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Senate, governor races top Wisconsin primary ballot

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Democratic race for governor and Republican primary for U.S. Senate are topping the ballot in Wisconsin on Tuesday, where the field of candidates looking to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan will also be narrowed.

Here are some of the most biggest races and other facts to know before voting:


Eight Democrats are vying for the chance to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November. State Superintendent Tony Evers is the only one to have previously been elected in a statewide race and he is leading the others in the polls. Former state Rep. Kelda Roys, of Madison, and the state firefighter union leader Mahlon Mitchell are hoping that younger voters provide them with a late surge. Former Democrat state party chairman Matt Flynn, who is also running, has said all three of them would lose against Walker as Flynn. Also running are Madison Mayor Paul Soglin; state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout;  the political activist Mike McCabe; and the corporate attorney Josh Pade.


The former U.S. Marine Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir are running in the Republican primary, and the winner will advance to take on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Nicholson, a former Democrat, is running as an outsider while Vukmir, a 15-year veteran of the Legislature, argues she’s the proven conservative. Vukmir, who won the endorsement of the Wisconsin Republican Party, will have that apparatus to help drive turnout. It’s unclear what Nicholson’s get-out-the-vote effort consists of, but he’s benefited from millions of dollars in television advertising by outside groups funded by Illinois businessman Richard Uihlein.


There are Republican and Democratic primaries in the race to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan in the southeastern 1st Congressional District. Randy “Iron Stache” Bryce and the Janesville schoolteacher Cathy Myers are facing off on the Democratic side. For the Republicans, Bryan Steil, a former aide of Ryan’s and a University of Wisconsin regent, is seen as the front-runner in a five-way primary with four lesser-known challengers.


In the 4th Congressional District in Milwaukee, the seven-term Democratic incumbent Gwen Moore faces a longshot challenge from Gary George, a former state senator who was convicted of a felony in a kickback scheme in 2004 and ran unsuccessfully against Moore in 2014 and 2016. On the Republican side, the deliveryman Tim Rogers is facing Cindy Werner, an Army veteran who moved to Milwaukee 18 months ago from Texas.

In the 5th Congressional District, encompassing much of suburban Milwaukee, Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who was first elected in 1978, making him the second-longest serving member of the House, will face his first primary in a decade. The pediatrician Jennifer Vipond is making her first run for office against Sensenbrenner.

In northern Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District, the Democrats Margaret Engebretson, an attorney, and Brian Ewert, a doctor, were battling for a chance to take on Rep. Sean Duffy, a Republican


Two Democrats — the Sheboygan businessman Kurt Kober and former state Rep. Mandela Barnes — are running for lieutenant governor. Whoever prevails will be paired with the winner of the Democratic gubernatorial primary.


Voters in April overwhelmingly voted to keep the nearly powerless treasurer position, and three Democrats and two Republicans are running in the primary. The Democratic race consists of Sarah Godlewski, an Eau Claire management consultant; Dawn Marie Sass, a former state treasurer; and Cynthia Kaump, a former worker in the office. On the Republican side, the former U.S. Bank worker Travis Hartwig faces the florist Jill Millies.


The longtime Democratic incumbent Doug La Follette faces a primary challenge from Madison City Council member Arvina Martin. On the Republican side, Jay Schroeder, a stock investor from Neenah, will face Spencer Zimmerman, a chauffer from Janesville, for the nearly powerless position.


Democratic state Rep. Josh Zepnick, who is accused of sexual misconduct, faces a primary challenge from the immigration attorney Marisabel Cabrera in a Milwaukee district. His is one of six Assembly races where the winner of the primary has no general election opponent, so whoever wins on Tuesday (barring an unusual victory by a write-in candidate) will take the seat.

In other notable races, Republican Rep. John Spiros, of Marshfield, faces a challenge from Mosinee Mayor Brent Jacobson. Republican Rep. Andre Jacque, of DePere, faces Bill Nauta, of Washington Island, in a Republican primary for the 1st Senate District. Jacque lost a special election for the seat in June but is trying for a rematch.


Polls are open statewide from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Photo identification is needed to cast a ballot and voters can register at the polls. Voters must pick either the Republican or Democratic primary. Any ballot that includes votes for both Democrats and Republicans will not be counted. Voters who may a mistake can ask for a replacement, up to three times. All absentee ballots must be returned to the municipal clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Tuesday when the polls close.


The Wisconsin Elections Commission said that turnout for primaries is typically between 15 percent and 20 percent of voting-age adults, compared with 50 to 55 percent in a typical November gubernatorial election.

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