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A few weeks ago an unmarked white van pulled up in front of our house - the big kind, like a church youth group might ride around in.

I watched as two young people in crisp white polo shirts got out and came to my front door.

They were from the group Freedom and Liberty for Traditional American Families Foundation, or something like that, they told me. They wanted to let me know where the candidates in the recall election for the 14th state Senate District stood on issues that might be important to me.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Republican Luther Olsen came out ahead in every one of their litmus tests.

I took their information, thanked them for stopping by, and watched as they got back in their van and drove away.

In other words, I was the only person on the block they came to proselytize.

"Looks like you got on someone's list," my husband quipped.


That group was one of the third-party "interest groups" who spent more than $25 million on five recall elections statewide.

The candidates themselves only spent about $5 million in the historic effort change the balance of the Senate mid-term, dubbed "Recall Summer" by the media.

Then there was the Fred Clark campaign, which stopped by every single day to put a full-color glossy door hanger on our front door. Even when, I'm not even kidding you, my husband had torn out our old front steps and taped off the area in preparation for building new ones.

I don't know how they even reached the door handle, but his smiling bearded face was hanging there when we got home.

Our district includes both Baraboo, where second-term Assemblyman Clark resides, and Ripon, both the home of Olsen and the birthplace of the modern Republican Party.

Although Olsen ran unopposed in 2004 and 2008, and the district hasn't had a Democrat representing it in 115 years, Clark grabbed 46 percent of the vote in Tuesday's election.

It wasn't enough to unseat Olsen, who earned 54 percent in the final tally, but it was an interesting shift.

But regardless of the outcome, the whole process felt skeevy.

From the Republican organizers who crashed Clark's press conference announcing his candidacy, to the third party ads on both sides that exaggerated the facts or outright ignored them.

Then when I went to vote Tuesday, there were three third party "observers" sitting not two feet behind the poll workers at the City Services Center, peering over their shoulders, copying my information from the poll workers' paperwork.

"Why is it okay for you to be recording all of my personal information when I'm trying to vote?" I asked one of them.

"Oh, we're not recording your personal information," one of them replied.

"Really?" I said, maybe a little too loudly. "What do you call my name and address and when and where I'm voting? Why do you need that information?"

He just stared at me, mouth agape.

I don't know if he was volunteering for my guy or the other guy, and I don't care. It felt invasive and, considering they were sitting in the path from voting booth to ballot machine and could easily see who I voted for if I weren't actively hiding it, it felt improper.

It was like the third party groups had commandeered the election, from the engineering of Walker's policies by billionaire donors, to the millions unions funneled into campaigns, to the ads and flyers and door-to-door salesmen, to the spies at the voting booth.

When I called the City Clerk's Office to ask if what the observers were doing was really allowed, the woman who answered the phone was apologetic but said, well, it was.

"I guess that's what we get for causing all these shenanigans," I said.

And we both laughed a little, not because it was that funny, but because we knew it would, with any luck, be over soon.

Because this isn't my Wisconsin; is it yours?