Senate District 32: Shilling vs Kapanke

As the spotlight burns on what has been an extraordinary Presidential election, Wisconsin’s state legislative races are starting to take shape, albeit with much less attention.

One of those races has turned out to be more interesting than expected as former Sen. Dan Kapanke has decided to challenge sitting Minority Leader Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). While her odds to return to the senate representing her La Crosse area seat remain very favorable, the pathway now has some unexpected obstacles.

Kapanke, who owns the La Crosse Loggers, officially entered the race a few weeks ago highlighting the issue of taxes as one of his primary contrasts with Shilling. Shilling beat Kapanke in one of the senate recalls during the summer of 2011 by a double digit margin. Prior to that race Kapanke narrowly lost to Ron Kind in the 2010 3rd District Congressional election. 

Insiders are somewhat surprised by Kapanke’s candidacy. The senate district numbers show it as highly favorable to democrats, Shilling is well liked and respected in her district and some believe 2016 could be a tough year for republicans all around. A trifecta that almost guarantees a tough election night for Kapanke. But even with those factors working against him, he’s a seasoned candidate with high name ID and fundraising capabilities, meaning Shilling will have to shift some of her focus from working toward retaking the majority for democrats in the senate to making sure she wins her own election. This alone is a victory for Wisconsin Senate Republicans even if Kapanke is unable to produce one of his own on election night.