Republican Paul Melotik wins special election for 24th Assembly District

Margin of victory narrows in reliably GOP district

A sign that says "VOTING ENTRANCE"
Voters walk to an early voting location Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, at Waukesha City Hall. Angela Major/WPR

Republican Paul Melotik will represent Wisconsin’s 24th Assembly District after winning a special election Tuesday.

Melotik defeated Democrat Bob Tatterson, with unofficial results showing he captured nearly 54 percent of the 12,023 votes cast.

The district covers parts of Ozaukee and Washington counties, plus a sliver of Waukesha County, to the north and west of Milwaukee. The special election fills the vacancy left when its previous representative, Dan Knodl, was sworn into a state Senate seat he won in an April special election.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

In 2022, Tatterson ran against Knodl for the same Assembly seat in the reliably Republican district. In that race, he was defeated by a 22-point margin. In Tuesday’s special election, he narrowed the margin to 8 points.

Prior to the election, Charles Franklin, who directs the Marquette University Law School Poll, told WPR a Republican victory in the district was almost assured. But he said the margin of victory could offer perspective on how the area is changing.

“For Republicans, continued strength or even a growth in strength in this district might be a signal that some of the challenges they’ve faced — especially in the Donald Trump era — maybe are beginning to settle or reverse there,” Franklin said. “So there is a tea leaf here to read on both sides of the equation. Are Republicans recovering a little bit in the suburbs, or are Democrats continuing to make gains in the suburbs?”

In the broadly conservative area, margins between Republican and Democratic candidates have become somewhat slimmer in recent years. Support for a Republican presidential candidate in Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties, known as the WOW counties, has declined since 2012 when GOP nominee Mitt Romney won the region by about 35 percentage points. Former President Donald Trump still won the WOW counties, but his margins were narrower: a cumulative 28 points in 2016 and 23 points in 2020. That decline has also been reflected in statewide races for governor and state Supreme Court.

Melotik is a businessman and a member of the Ozaukee County Board. With his victory, Republicans have a 64 to 35 majority in the state Assembly.