Yesterday three special elections were held in Wisconsin to fill the
seats of legislators tapped by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to fill
vacancies in his administration.
In a special election, Democrat Steve Doyle defeated Republican John Lautz for the Wisconsin District 94 Assembly, flipping a seat held by Republicans for 16 years. The hot topic in the race was Gov. Scott Walker's plan to curtail collective bargaining rights for public employees.
With 92 percent of precincts reporting, Doyle won a solid 54 percent to 46 percent, according to AP unofficial final results.
The seat was previously held by Mike Huebsch, who Walker picked in January to serve as Secretary of administration. Huebsch held the seat for 16 years, but is now head of the Wisconsin Department of Administration. He played a controversial role in the recent battles at the capitol, most notably refusing to follow court orders to open the capitol and return the building to January 2011 security measures. He is still fighting the order in court.
The race is seen as a bellwether because it flips a long-held GOP assembly seat to the Democrats, who remain in the minority in the district. The assembly seat represents the most Republican area of a competitive senate district, a district that is currently held by Republican Senator Dan Kapanke. Kapanke is one of the Republicans targeted by Democrats for recall. Kapanke will likely face a recall election in July 2011. So far nine recall petitions have been filed, six against Republicans and three against Democrats.
Doyle survived a big money onslaught of TV and radio ads and direct mailing attempting to paint the young county board member as a big spending career politician. The LaCrosse Tribune reports: "Doyle also weathered a barrage of television and radio attacks by third-party groups, along with mailings from the Jobs First Coalition, a Brookfield, Wis.-based group tied to Scott Jensen, the former Republican state Assembly speaker who left office in 2002 amid misconduct allegations."
Two other special elections were held in the state. Republican Duey Stroebel of the Town of Cedarburg overwhelmingly defeated the challenge of Democrat Rick Aaron in the 60th District. Dave Craig, an aide to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the Republican candidate for the 83rd District, beat Democratic challenger James Brownlow in the 83rd District. Both of these districts are Republican strongholds.