All the Election Data You Want
It was one for the history books, with many surprising results and newcomers.
Last night’s election will go down in the history books for the number of political careers it marked the end of, and the others it started. Newcomers Kalan Haywood, LaKeshia Myers, Sarah Godlewski and Marisabel Cabrera scored big wins, while long-serving figures like Josh Zepnick and Fred Kessler were shown the door. Others like Paul Ryan and Leon Young threw in the towel.
Let’s look at the results of all the contested races on Milwaukee ballots and see what we learned.
Democratic Primary – Governor
The surprises in this race were subtle. Yes, Tony Evers won as many expected, but to do so by collecting 42 percent of the vote was more than many expected. Mahlon Mitchell won Milwaukee County, but that was the only county he won. Kathleen Vinehout won four counties between La Crosse and Eau Claire, an impressive showing for someone no one thought had a chance of winning. Somehow 10,000+ people cast votes for Andy Gronik and Dana Wachs, both who had dropped out of the race. And poor Josh Pade came in 10th in an eight-candidate race.
- Tony Evers – 42%
- Mahlon Mitchell – 16%
- Kelda Roys – 13%
- Kathleen Vinehout – 8%
- Mike McCabe – 7%
- Matt Flynn – 6%
- Paul Soglin – 5%
- Andy Gronk – 1%
- Dana Wachs – <1%
- Josh Pade – <1%
Republican Primary – Governor
- Scott Walker – 92%
- Robert Meyer – 8%
Democratic Primary – Lieutenant Governor
Mandela Barnes trounced Kurt Kober despite a number of newspapers failing to include him on the list of candidates and CBS 58 showing his image as someone who died in a motorcycle crash. Barnes also rounds out the Democratic ticket as a young, energetic, Milwaukee-based complement to Evers who is absolutely none of those things.
- Mandela Barnes – 68%
- Kurt Kober – 32%
Republican US Senate
The establishment figure, Leah Vukmir, won, but not by much. She beat well-funded Kevin Nicholson by six points, buoyed by a very strong showing in Milwaukee County (64 percent to 32 percent) and Waukesha County (67 percent to 30 percent). In fact, Vukmir won every county on her drive from Wauwatosa to Madison, which was pivotal because she didn’t win a ton of other counties, losing 56 to 16 on a county-by-county basis.
Democratic Primary – Secretary of State
Doug La Follette holds onto his job, one he’s had longer than I’ve been alive. As a point of reference, the 78-year-old La Follette has had the post since 1975, only ceding it for four years to Vel Phillips who recently passed away at the age of 94.
- Doug La Follette – 66%
- Arvina Martin – 34%
Republican Primary – Secretary of State
Democratic Primary – Treasurer
Sarah Godlewski, who was involved in the successful effort to defeat the referendum to eliminate the office, won the Democratic primary, which included beating Sass who previously held the post.
Republican Primary – Treasurer
Travis Hartwig handily defeated Jill Millies, which sets up a more interesting race between Godlewski and Hartwig. But the real question is, will voters pay attention to this race at all with the Senate and Gubernatorial races at the top of the ticket?
- Travis Hartwig- 72%
- Jill Millies – 28%
Democratic Primary – 4th District Congressional Race
We’ve seen this before, and no one is surprised at the result.
Republican Primary – 4th District Congressional Race
- Tim Rogers – 46%
- Cindy Werner – 44%
Democratic Primary – Milwaukee County Sheriff
The actual race for sheriff, buried within a primary, had some surprising results. Because of the oddly-partisan nature of the sheriff’s office in Wisconsin, candidates must declare a party affiliation. With all of the candidates running as Democrats, Republicans were effectively shut out of a choice on who their next sheriff would be. Republicans could have voted in the race, but only if they passed on the hotly-contested US Senate race between Vukmir and Nicholson.
This allowed Earnell Lucas to coast to a commanding victory.
Richard Schmidt‘s brief tenure, separate from his fairly disastrous campaign, will be looked back positively for his success in restoring some sanity to the sheriff’s office. A better political strategy for Schmidt might have been to run as a Republican, allowing himself to square off with Lucas in November when voters are free to vote in every race.
