Four months ago Archie's Simonson was an obscure county judge in this state capital city and Moria Krueger was an even more obscure lawyer who handled family and juvenile cases.
Today, both are nationally known, Krueger is headed for the bench and Simonson is headed back to private law practice.
The judge made some comments on May 25 as he lightly sentenced a 15-year-old youth convicted of rape. The comments suggested to some that he saw rape as a normal reaction to sexual permissiveness. Outrage, particularly from women, flared up in this university community and some 36,000 people signed petitions demanding that Simonson be recalled.
Krueger had been thinking about challenging Simonson when his term came up next April. She announed on Memorial Day that she would take on Simonson in this election.
Over the summer, four other candidates - all men - also announced and the judge's opponents began to fear that Simonson would slip through the recall because the other candidates would divide up the opposition votes. There is no runoff provision.
But in Wednesday's recall election, Krueger convincingly led the field of candidates, taking 35 per cent of the 78,000 votes cast.Simonson came in second with 24 per cent.
Although the 33-year-old Krueger had been active in a number of community organizations, particularly those dealing with youths in trouble, she was new to politics. She had not even been active in feminist groups before the recall drive started, although she got the endorsements from the major feminist organizations in the city.
Neither of the city's major newspapers nor the major student newspaper on the university of Wisconsin campus made any endorsements in the contest. Organized labor also sat out the election. That neutrally upset Krueger's supporters.
The Dane County Bar Association polled its members to ask whether the candidates were qualified to serve as judge. Simonson was overwhelmingly rated unqualified. So was Krueger, by a narrow margin. Krueger blasted the bar poll as being "greatly influenced by who knew whom."
Krueger did have some important backing, however, mayor Paul Soglin, a popular figure here, endorsed her, as did the leaders in the local liberal Democratic establishment.
She far outspent all of her opponents combined, launching a heavy media blitz during the last 10 days of the campaign.
During the campaign, Krueger shied away form attacking Simonson directly on his remarks during the rape hearing. Instead, she said it was indicative of the way Simonson treated people in his court and she promised to bring fairness and compassion to the judiciary.
She now shies away from reading too much meaning into her election. She said she hopes the message of the vote is that people want judges "to be conscientious, to tend to their work, to tend the law."
Simonson, after fanning the initial controversy with statements about women as sex objects who should stop "teasing" men by the way they dress, went through a long period of silence during the campaign. Then in the last 10 days, he again began speaking out. At one point, he admitted that he had not read all of the state statutes governing sexual assaults and thus had been misstating what they said. Even though he said his critics misinterpreted his remarks about rape being a normal reaction, he continued to say there was a connection between things like women's clothing and rape.
Even after his defeat on Wednesday, Simonson said he was right in what he said. But he also said he was out of politics for good.
Krueger, who will be the first woman judge in the county, will take office later this month. She will be up for another election next April.She knows the circumstances of her election will keep her in the limelight for awhile.
"I think I will probably be subjected to more scrutiny than any judge recently elected to the bench," she said.