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Legislative Lowdown: Identifying competitive Wisconsin elections in 2014

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June 23, 2014

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2014 Wisconsin Legislative Lowdown

Table of Contents
Majority control
Margin of victory
Competitiveness

Other 2014 Election coverage
Ballot measuresState executive officialsSchool boards
State legislaturesU.S. HouseU.S. Senate
By Ballotpedia's State legislative team

The Wisconsin State Senate is designated by Ballotpedia as a battleground chamber, where a shift in partisan control from Republican to Democrat is statistically possible, and could potentially end Wisconsin being on the list of 23 state government trifectas held by the GOP. The party currently controls both state legislative chambers and the office of Governor, held by Republican Scott Walker.

There is a three-seat difference (18-15) between Republicans and Democrats in the State Senate. There are 17 State Senate seats up for grabs in 2014. In those State Senate races, 14 will feature head-to-head matches between the two major parties in the general election.  

All 99 State Assembly seats are up for re-election. Republicans hold a 21-seat partisan lead in the Assembly. In 2014, about 12 percent of Assembly incumbents running for re-election will face competition in the primary. That rate is down from 17 percent in 2012 and 2010.

June 2 was the signature filing deadline for candidates wishing to run for Wisconsin State Senate and Wisconsin State Assembly. Elections in 17 Senate districts and 99 Assembly districts will consist of a primary election on August 12, 2014, and a general election on November 4, 2014.

See also: 2014's state legislative elections, Wisconsin State Senate elections and Wisconsin State Assembly elections

Majority control

Heading into the November 4 election, the Republican Party holds a majority in both state legislative chambers. Wisconsin's office of Governor is held by Scott Walker (R), making the state one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

The difference in partisan composition between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate is 3 seats, or 17.7 percent of the seats up for election in 2014. There are 14 districts where two major party candidates will appear on the general election ballot.[1]

Wisconsin State Senate
Party As of July 2014 After the 2014 Election
     Democratic Party 15 Pending
     Republican Party 18 Pending
Total 33 33

The difference in partisan composition between Democrats and Republicans in the House is 21 seats, 21.2 percent of the seats up for election in 2014. In 56 of the 99 districts up for election, two major party candidates will appear on the general election ballot.[2]

Wisconsin House of Representatives
Party As of July 2014 After the 2014 Election
     Democratic Party 39 Pending
     Republican Party 60 Pending
Total 99 99
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Margin of victory

Senate

Sixteen seats in the Senate were up for election in 2012. One of those districts held competitive elections with a margin of victory ranging from 0 to 5 percent. Another district held mildly competitive elections with a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent. Neither of those districts are up for election in 2014.[1]

House

All 99 seats in the House were up for election in 2012. Eleven of those districts held competitive elections with a margin of victory ranging from 0 to 5 percent. Another four districts held mildly competitive elections with a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.[2]

All fifteen of those districts will be up for election again in 2014. The following districts are considered to be competitive:

The following districts are considered to be mildly competitive:

  • District 37: Incumbent John Jagler (R) will face off against Mary Arnold (D) in the general election. Jagler won the general election by a margin of victory of 9 percent in 2012.
  • District 49: Incumbent Travis Tranel (D) will face off against Chad Henneman (R) the general election. Tranel won the general election by a margin of victory of 9 percent in 2012.
  • District 67: Incumbent Tom Larson (R) will face Gary Stene (D) in the general election. Larson won the general election by a margin of victory of 7 percent in 2012.

Competitiveness

Using the official candidate lists from each state, Ballotpedia staff analyzes each district's election to look at the following circumstances:

  • Is the incumbent running for re-election?
  • If an incumbent is running, do they face a primary challenger?
  • Are both major parties represented on the general election ballot?

In Wisconsin's 2014 elections, those circumstances break down as follows:[3]

  • There are 26 open seats (22.4%) in the two chambers.
  • A total of 11 incumbents (12.2%) face a primary challenger.
  • 70 districts (60.3%) will feature a Democratic and Republican candidate on the general election ballot.

