February 12, 2016

‘Recall’ senators rack up general election wins

It was a good night for a number of state Senators who–after facing a recall last year–were again re-elected. Ripon Republican Luther Olsen beat Democratic challenger Margarete Worthington; incumbent Democrat Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie handed a big win over Pam Stevens with 70 percent of the vote; and Senator Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls bested Democrat Dan Olson.

Harsdorf tipped her hat to Olson for running a “clean” race. “I applaud Dan for the campaign he ran,” the Republican said. “We did have five or six forums where we were able to talk about the issue and share with voters where we stood on the issues.”

Things didn’t go as well for Senate Democrat Jessica King who took office after winning the 2011 recall against Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac. King lost last night to Republican Rick Gudex by less than 600 votes, the closest margin among Senate races.

Gudex credited his time spent meeting people face-to-face and going door-to-door during the election. “It really paid off.”

The 18th District was among races that flipped control of the chamber back to Republicans. Democrats held a one-vote Senate majority following the June 6 recall. 

Another Senate district that went red was the Northwoods seat vacated by Democrat Jim Holperin. Republican Tom Tiffany bested Democrat Susan Sommer and Libertarian Paul Ehlers.

In the 33rd district, located in Waukesha County, Paul Farrow defeated Chris Kapenga in the GOP primary but with no Democratic challenger, Farrow will head to the Senate. Farrow won twice Tuesday, being re-elected to his Assembly seat and winning the Senate primary which became vacant when Republican Rich Zipperer joined the Walker administration. Kapenga, also a state representative, will stay in the legislature after being re-elected to his Assembly post.

Republicans retained their Assembly majority in the November 6 election.

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