While Tuesday’s election results fell short of the “Blue Wave’s” expected impact nationwide, Wisconsin voters gave Democrats two big wins in the election of state Education Superintendent Tony Evers as governor and the reelection of incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
Below is a breakdown of how the night went for candidates up and down the ballot.
Election 2018: Live results for gubernatorial, U.S. Senate racesThis post will be updated periodically throughout election night. Results shown here may not reflect real-time numbers. Millions throughout the country voted Read…
After a neck-and-neck race for governor, Evers won Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election by a 1.1 percent margin.
With about 96 percent of precincts reporting, the gubernatorial race looked like it was headed for a recount. But after roughly 50,000 absentee votes in Milwaukee County broke overwhelmingly in Evers’ favor, the race swung in his direction.
In Wisconsin elections, opponents can request a formal recount if the margin of victory is 1 percent or less. In Walker’s case, no such luxury was available.
Evers bested Walker by more than 180,000 votes in the Democratic stronghold of Dane County. Throughout the state, Evers performed well in Milwaukee and the southwest corner of the state, while Walker found most of his support in the state’s northeastern counties.
Though the University of Wisconsin campus proved to be a hotspot for Democrats, Republicans gathered to ensure their voices were heard.
On the UW campus, junior Brady Loos said the UW College Republicans event ensured hope of a conservative ticket on an otherwise liberal campus.
“I’m here tonight to talk to other people who voted the same way,” Loos said. “Especially here on the Madison campus, there’s a lot of voting one way, it seems like. There’s a lot of closet conservatives so it’s nice to get to know people with the same viewpoints and watch as a group.”
While Republicans watched the tight race slip from their fingers, Democrats across campus and statewide celebrated the victory and the implications beyond election night.
Mary Auarez, a UW student and attendee of the College Democrats watch party, said the night “showcased” the continuous efforts made throughout the election process.
In a Democratic Party of Wisconsin statement, DPW Chair Martha Laning said the victory showed an investment in an equitable Wisconsin future.
“Tonight’s win is a victory for all of Wisconsin,” Laning said in the statement. “Wisconsinites have voted for a vision of our state where everyone has affordable, quality health care, where our schools are fully funded and where every hardworking Wisconsinite has the opportunity to get ahead. These are our Wisconsin values, and Tony Evers will be their champion.”
Ever’s addressed an exhausted Madison crowd at the landmark Orpheum Theater early Wednesday morning with his running mate Mandela Barnes at his side to express his gratitude to voters and optimism about the state’s future.
.@Tony4WI: “Better schools, better roads, more affordable health care that includes protections for pre-existing conditions … I will be focused on solving problems, not picking political fights, I will never make promises I cannot keep and I will always work for you.” #WIGOV
— Jessie Opoien (@jessieopie) November 7, 2018
Ever’s will be sworn in as the next governor of Wisconsin in early Jan. 2019. The office of governor will be on the ballot again in 2022.
Unlike the watch parties of more competitive, down-to-the-wire races, incumbent Baldwin’s election day rally was largely devoid of drama. Some volunteers and organizers had not even reached Monona Terrace before the news of her victory rolled in.
In a race that was seen early on in the midterms as one Republicans could flip, Baldwin handily defeated Republican competitor Leah Vukmir by roughly 10 points.
— Parker Schorr (@SchorrParker) November 7, 2018
While Baldwin commended Vukmir on her 16 years in the Wisconsin state Legislature, she had no kind words for Charles and David Koch and other outside groups who tried to “buy” her seat.
“Tonight, after more than $14 million worth of nasty attack ads, it means nothing because I had something they didn’t,” Baldwin said. “You.”
Before Baldwin hit the stage, unopposed Congressman Mark Pocan introduced her as an “authentic” Wisconsinite who wasn’t afraid to throw a cow pie. Baldwin carried the Wisconsin-specific rhetoric into her speech, praising the state’s cheese and committing to more Wisconsin manufacturing.
Baldwin said she was inspired by the Democrats running for office, new social movements like March for Our Lives gaining steam and the people who worked tirelessly on her campaign.
But she said their work is not done.
“In order to fix what is broken with Washington, and in order to fix what’s broken with our divisive politics, you all need to stay engaged,” Baldwin said. “You cannot stop with this victory. You cannot stop because I assure you the special interests won’t.”
In her concession speech, Vukmir stressed that several questions remained unanswered on “issues that matter most to people in Wisconsin,” including how the state treats its veterans, provides healthcare and takes its successes to Washington.
Baldwin’s Senate seat will be on the ballot again in 2024. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin is up for election again in 2022.
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Also on Tuesday’s ballot were several other statewide and local offices, including the race for Wisconsin Attorney General between Democratic candidate Josh Kaul and Republican incumbent Brad Schimel. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Kaul leads Schimel by 0.8 percent of the vote, well within the margin allowing for a recount.
The candidates had gone back and forth Tuesday until Schimel settled into what seemed a decisive lead with only a few precincts left to report. While no official result has been announced, Kaul’s leap into the lead came as a result of the same roughly 50,000 absentee ballots which were counted late in Milwaukee County.
Longtime Secretary of State Doug La Follette also secured victory Tuesday, defeating Republican challenger Jay Schroeder by more than 40,000 votes. The office of Secretary of State will be on the ballot again in 2022.
Less than a year after the office was nearly eliminated through an unsuccessful statewide referendum vote, Democrat Sarah Godlewski defeated Republican Travis Hartwig by more than 100,000 votes to become Wisconsin’s next treasurer.
Pocan ran unopposed in his strongly Democratic south-central district. He, along with the entire U.S. House delegation, is up for election again in 2020.
In the closely watched race for Wisconsin’s first Congressional district — the seat of outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville — UW Regent and Republican candidate Bryan Steil secured victory, comfortably defeating union leader and Democratic candidate Randy Bryce.
In state Assembly races, Madison’s Shelia Stubbs ran unopposed for the 77th Assembly district, replacing outgoing Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison. Also running unopposed in the Madison area were state Reps. Chris Taylor, Lisa Subeck and Melissa Sargent. The entire state Assembly will be on the ballot again in 2020, along with half of the state Senate.
Speaking at UW College Democrats watch party, former Associated Students of Madison chair and current Planned Parenthood public affairs organizer Katrina Morrison said the election was about more than just the night’s winners and losers.
“We all know that it’s never really about any one election. We are building a movement here,” Morrison said. “We are building a movement of Wisconsinites. Wisconsinites who want to protect our access to healthcare. Wisconsinites who believe in funding Planned Parenthood. Wisconsinites who know women deserve access to safe, legal abortion care. Wisconsinites who want safe communities and strong public schools. And … Wisconsinites who believe that black and brown lives matter.”