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Rotunda Report
  • Rotunda Report
    November 09, 2016

    Republicans Grow Majorities in State Senate and State Assembly

    Cale Battles


    Nov. 9, 2016 – Wisconsin Republicans last night continued to flourish in down ticket races, winning an additional State Assembly seat and at least one additional State Senate seat. Republicans were able to use a strong rural turnout resulting in a sweep at the top of the ticket races for President-elect Donald Trump and for incumbent Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race.

    Until the final results are compiled, the Senate Republicans’ majority currently stands at 20-13. The twenty-seat majority would be the largest GOP majority in the State Senate since 1970. The Senate GOP was able to flip the 24th Senate District, with Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) defeating Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) in a seat that Lassa has held since 2003. A recount could occur in the 32nd Senate District with current Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D- LaCrosse) holding a slight lead over Dan Kapanke (R-LaCrosse). Shilling previously defeated Kapanke in 2011 in a recall election and won re-election easily in 2012.

    Cale BattlesCale Battles is a government relations coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. He can be reached at, or by phone at (608) 250-6077.

    Assembly Republicans were successful in holding every vulnerable seat and were able to gain one additional seat, pushing their majority to 64-35. The 64-seat majority is the largest for the Assembly GOP since 1956. The one seat the Assembly GOP was able to pick up was in the 91st Assembly District, where Treig Pronschinske (R-Mondovi) defeated incumbent Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau).

    Preview of 2017-18 Session

    With the additional gains in the Senate majority and the sizable majority in the Assembly, Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans can continue to control the agenda during the next legislative session.

    Republican legislative leaders have already begun to lay out issues that they intend to focus on during the next session, including school funding, expansion of school choice, addressing the transportation budget, and tax reform.

    Rise in the number of Lawyer-Legislators

    The 2016 election did reverse a recent trend that showed the declining trend of attorneys serving in the Wisconsin Legislature. This session, a total of 14 lawyer-legislators will be serving in the legislature, which is up from 13 attorneys in the 2013-14 and 2015-16 sessions, but still down from 17 in the 2011-12 session.

    There is a  total of 12 attorneys serving over the next two years in the Assembly (eight Democrats and four Republicans): Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie), Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee), Jim Ott (R-Mequon), Chris Taylor (D-Madison), Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska), Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee), Jimmy Anderson (D-Fitchburg), Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire), Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee), Cody Horlacher (R-Mukwonago), Ron Tusler (R-Appleton), and Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake).

    Meanwhile, two attorneys will serve in the upper chamber beginning in January: Fred Risser (D-Madison) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).

    Inauguration Day for the 2017-18 legislative session is scheduled for January 3, 2017.


    Rotunda Report is the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Government Relations e-newsletter that highlights legislative, judicial, and administrative developments that impact the legal profession and the justice system. It is published twice a month and is distributed free to attorneys, public officials, and others who help shape public policy in Wisconsin. We invite your suggestions to make the Rotunda Report more informative and useful and we encourage you to visit our website for the most current information about justice-related issues.

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