- Earnell Lucas – 57%
- Richard Schmidt – 34%
- Robert Ostrowski – 9%
Democratic Primary – Assembly District 9
Marisabel Cabrera trounced the eight-term incumbent Josh Zepnick for a seat representing the south side of Milwaukee in the Wisconsin State Assembly. Zepnick engendered the fury of his peers and apparently now voters after a story was published in the wake of the #metoo movement that he had forcibly kissed two women while intoxicated in 2011 and 2015.
There is no Republican running in the general election, so Cabrera is all but assured victory.
The win also comes as good news to Mayor Tom Barrett, who has drawn the ire of the Common Council by refusing to reappointment Cabrera to the Fire and Police Commission. Barrett cited a potential political conflict with Cabrera’s potential new role, while the council has perceived the move as one of many intended to restore control of the commission by the mayor.
- Marisabel Cabrera – 64%
- Josh Zepnick – 36%
Democratic Primary – Assembly District 12
With voters selecting LaKeshia Myers over Fred Kessler, a long political career is likely to come to a close. The 78-year-old Kessler, who was first elected to the assembly in 1960, has been in and out of office longer than his opponent has been alive.
Myers, a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher, unseated Kessler in the primary with the help of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and his well-funded political war chest. Myers has previously spent time working in the office of Abele-supported state senator Lena Taylor.
With no Republican challenger, Myers will now represent much of Milwaukee’s northwest side in Madison.
- LaKeshia Myers – 59%
- Fred Kessler- 41%
Democratic Primary – Assembly District 16
The only reason I can’t call the result here a surprise is that no one I talked to had a firm grasp on who would win this race. With the last-minute retirement of Leon Young, Supreme Moore Omokunde, son of Congresswoman Gwen Moore, looked like he had the name recognition to pull off an easy win. But not so fast, because Kalan Haywood, Sr. and his 19-year-old son Kalan Haywood II have gotten dual clout by representing themselves simply as Kalan Haywood. This allows the politically-motivated son of the rising star real estate developer to benefit from plenty of name recognition. The pair were also quite active in the run up to the race, as I spotted both Haywoods at virtually every community event in the near north side district I attended this summer.
With no Republican registered to run, Haywood is slated to become the youngest person ever elected to the Wisconsin State Legislature.
In a bit of an ironic twist, Haywood won’t get to serve with the 78-year-old Kessler following the latter’s primary loss. So we’ll miss some interesting symmetry, as Blue Book aficionados and political historians will recall that Kessler was himself once the youngest-ever member of the legislature at the age of 21 in 1961. Haywood will be the second youngest member in history.
For advocates of ranked-choice voting, this is yet another example of how the system could have benefited voters. If voters had to rank the candidates in order of preference, with an instant runoff occurring by eliminating the the lowest vote getter until one candidate had over half the voter, the result could have been different. The gap between Moore Omokunde and Haywood was smaller than the number of votes earned by every candidate in the race.
- Kalan Haywood – 38%
- Supreme Moore Omokunde – 34%
- Rick Banks – 16%
- Danielle McClendon-Williams – 7%
- Brandy Bond – 6%
Democratic Primary – District 18
Goyke, a former public defender, took the primary challenge seriously and was spotted knocking on doors and greeting voters at festivals all summer. He’s earned another two years in Madison and by all accounts is still eyeing a higher office some day.
- Evan Goyke – 75%
- Travis Spell – 25%
Milwaukee Common Council – District 5
The best known name in the race, Nikiya Dodd, crushed the competition in the primary. Dodd, with former alderman Jim Bohl‘s endorsement, pulled in 47 percent of the vote. The hastily called race, which came after Bohl’s resignation to take a city lobbying job, included four candidates facing a well-funded former state senator.
Dodd will face Matthew Elder in the non-partisan general election. Elder will now have the chance to run only against Dodd instead of the crowded, relatively-unknown field.
Side note: It probably wasn’t a good idea for Tonda Thompson to skip the candidate forum and instead go to a joint-fundraiser for herself and other female candidates for office. She finished last.