If Governor Doyle stays in Madison, he should have no problem getting almost anything he wants from the Legislature. That's because Democrats won the majority in the state Assembly yesterday for the first time since 1994 and they kept their current majority in the Senate. Republicans had a 51-47 advantage going into the election but with some returns still out, it looks like Democrats will have a 52-46 edge in the new session in January, with one Independent. Democrats appear to have gained one seat for an apparent 18-15 advantage. The Democrats used the falling economy to their advantage, saying they were ones to get us out of this mess. They also said Republicans supported big oil, a big negative when gas prices were at $4 a gallon this summer. Republicans, meanwhile, said taxes would be much higher today had they not stopped many increases in the last state budget.
Republican Representatives Frank Lasee of Bellevue, Doc Hines of Oxford, and Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls all lost. Democrats Mark Radcliffe of Black River Falls and Penny Bernard Schraber of Appleton won seats where Republicans stepped down. No Democratic incumbents lost in the Assembly including Kim Hixson of Whitewater, who got 51% over former Assembly Republican Debi Towns. Independent Jeff Wood of Chippewa Falls hung onto his seat after leaving the GOP this summer. Former Representatives Stan Gruszynski and Frank Urban lost bids to return to the Capitol.
In the Senate, Republican Alberta Darling withstood a challenge from former Assembly Democrat Sheldon Wasserman, 56-to-44%. Former State Tourism Secretary Jim Holperin of Eagle River won an open Senate seat in northern Wisconsin. Green Bay Democrat Dave Hansen, whom insiders thought would be vulnerable, got 2/3 of the vote in defeating former Green Bay City Council president Chad Fredette.