MADISON, WI – Candidates for state office in Wisconsin were not lacking Tuesday evening when the filing deadline passed. Interest in state offices appeared higher than in recent similar election years.
Part of the interest is due to the number of open seats in the State Legislature. This year, Declarations of Noncandidacy – meaning the incumbent officeholder decided not to run again – were filed by 11 members of the State Assembly, two State Senators and three District Attorneys.
Of the 16 of the 33 State Senate seats that are up for election in November, five incumbent senators are running unopposed: Republican Senator Robert Cowles of Green Bay, Democratic Senator Lena Taylor of Milwaukee, Republican Senator Luther Olsen of Ripon, Democratic Senator Mark Miller of Monona, and Republican Senator Mary Lazich of New Berlin. In State Senate District 8, incumbent Republican Senator Alberta Darling is being opposed by incumbent Democratic 22nd District Assemblyman Sheldon Wasserman.
For all 99 State Assembly seats up for election in November, only 14 are unopposed. Democratic Assembly members Josh Zepnick, Fred Kessler, David Cullen, Jon Richards, Bob Ziegelbauer, Mike Sheridan, Joseph Parisi, Mary Hubler, Spencer Black, Terese Berceau, and Mark Pocan, and Republican Assembly members Scott Newcomer, Mark Gundrum and Don Pridemore have no opponents.
On the other hand, several districts in which incumbents have decided not to run have generated great interest: The district with the most candidates is Assembly District 91 with 11, where incumbent Democratic Assemblywoman Barbara Gronemus is stepping down: Seven Democrats, two Republicans, a Libertarian and an Independent are running.
State Assembly District 22 has five candidates; four Democrats and one Republican. In Assembly District 24, where incumbent Republican Assemblywoman Suzanne Jeskewitz decided not to run again, four Republicans and two Democrats are running. In Assembly District 47, where incumbent Republican Assemblyman Eugene Hahn decided not to run again, four Republicans, two Democrats and one Independent are running. In Assembly District 50, where incumbent Republican Assemblywoman Sheryl Albers is not running again, there are four Republicans and two Democrats running.
In Assembly District 81, six Democrats are running for the seat being vacated by incumbent Democratic Assemblyman David Travis. And in Assembly District 43, in the southeast part of the state, features a rematch between former Republican Assemblywoman Debi Towns and current Democratic Assemblyman Kim Hixon, in a race decided in 2006 by 38 votes out of more than 20,000 votes cast.
In Wisconsin races for U.S. Congress, six candidates filed to run in the 1st District where incumbent Republican Congressman Paul Ryan has no primary opponent, but four Democrats and one Libertarian are running. In the 3rd Congressional District, incumbent Democratic Congressman Ron Kind also has no primary opposition, but two Libertarians, a Wisconsin Green and a Republican have filed to run.
In the 5th District, Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner has a Republican primary opponent, and an Independent also is running. In the 6th District, incumbent Republican Tom Petri has no primary opponent, but two Democrats have qualified for the September ballot. Finally, there are two candidates each in the 2nd, 4th, 7th, and 8th districts: Democrats Tammy Baldwin, Dave Obey and Steve Kagen will have Republican opponents, and Democrat Gwen Moore will face an Independent candidate.