Meth Use On The Rise In Wisconsin, Genealogy Websites Are Helping Crack Cold Cases, Superdelegates Under Review With DNC

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Joseph James DeAngelo stands in a Sacramento, Calif., jail court on Tuesday, May 29, 2018, as a judge weighed how much information to release about the arrest of the former police officer accused of being the Golden State Killer. He is suspected in at least a dozen killings and roughly 50 rapes in the 1970s and ’80s. Authorities used a genealogy website to track him down. (Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool)

Attorney General Brad Schimel launched a new meth awareness campaign this past Monday. As the availability of meth to Wisconsin residents triples, we find out what we should know to be informed and aware. We also talk about the role of genealogy websites in cracking cold cases and look at potential changes to the superdelegate system from the Democratic National Committee.

Featured in this Show

  • Meth Use On The Rise In Wisconsin

    State Attorney General Brad Schimel kicked off a new campaign this week to raise awareness at the growing use of meth in Wisconsin. We speak with Dr. Chris Eberlein of Gundersen Health-Lacrosse about what people should know about the impact the drug has on communities throughout the state.

  • How Genealogy Sites Are Changing Cold Case Investigations

    While the use of genealogy and genetic testing sites has exploded in the general population, it’s also caught the interest of a group that may not be the first to come to mind. Law enforcement and criminal investigators have begun to use genealogy website databases to find potential suspects, and in the case of the Golden State Killer, make an arrest. We talk to a reporter about how investigators are using genealogy databases and what that means for everyone else using those sites.

  • Democratic Superdelegate System Could Change

    The role of superdelegates in the Democratic National Committee could soon be changing, but one political science expert says they probably won’t be going away completely.

    Superdelegates are positions held by members of Congress, governors, former presidents and top members of the DNC who have a role in choosing which Democratic candidate will become its presidential nominee.

    In 2016, the DNC entered heated debates regarding its use of superdelegates, especially from then-presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who announced his disapproval of the system while campaigning.

    “The establishment determined who the anointed candidate will be before the first voters got into the process,” Bernie Sanders said in 2016 while criticizing his opponent Hillary Clinton’s clutch of superdelegates. “I think that that is a very, very bad idea.”

    On Friday, the DNC was expected to make changes to that system, though Barry Burden, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the university’s Elections Research Center, said he doesn’t anticipate the party will entirely do away with superdelegates in the DNC.

    Burden said while the most “radical” idea would be to do away with superdelegates altogether, he doesn’t suspect that will happen.

    The DNC could instead decide to allow superdelegates to vote only in the second round of voting at the convention, even though those votes don’t occur often.

    “It’s rare that convention votes go to a second ballot,” Burden said, noting another option could be to reduce the number of superdelegates.

    One option that has been voluntarily adopted by some members of Congress is to restrict superdelegates from revealing who they’re supporting as the party’s nominee until after a primary or caucus.

    “Sometimes that’s an act of courage, sometimes that’s waiting to see all the votes come out so they don’t end up on the wrong side of things,” Burden said.

    Some Democrats argue in favor of the superdelegate process, saying a similar establishment in the Republican Party could have prevented an outsider such as President Donald Trump from taking office.

    Democratic superdelegates, of which there are 712 nationwide, comprise about a third of the voting delegates who help secure the party’s nomination.

    Superdelegates were established in the 1980s in reaction to Sen. Ted Kennedy rising up against presidential incumbent Jimmy Carter to earn the party’s nomination. To protect against an outsider rising up to such an elevated position within the party, Burden said superdelegates were created as a way for party establishment figures to have some control of the system.

    “The superdelegates are a way to keep the balance between the newcomers who have gotten excited by a particular round of an election and people who have a longer-term attachment to the party,” Burden said.

    Instead of a system of delegates who are required to vote for a candidate based on their constituents in the state, superdelegates aren’t pledged to anyone, meaning they can choose who they support, and oftentimes reveal that early on in the process.

    While Burden said the process isn’t democratic, he said supporters might say that’s its purpose.

    “I think party officials would say that’s sort of the point,” he said. “They want to retain some control over the process and keep out really unelectable figures or candidates who maybe don’t fit with the party platform. “

    The Republican Party does have superdelegates, but they don’t perform the same function as Democrats. Republican superdelegates have to vote for the candidate who wins their state in the primary election.

  • DNC Considering Changes To Superdelegate System

    After hearing criticism during the 2016 presidential election, the Democratic National Committee is expected to approve changes to the role of superdelegates in the nomination process. We hear from a political scientist about the history of superdelegates, and what these potential changes could mean for the party.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Natalie Guyette Producer
  • Rachael Vasquez Producer
  • Dr. Chris Eberlein Guest
  • Megan Molteni Guest
  • Barry Burden Guest