Sept. 12, 2022 – Residents only have to turn on their TV for a few minutes to quickly realize that it is close to election time in Wisconsin. A number of very competitive statewide office races are on the ballot including: Governor, U.S. Senate, Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer. Adding to the election drama is the once every decade process of redistricting that re-draws the state’s eight congressional seats, State Senate and State Assembly districts.
This article is Part 1 of a two-part series that will preview some of the more important aspects of this fall election’s cycle. This article will focus on the competitive statewide races and congressional races. Part 2 will focus on elections and legislative retirements in the State Senate and Assembly.
Statewide Elections Look to Drive Turnout and Mobilize Voters
With both national and statewide implications, Wisconsin is once again being highlighted as a barometer on which way the nation’s political winds are blowing. Mid-term elections historically do not favor the party with the incumbent President and in early 2022 economic issues like gas prices and inflation concerns and pandemic fatigue made Democrats weary of some of their voting gains from the 2020 election. Some of those fears have changed going into the summer and fall as other issues have started to rise like abortion, labor issues and the continued dominance of the news cycle by former President Donald Trump.
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.
An extremely competitive US Senate seat race will be a top race to watch nationally. With the US Senate evenly split 50 to 50, Wisconsin’s US Senate race between incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson and current Democrat Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes could very well determine who controls the US Senate.
Additionally the race for Governor will have huge implications for who controls state government. Incumbent Governor Tony Evers faces Republican business owner Tim Michels in a race of contrasting styles. Governor Evers has campaigned on the premise that his veto pen is the only thing stopping Republicans from complete control of state government. Part 2 of the election preview will focus on State Senate and Assembly races, but almost all election watchers agree that with the makeup of legislative districts, Democrats are unlikely to win majorities in either of those houses, leaving the goal of keeping Republicans from winning veto proof majorities. If Michels wins those legislative super majorities won’t be necessary as Republicans will control both the executive and legislative branches of state government.
Congressional Seats and Down Ballot Statewide Races of Interest
Of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts, there will be at least one change, with Congressman Ron Kind retiring after serving 24 years in Congress. His 3rd congressional district has seen a political shift over the past two election cycles. In 2018, Kind won his seat by almost 20 percentage points only to see that margin drop to 3 percentage points in 2020. Redistricting shifted the boundaries of the district a bit more Republican making the 3rd congressional seat a “toss-up”. Republican candidate Derrick Van Orden ran against Kind in 2020 and is running again this time against the current State Senator Brad Pfaff.
Wisconsin’s Attorney General election often gets lost in the shuffle with other statewide races receiving more media and ad buying attention. Those following state government closely will tell you that this office is very important to government and one both parties want to win. Incumbent Democrat Josh Kaul will face Republican Eric Toney for Attorney General.
Other statewide races of interest include Secretary of State, where longtime incumbent Democrat Doug La Follette will go against Republican Amy Loudenbeck, an Assembly Representative from the 31st District. The final statewide race will be an open race for State Treasurer between Republican John Leiber, an attorney from Cottage Grove, and Democrat Aaron Richardson, the current Mayor of Fitchburg.
For information on polling locations and times, what’s on your ballot, your voter registration status, and more, go to My Vote Wisconsin:
Attorneys getting engaged and involved in the State Bar’s Government Relations and Advocacy program helps to grow the voice of the legal profession in the State Legislature. The State Bar is actively seeking attorneys that would like to host or participate in legislative meetings and roundtables throughout the state. If you are interested in learning more on how you can get involved please contact Devin Martin, Grassroots Outreach Coordinator at