Republicans fall short of legislative supermajority

By: - November 9, 2022 1:41 am
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This piece was updated to reflect vote totals as of 12:45 p.m. Wednesday.

It seems unlikely that Republicans will secure the veto-proof majorities in the Legislature that would give them the power to override Gov. Tony Evers’ vetoes.

State Sen. Melissa Agard (D – Madison) said while it was too early to tell in some races, Democrats were feeling hopeful.

“Against all odds, it’s looking like right now, despite the fact that we are extremely gerrymandered, and the Republicans have had control of the state and the Legislature for more than a decade,” the people of Wisconsin are voting against total Republican control, Agard said.

Republicans needed to flip one seat in the Senate and five seats in the state Assembly. Several seats that were targets for Republicans, however, were titling toward the Democrats as the vote count continued into Wednesday morning, including several Democratic incumbents.

Sen. Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) won reelection against Republican challenger David Estenson.

Two Democrats are also poised to join the Senate next session. Dianne Hesselbein won the District 27 race against Republican Robert Relph, and Mark Spreitzer had a strong lead Wednesday morning in the race against Republican Mark Trofimchuck.

Agard was also watching the District 5 race, where Republican Rob Hutton leads Democrat Jessica Katzenmeyer, the 25th District race, where Republican Romaine Quinn leads Democrat Kelly Westlund, and the 19th District, where Republican Rep. Rachael Cabral-Guevara (R – Appleton) leads Democrat Kristin Alfheim.

Several Assembly Democrats are holding their own. Rep. Katrina Shankland (D – Stevens Point) will win against Republican challenger Scott Soik for District 71. Rep. Lee Snodgrass (D – Appleton) will win against Republican Andrew Fox. Rep. Steve Doyle will also win his reelection bid against Republican Ryan Huebsch. In District 64, Rep. Tip McGuire (D – Kenosha) leads the race against Republican Ed Hibsch. 

One open Assembly seat is leaning in Democrats’ favor. Democrat Lori Palmeri is leading Republican Donnie Herman in the District 54 race. 

“With the Governor’s veto power intact, Republicans in the Legislature will be prevented from turning Wisconsin into ground-zero for dismantling our democracy,” wrote Assembly Democratic Leader Greta Neubauer in a press release. “Despite their best efforts, Republican Legislators were unable to silence the people of Wisconsin. Everyone who came out to vote this year should be proud of the contribution they made to building a Wisconsin where we all can thrive. Through our efforts, we not only succeeded tonight, but also laid the groundwork to compete for the majority in elections to come.”

Both open northwest Assembly seats are leaning towards red. Republican Chanz Green is leading Democrat John Adams in the race for Assembly District 74, which was vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Beth Meyers. Republican Angie Sapik is leading Democrat Laura Gapske for the District 73, which was vacated by Rep. Nick Milroy (D – South Range), who won in 2020 by slim margins and decided not to run for reelection.  

Republican Tom Michalski is also leading against Democrat Sarah Harrison in the District 13 race, which was represented by Democrat Rep. Sara J. Rodriguez, who won the lieutenant governor race. 

This will come to three flipped Assembly seats for Republicans.

While Democrats will still be working in the minority in the Legislature, Agard said she still goes to work every day because she believes in her neighbors and Wisconsinites.

“I never imagined that I was gonna grow up and be a state senator in this community, and here I am and it is really frustrating,” she said. “And it feels impossible on many days. But if I give up, what is the message for my kids and future generations?”

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Baylor Spears
Baylor Spears

Baylor Spears is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner. She’s previously written for the Minnesota Reformer and Washingtonian Magazine. A Tennessee-native, she graduated with a degree in journalism from Northwestern University in June 2022.