Somewhat surprisingly, freshman Republican Dave Heaton decided not to run again for his Wausau-based Assembly seat after only serving one term. Heaton’s departure makes way for round two between Republican Pat Snyder and Democrat Mandy Wright, in what is expected to be a close race.
Snyder is a former conservative talk show host and current district staffer for U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy. Wright is an educator and former Assemblywoman from the 85thdistrict.
This race is a repeat of the 2012 election for what was also an open seat at the time. In that election, Wright defeated Snyder by 905 votes (50-46 percent) in a race that featured an air time controversy over Snyder’s time as a talk show host on a local station. The station decided to balance things out by giving Wright five hours of free air time in the final months of the campaign which arguably contributed to her victory. There was also a Libertarian in the race who garnered just over 1,000 votes.
Wright was then knocked off by current incumbent Dave Heaton in 2014’s closest Assembly race, a race decided by 85 votes.
By the numbers, the 85th leans Democrat, especially in presidential election years, giving Wright the advantage. That said, Snyder’s connection to Congressman Duffy’s operation and the absence of a Libertarian candidate should keep this one close. While it is too early to tell how the national races will affect turnout in Wisconsin, if Assembly Democrats are going to increase their numbers, then they have to win seats like this one.