Sept. 26, 2022
– The 2022 elections will be the first elections held after the once every decade process of redistricting that re-draws the state’s eight congressional seats, State Senate and State Assembly districts. There is little disagreement from election watchers that the GOP will continue to maintain legislative majorities in the Senate and Assembly, the big question is—can they win enough seats for a veto proof majority?
This article is Part 2 of a two-part series that previews fall elections in Wisconsin. Part 1 focused on statewide races, while part 2 will focus on legislative elections in the State Senate and Assembly.
GOP Senate Poised to Pick-up Seats
Most state pundits and redistricting experts agree that the Senate GOP likely gained the most based on court’s redistricting changes. The redistricting changes in the Senate Districts gave the Senate a much easier path to win the necessary 22 seats or 2/3rds of the elected body to override a veto by the governor. The Senate GOP already holds a 21-12 majority so winning just one additional seat that is held by a Democrat would get them over the threshold.
Cale Battles, is a government relations coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. He can be reached by
email, or by phone at (608) 250-6077.
Senators are elected to a four year term, so for 2022 elections the odd numbered seats are up for election. Five districts are considered competitive elections for the fall: 5th Senate District, 17th Senate District, 19th Senate District, 25th Senate District and the 31st Senate District. Of the five, three are open seats where the incumbent is not running. The 25 th was previously held by a Democrat (Sen. Janet Bewley D-Mason) and the 5th (Sen Dale Kooyenga R-Brookfield) and 19th (Roger Roth R-Appleton) were previously held by Republicans. Finally the 17th is held by a Republican incumbent (Sen. Howard Marklein R-Spring Green) and the 31st is held by a Democrat incumbent (Sen. Jeff Smith D-Brunswick).
Open seats are generally easier to flip as the power of incumbency is negated. The far northwestern 25th Senate District has long been a traditional rural democrat stronghold, but has been trending more GOP over the past two election cycles. Former Republican Assembly Representative Romaine Quinn faces Democrat Kelly Westlund in that race.
The other open seat that will be very competitive is the 5th Senate District, which consist of parts of the western suburbs of Milwaukee including New Berlin, Wauwatosa and Brookfield. Like the 25th Senate District, this area has also seen some political trends change, but in the opposite direction. Historically the very red Suburbs of Waukesha County were enough to keep the seat in GOP hands, but the area is turning more blue especially as the district get closer to Milwaukee County. Another former Republican Assembly Representative Rob Hutton is running to keep that seat in GOP hands against Democrat Jessica Katzenmyer.
The 17th Senate District and the 31st Senate District both located in western Wisconsin, which has considerable more political swing between parties than most geographical locations. While the seats are considered competitive they also both have strong incumbents that will be tough to beat.
Finally the 19th Senate District in the Fox Cities makes the list only due to fact that is an open seat. Republican Roger Roth vacated the seat to run for Lt. Governor and while the City of Appleton has become reliably blue the rural parts of the district are still very Republican.
Can Assembly GOP Get to 66?
The mathematical supermajority path for the Senate is easy to explain. Hold all your current seats and all you have to do is win one additional seat to get all your votes. The Assembly path is not as easy. The redistricting changes in the Assembly make the path to a supermajority a bit more complicated.
All eyes will be on a handful of Assembly districts to see if the Assembly GOP can win enough seats to get to the magic number of 66, a 2/3rds supermajority. All 99 Assembly Districts are up for election with Republicans holding a 61 to 38 advantage. In total the Assembly needs to win five seats that Democrats currently hold, but that becomes difficult when Democrats have a fairly safe hold on 34 of the 99 seats. Essentially the Assembly GOP has to find one additional Democrat seat to flip in order to get 66 members.
The math for the Assembly GOP gets even more complicated when, on top of the dozen or so competitive Assembly races, the Assembly GOP will need to win all of their currently held seats just to get to 65. The following are the districts and the current incumbent or if the seat is open that could determine the final outcome:
- Assembly District 4 (David Steffen R-Green Bay)
- Assembly District 21 (Jessie Rodriguez R-Oak Creek)
- Assembly District 33 (Don Vruwink D-Milton)
- Assembly District 49 (Travis Tranel R-Cuba City)
- Assembly District 51 (Todd Novak R-Dodgeville)
- Assembly District 55 (Open-Previously held by Republican)
- Assembly District 73 (Open-Previously held by Democrat)
- Assembly District 74 (Open-Previously held by Democrat)
- Assembly District 84 (Open-Previously held by Republican)
- Assembly District 85 (Pat Snyder R-Schofield)
- Assembly District 93 (Warren Petryk R-Town of Washington)
- Assembly District 94 (Steve Doyle D-Onalaska)
- Assembly District 96 (Loren Oldenburg R-Viroqua)
Legislative Retirement and Need for Attorney Advocacy
The number of legislative retirements is at a near record pace with 31 legislators deciding not to run for re-election or to run for a different elective office. Added to this is the decline of lawmakers that are attorneys. It is very likely that of the 132 total legislators in the Senate and Assembly the number of attorneys that current serve in either house will be under 10 and current dip even lower depending on election outcomes. With almost a quarter of the legislature turning over and the lack of legal voices in the legislature the need for State Bar members to engage in legislative advocacy has never been more important.
The State Bar’s Grassroots and Advocacy program is actively seeking members that want to participate in the legislative process. This is your opportunity as a leader in the profession to engage and assist in the education process of legislators on what you do and see as an attorney every day in your practice and in your profession. If you are interested in learning more on how you can get involved please contact Devin Martin, Grassroots Outreach Coordinator at
What You Can Do: State Bar of Wisconsin Advocacy Network
You can sign up to be an active legislative advocate with the Advocacy Network. You'll be subscribed to Rotunda Report and get periodic emails or calls when we need your help to reach the legislature on important issues.
You can also follow us
on Twitter to stay informed and get involved in the legislative process.