While none of the Wisconsin special elections are garnering a fraction of the attention as the recent U.S. Senate race in Alabama, there are a couple interesting primaries taking place on Tuesday.
The most interesting is the Republican primary to replace outgoing Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) in the northwest Wisconsin 10th Senate District. The race pits two sitting Assembly members against each other: Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) and Shannon Zimmerman (R-River Falls). Both candidates are posting very strong fundraising numbers and will spend over $200,000 in the primary. It’s a large district covering Hudson, River Falls, Menomonie, and New Richmond and going as far north as Siren and Grantsburg. The television market is Minneapolis which, when combined with the timing of the election, could make it hard to generate much turnout. This puts an emphasis on grassroots and member-to-member contact, which some feel gives an advantage to Jarchow. Another interesting wrinkle being discussed in the race is that Zimmerman supported Gov. Scott Walker’s budget and the package to bring FoxConn to Wisconsin, while Jarchow voted against both measures.
On the Democratic side, there is a three-way primary where St. Croix Medical Examiner Patty Schactner is expected to win and move on to the general.
In addition to the Senate primary there are two Assembly primaries. These primaries are in heavily partisan districts so in essence they are more important than the general election coming later in January.
The race to replace former Rep. Bob Gannon (R-West Bend) in the 58th Assembly holds four challengers on the Republican side: Steve Stanek, who owns a West Bend hazardous waste transportation and environmental consulting business, Rick Gundrum, who sits on the Washington County Board, Tiffany Koehler, who ran for the seat in 2014 and went on to serve as an aide for Gannon, and Spencer Zimmerman, who ran in a primary against U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) last year.
The winner of the primary will face Democrat Dennis Degenhardt, former president and CEO of Glacier Hills Credit Union, in the general election.
When former Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) was elected mayor of Racine in a special election in November, it opened up his 66th Assembly seat where two candidates are vying to replace him. Greta Neubauer, who is Mason’s former legislative aide as well as daughter of former State Assemblyman and Democratic Party Chair Jeff Neubauer, is running against Racine Alderman John Tate II. Neubauer has a more than 2-1 fundraising edge and a name Democrats in Racine recognize, but Tate is a formidable candidate and known quantity in the city of Racine.
Following the primaries next week, the general election will take place on Jan. 16. A preview of the general election will be in an upcoming Tidbits. Follow all 2018 elections with our Issue Update.