RACINE — Just before the holiday weekend, Democratic primary voters gave Greta Neubauer a gift with their votes on Tuesday, giving her a victory to likely become the next state representative for the 66th District.
Neubauer defeated 3rd District Racine Alderman John Tate II with 1,518 votes to Tate’s 1,301, according to unofficial results from the County Clerk’s Office.
The official election to the seat will be on Jan. 16, but with no Republican or other party candidates on the ballot, Neubauer will likely be running unopposed.
The previous representative, Racine Mayor Cory Mason, is stepping down from the seat to give full attention to his city duties.
Neubauer walked into the primary election day with nearly $38,000 contributed to her campaign to Tate’s $7,000.
“I’m still a little bit in shock,” Neubauer said Tuesday night. “I’m grateful to all the voters that opened their doors when I knocked on them in the cold, in the dark and were willing to share their stories with me.”
About 50 supporters packed the second floor of Vero International Cuisine, 211 Sixth St., and cheered and clapped when Neubauer entered the room.
“I love Racine,” Neubauer said. “This community is also very hurting and politicians at the state level and national level are not representing Racine right now and this is a critical movement for us to say very clearly and definitively that we deserve better.”
Neubauer, 26, previously worked as a director for the nonprofit the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network, now called the Sunrise Movement, focusing on environmental issues. She is the daughter of former state Rep. Jeff Neubauer and Lisa Neubauer, a judge on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.
Before the campaign, Neubauer worked with Mason in Madison first as an intern, then later as an aide. She said Mason he was a mentor to her in the workings of politics.
“I’ve always looked up to Cory (Mason),” Neubauer said. “I interned for him when I was 16 in his office in the capitol. I have always been inspired by the way he fought for working families, for public schools, for our environment for generations to come. I certainly hope to continue those fights.”
During her time with Mason, Neubauer worked closely on the state budget and had a front row seat to the debate on the $2.85 billion incentive package to lure the Foxconn Technology Group to Mount Pleasant.
Neubauer said she’s not sure at the moment about what Legislative committees she wants to work on, but she’s looking forward to representing the district, which includes the lion’s share of the City of Racine.
Tate congratulates opponent
Tate conceded the race at about 9:30 p.m. and called to congratulate Neubauer.
“This campaign was fast and furious,” said Tate’s campaign manager, Fabi Maldonado. “We worked really, really, really hard.”
At The Branch, 1501 Washington Ave. in Uptown, Tate addressed the roughly 50 people who were there to support his campaign, mentioned his working-class roots and thanked his family for their support.
“Working hard is in my DNA, it’s in my blood,” Tate said.
Tate congratulated his opponent and said she ran a good race.
“I wish her all the best,” Tate said. “I hope that she continues to learn the people of this community and get to know the people of this community so that she can actually represent this community.”
Despite being beaten in fundraising, Tate said “this campaign … was never about money, was never about privilege, it was never about power and influence but it was about people.”
Serve the people of Racine
Mason was present at Neubauer’s party at Vero International Cuisine and congratulated his former aide.
“I’m looking forward to serving with her as a colleague and I think she’ll do a great job for Racine,” Mason said. “She’s got a real depth of knowledge around sustainability and the environment that is going to serve her and the people of Racine very well.”
Mason said Neubauer understands the structure of state government which will be an advantage for her.
“She’s worked in the building, she knows what she’s getting into,” Mason said. “For her, she’ll be able to hit the ground running, which will be a real asset to the people of the 66th (Assembly District).”