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News & Press: Legislative Issues

2014 Election - Republicans Retain Control of State Government

Thursday, November 13, 2014  
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Republicans retain control of state government in 2014 Fall elections

The Nov. 4 general elections provided a political victory for Republicans – both in Wisconsin and across the country. Nationally, Republicans were able to win control of the U.S. Senate and expand their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they also continued their dominance of governors' mansions and state legislatures.

In Wisconsin, the top story on Election Night was Gov. Scott Walker’s win over Democrat challenger Mary Burke, taking almost 53% of the vote. This is the third time Walker has been elected governor in the last four years, having survived a 2012 recall election after first being elected in 2010.

Republicans also fared well in other key contests, including the race for Wisconsin attorney general, where Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel defeated his Democratic opponent, Jefferson County prosecutor Susan Happ.

In addition to the advantage of having a Republican attorney general in office, Gov. Walker will begin his new term working with a Republican-dominated State Legislature, as the GOP retained their majorities in both the state Senate and state Assembly.

State Senate
Heading into the elections, Republicans in the Senate held a 17-15 seat majority with one vacant seat. On Election Night, Republicans tightened their control over the Senate, successfully defending all of their incumbents and winning five open seats, including one previously held by Democrats. The GOP will have a 19-14 seat majority when the Senate reconvenes in January.

The three most heavily watched Senate races – those that political pundits thought would determine control of the Senate – were won by Republicans:

• In the17th Senate District in southwest Wisconsin, current state Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) defeated Democrat Pat Bomhack in the race to replace retiring GOP Senator Dale Schultz.

• In the 19th Senate District, left open by the retirement of veteran lawmaker and Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah), former Republican state Rep. Roger Roth beat Democrat Penny Bernard Schaber, a current member of the state Assembly.

• In the 9th Senate District, vacated by Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) who unsuccessfully ran for Congress, Republican Devin LeMahieu defeated Democrat Martha Laning.

State Assembly
Republicans in the Assembly also gained seats on Election Night. Pending potential recounts in two close races, Republicans should have a 63-36 seat majority when the Assembly returns to work in the New Year – up from their current 60-seat majority. The Assembly GOP successfully defended all of their incumbents, won 15 open seats and defeated three Democratic incumbents on Election Night.

Assembly Republicans will enjoy their biggest majority since the 1957 legislative session.

*Written by WPHA's Lobbyist Michael Welsh

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