The 37th assembly district has been represented by Republican John Jagler since 2013. But, with Jagler’s victory in a special Senate election in April, his vacant assembly seat has garnered the attention of several candidates.
Eight people are squaring off in today’s Republican primary for the district. The winner of that battle royale will go on to face Democrat Peter Adams and Independent Stephen Ratzclaff Jr. in a special election on July 13th.
With Jagler having taken his new Senate position in late April, the 37th Assembly seat will have been vacant for about three months by the time his successor takes office.
Despite the crowded field, Dodge County Clerk Karen Gibson says it’s been a pretty uneventful day for her office.
“No news is good news,” she tells WORT.
Gibson says that voter turnout for special elections — or in this case, the primary for a special election — is historically low.
“We had a special election in 2018 for an assembly district, and the turnout was really low.,” she explains. “Although, there weren’t eight Republican candidates like there are now. The more candidates there are, the more campaigning is going on and people get the word out. So I thought the turnout would be larger — but it’s hard to say without the numbers in front of me.”
Here are the Republicans vying in today’s election:
Cathy Houchin has served on the Dodge County board of supervisors since 2016. In that role, she’s represented portions of Watertown at the county’s southernmost border.
Steven Kauffeld has been a member of the Watertown school board since 2013. He previously ran to represent the 37th assembly district in 2012, but was knocked out in the primary by John Jagler.
Jennifer Quimby is a former member of the Waterloo school board, where she served an eight-year stint from 2011 to 2019. Concurrent with that role, she also served on the city council for more than ten years — from 2008 to 2019.
Quimby has been the mayor of Waterloo, a town of 3,500, since 2019.
Nick Krueger has been the chief of staff to Republican state Representative Terry Katsma since 2015. The Beaver Dam Daily Citizen reports that, in line with Assembly policy, he’s been on a leave of absence from that job while on the campaign trail.
Jennifer Meinhardt is an associate professor of history at Maranatha Baptist University. She has never held elected office.
William Penterman is a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, and served in the U.S. Military for four years. Penterman has never held elected office.
Nathan Pollnow is a self-employed auctioneer and farmer with no prior political experience.
Spencer Zimmerman is a perennial candidate for political office. He’s made unsuccessful bids in at least five different assembly districts — including the one he’s currently attempting to win.
Zimmerman ran against John Jagler during last year’s general election as a member of the “Trump Conservative Party.” He garnered about 4.5% of the vote — or 1,700 votes — during that race. He also made a bid for Wisconsin Secretary of State in 2018, but got knocked out in the primary.
According to the Daily Citizen, the only prior elected office he’s held was in Madison College’s student senate.
Given the anticipated low voter turnout, Gibson says results should come back relatively quickly — likely around 8:30 this evening.
“I’m assuming the poll workers want to get out of there quickly. They’ve been sitting there and it’s been a slow day, so they want to get home,” she says.
Polls close at 8:00 tonight. The district includes parts of Dane, Jefferson, Dodge and Columbia counties, including Watertown, Columbus, Waterloo, and DeForest.
The special election is July 13th.
PHOTO: Jonah Chester