'Here & Now' Highlights: Zac Schultz, Anthony Chergosky, Natasha Paris

Here's what guests on the July 5, 2024 episode said about Wisconsin Supreme Court cases, how down-ballot races are affected by the presidential race, and what wet weather is doing to crops.

By Frederica Freyberg | Here & Now

July 8, 2024

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Frederica Freyberg sits at a desk on the Here & Now set and faces a video monitor showing an image of Zac Schultz.

Frederica Freyberg and Zac Schultz (Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is ending its term, but remains busy releasing rulings and taking up new cases — Here & Now reporter Zac Schultz discussed the high court’s plans to hear two abortion-related lawsuits. UW-La Crosse political science professor Anthony Chergosky said what happens at the top-of-the ticket 2024 race for president will impact down-ballot races for Congress and the state Legislature. A UW-Madison Extension educator describes how a flip from drought to excess rainfall is creating new difficulties for farmers and their fields.

Zac Schultz
Senior political reporter, Here & Now

  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued two major rulings on July 5, one finding that the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee has been improperly blocking conservation purchases, and another allowing local election clerks to use absentee ballot drop boxes that reverses its 2022 ruling on the issue. A few days earlier, the high court decided to hear a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin that seeks for justices to find access to abortion is protected by the state constitution. The court also decided to take up the appeal to a Dane County judge’s ruling that found an 1849 statute does not address abortion but outlaws attacking a woman in an attempt to kill her unborn baby. Schultz said the outcome of both new cases is likely not in question.
  • Schultz: “We’ve already heard from the conservatives through their dissents to taking these cases, that they fully expect the majority on this court to decide in favor of abortion rights and strike down this 1849 law, and perhaps even go as far as to enshrine the right to abortion in the Wisconsin Constitution. So I think everyone expects that to be the end result in this process.”


Anthony Chergosky
Professor, UW- La Crosse Department of Political Science and Public Administration

  • With tumult in the Democratic Party over President Joe Biden’s run for reelection after his debate performance, one question is how does that affect down-ballot races for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and the state Legislature in Wisconsin? Chergosky described how if voters are displeased with a candidate at the top of the ticket, that could drag down candidates in other races.
  • Chergosky: “I think the effects could be substantial, and that is because the amount of split-ticket voting has gone down over the years — I mean, a ballot where a voter votes for at least one Democrat and one Republican on the same ballot. More and more, we’re seeing voters vote straight ticket, meaning they vote for the same political party for all of the races on the ballot. As partisanship in the electorate has increased, and as the political divide in society has widened, we see more and more of that. How someone votes for president is a great predictor of how they vote in other races on the ballot, so what happens at the top of the ticket will really matter when it comes to explaining what happens down the ballot.”


Natasha Paris
Regional crops educator, UW-Madison Extension

  • Paris described going from drought in recent year to excess rainfall in 2024as “weather whiplash.” She said the north-central part of Wisconsin is particularly wet and it’s affecting crops.
  • Paris: “We have fields where the crops were able to get in early, and sometimes they’ve made it through and done pretty well. But then sometimes they got caught in those absolute deluges of rain and they were drowned out. We’ve been talking about things like replant or there’s cases where they’ve just never been able to get in the fields at all. And so we’re looking at what we call a prevented plant situation, where if you have the right crop insurance you might be able to receive some type of payment.


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