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In 2018, Republicans ran for Assembly seats in 69 out of 99 Wisconsin districts, allowing Democrats to run unopposed almost one-third of the time. Two years later in 2020, Republicans ran in 92 districts, leaving a mere seven Democrats running unopposed.

That’s part of the Republicans’ plan to retain control in Wisconsin, a perennially purple state. To break Democrats’ streak of winning statewide races, the GOP wants to win locally to generate momentum on a statewide scale.

“Why are we letting people run unopposed?” U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said at a Republican rally on Juneteenth last month. “We want Republicans everywhere on the ballot."