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WI Primary Roundup: Incumbents Sail, with One Notable Exception

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Official results will not be released by the Wisconsin State Elections Board until September 26th, but it is unlikely any statewide or district incumbents broke a sweat last Tuesday night…with the exception of Peg Lautenschlager in her bid to remain the state's Attorney General.

All three incumbent state senators were victorious, winning approximately three-quarters of the vote each:

District 7: Jeff Plale (Democrat), 74%.
District 23: David Allen Zien (Republican), 73%.
District 25: Robert Dauch (Democrat), 77%.

All ten incumbents from the State Assembly moved ahead to the general election as well, with only one near-competitive race among the bunch (District 53, decided by nine points).

District 16: Leon D. Young (Democrat), 80%.
District 24: Suzanne Jeskewitz (Republcan), 61%.
District 25: Bob Ziegelbauer (Democrat), 62%.
District 49: Gabe Loeffelholz (Republican), 60%.
District 50: Sherly K. Albers (Republican), 77%.
District 53: Carol Owens (Republican), 54%.
District 73: Frank Boyle (Democrat), 66%.
District 81: Dave Travis (Democrat), 58%.
District 83: Scott L. Gunderson (Republican), 81%.
District 91: Barbara Gronemus (Democrat), 81%.

The statewide race for Attorney General received the most attention in the run-up to the primary—and the results did not disappoint those wanting a close finish. Beleaguered 1-term Democratic incumbent Peg Lautenschlager was ultimately defeated 53-47 by County Executive Kathleen M. Falk in a race that cannot rightly be characterized as a true upset—as Lautenschlager had been fighting for her political life ever since her 2004 arrest on drunk driving charges.

The most interesting horserace of the evening proved to be in the Democratic primary in US House District #1 in which 2004 nominee Jeffrey Chapman Thomas narrowly bested a crowded field of five candidates (winning by three points with a 25% plurality). Thomas will have to knock on a lot of doors in the next few months to gain ground on four-term GOP incumbent Paul Ryan (who beat Thomas with 65% of the vote in 2004).

Now that the primary season is over, all eyes in Wisconsin will turn to the state's marquee match-ups: Jim Doyle vs. Mark Green in the race for Governor and physician Steven Kagan vs. State Assembly Speaker John Gard in the open 8th US congressional district. While political upsets seem to be a rare commodity these days, Smart Politics has the sneaking suspicion one of these two seats will switch parties. Will it occur in Madison with a not too popular democratic incumbent governor, or up in the Northeast in an open GOP-controlled, US House district?

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Remains of the Data

Strange Bedfellows: A Historical Review of Divided US Senate Delegations

Over the last century, states have been twice as likely to be represented by a single political party in the U.S. Senate than have a split delegation; only Delaware, Iowa, and Illinois have been divided more than half the time.

Political Crumbs

Haugh to Reach New Heights

The North Carolina U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis may go down to the wire next Tuesday, but along the way Libertarian nominee Sean Haugh is poised to set a state record for a non-major party candidate. Haugh, who previously won 1.5 percent of the vote in the Tar Heel State's 2002 race, has polled at or above five percent in 10 of the last 12 polls that included his name. The current high water mark for a third party or independent candidate in a North Carolina U.S. Senate election is just 3.3 percent, recorded by Libertarian Robert Emory back in 1992. Only one other candidate has eclipsed the three percent mark - Libertarian Christopher Cole with 3.1 percent in 2008.


Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


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