Primary Color

Tuesday’s primaries didn’t bring much to the table in terms of headline grabbing races, but there were some interesting results.

Gubernatorial Race – Governor Walker v. Mary Burke

At the top of the ticket, incumbent Governor Scott Walker will face-off as expected against Democrat challenger Mary Burke. Statewide polling has shown the race is tight and the last two statewide polls conducted by Marquette, for example, underline the likelihood of the Governor’s race being close to the end.

Attorney General – Open Seat – Republican Brad Schimel v. Democrat Susan Happ

Jefferson County DA Susan Happ was a resounding winner in the Democratic primary for Attorney General against State Rep. Jon Richards from Milwaukee and Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne. Happ, a political unknown, topped 50 percent against candidates with perceived advantages. Happ moves forward to take on Republican Waukesha County DA Brad Schimel in what many expect to be a close race. Happ will get a bump in name recognition from the primary victory but Schimel starts with a significant fundraising advantage.

Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District

On the eastern side of the state, three sitting state legislators ran to replace longtime Congressman Tom Petri. After the polls closed, State Sen. Glenn Grothman led State Sen. Joe Leibham by 215 votes with a recount possible. If Grothman holds on there will be an election called to fill his State Senate seat. State Rep. Duey Stroebel, who took third in the race, would be a leading candidate to replace him.Many of the state legislative primaries on Tuesday are in newly open seats – in heavily partisan districts – meaning that barring major upsets, these primary election victors are unofficial new state legislators:

  • Assembly District 10 – David Bowen (D)
  • Assembly District 45 – Mark Spreitzer (D)
  • Assembly District 58 – Bob Gannon (R)
  • Assembly District 59 – Jesse Kremer (R)
  • Assembly District 60 – Robert Brooks (R)
  • Assembly District 78 – Lisa Subeck (D)
  • Assembly District 97 – Scott Allen (R)
State Senate – Key Races

With the resignation of Sen. Neal Kedzie ––– the State Senate is currently controlled by a 17-15 Republican Majority with one seat vacant. Most handicappers expect both Republican and Democrat incumbent Senators to be re-elected. They also give the Republicans the edge on maintaining its majority but whether, and to what extent, that holds true will likely depend on the results in several open-seat races highlighted below:

Senate District 9 – Martha Laning (D) v. Devin LeMahieu (R): Sheboygan area open-seat formerly held by Joe Leibham (R).

Senate District 11 – Dan Kilkenny (D) v. Steve Nass (R): Dodge/Jefferson County area open-seat formerly held by Neal Kedzie (R).

Senate District 15 – Janis Ringhand (D) v. Brian Fitzgerald (R): Janesville area open-seat formerly held by Tim Cullen (D).

Senate District 17 – Either Ernie Wittwer (D) or Pat Bomhack (D) v. Howard Marklein (R): Southwest area open-seat formerly held by Dale Schultz (R). If you ever get tired of hearing “every vote counts,” consider the Democratic primary for the 17th Senate District between Ernie Wittwer and Pat Bomhack. With more than 7,000 votes cast, Wittwer leads by a mere two votes! Absentee ballots, official canvass and certification of results, and potential recount — all pending.

Senate District 19 – Penny Bernard Schaber (D) v. Roger Roth (R): Fox Valley area open-seat formerly held by Mike Ellis (R).

Senate District 21 – Randy Bryce (D) v. Van Wanggaard (R): Racine area open-seat formerly held by John Lehman (D). Van Wanggaard lost the seat in a recall election in 2012 and is now poised to regain the seat, which has since been reconfigured through redistricting to lean more Republican in nature.

Senate District 25 – Janet Bewley (D) v. Dane Deutsch (R): Northwest area open-seat formerly held by Bob Jauch.

State Assembly – Key Races

Republicans currently control the State Assembly with a 60-39 majority. Observers agree the majority will stay in Republican control and variously handicap the races as a plus or minus two-seats for each party. Some of the competitive races to watch include:

Assembly District 1 – Joe Majeski (D) v. Joel Kitchens (R): Door County area open-seat formerly held by Garey Bies (R).

Assembly District 51 – Dick Cates Jr. (D) v.Todd Novak (R): Spring Green area seat formerly held by Howard Marklein (R).

Assembly District 68 – Incumbent Kathy Bernier (R) v. Jeff Peck (D): Chippewa Falls contested seat.

Assembly District 70 – Incumbent Amy Sue Vruwink (D) v. Nancy Vander Meer (R): Rural Stevens Point area contested seat.

Assembly District 72 – Incumbent Scott Krug (R) v. Dana Duncan (D): Nekoosa area contested seat.

Assembly District 75 – Incumbent Stephen Smith (D) v. Romaine Quinn (R): Shell Lake area contested race.

Assembly District 85 – Incumbent Mandy Wright (D) v. Dave Heaton (R): Wausau contested race.

Assembly District 88 – Dan Robinson (D) v. John Macco (R): Green Bay open-seat formerly held by John Klenke.

Assembly District 96 – Incumbent Lee Nerison (R) v. Peter Flesch (D): Southwest area contested race.