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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

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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