Jeramey Jannene

High Stakes, Low Turnout Special Election Tuesday

State senate race pits Dora Drake vs. LaKeshia Myers to replace Lena Taylor.

By - Jul 1st, 2024 03:51 pm
Dora Drake (left) and LaKeshia Myers. Photos by Jeramey Jannene.

Dora Drake (left) and LaKeshia Myers. Photos by Jeramey Jannene.

Independence Day isn’t the only thing that will bring fireworks to Milwaukee this week.

One of the more unusual elections in recent Wisconsin electoral history will occur Tuesday.

A special primary election will determine who will represent a large swath of Milwaukee’s far north side at the Wisconsin State Capitol, but only through January.

Voters in the 4th Senate District will choose between two Democratic state representatives to fill the remainder of Lena Taylor‘s term. A month later, they’ll choose again from the same two candidates to determine who should be given a full four-year term.

But if history is any guide, voters could be choosing their Senator for the next decade or two to come.

Representatives Dora Drake and LaKeshia Myers are squaring off in the race.

Because they’re both Democrats and no other candidates are in the race, the low-turnout special election will be decided by an even lower-turnout special primary election.

For both state representatives, it’s also an up-or-out affair. Neither can run for reelection to their current seat in the state Assembly.

Taylor resigned in January after being appointed a Milwaukee County Circuit Court by Governor Tony Evers. She had held the Senate seat for 19 years, which is not unusual: many Milwaukee-area legislators often hold office for many terms.

Voters in the district are likely familiar with either Drake or Myers.

Wisconsin’s senate districts are formed by three assembly districts, with Myers representing the western portion of the 4th District, Drake the middle and Darrin Madison Jr. the eastern portion.

As a result of redistricting, the district stretches southeast from Milwaukee County’s northwestern tip at N. 124th Street and W. County Line Road to E. Locust Street and N. Humboldt Boulevard in Riverwest. In addition to a large chunk of Milwaukee, the district includes portions of suburban Brown Deer and Wauwatosa and all of Glendale and Shorewood.

Drake has a long list of endorsements, including state senator LaTonya Johnson, state representative and assistant minority leader Kalan Haywood II, her partner Ald. Mark Chambers, Jr., as well as his colleagues José G. Pérez, Andrea Pratt, Lamont Westmoreland, Milele A. Coggs, Larresa Taylor, Peter Burgelis, and Russell W. Stamper, II, city treasurer Spencer Coggs, county board chair Marcelia Nicholson, county register of deeds Israel Ramón, fire chief Aaron Lipski and former acting mayor Marvin Pratt.

She was first elected in 2020 and previously worked at JusticePoint and the Center for Self-Sufficiency.

Myers is backed by Taylor, her ally in the Legislature and former boss. But judicial rules prevent Taylor from formally endorsing Myers, or any other candidate. She is also backed by Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy, Shorewood Village President Ann McKaig and the activist group Run for Something.

She was first elected in 2018. Before being elected, Myers worked as a teacher at Milwaukee Public Schools. Since being elected, she’s worked for MPS, as an assistant principal in Madison and, most recently, as the dean of students for a Wauwatosa middle school, from which she resigned after an investigation.

Come August 13, most 4th Senate District voters will need to make another choice – who do they want to replace their state representative? Four Democrats are vying to replace Myers: Russell Antonio Goodwin, Sr., Katrina Blossom Morrison, Decorah Gordon and Brandon Williford. Two Democrats are vying to replace Drake: Sequanna Taylor and Amillia Heredia. Madison is unopposed in running for his second term.

Voters in 4th Senate will want to mark these dates on their calendar.

  • July 2 – special partisan primary for the remainder of Taylor’s term
  • July 30 – special general election for the remainder of Taylor’s term (only winner of July 2 to appear on ballot)
  • Aug. 13 – statewide partisan primary, including Drake vs Myers 2.0 and state representative races
  • Nov. 5 – presidential election, statewide fall election (only winners of Aug. 13 primaries to appear in 4th Senate District and State Assembly races)

Need to know if you’re in the district? You can judge by the map or use the state’s My Vote WI website.

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Categories: Politics

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