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Evers, Johnson, Kaul re-elected; Dems beat back GOP attempt at veto-proof majority in Assembly

By Dee Pettack | November 9, 2022

From WisPolitics.com …Dem Gov. Tony Evers bucked recent history in winning reelection with his party in the White House while Dems blocked GOP attempts to get a veto-proof majority despite Republican gains in the Legislature.Dems added to their impressive night with Republican Eric Toney, the Fond du Lac DA, conceding to Dem AG Josh Kaul.But Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson was poised to secure a third six-year term with a narrow win over Dem Mandela Barnes as Dem control of the U.S. Senate hung in the balance.In other top races not yet called as of this morning: the GOP’s John Leiber was beating Aaron Richardson in the state treasurer’s race, and longtime Dem Secretary of State Doug La Follette clung to a tiny lead over state Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton.The 3rd CD had not yet been called. Still, former Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden was ahead of state Sen. Brad Pfaff, D-Onalaska, in the western Wisconsin district.In beating construction exec Tim Michels, Evers became the first governor in 32 years to win when his party was in power in the White House.Evers told supporters at his Madison victory party he was proud to be the 46th governor of Wisconsin and “jazzed as hell to tell you that on Jan. 3, 2023, I’ll still be the 46th governor of the great state of Wisconsin.”Evers thanked supporters for showing up at the polls on issues such abortion rights. He also poked fun at the knock that he’s boring.“As it turns out, boring wins, and Mr. Rogers is cool,” said Evers, the former state schools superintendent who turned 71 on Saturday.With just over 99 percent of the vote in, Evers and running mate Sara Rodriguez were at 51.2 percent of the vote, while Michels and his running mate Roger Roth were at 47.8 percent.By winning, Evers bucked several historical trends. He is the first guv candidate to win a race while his party was in the White House since Republican Tommy Thompson in 1990; he’s also the first Dem to pull it off in 60 years. And with a Johnson win, Evers would be the first Dem in state history to win the guv’s race when his party’s nominee lost the contest for U.S. Senate.In a short speech to supporters in Milwaukee, Michels said, “It wasn’t our night tonight, and I thank everybody for all of your support. God bless.”Michels, whose family runs a big construction company, dumped millions of his own money into winning the GOP primary and contesting the race against Evers.But according to Adimpact numbers reviewed by WisPolitics.com, Evers and the groups supporting him spent $56.9 million on paid media post-primary while Michels and his backers spent $30.4 million. Election watchers said that spending disparity allowed Dems to define Michels, endorsed by Donald Trump, on issues such as abortion and helped Evers improve his performance in top Republican areas vs. 2018 while maximizing the huge turnout in deep blue Dane County.Johnson told supporters he expected to formally declare victory this morning after the unofficial results were in.He told supporters early this morning in Neenah he saw no way for Barnes to make up the margin in their race, but was waiting for more results to come in.“I just want to give you guys the sense this race is over,” Johnson told supporters.Barnes spokesperson Maddy McDaniel said, “We always knew this race would be incredibly close. No matter what anyone says, we are committed to making sure every vote is counted. We will wait and see what the Wisconsin voters have decided after all their voices are heard.”With almost 99 percent of the vote in, Johnson led Barnes 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent, according to unofficial numbers from the Associated Press.Following Toney’s concession, Kaul thanked his GOP rival for a hard-fought race.“I’m grateful that Wisconsinites have put their trust in me to serve as attorney general for another four years, and I look forward to the work ahead of us as we continue to deliver results and work to build safer and stronger communities across the state,” Kaul said in Madison.In his Fond du Lac concession speech, Toney wished Kaul well in his second term and said he looks forward to working with him as a DA and as president of the Wisconsin District Attorney’s Association. Toney said he doesn’t “see a pathway to victory given what appears to be the limited number of votes out there.”After Toney’s concession speech, unofficial returns collected by the media briefly showed him taking a lead over Kaul. But as of this morning, with 99 percent of the vote in, Kaul led Toney 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent.Dems beat back a GOP attempt to secure a two-thirds majority in the Assembly, though Republicans were on path to clinch it in the Senate.Results were still out in several top Assembly races. Still, Republicans were on path for 64 seats – two short of the partisan margin needed in the 99-member Assembly.In the top races:*Robin Vos, R-Rochester, the longest serving speaker in Wisconsin history, beat two write-in opponents after being called a “RINO” (Republican in name only) by Trump. The former president was angered by Vos rebuffing his repeated attempts to get the speaker to side with those seeking to decertify the 2020 election. Vos said that was impossible under state law.*Dem Rep. Steve Doyle, of Onalaska, took 51 percent of the vote in beating Republican Ryan Huebsch by 757 votes. Huebsch is the son of former Assembly speaker and DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch.*Dem Rep. Tip McGuire, of Kenosha, easily beat back a challenge from Republican Ed Hibsch. Dems poured money into McGuire’s race late, fearing a backlash over the violent protests in Kenosha two years ago. But McGuire won 56.5 percent of the vote, a better performance than he had two years ago.*Dem Rep. Katrina Shankland, of Stevens Point, beat Republican Scott Soik by nearly 4,000 votes.*Dem Lori Palmeri, the Oshkosh mayor, beat Republican Donnie Herman with 53.8 percent of the vote. Republicans hammered Palmeri over her past legal troubles but she will take the seat of former Dem Minority Leader Gordon Hintz.Republican Angie Sapik was up on Dem Laura Gapske in northern Wisconsin’s 73rd AD. In the 74th AD next door, Republican Chanz Green was up on Dem John Adams.Both northern Wisconsin races were top GOP targets to flip. Republicans were all but guaranteed to win the Assembly seat of Dem Sara Rodriguez, who was elected lieutenant governor yesterday, after it was redrawn with a heavy GOP tilt.Along with picking up those seats, Republicans appeared to defend all of their holds. That includes the open 33rd AD, which Dem Rep. Don Vruwink, of Milton, was drawn into during redistricting. GOP farmer Scott Johnson was up in that race, according to unofficial returns.In the Senate, Dem Jeff Smith, of Brunswick, declared victory over Republican Jeff Estenson in the 31st.Meanwhile, the AP has declared former GOP Rep. Romaine Quinn the winner in the open 25th, flipping that seat from Dem control.Republicans Rachael Cabral-Guevara in the 19th SD and Rob Hutton in the 5th were in position to hold those seats for the GOP.Republicans needed to hold the 5th and 19th and win either the 25th or 31st to get to 22 votes, the two-thirds partisan margin in the 33-member state Senate. They are poised for a 22-11 majority in that chamber.Van Orden struck a conciliatory tone toward Pfaff after a closer-than-expected race that had the former Navy SEAL ahead 52 percent to 48 percent with 75 percent of the vote counted.National Dems abandoned Pfaff in the closing weeks of the race. Between his overwhelming fundraising advantage and help from outside groups, national pundits expected Van Orden to cruise in the race to succeed longtime western Wisconsin Cong. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse.“To Senator Pfaff, I look forward to working with you to do great things for the people of this district,” Van Orden said. “You are my State Senator and as long as we can put the people of this district first, we will continue to move Wisconsin Forward.”All seven incumbent House members from Wisconsin won reelection easily yesterday. With Van Orden, Republicans would have a 6-2 edge in the state’s congressional delegation to start the new session in January.For more perspective and to see how the races unfolded, see the Twitter rolls and stories at WisPolitics.com.For the latest results, click here.

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