2016 Primary: Legislative Incumbents See Victories Across State

The constant drumbeat of anti-establishment rhetoric that has been a theme throughout the presidential campaign was not evident in Tuesday’s primary. While there were some close calls, every legislative incumbent who faced a challenge for their seat made it through the primary.

Speaker Paul Ryan’s primary race against Paul Nehlen registered on the national radar as one of interest. Nehlen was up with television ads attacking Speaker Ryan and he earned praise from some sectors of the national conservative media, but those factors were not enough. Wisconsin Republicans in the 1st Congressional District resoundingly rejected Nehlen as Ryan cruised to victory.

While the primary contests throughout Wisconsin were generally low turnout affairs, there were many races that had impactful results.

In the 8th Congressional District, Mike Gallagher won with an eye-popping 74 percent of the vote in a three-way primary against State Sen. Frank Lasee and Terry McNulty. He will now face Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson in the seat to replace the retiring Reid Ribble.

In the state Senate, Sen. Lena Taylor won comfortably against Assemblyman Mandela Barnes in a race that election watchers thought could go either way. Taylor received more than 60 percent of the vote.

LaTonya Johnson won her open seat primary and will be the new Senator for the Milwaukee based 6th District Senate seat.

Dan Feyen beat Mark Elliott in the open seat to replace Rick Gudex in the 18th Senate District and will face Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris who easily won his primary.

In the state Assembly, incumbents Josh Zepnick and Leon Young fought off tough primary challengers to all but guarantee a return to the body. No other assembly incumbent was in jeopardy of losing their seat.

As the focus returns to the general election, Hamilton’s Tidbits will continue to provide updates, including profiles on some of the recent winners whose primary victories all but assure their status as becoming freshman legislators. Be sure to check Hamilton Consulting’s Issue Updates page for more information on the 2016 elections.