Wisconsin Baking Competitor, Local Photographer Up For National Prize, Janesville’s Voters On Trump, Ryan

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As part of an ongoing series about the mood of Wisconsin voters, a state reporter visited Janesville one year after the presidential election. He shares what people had to say about President Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. We talk with a Wisconsinite about her time as a contestant on the Food Network’s competitive baking program. Plus, we’re joined by a Wisconsin nature photographer that’s up for a national award following his picture of one very hungry bird.

Featured in this Show

  • Wisconsin Baker Competes On TV Food Show

    TV cooking shows are hugely popular, and the holidays are a great time to have some fun in the kitchen. A Wisconsin baker shares her experiences as a contestant on the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship, including getting a quintessential Wisconsin ingredient to work with.

  • Local Wildlife Photographer Up For National Geographic Prize

    An Atlantic puffin with a beak stuffed with an impressive amount of fish is the subject of a striking (and comical) photograph from local wildlife and nature photographer, Sunil Gopalan. He’s up for the 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year prize. He joins us to talk about this photograph and what inspires him in nature.

    This photo of an Atlantic puffin landed local wildlife and nature photographer, Sunil Gopalan, in the running for the 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year prize. Photo Courtesy of Sunil Gopalan

    You can follow Sunil’s photography on Instagram.

  • Paul Ryan Is A Polarizing Figure For Voters In Southeastern Wisconsin

    House Speaker Paul Ryan is a more polarizing figure than ever before.

    As Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Reporter Craig Gilbert found when he talked to constituents in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, that fact has little to do with Ryan’s actual performance as a politician, and everything to do with his relationship with President Donald Trump.

    Whether Ryan is too supportive or not supportive enough of the president depends on who you talk to.

    “I had one kind of funny experience at a bar in Burlington where I started to interview some guys who were hanging out together eating burgers,” Gilbert said. “When I asked them about Paul Ryan, they just went right to Trump and right to Obama. And then I asked them about Ryan again, and right back to Trump and Obama. And it got really heated and really adversarial, and I kinda felt like I had ruined their lunch just by bringing up politics.”

    Gilbert said this was a common situation as he reported in the region for part of a project checking in with voters one year after the presidential election. As a high-profile Republican politician, Ryan is inevitably tied to Trump. And the president can be a “radioactive subject” for many, Gilbert says.

    Gilbert’s first reporting trip of the project had been to southwestern Wisconsin, a swing region that’s not strongly partisan.

    Southeastern Wisconsin is much more polarized, Gilbert said.

    “We’ve got some Democratic cities in Paul Ryan’s district — Kenosha, Janesville, and Racine,” Gilbert said. “And then you’ve got some purple towns, and then you’ve got a lot of red suburban and rural turf.”

    Despite this, Ryan typically has appealed to voters across party lines; he has a history of winning even the most democratic parts of the district, such as Racine.

    Now in a more national role, both a 2012 vice presidential candidate and current speaker of the house, and caught up in a more divisive political climate, Gilbert says he’s not sure Ryan will have that kind of hold again. That doesn’t mean he won’t win, just that he’ll have less of a cushion.

    Still, Gilbert says the Democratic constituents in Ryan’s district, even those who believe he is too “aligned” with Trump, understand the situation Ryan is in.

    “One thing that really struck me about talking to voters in his district is that people have a really keen appreciation of the political complexities of Paul Ryan’s position as speaker,” Gilbert said. “They kind of get the fact that there’s tension between him and Trump, and they get the fact that there are political reasons why Ryan is basically aligned with Trump now.”

    Ryan is seeking re-election in 2018. The result of that bid will depend on Republican turnout, Gilbert said.

    “If Democrats get a big turnout advantage, that could really tighten the picture for Ryan,” he said.

    Even with a Democratic-heavy electorate, Ryan could still survive because of how polarized the district is.

    “In fact when you get into a situation where people are pretty polarized by party and there’s not as much ticket splitting or crossover voting, then a district doesn’t have to be a 20-point advantage to one party to be a safe district,” Gilbert said. “Even a 5 or 10 point advantage, that’s a really difficult margin to overcome if everyone’s just voting along party lines.”

  • How Janesville Voters Reflect On The 2016 Election, Trump, Ryan Performance

    Wisconsin was seen as a political anomaly following the 2016 presidential election as the traditionally blue state went to Republican Donald Trump. Many political watchers were left wondering what happened in Wisconsin and what could it mean for the state’s voting habits moving forward. Craig Gilbert is a political reporter and Washington Bureau Chief for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He’s been traveling to different parts of the state to speak with voters about their thoughts on the 2016 election. His most recent article focuses on voters in Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Jennifer Barney Guest
  • Sunil Gopalan Guest
  • Craig Gilbert Guest