Steven Walters
The State of Politics

Pick Tuesday’s Primary Winners

Burke v. Hulsey won't be close. But the 19th Assembly District Democratic primary looks to be very competitive, who will win it?

By - Aug 11th, 2014 12:15 pm
Mary Burke.

Mary Burke.

If any money was involved, this could be an illegal office pool.

But, since no cash is changing hands, it’s an invitation to pick the winners in some of the best races in Tuesday’s primary elections.

So, make your picks and – on Wednesday – claim your official Political Pundit hat. Or not.

*Democratic primary for attorney general – Two prosecutors, Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ and Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne, and State Rep. Jon Richards, of Milwaukee, want to replace retiring Republican J.B. Van Hollen.

Richards has the largest base of Democratic voters,  but must get them to the polls. Happ has been endorsed by EMILY’s List and is a fresh newcomer in Democratic politics. But Dane County Democrats traditionally turn out for their own.

*1st U.S. House District Democrats – Rob Zerban, of Kenosha, hopes to again take on Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan in the Nov. 4 general election.

But to face Ryan he must beat first-time candidate Amar Kaleka, of Franklin, Tuesday. Kaleka’s father was killed in the Sikh Temple attack two years in Oak Creek. Is Kaleka’s personal story compelling enough to beat Zerban?

*4th U.S. House District Democrats – Any chance that incumbent U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore will be upset by former state Sen. Gary George, a convicted felon who wouldn’t even live in the district if he won in November. The contest is for Milwaukee’s seat in Congress.

Bonus points if you think Moore wins easily and you pick her winning percentage – within 5 points – on Tuesday.

*6th U.S. House District Republicans – The retirement of U.S. Rep. Tom Petri touched off a four-way primary for a U.S. House seat represented by the same Republican since 1979.

Three GOP legislators – Sens. Joe Leibham, of Sheboygan, and Glenn Grothman, of Campbellsport, and Rep. Duey Stroebel, of Saukville – have spent the past few weeks trying to convince voters each is the most conservative. A fourth candidate, Tom Denow, of Oshkosh, doesn’t have enough cash to compete with three legislators.

*State Senate District 15 Democrats – The retirement of Democratic Sen. Tim Cullen touched off a three-way primary between former Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, of Janesville; Rep. Janis Ringhand, of Evansville, and former Cullen aide Austin Scieszinski, also of Janesville.

One big question:  Are 21st District Democrats ready to forgive Sheridan, a former UAW union leader at the now-closed GM assembly plant, for 2009-10 personal and political problems that cost him his Assembly seat?

*State Senate District 17 Democrats – State Democratic Party leaders have made it clear they want Pat Bomhack, of Spring Green, to beat Ernie Wittwer, of Hillpoint, Tuesday. But will southwest Wisconsin Democrats resent party leaders telling them who has the best chance to win the seat held for decades by Republican Sen. Dale Schultz?

If they do, Wittwer, the retired budget director for the state Department of Transportation, could edge out the younger Bomhack.

*State Senate District 21 Republicans – Former state Sen. Van Wanggaard, a former Racine police officer, was recalled for voting for Act 10 reforms pushed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2011. He’s now running in a new, much more Republican district.

But Pleasant Prairie business executive Jonathan Steitz – and some Tea Party activists – back Steitz, who says Wanggaard isn’t conservative enough. Responding, Wanggaard shows off his political scars.

*Assembly District 19 Democrats – Four Milwaukee Democrats want to replace Richards in the Assembly: Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, ex-assistant district attorney Dan Adams, former state Senate aide Jonathan Brostoff and labor lawyer Sara Geenen.

Dimitrijevic is the name-brand Dem in the race, but that also makes her the biggest target.

The winner faces a Pirate Party candidate Joseph T. Klein , and no Republican, on Nov. 4.

*Assembly District 97 Republicans – In the political reverse of the Richards seat, six Waukesha Republicans want to replace disgraced Rep. Bill Kramer, who retired: Scott Allen, Joe Banske, Kathleen Cummings, Aaron Perry, Brandon Rosner and Vince Trovato. There is no Democratic candidate.

*Tiebreaker – Pick the percentage of the Democratic vote for governor that Rep. Brett Hulsey gets against Mary Burke, who was recruited – and endorsed by – Democratic Party leaders. Both are from Madison, but that’s where the similarities end. Burke’s campaign raised $500,000 in July; Hulsey, less than $100.

Political pros say Burke would have some explaining to do, if Hulsey gets more than 10% of Tuesday’s statewide vote. Marquette Law School pollsters asked once about Hulsey’s support, but found so little of it they stopped asking.

Steven Walters is a senior producer for the non-profit public affairs network WisconsinEye. Contact him at

5 thoughts on “The State of Politics: Pick Tuesday’s Primary Winners”

  1. Dan says:

    Moore (70%)
    Burke (5% for Hulsey)

  2. Michael says:

    Moore (75%)
    3% for Husley

  3. Richards
    Moore (91.7%)
    Burke (Hulsey 4%)

  4. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Zerban (by a lot)
    Moore (by 50+)
    Wittwer (gut feel, seems to have grassroots)
    Steitz (Bagger media complex matters in small elections)
    Brostoff (continuing young Milw progressive trend in Assembly)
    Don’t know, don’t care
    Burke (Hulsey 7% due to obnoxious GOPs)

    Bonus: Subeck in AD78, Bowen in AD10

  5. Nathan says:

    I’ve barely seen 1 or 2 % of returns but.

    Van Wanggaard
    Marina Dimitrijevic
    Burke by 92%

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