Van Wanggaard Moves Closer Toward Re-Taking His Old Senate Seat With Primary Victory

Wanggaard Defeats Jonathan Steitz In 21st Senate District

Van Wanggaard, 21st state Senate Republican nominee, addressed his supporters at a restaurant near Kansasville in Racine County, flanked by state Reps. Robin Vos and Samantha Kerkman. | Photo: David Cole

A southeastern Wisconsin Republican who lost his state Senate seat to a Democrat in a recall election in 2012 is halfway home to reclaiming the position.

Republican Van Wanggaard narrowly lost to Democrat John Lehman in 2012, but a lot has changed since then. The boundaries of Wanggaard’s old district, the 21st Senate District, were redrawn to almost guarantee that Wanggaard, who remained in campaign mode after his loss, would eventually be returned to Madison. (Lehman, meanwhile, is now running for lieutenant governor.)

But first, Wanggaard had to overcome a strong challenge from the far right. He did that on Tuesday by beating Jonathan Steitz by a margin of more than two to one.

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Wanggaard won 71.1 percent of the vote, whereas Steitz won 28.9 percent.

At Wanggaard’s victory party on Tuesday, Assembly Majority Leader Robin Vos, who lives in Wanggaard’s district, said he viewed the results of the primary battle as a referendum on party leadership.

“Today was another referenda on the great job that Gov. (Scott) Walker, Van Wanggaard and all the Republicans in Madison are doing,” Vos said. “We fought for local taxes, we fought to hold the line on spending, we have had concealed carry. You name the issues and we were on top of it.”

The heavily-favored Wanggaard will now face Caledonia iron worker Randy Bryce in the November general election.