There are just a handful of days until Election Day, and state Senate and Assembly campaigns have hit warp speed. Television and radio stations can’t pump out political ads fast enough, and mailboxes and social media accounts are filling with campaign narratives.
With half the senators and all the assembly representatives up for re-election there are 116 races to follow, but only a handful in each house are competitive.
State Assembly Elections
In the previous legislative session, Assembly Republicans held the majority with 60 of the 99 assembly seats. 22 state representatives are not running for reelection this year, leading one to believe those races are the ones to watch, and could tip the scales. However, only three of the open seats are competitive. On election night, the races you should be watching are six races where the incumbents are working hard to retain their seats.
Competitive Open Seats
- 1st Assembly District: Joel Kitchens (R) versus Joe Majeski (D)
- 51st Assembly District: Dick Cates (D) versus Todd Novak (R)
- 88th Assembly District: John Macco (R) versus Dan Robinson (D)
Democratic Incumbents with Competitive Races
- 54th Assembly District: Rep. Gordon Hintz (D) versus Mark Elliott (R)
- 70th Assembly District: Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink (D) versus Nancy VanderMeer (R)
- 75th Assembly District: Rep. Stephen Smith (D) versus Romaine Quinn (R)
- 85th Assembly District: Rep. Mandy Wright (D) versus Dave Heaton (R)
Republican Incumbents with Competitive Races
- 68th Assembly District: Rep. Kathy Bernier (R) versus Jeff Peck (D)
- 72nd Assembly District: Rep. Scott Krug (R) versus Dana Duncan (D)
Hamilton Consulting’s 2014 State Assembly Prediction: 60 Republicans, 39 Democrats
State Senate Elections
The Senate Republicans held the majority in the 2013-2014 legislative session, however their majority was much smaller than the Assembly. Their 18-15 advantage was more often 17-16 because Sen. Dale Schultz (R) broke party lines on many votes. With half of the Senate up for reelection this year and seven of the seats being open, those numbers will change.
Races to Watch
9th Senate District (Eastern Wisconsin): After Sen. Joe Leibham (R) decided to run for the 6th Congressional District, the 9th District opened up. Devin LeMahieu (R), son of former state Rep. Dan LeMahieu (R) will face Martha Laning (D), from Sheboygan. Devin’s advantage is good name recognition, and this district already favors Republicans. While it should stay in Republican hands, Laning is a strong candidate and could keep this race close.
17th Senate District (Southwest Wisconsin): The 17th Senate District is being watched closely by both parties. This seat, being watched by both parties, was vacated this spring when Sen. Dale Schultz (R) announced his retirement. This seat leans Democrat, but Rep. Howard Marklein (R) has represented the 51st Assembly District for four years, giving him good name recognition across the district. Marklein is facing Pat Bomhack (D), who won a very contentious primary. However, the ugly primary gave Marklein a fundraising edge and more time to work the district, while Bomhack and his primary opponent battled through a recount. Regardless, this seat is up for grabs, and is one to watch on election night.
19th Senate District (Appleton area and Northeast Wisconsin): Opening up after Sen. Mike Ellis’ (R) retirement, Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber (D) is taking on former Rep. Roger Roth (R) to replace the long-time senator. Both parties feel good about their chances here, and it won’t be surprising if this election winds up being the most expensive, as there was a considerable amount of television and radio ad buys on behalf of the candidates from third-party groups.
Hamilton Consulting’s 2014 State Senate Election Prediction: 19 Republicans, 14 Democrats