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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

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

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).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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