Of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts in this election, only one was a truly close call.
Democratic incumbent Ron Kind of Wisconsin’s third congressional district — which covers most of the driftless region of western Wisconsin — narrowly fended off an attack by Republican challenger Derrick Van Orden.
After all precincts in the district reported in, Kind held his seat by a thin three percent margin, or 11,000 out of more than 388,000 total votes. That’s a far cry from 2018, when Kind handily defeated Republican candidate Steve Toft by nineteen percent.
In 2016, Republicans didn’t even field a candidate in the district.
Kind’s narrow win in the western district after years of double-digits victories could be indicative of a sea change in the political composition of rural Wisconsin. Of Wisconsin’s 23 pivot counties — that’s counties that went to Obama in 2008 and 2012 and flipped to Trump in 2016 — only two went back to blue this year.
Outside of the nail-biter in the third congressional district, every other race was decided by double-digit margins.
Democratic incumbent Mark Pocan defended his seat — representing blue Madison and surrounding areas — for a third time against Republican challenger Peter Theron. This is the fifth attempt Theron has made for the district.
Both in this election and in his past two run-offs with Theron, Pocan won by around a forty percent margin.
In another notable race, Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald issued a twenty percent defeat to Democrat Tom Palzewicz to represent the suburbs west of Milwaukee.
Fitzgerald is one of the state’s top Republicans, serving as Majority Leader of the State Senate.
Fitzgerald had the hometown advantage for this race, since he already represents portions of the district in the state senate. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports Republicans have already named Fitzgerald’s replacement as the leader of the Senate’s Republican caucus — Senator Devin Lemahieu of Oostburg.
Fitzgerald will replace outgoing Republican Congressman Jim Sensebrenner, who has repped the area in Congress since 1979.
Over in Milwaukee, Democratic incumbent Gwen Moore won her re-election bid to represent the urban blue stronghold. She beat Republican challenger Tim Rogers by more than fifty percent. This is the second defeat Moore has issued the Republican — in 2018, she also beat Rogers by more than fifty percent.
Moore also defeated independent challenger Robert Raymond for the fifth time since 2012.
To the Northeast of Madison, incumbent Republican Glenn Grothman won re-election by a clean twenty percent lead. Grothman has represented the District since 2015, prior to which he served in both houses of the Wisconsin state legislature for more than two decades.
His opponent, Democrat Jessica King, also had a brief stint in the state Capitol after a successful recall of Republican Randy Hopper in 2011.
In Wisconsin’s first congressional district — representing Kenosha county, Racine county and surrounding areas — Republican incumbent Bryan Steil defended his seat against Democrat Roger Polack.
Meanwhile, former Republican state senator Tom Tiffany was elected to his first full term in the US House. There he’ll represent Wisconsin’s seventh district, which includes most of the northwoods area.
Tiffany has only had the job for about five months, after winning a special election to fill the vacant seat in May.
In both the May and November elections, Tiffany defeated Democrat Tricia Zunker about 89,000 votes, just over 20% of all ballots cast. Zunker would have been Wisconsin’s first ever Native American elected to Congress.
In Wisconsin’s eighth congressional district — representing Green Bay and surrounding areas — Republican incumbent Mike Gallagher held onto his seat by about 117,000 votes, or about 25% of all ballots cast.
All in all, the political composition of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation is unchanged from before the election. Wisconsin will still send five Republicans and three Democrats to Capitol Hill.
(Photo: Darren Halstead / Unsplash)