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Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2014

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Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2014

Majority controlQualifications
List of candidates
District 1District 3District 5District 7District 9District 11District 13District 15District 17District 19District 21District 23District 25District 27District 29District 31District 33
State Legislative Election Results

Wisconsin State Senate2014 Wisconsin Assembly Elections
BattlegroundRace.jpg

The Wisconsin State Senate was one of the chambers some Democrats believed to be the most likely to flip in 2014. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee called the chamber one of its "Emerging Majorities" - bodies in which Democrats had a good chance to cut into Republican leads or flip.[1]

The Democrats were down three seats in the chamber, with 10 races in which to make up that ground. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee listed the Wisconsin Senate as one of eight chambers of which the Democrats could take control.[2]

In a debate with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R), Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D) said Gov. Scott Walker's poll numbers were a sign his party will win. Fitzgerald argued that President Barack Obama's drop in popularity would instead help the Republicans.[3]

The Wisconsin State Senate was one of 20 state legislative chambers noted by Ballotpedia staff as being a battleground chamber. The Wisconsin Senate held a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of three seats, which amounted to 17.7 percent of the seats up for election in 2014. In 2012, when the 16 even-numbered districts were up for election, a two districts were competitive or mildly competitive. District 18 had a margin of victory of 0.7 percent in the 2012 elections. District 30 had a margin of victory of 9 percent.

Elections for 17 seats in the Wisconsin State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on August 12, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was June 2, 2014.

Following the general election, there was no change to the majority control of the Wisconsin State Senate. The chamber is controlled by the Republican Party, which increased its holdings from 17 to 19 seats. The Democratic Party sustained a net loss of one seat, dropping from 15 to 14 seats. The chamber's vacant seat was filled during the general election.

Incumbents retiring

Seven incumbents did not run for re-election in 2014. Those incumbents were:

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
John Lehman Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 21
Robert Jauch Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 25

Majority control

See also: Partisan composition of state senates

Heading into the November 4 election, the Republican Party held the majority in the Wisconsin State Senate:

Wisconsin State Senate
Party As of November 3, 2014 After November 4, 2014
     Democratic Party 15 14
     Republican Party 17 19
     Vacancy 1 0
Total 33 33
2014 Competitiveness Overview
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Primary competition (state comparison)
Incumbents defeatedVictorious challengers
Primary competitiveness
Major party challengers (state comparison)
Candidates with no challenges at all in 2014
Open seats (state comparisons)
Impact of term limits on # of open seats
Long-serving senatorsLong-serving reps
Star bookmark.png   Chart Comparing 2014 Results   Star bookmark.png
Chart Comparing 2014 ResultsComparisons Between Years
Competitiveness IndexAbsolute Index
2014 State Legislative Elections
State legislative incumbent turnover in 2014
Competitiveness Studies from Other Years
200720092010201120122013

Competitiveness

Candidates unopposed by a major party

In three of the 17 districts up for election in 2014, there was only one major party candidate running for election. Two Democrats and one Republican were guaranteed election barring unforeseen circumstances. Candidates from both major parties faced off in the general election in 14 of the 17 districts up for election.

Primary challenges

No incumbents faced primary competition on August 12. Seven incumbents are not seeking re-election in 2014 and another 10 incumbents advanced past the primary without opposition.

Retiring incumbents

Seven incumbent representatives did not run for re-election, while 10 (58.8%) ran for re-election. A list of those incumbents, three Democrats and four Republicans, can be found above.

Context

In the past 20 years, the partisan control has switched regularly between Republican and Democratic in the Wisconsin State Senate, according to Ballotpedia data. In 14 of the 17 (82.3 percent) districts up for election, there were two major party candidates, making the elections important to the partisan composition for the Senate. Democrats needed to win only 3 additional seats to gain control of the Senate.

Two Democratic incumbents -- Tim Carpenter and Jon Erpenbach -- were guaranteed their respective seats barring unforeseen circumstances. Republican Leah Vukmir defeated a Libertarian candidate in the general election, Wendy Friedrich.

Races to Watch

There were seven open seats, vacated by retiring incumbents, in the November election. Three Democratic and three Republican senators did not run for re-election. Neal Kedzie (R), the seventh senator, had announced in May 2014 that he would not be running, and he resigned from the Senate in June.

Districts with no Democratic incumbent running:
District 15: Janis Ringhand (D) defeated Brian Fitzgerald (R) in the general election.
District 21: Randy Bryce (D) was defeated by Van Wanggaard (R).
District 25: Janet Bewley (D) defeated Dane Deutsch (R) in the general election. District 25 is historically Democratic, but Deutsch lost by a small margin of 1,600 votes in his 2010 run. Their race centered around a proposed $1.5 billion iron mine.[4]
Districts with no Republican incumbent running:
District 9: Martha Laning (D) was defeated by Devin Lemahieu (R).
District 11: Dan Kilkenny (D) was defeated by Steve Nass (R).
District 17: Pat Bomhack (D) was defeated by Howard Marklein (R) in the general election. Bomhack's primary race against Ernie Wittwer ended in a seven-vote differential; a recount found Wittwer the winner at first, before the decision was reversed three days later in Bomhack's favor.[5]
District 19: Assemblywoman Penny Bernard Schaber (D) was defeated by Roger Roth (R) in the general election.

Qualifications

Section 6 of Article 4 of the Wisconsin Constitution states, "No person shall be eligible to the legislature who shall not have resided one year within the state, and be a qualified elector in the district which he may be chosen to represent."

List of candidates

District 1

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:

Note: Richard Skare was removed from the candidate list before the primary.

Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:
  • Frank Lasee Approveda - Incumbent Lasee was first elected to the chamber in 2010.

November 4 General election candidates:

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Democratic Party Dean P. Debroux: 29,555
Republican Party Frank Lasee: 47,438 Green check mark transparent.png

District 3

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
  • Tim Carpenter Approveda - Incumbent Carpenter was first elected to the chamber in 2002.
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:
  • No candidates filed.

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Tim Carpenter: 29,291 Green check mark transparent.png

District 5

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
  • No candidates filed.
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:
  • Leah Vukmir Approveda - Incumbent Vukmir was first elected to the chamber in 2010.
Libertarian PartyLibertarian candidates:

November 4 General election candidates:

Republican Party Leah Vukmir: 55,869 Green check mark transparent.png
Libertarian Party Wendy Friedrich: 20,020

District 7

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
  • Chris Larson Approveda - Incumbent Larson was first elected to the chamber in 2010.
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Chris J. Larson: 41,950 Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Jason "Red" Arnold: 28,387

District 9

Note: Incumbent Joe Leibham (R) did not run for re-election.

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:

Note: Barry Nelson was removed from the candidate list before the primary.

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Martha Laning: 28,770
Republican Party Devin Lemahieu: 43,186 Green check mark transparent.png

District 11

Note: Incumbent Neal Kedzie (R) did not run for re-election.

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Dan Kilkenny: 25,377
Republican Party Steve Nass: 43,842 Green check mark transparent.png

District 13

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:
  • Scott Fitzgerald Approveda - Incumbent Fitzgerald was first elected to the chamber in 1994.
Libertarian Party Libertarian candidates:

Note: Terry Virgil was removed from the candidate list.

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Michelle Zahn: 28,700
Republican Party Scott Fitzgerald: 48,255 Green check mark transparent.png

District 15

Note: Incumbent Tim Cullen (D) did not run for re-election.

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Janis Ringhand: 36,389 Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Brian Fitzgerald: 24,760

District 17

Note: Incumbent Dale Schultz (R) did not run for re-election.

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:

The Government Accountability Board certified Pat Bomhack as having won the District 17 Democratic primary on April 29.[6] This was a switch from August 26, when they certified Ernie Wittwer as the victor with a 5-vote lead.

A recount in the election was triggered by the 7-vote differential between the two candidates in preliminary results from the August 12 primary. On August 25, 110 ballots in Green County were found to be missing; these ballots remained missing.[5]

Wittwer had five days to contest the August 29 certification of Bomhack as the Democratic victor. He said that the events "shattered my confidence in the voting process." Initial indications were that he would pursue a remedy in court. He said, "Obviously the Monroe thing can be challenged based on disenfranchising voters. And there are provisions in the statute that I think give the local canvas board the ability to use that electronic record if they choose to...I think we can look at the consistency of how absentee ballots were handled. That's another avenue. Open ballot bags might be an avenue as well, so, there are probably several things we can challenge."[7][8] Wittwer's campaign ultimately declined to challenge the results in court, saying "it would have been a futile gesture. It would have cost me a whole lot of money for no particular purpose."[9]

The editorial board of the Capital Times also argued that legal action should have be taken, writing, "By certifying an incomplete result in the Democratic primary for the open District 17 state Senate seat, the Green County canvassing board failed in its most important duty: ensuring that election results reflect the clear intention of the voters. That failure is a serious matter, and if the state Government Accountability Board does not address it then the courts should do so. Why? Because, without an intervention, there is a very real change that the Green County canvassing board’s decision — as opposed to that of the voters — could make the loser of the primary into the 'winner.' An exceptionally close finish in the Aug. 12 primary led to the recount, which is no problem. Recounts are healthy; they allow officials to clarify the precise intent of voters in even the most tightly contested races.Unfortunately, instead of providing clarification, the recount complicated everything."[10]

Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Pat Bomhack: 28,179
Republican Party Howard Marklein: 34,601 Green check mark transparent.png

District 19

Note: Incumbent Michael Ellis (R) did not run for re-election.

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Penny Bernard Schaber: 31,135
Republican Party Roger Roth: 41,628 Green check mark transparent.png

District 21

Note: Incumbent John Lehman (R) did not run for re-election.

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:
Independent Independent candidates:

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Randy Bryce: 28,106
Republican Party Van Wanggaard: 44,967 Green check mark transparent.png
Independent Bill Thompkins: 34

District 23

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:
  • Terry Moulton Approveda - Incumbent Moulton was first elected to the chamber in 2010.

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Phil Swanhorst: 25,135
Republican Party Terry Moulton: 39,577 Green check mark transparent.png

District 25

Note: Incumbent Robert Jauch (D) did not run for re-election.

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Janet Bewley: 35,055 Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Dane Deutsch: 33,445

District 27

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
  • Jon Erpenbach Approveda - Incumbent Erpenbach was first elected to the chamber in 1998.
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:
  • No candidates filed.

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Jon Erpenbach: 61,920 Green check mark transparent.png

District 29

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:
  • Jerry Petrowski Approveda - Incumbent Petrowski was first elected to the chamber in a recall election on June 5, 2012.

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Paul Demain: 23,917
Republican Party Jerry Petrowski: 45,887 Green check mark transparent.png

District 31

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Kathleen Vinehout: 35,508 Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Mel Pittman: 32,317

District 33

Democratic Party August 12 Democratic primary:
Republican Party August 12 Republican primary:
  • Paul Farrow Approveda - Incumbent Farrow was first elected to the chamber in 2012.

November 4 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Sherryll Shaddock: 20,899
Republican Party Paul Farrow: 59,199 Green check mark transparent.png

See also

External links

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References