Though GOP Is Likely To Keep Majority, Democrats Look To Gain Seats In Assembly

Assembly Republicans Currently Outnumber Democrats 60-39

Speaker Robin Vos, above, is confident Republicans will hang on to a majority in the Assembly. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin State Legislature.

A spate of retiring lawmakers has given Democrats a chance to pick up some seats in the state Assembly this fall, but Republicans say they’re poised to keep and even grow the Republican majority there.

Republicans ended this past session with a 60-39 seat edge over Democrats in the Assembly, and with a Republican-drawn legislative map, odds are heavily against power changing hands there this November.

But Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), who co-chairs the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, said it would be a mistake to assume this map is unwinnable for her party. She thinks the Democratic message this November will help.

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“I think the contrast is clear – our candidates actually stand up for people, the actual people of the state,” said Taylor. “The Republican agenda, and what we’ve seen from the Republicans, is an out-of-state corporate special interested agenda that doesn’t help most people in this state.”

Taylor said Democrats are focusing on about a dozen “top-tier” seats in districts where President Barack Obama and Sen. Tammy Baldwin did well. These include open seats vacated by Reps. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Rep. Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay). They also include districts currently held by Reps. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) and Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa).

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said his incumbents are in good shape, and while he thinks it’s true that those open seats are competitive, he said this will be a Republican year.

“When I look at where we are versus where we were two years ago, we have more candidates running, we have a better political environment, we have a better message to tell, where it’s not anywhere near as contentious,” said Vos.

Vos says the Republican message of balancing the budget, cutting taxes, and freezing tuition will appeal to voters. He said Republicans could pick up seats held by Reps. Amy Sue Vruwink (D-Milladore), Stephen Smith (D-Shell Lake), Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska), and Mandy Wright (D-Wausau).