The following table puts the 2014 data into historical context. Overall index is calculated as the average of the three circumstances.

Comparing Wisconsin Competitiveness over the Years
Year  % Incs retiring  % incs rank  % Incs facing primary  % Incs primary rank  % seats with 2 MPC  % seats with 2 MPC rank Overall Index Overall Index Rank
2010 19.9% 16 17.2% 46 71.5% 19 36.2 16
2012 24.4% 20 17.0% 32 75.7% 15 39.08 19
2014 22.4% Pending 12.2% Pending 60.3% Pending 31.6 Pending

Senate

The following table details competitiveness in the Wisconsin State Senate.

Wisconsin Senate Competitiveness
 % Incs retiring  % Incs facing primary  % seats with 2 MPC Overall Index
41.2% 11.8% 82.4% 45.1

Candidates unopposed by a major party

In 3 (17.6%) of the 17 districts up for election in 2014, there is only one major party candidate running for election. A total of one Republican and two Democrats are guaranteed election in November barring unforeseen circumstances.

Two major party candidates will face off in the general election in 14 (82.4%) of the 17 districts up for election.

Primary challenges

One incumbent will face primary competition on August 12. Seven incumbents are not seeking re-election in 2014 and another nine incumbents will advance past the primary without opposition. In District 13, incumbent Scott Fitzgerald will face Terry Virgil in the Republican primary.

Retiring incumbents

Seven incumbent senators, three Democrats and four Republicans, are not running for re-election, while 9 (87.5%) are running for re-election. Those retiring incumbents are:

Name Party Current Office
Joe Leibham Ends.png Republican Senate District 9
Neal Kedzie Ends.png Republican Senate District 11
Tim Cullen Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 15
Dale Schultz Ends.png Republican Senate District 17
Michael Ellis Ends.png Republican Senate District 19
Dale Schultz Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 21
Robert Jauch Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 25

House

The following table details competitiveness in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

Wisconsin House Competitiveness
 % Incs retiring  % Incs facing primary  % seats with 2 MPC Overall Index
19.2% 10.1% 56.6% 28.6

Candidates unopposed by a major party

In 43 (43.4%) of the 99 districts up for election in 2014, there is only one major party candidate running for election. A total of 24 Republicans and 19 Democrats are guaranteed election in November barring unforeseen circumstances.

Two major party candidates will face off in the general election in 56 (56.6%) of the 99 districts up for election.

Primary challenges

A total of ten incumbents will face primary competition on August 12. Nineteen incumbents are not seeking re-election in 2014 and another 70 incumbents will advance past the primary without opposition. The state representatives facing primary competition include:

Retiring incumbents

Nineteen incumbent representatives, seven Democrats and twelve Republicans, are not running for re-election, while 80 (80.8%) are running for re-election. Those retiring incumbents are:

Name Party Current Office
Garey Bies Ends.png Republican House District 1
Chad Weininger Ends.png Republican House District 4
Sandy Pasch Electiondot.png Democratic House District 10
Jon Richards Electiondot.png Democratic House District 19
Steven Kestell Ends.png Republican House District 27
Erik Severson Ends.png Republican House District 28
Stephen Nass Ends.png Republican House District 33
Janis Ringhand Electiondot.png Democratic House District 45
Howard Marklein Ends.png Republican House District 51
Dean Kaufert Ends.png Republican House District 55
Penny Bernard Schaber Electiondot.png Democratic House District 57
Pat Strachota Ends.png Republican House District 58
Daniel LeMahieu Ends.png Republican House District 59
Duey Stroebel Ends.png Republican House District 60
Janet Bewley Electiondot.png Democratic House District 74
Brett Hulsey Electiondot.png Democratic House District 78
Fred Clark Electiondot.png Democratic House District 81
Mary Williams Ends.png Republican House District 87
John Klenke Ends.png Republican House District 88

See also

External links

References