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Republicans Won’t Win Veto-Proof Majority In State Legislature

Results Likely Mean GOP Clashes With Democratic Gov. Tony Evers To Continue

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Sunlight shines on the Wisconsin State Capitol
Wisconsin State Capitol. Angela Major/WPR

Wisconsin Republicans won’t win a veto-proof majority in the Legislature based on preliminary election results from a handful of swing districts around the state.

Republicans needed to flip three seats in the state Assembly and three seats in the state Senate to win a two-thirds majority in both chambers. That margin would have let them override vetoes by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, giving them the power to set the agenda in state government on everything from the state budget to the next round of redistricting.

As of Wednesday morning, the GOP had flipped one Senate seat and appeared on the way toward flipping another. But the three Democratic Assembly incumbents Republicans had targeted were all leading their challengers.

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Of the three seats Republicans targeted in the state Senate, preliminary results suggest they fell short in the 32nd District with Brad Pfaff, D-Onalaska, defeating Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent. That’s a margin of just 589 votes.

Republicans were able to flip the 10th District Senate seat held by state Sen. Patty Schachtner, D-Somerset. She lost her race to state Rep. Rob Stafsholt, R-New Richmond, by a roughly 60 percent to 40 percent margin. For Schachtner, it was her first general election contest for a district that she won in a lower turnout special election.

Republicans also won the district held for two decades by state Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, who is retiring from the Legislature. Eric Wimberger, R-Green Bay, defeated Hansen’s nephew, Jonathon Hansen, D-De Pere, by a margin of 54.7 percent to 45.3 percent.

Democrats also went on offense, spending heavily in the 8th Senate District currently held by state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and the 24th Senate District held by Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point. But both Darling and Testin held their seats comfortably.

In the Assembly, it was Democrats who picked up two seats, according to unofficial results.

In the 13th Assembly District, Sara Rodriguez, D-Brookfield, defeated incumbent Rep. Rob Hutton, R-Brookfield, by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent.

And in the 23rd Assembly District, Deb Andraca, D-Whitefish Bay, defeated incumbent Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon, by a margin of 51.6 percent to 48.3 percent.

Both seats were traditionally Republican suburban districts where Democrats pledged to make inroads.

In another suburban seat, the 14th District, incumbent Rep. Robyn Vining, D-Wauwatosa, defeated Bonnie Lee, R-Wauwatosa, 54 percent to 46 percent. Vining first won the district two years ago and was a top target for Republicans this year.

Other Democratic incumbents targeted by Republicans included the 74th Assembly District held by Rep. Beth Meyers, D-Bayfield, the 94th Assembly District held by Rep. Steve Doyle, D-Onalaska, and the 73rd Assembly District held by Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range.

Milroy’s race was the closest but preliminary returns showed him narrowly defeating Keith Kern, R-Superior, by 139 votes.

While they won’t have total say over state government, the results still leave Republicans with huge majorities in the Legislature, where they’re likely to continue to clash with Evers over the next two years.

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