RACINE COUNTY — The 2018 midterm elections brought mixed results to both Democrats and Republicans but the prize political fight was the upset of incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker losing to Democrat Tony Evers, the state superintendent.
Meg Andrietsch, chair of the Democratic Party of Racine County, was reveling Wednesday in the Evers victory as well as other statewide races including the re-election of U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Lieutenant Gov.-elect Mandela Barnes, the re-election Secretary of State Doug La Follette, State Treasuerer-elect Sarah Godlewski and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul.
“I never expected to win everything, that’s not how life works,” Andrietsch said. “But I am elated that we took the governor, lieutenant governor, the secretary of state, the state treasurer and the attorney general races.”
According to County Clerk Wendy Christensen, the county saw an 84 percent voter turnout and there were no major problems at the polls.
“The new equipment and processes have been an improvement over the past,” Christensen said. “And I think we put out our last set of results right around 11:15 p.m., which is pretty good in a November election.”
The results have not been certified by the clerk and are still unofficial.
Compared to the 2016 presidential election, Christensen said the total number of ballots cast was lower this year.
Reaction to Evers win
Andrietsch said it was fitting for Evers to defeat Walker in the end, after Walker made a name for himself early in his tenure as governor with Act 10 which severely impacted the power of teachers unions across the state.
“A teacher took out Scott Walker, we like that part real well because of what happened in 2010,” Andrietsch said.
Lisa Bell, chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said she was disappointed in the results from the governor’s race and “there was some complacency” with previous Walker voters assuming he was going to win.
“I knew it was going to be close, Mr. Evers was putting up a good fight,” Bell said. “Any of these top of the ticket (statewide) races are going to be nail-biters.”
Bell said she was concerned about how the marijuana advisory referendums would impact the race and feels that it hurt Republican candidates.
“I’ve heard from a number of people that they came out to vote to get marijuana legalized,” Bell said. “I do feel that played a role in this but again, everything we heard was this was going to be a tough race and it is hard to win three times in a gubernatorial race.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, also won his re-election over former Burlington Alderman Joel Jacobsen, but now he must learn to work with the Evers.
“I would like to assure the citizens of Wisconsin that we will do our best to find common ground when possible,” Vos said. “The reality is that the voters of Wisconsin have chosen divided government. The state that elected Tony Evers as governor also chose 64 hardworking and passionate Republicans to represent areas throughout our great state.”
“Assembly Republicans will continue to deliver on our conservative promises to our constituents and won’t allow Wisconsin to slide backward,” Vos said.
Vos added the results of the governor’s election “cannot be seen as any kind of mandate for change.”
Democrats lose Congressional races
In the race for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, a seat previously held by House Speaker Paul Ryan, Democrat Randy Bryce lost to Republican Bryan Steil but Andrietsch sees a silver lining in that race.
“I think the entire campaign and the effort was successful in helping to drive Paul Ryan out of that office,” Andrietsch said. “Getting Paul Ryan out of the office is a victory. He’s not going to be there anymore. I don’t think he did a very good job representing the district.”
Bell said she was happy with how state candidates performed in Racine.
“I think we had 15 contested races and the Republicans took 12 of them,” Bell said. “And I’m obviously ecstatic about Bryan Steil (winning)... it’s sort of a mixed bag.”
Although Democrats did well on statewide elections, Republicans still have control of the state Assembly and state Senate and Republicans held on to each of their seats in Racine County, including the 62nd Assembly District which was held by Republican Tom Weatherston who decided not to run for re-election.
Weatherston is pondering a run for the Caledonia Village Board.
Andrietsch credits redistricting and how the state maps were drawn as the reason Democrats didn’t win more seats “and that needs to change,” she said.
“Honestly, if the gerrymandering and the redistricting were different, we would have had a better result for the state Assembly and the state Senate races,” Andrietsch said. “I think that played an important part.”
With the 2018 midterms in the rear-view mirror, Andrietsch is looking forward to the next election season.
“The spring elections are just around the corner,” Andrietsch said. “We just move on to the next election now.”