Bruce Murphy

Brandtjen, Leading Election Denier, Will Run for Open Senate Seat

Rep. Janel Brandtjen, kicked out of the Assembly GOP, wants to succeed Alberta Darling.

By - Dec 5th, 2022 12:45 pm
Janel Brandtjen. Photo from the State of Wisconsin Blue Book 2015-16.

Janel Brandtjen. Photo from the State of Wisconsin Blue Book 2015-16.

It’s official. The Republican primary for the open state senate seat created by Alberta Darling‘s retirement will have a very competitive primary, one that could get nasty.

State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls)who was kicked out of the Assembly GOP caucus in mid-November by fellow Republicans who said they lost trust in her, has announced she will be running for the Senate seat. “After long hours of consulting with my family, friends and countless political allies, I have decided that the best place for me to continue to represent the people of Wisconsin would be in the Senate,” Brandtjen said in a statement.

She will face two other candidates in the primary: state Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) and Robert Albrightson, a Republican from Brown Deer. This will pit Brandtjen, a 2020 election denier and fervent backer of Donald Trump, against Knodl, who is likely to be back by most of the state’s Republican leadership. While both represent a third of the senate district as Assembly representatives, Brandtjen probably has more name recognition, given her highly publicized attacks on Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and state election officials.

Vos had appointed Brandtjen the chair of the Assembly elections committee in 2021, and she proceeded to invite numerous 2020 election conspiracy theorists to testify at the state Capitol, where they accused state election officials of corruption without providing evidence. Brandtjen led calls to decertify the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin and has been one of the most frequent and vocal critics of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Brandtjen, in turn, was endorsed by Trump in her reelection win this year. This eventually put her at odds with Vos, who repeatedly said that under the law the 2020 election could not be decertified.

Brandtjen was one of the speakers at Trump’s Wisconsin rally ahead of the GOP gubernatorial primary, which doubled as a rally for Vos’s right-wing primary challenger, Adam Steen. Steen came within 300 votes of defeating Vos. Brandtjen endorsed Steen. Not long after election. Republicans kicked Brandtjen out of the Assembly caucus last month. In “a terse letter, Rep. Rob Summerfield, who is the majority caucus chair, wrote that its members had lost trust in her due to ‘continual issues from the past,'” as Wisconsin Public Radio reported. “Brandtjen called the move by her fellow Republicans ‘petty.’”

The senate seat leans Republican and the GOP needs to win it to retain the supermajority in the Senate it won in the November primary. The party’s gerrymandered map, originally created in 2011 and largely retained under a state Supreme Court decision, has helped make that supermajority possible.

Democrats had hoped Rep. Deb Andraca (D- Whitefish Bay), the third state representative in this senate district, would run for the open seat, but she has declined to do so. No Democrat has announced for the seat.

Gov. Tony Evers has recently announced that the dates for the special election will coincide with those for the spring elections, with the primary on February 21 and the general election on April 4. That will save the taxpayers money as a special election on different dates would cost more to hold. But Evers may have also decided Democrats would do better in that senate district with the likely higher turnout of a race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court atop the ballot.

Categories: Politics, Weekly

3 thoughts on “Brandtjen, Leading Election Denier, Will Run for Open Senate Seat”

  1. danlarsen7007 says:

    Kudos to Evers for selecting dates coinciding with the SC election to fill the open Senate seat. I fully agree that the state race will draw out voters and help make the State Senate race competitive. That is of course, only if the Dems can find an aggressive and charismatic MODERATE candidate who can do a good job of wooing independents and flip floppy conservatives away from the semi-fascist republicans in this gerrymandered red district.

    I guess I can’t blame Deb for taking on the job, but I sure hope the Dems can figure out a way to make this an interesting battle to prevent the wrong side from gaining a super majority.

    As for Janel announcing…I’m not surprised. She’ll chase the spotlight to keep spouting her electoral lies and false beliefs. Hoping she won’t win. I’m hoping the Dems are counting the days to one year and then come out to recall her for inability to properly represent constituents because she has no caucus. They may not win a recall election in the long haul, but anything is worth a shot.

  2. tornado75 says:

    what is the matter with these women. so disappointing. we can only hope that a sane person replaces darling who hated milwaukee.

  3. Mingus says:

    I am disappointed that Deb Andraca is not running. She would not be in danger of losing her seat. A nasty Republican Primary could turn off independent behaviors and make a Democrat of sound mind appealing. Hopefully someone will run as a Democrat as a way to educate the voters of the 8th District to the fringe candidates on the Republican tickets and their bizarre views.

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