Rep. Brandtjen enters Senate race

By: - December 5, 2022 2:35 pm

Rep. Janel Brandtjen speaks at a rally of election conspiracy theorists in February. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

The state Legislature’s most outspoken election denier launched her campaign Monday for an open seat in the Wisconsin Senate, three weeks after being barred by her fellow Republicans from attending closed caucus meetings. 

Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) announced Monday that she would run for the open seat in Wisconsin’s 8th Senate District. The district includes northern Milwaukee suburbs and parts of Washington, Ozaukee and Waukesha counties. The seat came open after long-serving Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) retired last week.

“After long hours of consulting with my family, friends and countless political allies, I have decided that the best place for me to continue to represent the people of Wisconsin would be in the 8th Senate District,” Brandtjen said in a statement. “I can guarantee that I will continue to fight for the principles that every American shares. No one has fought harder for Life, Second Amendment rights, keeping your family safe and allowing every family to send their children to a great school. I am excited to continue fighting. Forward.” 

Brandtjen signed onto an ill-fated effort to decertify Wisconsin’s presidential election results and has frequently repeated the false claim that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election. She has also used her position as the chair of the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee to gather testimony from election conspiracy theorists. She also backed the failed candidacy of Adam Steen, the Trump-supported challenger to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in the 2022 election. Brandtjen cited her election efforts as the reason for her recent expulsion from the Republican Assembly caucus, whose members said they lost trust in her.

First elected in 2014, Brandtjen represents Assembly District 22, which is one of three districts within the 8th Senate District. The other two districts are Assembly District 24 represented by Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) and Assembly District 23 represented by Rep. Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay).

Brandtjen’s candidacy sets the stage for a potentially competitive Republican primary as Knodl, first elected to the Assembly in 2008, announced his candidacy last week. He said he was 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. Robert Albrightson, a Republican from Brown Deer, is also running for the seat. 

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.

No Democratic candidates had joined the field as of Monday afternoon. Andraca declined the opportunity to run, saying she wants to spend time with her family away from campaigning. 

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.