Susan Happ, a rural district attorney, won decisively in the three-way Democratic primary for attorney general Tuesday, taking down two candidates from Wisconsin’s largest cities.
Happ, the Jefferson County district attorney, won with 52.3 percent of the vote, defeating longtime state Rep. Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee, and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne. Richards and Ozanne received 32.1 and 15.5 percent of the vote, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“Tonight’s results are proof positive that Wisconsin voters are ready for a different kind of Attorney General,” Happ said in a statement. “I’m proud that my message of protecting our families, tackling our heroin epidemic head on, and putting sex offenders and domestic abusers behind bars where they belong has resonated with voters across Wisconsin.”
Happ will face Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel on Nov. 4. Schimel, who was unopposed in the Republican primary, hopes to replace Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who declined to run for a third term.
State Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate congratulated Happ on her win, as did the national group Emily’s List, which endorsed Happ in the primary. Stephanie Schriock, the group’s president, said in a statement she is “excited to stand with Su and Wisconsin women and families as her strong reelection campaign advances to November.”
Responding to Happ’s win, Schimel said in a statement the state’s voters “will have a clear choice between two starkly different candidates for Attorney General.”
“I will hold sacred my oath to defend our constitution,” Schimel said. “I will enforce our laws as written and leave the writing of the laws to the legislature, where that responsibility belongs. I will focus the Department of Justice on keeping Wisconsin families safe.”
In the governor’s race, state Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, lost his long-shot challenge against Democrat Mary Burke, the former Trek executive and Department of Commerce secretary. With 93 percent of votes in, Burke was up 83 percent to 17 percent, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Hulsey said he will “definitely support her to defeat Walker” and said he will continue to focus on his energy consulting business.
“I got a lot of support across the state,” Hulsey said of his candidacy. “I was happy with my efficiency, my vote for dollar investment.”
Burke, who will be up against Gov. Scott Walker in November, said the state is now “one step closer to the new direction our state needs.”
“My commitment to the people of our great state is simple – I will be a Governor who works for you and puts common sense problem solving ahead of the politics that have divided our state,” Burke said in a statement.
But Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brad Courtney said in a statement “we can’t afford to go backward to the policies of Mary Burke that have already failed the state once before,” referring to her time as state commerce secretary under former Gov. Jim Doyle.
The lieutenant governor’s race, however, was much closer. State Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, won with 55 percent of the vote against frequent Capitol protester Mary Jo Walters, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Hulsey’s replacement in the state Legislature will likely be Ald. Lisa Subeck, District 1, who beat fellow City Council member Ald. Mark Clear, District 19. Subeck won with 56.7 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Dane County Clerk’s office. There is no Republican running for the seat.
Subeck campaign manager Zach Madden said Subeck is excited to join the state Legislature and will fight for progressive causes.
Clear said he is uncertain of his future plans, but will make a decision soon on whether he will run for City Council again next April.
“I’m really proud of the campaign that we ran,” Clear said. “It was positive, a message of trying to hone down the level of rhetoric and partisan rivalry in the capitol, apparently it’s not what the electorate is ready for.”
Meanwhile, Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney is poised to serve a third term after easily dispatching his Democratic primary challenger, former deputy N. Peter Endres. Mahoney had 89.4 percent of the vote while Endres had 10.4 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Dane County Clerk.
In another closely watched race, state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-Campbellsport, defeated three other Republicans in the race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac.
With 87 percent of votes in, Grothman won with 38 percent of the vote, while state Sen. Joe Leibham, R-Sheboygan, and Rep. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, had 30 percent and 28 percent, according to the Journal Sentinel. The fourth candidate, Tom Denow, had 4 percent of the vote.
Grothman will face Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris in November.