Governor Walker easily fended off a challenge from Mary Burke Tuesday night to win his second term as Wisconsin governor by a vote of 52%-47%. While turnout was incredibly high for a gubernatorial race with approximately 54% of voters casting a ballot statewide and several precincts experiencing near presidential levels, this race did not end up nearly as close as previously predicted.
In an address to supporters gathered at State Fair Park, Walker heavily emphasized building the economy and reducing government dependence. “We measure success by how many people are no longer dependent on the government,” he said.
While he has not confirmed his 2016 aspirations yet, Walker did compare Wisconsin to the nation’s capitol numerous times and ended his speech with a rousing call for optimism, saying: “In Wisconsin and America, we want to be for something not against something.”
The other closely watched statewide race this election cycle ended with Republican Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel handily defeating Democrat Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, 52%-45%, to replace outgoing Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. Rounding out the statewide races, Democrat Doug La Follette will continue his 40-year career as Secretary of State; and Republican Matt Adamczyk will fill the open State Treasurer position, which he has pledged to eliminate. Schimel, La Follette and Adamczyk will serve on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, which administers the Common School Fund.
On the federal level, State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) successfully won his bid to fill the 6th Congressional District seat being vacated by Congressman Thomas Petri. He beat Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, 58%-40%. A special election will need to be held in the 20th Senate District to fill Grothman’s state senate seat. All other congressional incumbents were up for and won re-election Tuesday night.
Turning to the statehouse, Republicans continued their domination of the state legislature.
Several open seats were up for grabs Tuesday in the State Senate. Republicans went into Election Day with 17-15 majority and one vacant seat. While the state senate races did not produce any real surprises, they did result in several promotions for current state representatives. Republicans were able to pick up one seat in the 21st Senate District where Van Wangaard was victorious in the race to fill John Lehman’s (D-Racine) vacant seat. Republicans will start the 2015-17 legislative session with a 19-14 majority.
● In the closely watched race to replace retiring Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah), Roger Roth (R-Appleton) was able to win out over State Representative Penny Bernard Schaber (D-Appleton), 57%-43%.
● Former State Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) will return to the state senate after defeating Randy Bryce (D-Racine), 63%-47% to fill John Lehman’s open senate seat.
● Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) defeated Martha Lanning (D-Sheboygan), 63%-37% to replace outgoing Senator Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan), who lost a congressional bid to Glenn Grothman this summer.
● State Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) beat Dan Kilkenny (D-Delavan), 63%-47%, to replace Senator Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) who resigned earlier this year.
● State Representative Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville) was successful in her bid to replace retiring State Senator Tim Cullen (D-Janesville). She beat Brian Fitzgerald (R-Janesville), 59%-41%.
● State Representative Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) defeated newcomer Pat Bomhack (D-Spring Green), 55%-45%, to replace retiring State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center).
● State Representative Janet Bewley (D-Ashland) will replace retiring State Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) after defeating Dane Deutsch (R-Rice Lake), 51%-49%.
In the Assembly, Republicans have likely improved upon their already impressive 60-38 majority by picking up three seats in the 70th, 75th and 85th districts. While races in the 75th and 85th districts are within the margin for a recount and still too close to call, Republican candidates Todd Novak and Dave Heaton lead by 59 and 86 votes, respectively. If these results hold, Republicans will go into the 2015-17 session with a 63-36 majority.
● In a tight race to replace retiring State Representative Fred Clark (D-Baraboo), Dave Considine (D-Baraboo) was able to retain the seat for Democrats by defeating Ashton Kirsch (R-Baraboo), 54%-46%.
● On her second attempt, Nancy Vander Meer (R-Tomah) succeeded in unseating State Representative Amy Sue Vruwink (D-Milladore), 53%-47%, in the 70th Assembly District.
● Romaine Quinn (R-Rice Lake) upset freshman State Representative Steve Smith (D-Shell Lake), 55%-45% in the 75th Assembly District.
● In a very close race to fill newly-elected State Senator Howard Marklein’s seat, it appears that Dodgeville Mayor Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) will become the first openly gay republican state representative to be elected to the Assembly. He currently leads Dick Cates (D-Spring Green), by 59 votes.
● In the final potential upset of the night, Dave Heaton (R-Wausau) leads freshman State Representative Mandy Wright (D-Wausau) by 86 votes.
● Democrats did technically pick up a seat in Madison’s 78th District where Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) will fill Brett Hulsey’s (I-Madison) vacant seat. Hulsey had previously been part of the Democratic caucus but changed his party affiliation to Independent after a falling out with party leadership.