First Democrat enters Senate special election

By: - December 8, 2022 6:46 am
Madison voting

Wisconsin's 8th Senate seat is open following the retirement of long-serving Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills). (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

A Democratic candidate entered the race for Wisconsin’s open 8th Senate seat Wednesday, joining four Republicans who have said they’re running. 

Jodi Habush Sinykin, an attorney from Whitefish Bay, announced her candidacy for the seat that represents parts of Washington, Ozaukee and Waukesha counties — often referred to as the WOW counties — and northern Milwaukee suburbs. The seat is open following the retirement of long-serving Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills).

“It would be a privilege to represent the people of the 8th Senate District in the Wisconsin State Senate,” said Habush Sinykin in a release. “As someone who has lived and worked in the District for most of my life, I am committed to creating opportunities that foster a strong sense of community and that ensure open dialogue between residents and myself. I will be a Senator who listens and learns from the constituents in the 8th District.” 

Habush Sinykin said she would plan to address issues like the cost of health care, women’s rights to make health and reproductive decisions, community safety and economic concerns. 

The last time a Democrat held the 8th Senate District seat was in 1992, prior to Darling winning the seat. Some Democrats view the special election as a good opportunity to flip the traditionally Republican seat due to the softening of Republican support in the suburban “WOW” counties seen in November’s midterm elections. 

Another Republican announced his intention to join the race for the seat on Wednesday, according to WisPolitics.

Fourth-term Thiensville Village President Van Mobley told WisPolitics Wednesday that he plans to run for the seat, becoming the fourth Republican to announce his plans to run.

Mobley said he will focus his candidacy on approving a bill adding exceptions to the state’s 1849 ban on abortion that would embarrass Gov. Tony Evers if he didn’t sign it, cutting taxes with an eye toward addressing the state’s labor shortage and encouraging the consolidation of school districts and municipal services.

Three other Republican candidates, including two Assembly representatives from within the Senate District, announced their candidacies in the last week. 

Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) said he is running to provide “common-sense” leadership and that as senator, he would vote to support law enforcement, expand educational opportunities, limit bureaucracy and pursue tax reform. Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), the Legislature’s most outspoken election denier who was recently barred from attending Republican Assembly closed caucus meetings, said the Senate is the best place for her to continue representing Wisconsinites. Robert Albrightson, a Republican from Brown Deer, is also running for the seat. 

While a competitive Republican primary is likely, it remains uncertain if any other Democrats will join the race. Rep. Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay), who represents one of the Assembly districts within the 8th Senate District, declined the opportunity to run, saying she wants to spend time with her family away from campaigning. 

Primaries for the seat will be held on Feb. 21, 2023. Other potential candidates have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2023 to file nomination papers. The special election will be held April 4, in conjunction with the spring election that will decide control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.


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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.