election in the last 100 years. The last time was 1968 when Wisconsin carried Republican President Richard Nixon while re-electing Senate Democrat Gaylord Nelson.


Haven't voted since June? Maybe your polling place has changed

If you haven't voted since the Walker recall contest, you might want to double check your polling place for tomorrow. Redistricting has changed the places where some voters will cast their ballots.

In Milwaukee, 11 wards have switched to seven new polling places, and one is temporary for tomorrow's vote only.

You can get your correct polling place by going online to can also check your registration status and find sample ballots. The state Government Accountability Board runs the Website.

Meanwhile, candidates in the extremely close presidential and U.S. Senate races are making their final pitches in Wisconsin today.

President Obama appears with rock legend Bruce Springsteen late this morning in downtown Madison.

Republican vice president hopeful Paul Ryan has a late night airport rally planned in Milwaukee before returning home to Janesville to vote tomorrow.

In the Senate race, Democrat Tammy Baldwin appears with Obama in Madison before holding her own rallies in Wausau, Green Bay and suburban Milwaukee.

Republican Tommy Thompson started his day in La Crosse before making speeches in the Eau Claire, Wausau and Green Bay areas.


Senate race still a toss-up

Twelve U.S. Senate races around the country are considered toss-ups tomorrow, including the Thompson-Baldwin race in Wisconsin.

Republicans need to gain four seats to take control of the Senate. That's why GOP supporters might have interrupted your weekend with almost constant phone calls.

The Center for Responsive Politics said Republican Tommy Thompson benefited from almost $6 million in special interest spending over the past week, while Democrat Tammy Baldwin only got $1.3 million in support.

The Federal Election Commission said outside groups have spent almost $46 million on the Wisconsin Senate race. That's the second-highest special interest money among the U.S. Senate races, behind only Virginia.

And it's much more than the $20 million spent by the candidates themselves as of mid-October. That puts the total tally at $66 million and rising - not quite to the level of this summer's Walker recall election in which all sides spent around $81 million.

By the way, there's a reason your phone went silent between noon and 3:30 p.m. Sunday. That's when the Packer game was on, and both Thompson and Baldwin say it's not good to disturb a Cheesehead during the game.


A good week for 'Winter Awareness

This is "Winter Weather Awareness Week" in Wisconsin, and in some places, the coldest temperatures of the season are right on cue.

The mercury dropped down to 12 degrees at 7 a.m. in Merrill and Tomahawk under clear skies. But it stayed warm in western Wisconsin where it was cloudy all night. It was a balmy 37 in Prairie du Chien at 7 a.m. - and it was above freezing as far north as Osceola in Polk County.

It was mild in southeast Wisconsin as well. It was 36 in Milwaukee this morning.

There were snow flurries this morning in parts of eastern Wisconsin, and authorities warned of slippery road conditions in some places.

A new cold front is supposed to move in tonight with a chance of light snow tonight and perhaps freezing rain in some spots tomorrow morning.

Highs are expected to be in the 40's all week, warming up to perhaps 50 on Friday.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has released a ton of information for Winter Weather Awareness Week. Among other things, we're told that "winter weather advisories" are issued when 3-6 inches of snow are expected or if drifting snow or freezing rain gets in the mix.

Winter storm warnings generally alert us to six-inches of snow or more in a 12-hour period - or eight inches in 24 hours.


Teen will be sentenced in 'hill-jumping' deaths

A 19-year-old Fond du Lac County woman will be sentenced this morning for causing the deaths of three of her friends in a so-called "hill-jumping" crash in February.

Prosecutors have recommended five years of probation for Carly Ottery of Campbellsport as part of a plea deal. But Circuit Judge Dale English can still sentence her to up to 30 years in prison after Ottery pleaded no contest to her three original charges of homicide by negligent driving.

Authorities said Ottery drove an SUV at up to 109 mph before it went over a hillcrest, hit a bump and flipped over in a field.

Katie Berg, Caitlin Scannell and Sabrina Stahl were killed. Six other teens, including Ottery, were injured. All nine played girls' soccer at Campbellsport High School, and they had left an overnight sleepover before the crash occurred. Alcohol was not involved.


Fargo-to-Superior pipeline proposed

A new pipeline is being proposed that would send North Dakota crude oil to Superior.

Enbridge Energy is seeking government approvals for a line that would stretch over 500 miles -- from the Beaver Lodge area near Tioga, N.D., to the company's Superior oil terminal.

Enbridge official Bob Steede told a Fargo, N.D., newspaper that the pipeline would expand its exporting capacity and increase market opportunities.

If approved, the line could start operating as soon as 2015.


Ryan's kids steal limelight

Paul Ryan's three kids often steal the show when they appear with their dad on the campaign trail.

The Republican vice presidential nominee from Janesville has Liza, Charlie and Sam Ryan - all under 10 - campaigning with him on the weekends.

They were in Richmond, Va., Saturday. And Sunday they had their own tailgate party outside the Green Bay Packers game against Arizona at Lambeau Field.

