RACINE — While it appears Democratic challenger John Lehman led state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, in the 21st Senate District, in those same wards Republican Gov. Scott Walker won over his Democratic challenger Tom Barrett.
Walker had 36,505 votes to Barrett’s 35,744, and, in total, 916 more people in the senate district voted in the governor’s race than in the senate race, according to unofficial results.
Lehman said he couldn’t really explain the difference in the votes. But he said possibly he is better known in the 21st Senate District than Barrett. For instance, some voters may have had him as a teacher, Lehman said. Also he said, “I really think a lot of people have questioned Sen. Wanggaard’s representing them and the way he has gone about it.”
Wanggaard could not be reached for comment directly Wednesday.
But Dan Romportl, the executive director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, said, “The Racine County electorate is very independent-minded.”
In other areas of the state you may have more voters that vote straight party ticket, but in Racine County there are more people who vote race by race, where they may vote Republican for one seat and Democratic for another.
“That is reflected in its history of being very anti-incumbent,” Romportl said. “And a true 50-50 swing district.”
Looking at past elections, no incumbent has been re-elected in the 21st state Senate District since Kim Plache was elected in 1996 during a recall and was then reelected in 1998.
Correction: This story initially incorrectly stated the last 21st Senate District incumbent to be re-elected. The error has been corrected.