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Wisconsin Voters Go for Divided Government

By John Forester | November 7, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

Democrats in Wisconsin are claiming a sweep of statewide offices after a wild election night that appears to end eight years of Republican dominance at the statehouse.

But while state schools Superintendent Tony Evers declared victory over Gov. Scott Walker, the Walker team has not conceded. Josh Kaul also had a slim lead over GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel in a race that hadn’t been called.

“It’s time for change, folks,” Evers told supporters in Madison. “And now that the race is behind us, I look forward to moving forward together.”

But Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in her remarks to supporters in Pewaukee early this morning hinted at preparing for a possible recount. Saying “the fight is not over,” Kleefisch said the Walker campaign is “preparing for the likelihood of a recount.”

She spoke as Milwaukee County officials announced a final tally of more than 40,000 absentee ballots that swung heavily in Evers’ favor.

And Walker aide Brian Reisinger told WisPolitics.com the campaign was waiting for the official canvass and for military ballots to be counted before any decisions could be made.

He added thousands “of ballots were damaged and had to be recreated” in Milwaukee, but didn’t provide additional details.

“Until there is a comparison of the original ballots to the recreated ballots, there is no way to judge their validity,” he said.

The unofficial statewide results, with all precincts reporting, have Evers up by 31,061 votes over Walker with 49.6 percent of the 2.67 million cast in the governor’s race.

Under a new state law, a losing candidate must finish no more than 1 percent behind the winner to be able to request a recount, and the margin must be less than .25 percent otherwise the candidate requesting it must cover the costs.

The unofficial margin is nearly 1.2 percent of all votes cast.

Walker, who garnered 48.4 percent, throughout the night failed to hit his 2014 vote totals in several key areas as he lost his bid for a third four-year term.

See Journal Sentinel coverage here.

Despite Democrats’ apparent sweep of constitutional offices and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s 10 percentage-point victory over Leah Vukmir, Republicans will return for next session with secure majorities.

The Senate GOP caucus was poised to return in the majority at 19-14 after Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, beat Sen. Caleb Frostman in Door County’s 1st CD — a rematch of their June special election. Other seats targeted by Dems were held by Republicans, including the southwestern Wisconsin seat held by Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green.

Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, won the seat being vacated by Vukmir; Rep. Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, won the GOP seat opened by Terry Moulton’s retirement; and former state Rep. Jeff Smith kept Kathleen Vinehout’s western Wisconsin seat in Dem hands.

In the Assembly, Republicans went into Tuesday with a 64-35 majority and only a handful of races in GOP-held seats ended up being nip-and-tuck.

GOP state Treasurer Matt Adamczyk had just a 21-vote lead over Dem Robyn Vining with all precincts reporting.

See Journal Sentinel coverage here.

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