Their dad tossed beanbags with them as hundreds of Cheeseheads looked on.

Reporters who travel with Ryan say his remarks are much softer when his children are around. But Sam Ryan, 7, doesn't seem to notice - he's too busy having fun and teasing the press corps.

After the vice presidential debate, Sam was spinning around on his father's chair on the debate stage as his dad and Vice President Joe Biden engaged in their final handshakes.

In Marietta Ohio this weekend, Sam greeted the crowd with a huge grin and a "V" sign for victory. And at a factory tour, he put his hands above his head to block photographers.

His mother, Janna Ryan, said, "I don't know where he gets it."


Stimulus program funds sit waiting

A federal stimulus program to make buildings more energy efficient in three southern Wisconsin cities has largely gone unused.

In 2009 the Obama stimulus provided $20 million to Madison, Milwaukee and Racine to help homes and businesses lower their energy bills.

But the Wisconsin State Journal says only about $3 million in grants have been awarded and another $1 million has been loaned for residential projects. That leaves just under $16 million available in the three-year program. If it's not spent in the next seven months, the funding goes back to Washington.

About 100 businesses and 500 homeowners have benefited from the energy funding. In Madison alone, a green organization was hoping to retrofit 4,500 homes and about 110 businesses. But only 16% those homes and 28% of those businesses have been funded.

One problem is that the program was limited to low-interest loans at first, and people and businesses hesitated to add to their debt during the Great Recession. Brian Driscoll, who organizes the Wisconsin program, said more funds were granted when cities could start giving grants in late 2010.


Churches ignore Racine's request that they pay property taxes

A request from the city of Racine for help has brought no response from churches and nonprofit organizations.

Racine asked tax-exempt groups to help the local economy by paying taxes even though they don't have to. It was called the "Racine's Fair Share" program, and the city administration is saying it didn't work.

Letters were sent to 182 nonprofit organizations last September, asking them to consider paying a portion of the property tax they would have had to pay if they weren't exempt.

Mayor John Dickert wrote the letter, pointing out the nonprofits are getting city services like police and fire protection and snow plowing.

Eight other nonprofit organizations already pay for some services through what is called the PILOT program. That brought in a little over $97,000 last year.


Marshfield man accused of pouring gas on pregnant woman

A 23-year-old Marshfield man has a court appearance scheduled for this morning on charges he poured gasoline on a pregnant woman and then threatened to set her on fire.

Tyler S. Ress is charged with four felonies and three misdemeanors.

Ress is accused of assaulting the 28-year-old Marshfield woman last September. Prosecutors say he punched her in the stomach several times and then also tried to strangle her. The domestic attack lasted three hours.


Jail resorts to mattresses on floor to house prisoners

La Crosse County officials report the county jail is operating over its capacity. As many as 17 inmates have had to sleep on mattresses on the floor.

The situation has comes up just two years after a $30 million expansion.

The possible reasons are varied. Officials say it could be the county's growing heroin problem and the crimes associated with them. The La Crosse jail also is holding a record number of mentally ill inmates due to reductions in community resources.

The county faces a possible need to spend $400,000 to open a second pod at the facility to handle the inmate numbers.


Independent investigator will review police handling of domestic incidents before spa shooting

Brown Deer is hiring an independent law enforcement instructor to review the way the city's police department handled incidents involving the man who went on a fatal shooting rampage at a Brookfield spa.

All contacts the Brown Deer police had with Radcliffe Haughton will be reviewed by Robert Willis.

Haughton killed his estranged wife Zina and two others Oct. 21.

Since then, Brown Deer police have been criticized for not arresting Haughton during several domestic incidents involved the couple over the last 11 years. A dozen Wisconsin lawmakers accused the police chief of not following the state's mandatory arrest law on at least two of the domestic violence cases reported.

Lawmakers from the area said last week's call for action was a "knee-jerk reaction," but they are in favor of an independent review.


Man sentenced to life in prison for slaying his mom

A Wisconsin man will get a life sentence for fatally shooting his mother to collect on her life insurance policy.

Randal Rosenthal, 35, was convicted by a jury in Appleton Friday night on a charge of first-degree intentional homicide.

Rosenthal had told investigators his mother was fine when he last saw her after they had gone fishing.

Prosecutors say he killed Kathleen Remter, 52, to collect on her $586,000 life insurance policy.

Remter was found dead in the Fox River in July of last year. She had been shot in the back of the head.


Milwaukee man gets 10 years in prison for abusing three kids

A 26-year-old Milwaukee man was sentenced to a decade behind bars for beating his girlfriend's children and putting one of them in a clothes dryer.

Nicholas James Fuchs was sentenced Friday. He has admitted abusing the children who were then four and five years old.

He says it happened when he was living at the girlfriend's apartment in Oak Creek last year.

The children's mother says she overheard her daughter threatening to put her brother in the dryer. When the mother asked them about the threat, the children said it was something "mean Nick" had done to the girl in the past.

Fuchs apparently broke the girl's arm last August and attacked the boy as well.