Incumbent candidates in Wisconsin’s major statewide elections November 8 fared well, regardless of political party. Democratic incumbent Governor Tony Evers will serve a second four-year term after fending off a challenge from Republican business owner Tim Michels. The current final tally was 51.2 percent to 47.8 percent – a raw margin of just more than 90,000 votes, and a different final result than what the polls had predicted would be a squeaker for Michels. The victory also bucked the usual trend for incumbent governors failing to win reelection when the sitting U.S. President is from the same party – Tommy G. Thompson was the last governor to accomplish that feat in 1990.
In the state legislature, a combination of significant Republican majorities in the State Assembly and State Senate coupled with favorable new district maps meant that the only question on election night would be the margins of majority control – and whether the GOP could reach “veto-proof” majorities that could override a Governor’s veto. While the State Senate reached that margin (22 out of 33 seats) with Republican Romaine Quinn flipping the open 25th senate seat into the GOP column, a united Assembly Democratic caucus will be able to sustain any veto issued by Governor Evers – but just barely. Democrats will hold 35 of the 99 Assembly seats in the 2023-24 biennium.
All legislators enjoy meeting their physician constituents – if you need help reaching out to a newly-elected state senator or state assembly representative, contact WisMed’s Heidi Green for assistance. And remember to save the date for Doctor Day 2023, scheduled to be held in person in Madison on June 15, 2023.
Incumbent Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul continued the successful night for Democratic statewide incumbents, narrowly defeating Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent (about 35,000 votes). While the Secretary of State race hasn’t officially been called, Democratic incumbent Doug La Follette holds a lead of more than 7,000 votes over Republican challenger Amy Loudenbeck.
The other major statewide race saw two-time incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson narrowly defeat Democratic Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent, or just 26,500 votes among the more than 2.6 million votes cast in that contest. The race was a critical hold for Republicans seeking to gain a majority in the U.S. Senate – but those plans may have been thwarted by losing a previously-held GOP seat in Pennsylvania and watching a seemingly-winnable seat in Georgia slip to a December 6 runoff.
The Wisconsin delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives now has a more reddish hue following Republican Derrick Van Orden taking Wisconsin’s 3rd congressional district seat, which had previously been held for 26 years by longtime Democratic Rep. Ron Kind. Van Orden defeated Democratic State Senator Brad Pfaff by a closer-than-expected 52 percent to 48 percent margin, or a little less than 12,000 votes. Republicans Tom Tiffany, Mike Gallagher, Glenn Grothman, Scott Fitzgerald and Bryan Steil all handily won reelection, as did Democratic incumbents Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore.
Majority control of the U.S. House is expected to switch to Republicans, but the margin could be much smaller than what was expected as late as Tuesday afternoon, when both Republican and Democratic pundits were seeing signs of a “Red Wave.” But as results started to be tabulated, it became clear that the tsunami warning was a false alarm. Whatever the eventual margin, it appears likely that the federal government will join with Wisconsin’s state government in featuring split control – and likely gridlock.
Your respite from campaign ads will be much like sunshine during Wisconsin’s winters: glorious but short-lived. A major race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court takes place in 2023, as Justice Pat Roggensack will be retiring from the state’s highest bench. If more than two candidates declare for the seat, a primary will be held on February 15, with the general election following on April 5. It will likely be the most expensive judicial race in state history. Set your DVRs accordingly.
Contact WisMed’s Mark Grapentine, JD for more information.
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