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Rotunda Report
  • Rotunda Report
    November 09, 2020

    Wisconsin Continues Role as Toss-Up State

    Biden Projected Winner; Republicans Gain Two Seats in Senate, but Lose Two Seats in Assembly

    Mr. Cale Battles

    Map of USA with text "2020 United States Presidential Election"

    Nov. 9, 2020 – Wisconsin firmly cemented its place as one of the most competitive toss-up states in the nation on Election Day. Pending both final certification and a potential recount request, results show former Vice President Joe Biden as the projected winner with an estimated 20,500 vote lead over President Donald Trump.

    Wisconsin Republicans had a bit of mixed results on Election Day. Senate Republicans were able to gain two additional seats, giving them a majority of 21-12. The margin is one vote short of a supermajority. The Senate GOP were able to flip both the 10th Senate District with Rep. Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond) defeating incumbent Sen. Patty Schachtner (D-Somerset) and the open 30th Senate District where Atty. Eric Wimberger defeated Jonathon Hansen. One Senate seat will be vacated soon as Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) won the 5th Congressional Seat after the retirement of long time Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. Once Fitzgerald resigns his Senate seat, Governor Evers will call a special election to fill the seat.

    In Assembly races, there were a number of competitive races this election cycle with record breaking campaign spending in many districts. Assembly Democrats were hoping to ride a potential blue wave and continue gains in Milwaukee suburban districts. The blue wave never materialized, but Democrats were able to hold the 14th Assembly seat held by Rep. Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa) and likely made two additional gains with Deb Andraca defeating Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon) and Sara Rodriguez currently ahead of Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield). Even with these two loses, the Assembly GOP will have a sizeable majority of 61-38.

    Preview of 2021-22 Session

    With the increased Senate majority, the already sizable majority in the Assembly, and Democrat Tony Evers occupying the Governorship, the potential remains that partisan gridlock will continue. The ongoing pandemic will be front and center, which will continue to impact health policies, but also both long-term and short-term fiscal issues have started to arise.

    Other issues that will be focused on during the next session including: racial justice issues, police reform, transportation funding, access to broadband, unemployment and housing. The State Bar next session will continue to push a number of changes to the justice systems including: funding for courts, expungement reform, civil legal needs funding, rural lawyer shortages and returning 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system.

    Drop in the number of Lawyer/Legislators

    The 2020 election results were about status quo in terms of the trend of attorneys serving in the Wisconsin Legislature, with a decline of one. Over the last few elections attorneys serving the legislature has ranged from 12 to 14, which is lower than the previous decade and is much lower than in the 70s and 80s when 20 percent of the legislature listed attorney as their profession. This session, there is a total of 12 lawyer/legislators.

    There is a total of 9 attorneys serving over the next two years in the Assembly (seven Democrats and two Republicans): Cody Horlacher (R-Mukwonago); Ron Tusler (R-Appleton); Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie); Marisabel Cabrera (D-Milwaukee); Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska); Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee); Jimmy Anderson (D-Fitchburg); Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee); and Tip McGuire (D-Somers).

    Meanwhile, three attorneys will serve in the upper chamber beginning in January, which includes a Republican for the first time since 2015: Eric Wimberger (R-DePere); Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and Kelda Roys (D-Madison).

    Inauguration Day for the 2021-22 legislative session is scheduled for January 4, 2021. ​

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