La Follette wins 12th term as secretary of state

November 7, 2018
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FILE - This combination of file photos shows candidates for Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District seat inn the November 2018 election from left, Republican Bryan Steil, and Democrat Randy Bryce. They are running for the seat currently held by retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan. (Angela Major/The Janesville Gazette via AP, File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — While high-profile clashes for governor and the U.S. Senate top the ballot in Wisconsin on Tuesday, Democrats had high hopes for a handful of other key races. The party was unable to seize outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s seat or send former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl’s nephew to Congress. Democrats also looked to send Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel packing, hold onto the secretary of state’s office and flip the state treasurer’s office after eight years of GOP control.

A look at each of the races:


Democrats thought they finally had a shot at Ryan’s 1st Congressional District seat since his decision against seeking re-election after 20 years in Washington. The party pinned its hopes on Racine ironworker Randy Bryce but Republican attorney Bryan Steil defeated him easily. Bryce had built a national following, branding himself “Iron Stache,” a play on his occupation and his thick mustache. He generated more than $6 million in contributions by the end of July but had plenty of problems. He failed to pay child support and has been arrested nine times. Steil, a University of Wisconsin System regent, worked as a Ryan aide for a year in 2003 and had Ryan’s support since he entered the race. The district covers Wisconsin’s southeastern corner and includes Janesville, Racine and Kenosha.


Republican incumbent Glenn Grothman defeated Democratic challenger Dan Kohl to win a third term in Washington. The 6th Congressional District has trended Republican for years, but Grothman was still worried the race against Kohl would be the toughest re-election fight of his career. Early returns Tuesday evening showed Grothman with about 56 percent of the vote.


Democrat Josh Kaul is looking to unseat Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel. Kaul is the son of the late former Democratic Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager and served as a federal prosecutor in Baltimore but hasn’t played up his background on the campaign trail, choosing instead to focus on attacking Schimel. He says Schimel took too long to test thousands of unanalyzed sexual assault evidence kits , allowing testing delays at the state crime labs to grow, spending taxpayer money on commemorative coins for local police and failing to get control of the state’s opioid crisis. Schimel has pushed back by playing up his efforts to award safety grants to schools and painting Kaul as an outsider with little prosecutorial experience.


Democratic incumbent Doug La Follette won his 12th term in a powerless office Tuesday evening, defeating Republican Jay Schroeder, a mortgage loan officer from Neenah. Republican lawmakers have stripped the secretary of state’s office of nearly all of its duties over the years. The secretary’s only real tasks now are sitting on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands and issuing international authentication certificates for documents.


Republican Travis Hartwig of Oak Creek and Democrat Sarah Godlewski of Madison are vying to replace outgoing state Treasuer Matt Adamcyzk. The treasurer has no real tasks except to sit on the Board of Commissioners of Public Land and track unclaimed property. Godlewski wants the office to review state finances and protect senior citizens from financial exploitation. Hartwig wants the office to help with audits of state and local government. Neither of them can do anything unless legislators hand the office more powers.


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