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Many Wisconsin voters demand Iraq troop pullout

Reuters | April 5 2006

With public support for the Iraq war ebbing and President George W. Bush's popularity skidding, voters across Wisconsin approved measures calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The symbolic measures were approved in 24 cities and villages - the first time that residents of several cities in one state had been allowed to vote on the question. But returns on Wednesday showed voters rejected the measures in eight other communities.

The Wisconsin Network of Peace and Justice, a peace group which promoted the referenda, called the outcome a "huge victory."

Tuesday's ballot questions were only advisory in nature and have no binding on Bush or his administration, but they come seven months before midterm elections in which Republicans are fighting to retain dominance in Congress.

"Out now" measures passed 68 percent to 31 percent in liberal-leaning Madison and 55 percent to 45 percent in La Crosse. With populations of 219,000 and 51,000 respectively, they were the two largest cities voting on the question Tuesday.

But the 22,000 residents of Watertown, located between Madison and Milwaukee, rejected a similar measure 75 percent to 25 percent.

Bill Richardson, a spokesman for the anti-referendum group Vote No to Cut and Run said he believed many people had not thought about the implications of the referenda. "They read 'bring the troops home' and thought, 'oh that's good,' they didn't think about the implications of cut and run," he said.

In one closely watched contest, residents of Evansville, population 4,039, narrowly approved a withdrawal proposition 51 percent to 49 percent and rejected a second one calling for troops to remain in Iraq pending "unquestioned victory" -- by the same margin.

In other returns residents of Hayward, Kewaunee, Forestville, Sister Bay, Newport and Egg Harbor also rejected immediate withdrawal ballot questions. But voters in Ladysmith, population 4,000, Mount Horeb, population 5,860, Vermont and Shorewood all approved demands for immediate troop pullouts.

Some individual city governments and other jurisdictions have spoken out on the troop withdrawal measures, the group supporting the referenda said.

Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin, is to place a similar measure before voters in November.

Complete returns and related information can be found at http://www.wispolitics.com.

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