MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A state senator and close ally to Gov. Scott Walker has defeated a former Marine who cast himself as a political outsider in Wisconsin’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate, while Randy Bryce, a union ironworker known as “Iron Stache,” has won the Democratic primary in the race to replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Leah Vukmir beat Kevin Nicholson in Tuesday’s primary and now advances to face Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
Vukmir won the endorsement of the Wisconsin Republican Party and the backing of most prominent GOP officeholders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan. She ran as the proven conservative in the race, pointing to her long voting record in support of Republican priorities.
Both she and Nicholson ran as strong supporters of President Donald Trump.
Nicholson failed to overcome his past as a Democrat. He also lost despite millions more being spent on his behalf by outside groups.
Meanwhile, the Democratic nominee to challenge Walker says he will “take the fight” to Walker by running the same kind of race he did in the primary.
Tony Evers won the eight-person Democratic primary Tuesday. He is the state schools chief and says that he will attack Walker on his record and talk about issues Wisconsin voters care about, including education and jobs.
Evers tells The Associated Press in an interview that those are all things Walker “has failed at.”
The 66-year-old Evers is also downplaying concerns he isn’t inspiring enough to defeat Walker.
Evers says, “I will take the fight to Scott Walker but I will also be equally passionate about the issues.”
Bryce defeated Janesville schoolteacher Cathy Myers in Tuesday’s primary. Former Ryan aide Bryan Steil was the Republican front-runner, facing token opposition in the primary.
Bryce captured national attention with a slick announcement video last year, before Ryan announced his retirement. He’s raised more than $6 million, six times what Myers brought in. He won endorsements from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and labor activist Dolores Huerta.
Democrats are optimistic for their chances to pick up the southeast Wisconsin district that Ryan has represented for 20 years. But opponents argue that Bryce’s past, which includes failing to pay child support and a 20-year-old drunken-driving arrest, makes him unreliable and unelectable.