I have been traveling and living near Green Bay, Wisconsin for over 20 years, and it is as loveable as you think it would be. With a population barely over 100,000, it is a city large enough to be well-known, but if it wasn’t for the Green Bay Packers, it would surely be smaller but no less charming. Because of its size, the politics of Green Bay are actually quite mixed.
Green Bay, Wisconsin is not a liberal city, though it is not far from it. Green Bay sits in Brown County which leans conservative and heavily influences the politics of Green Bay. The citizens of Green Bay typically vote for a Democratic US President but have usually had Republican mayors.
Green Bay is extremely moderate, so it is actually quite difficult to determine if the citizens are more liberal or conservative, but there are several indicators that give us more information. We have included information about said factors below.
Presidential Elections in Green Bay
To begin the journey of determining the political affiliation of Green Bay, it is best to first start with the wider scope of Wisconsin as a state. Wisconsin, while fairly rural in geography, has voted for every Democratic representative in the United States Presidential Election since Ronald Reagan with one exception: Donald Trump in 2016. While consistent in voting patterns, the margin of victory is typically small, within 1 percent in many cases.
However, to look at the elections by county, it would be seen that Brown County, the county that Green Bay is in, typically votes for the Republican Candidate. It is usually not a very close race, as the margin of victory is around 7 points. But to make things more confusing, the results, due to voting boundaries, made Brown County appear more Democratic.
To actually view the voting of citizens of Green Bay would reveal that they typically vote for the Republican candidate with one exception, Barrack Obama in his first term. The margin of victory is also almost always less than 10%, with the exception of Trump in 2020.
The bottom line is that it is close. There have been a few times where there has been an overwhelming favorite of one presidential candidate. Pairing the competitive numbers and influence of Wisconsin and Brown County, the future will also be close in presidential elections.
Mayors of Green Bay
It is not always easy to determine the political affiliation of a mayor. In fact, many of them run as nonpartisan. The politics of a town, especially a small one, are so personal that running from the support of a political party doesn’t always make that much sense. Accordingly, it is difficult to tell the politics of Green Bay from just the elections of certain mayors.
The 2019 mayoral election of Green Bay was officially nonpartisan, but both candidates had the support of a different political party. The winner, Eric Genrich, aligned with the Democratic party while the main opponent, Patrick Buckley, was aligned with Republicans. The general election was decided by 16 points, giving Genrich a decisive victory.
The previous mayor, Jim Schmitt, was aligned with the Republican party, though officially he ran as nonpartisan. Schmitt was elected in 2003 and served as mayor until 2019 when he did not seek reelection. In all four elections in which he ran, he won by a margin of 7.38 points, 37.9 points, 21.12 points, and 5.59 points running from 2003 to 2015 respectively.
Before Schmitt was Paul Jadin, who ran without a political affiliation.
So, what does this all mean? It means the political issues of Green Bay don’t usually align with national politics. Mayors and citizens tend to care more about the candidate than anything else, and as such, mayors can run without a party and aren’t penalized during elections for it.
While this shows the moderation of the political landscape of Green Bay, the track record does show that residents do tend to at least lean conservative. If anything, there is a trend that Green Bay is voting more liberal, though that conclusion is not solely drawn from just the mayors of Green Bay. It can be said though that Green Bay definitely is not considered a liberal city.
One of the greatest aspects of Green Bay politics is the extreme detail given to the public of the actions of the city council. It consists of 12 members who help run the city by proposing and voting on various movements. All of it is available online and can be seen by anyone. They are so transparent in their meetings that every meeting is even recorded and put online so anyone could even sit and watch everything that has happened.
What is clear from the minutes and votes of the Green Bay City Council is their moderation. Policies that were enacted around the summer of 2022 were installing more sidewalks, budgeting money to help reduce crime, creating pay periods to help low-income households, and helping maintain parks and trails.
Some of these policies could be seen to lean liberal or conservative in theory, but realistically, it is because the city council is effectively responding to the needs of the citizens. Almost every policy is passed 12-0, which shows the great unity of the council, non of which run for office with the support of a political party.
This appears to be a general trend across America: conservatives being more conservative and liberals being more liberal. There are many theories as to why this phenomenon is occurring, but an explanation will not be offered here. Instead, the trend is going to be demonstrated in Green Bay.
The first trend was already mentioned; the recent mayors of Green Bay have actually been supported by a political party instead of traditional neutrality, and this is likely to continue. It would be a great political advantage to embrace a party, as you are likely to pick up the votes of an entire political party. This is exactly what happens at a national and state level, and it has simply trickled down to cities like Green Bay.
A divisive trait that has furthered this divide is the recent death of George Floyd. Not only was the death controversial (and still is) but so was the response from both sides of the political aisle. Conservatives generally say that the death was not caused maliciously or motivated by racism, while liberals say the complete opposite. The officer responsible for the murder ended up being charged on several accounts, but that is not nearly where the conflict ended.
As hundreds of protests sprung up across America to protest the death of George Floyd as well as several other individuals, Green Bay became the stage for one of these protests. Protestors generally call against police brutality and seek reform to end death at the hands of policemen. The method of doing this ranges anywhere from more training to the complete abolishment of police altogether.
In Green Bay, around 1,000 people formed their own protest in Leicht Park chanting various slogans to show their disapproval of the national issue. Many people sported Black Lives Matter t-shirts and signs, as George Floyd has become a symbol of that political movement.
This all in itself doesn’t show or create much of a political divide, but it is what followed the peaceful protest that does.
Around 11 pm, some violence broke out as several stores were damaged and then looted. Several shots were fired as well, though the guns were not aimed at anyone. In response to the criminal activity, police in riot gear showed up to control the crowd. The problem, as can probably be seen, is that police aren’t usually welcomed at an anti-police protest.
Tensions were high between police and protestors and the government of Green Bay eventually imposed a curfew, attempting to curb any violence on sequential nights.
And this is where the divide comes from. Conservatives generally condone the protestors on the grounds of the violence that was caused, while liberals support them and generally say any violence wasn’t done by actual supporters of Black Lives Matter, or that the violence was justified in the face of oppression. These are night subjects that people can just “agree to disagree” on, and instead, it has caused tension between both political groups. This is true even in the moderate city of Green Bay.
A very similar political issue arose in the summer of 2022 when the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, a court case that made it illegal for states to make abortions illegal. Hundreds of protestors, primarily women, gathered at City Hall to protest the court ruling with many signs that ranged from “My Body, My Choice” to “Abort the Supreme Court”.
Abortion is another issue that citizens do not take lightly, leading to an increase in tension between the two parties in Green Bay. Arguments broke out between supporters and critics of the court ruling, showing manifestations of that tension.
Green Bay still remains slightly conservative, but both of these important issues could cause one side to become less prominent. It is also possible that the city on average remains moderate despite the political beliefs of Green Bay residents polarizing.
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