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Longtime state Rep. Dan Knodl defeats Trump-endorsed candidate in 8th Senate District GOP primary

Knodl will face Democrat Jodi Habush Sinykin in April

Wisconsin state capitol building
Phil Roeder (CC-BY)

Longtime state Rep. Dan Knodl emerged the winner in the Republican primary for Wisconsin’s 8th Senate District, defeating a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

With 99 percent of precincts counted at 11 p.m., the unofficial results reported by the Associated Press showed Knodl with 57 percent of the vote.

It’s the result Republican leadership in the state had hoped for in the three-way race between Knodl, Thiensville village president Van Mobley, and the Trump-endorsed candidate, Menomonee Falls state Rep. Janel Brandtjen.

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Knodl will now take on Democrat Jodi Habush Sinykin on April 4.

Brandtjen was second with about 28 percent of the vote, followed by Mobley coming in third with about 15 percent.

The district in southeast Wisconsin was left open with the retirement of Alberta Darling, the longtime Republican senator from River Hills who held the seat for decades. It’s long been a safe seat for Republicans, and the general election in the district will decide whether Republicans win a two-thirds majority in one house of the Legislature.

But shifting politics in the suburbs have had Democrats picking up a larger share of the vote than in the past. As they had elsewhere in the country, the Democratic Party had invested in promoting the Republican primary candidate they felt they had the best chance of beating.

In this race that candidate was Brandtjen, a vocal election denier who has been critical of Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and who had been voted out of the.Assembly Republican caucus by her GOP colleagues.

The state Democratic Party has paid for political mail highlighting Brandtjen’s anti-abortion record and her endorsement from Trump. Habush Sinykin has also run ads attacking Brandtjen as “too conservative,” which could boost her chances in a primary where the candidates are courting conservative voters.

Trump had derided Brandtjen’s primary opponents as RINOs, the acronym for “Republican In Name Only.”

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