Democrats Take a Risk in Wisconsin Senate Race by Boosting Election Denier
In the competitive race for Wisconsin’s 8th Senate District seat, Democrats are taking a risk by spending money in the Republican primary to boost the candidacy of an election denier. This strategy was used somewhat successfully during the 2022 midterm elections in races for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and for governor in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maryland and Illinois. It is conceivable that candidates from the far-right, who deny the legitimacy of elections, could secure the votes of Republican voters in the primary. However, these same candidates would be more easily defeated in the general election than more moderate Republican candidates.
The three Republican candidates in the race — Menomonee Falls state Rep. Janel Brandtjen, Germantown state Rep. Dan Knodl and Thiensville village president Van Mobley — face off Tuesday in a GOP primary. The victor will confront Democrat Jodi Habush Sinykin on April 4. Brandtjen has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Brandtjen has been on the outs with the Republican caucus in recent months. In November 2022, the caucus voted to prohibit her from participating in private caucus meetings. After Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, was backed by his primary opponent and her colleagues voted to bar her from closed caucus, Brandtjen was stripped of her post as chair of the Campaigns and Elections Committee. GOP leadership stated in a letter that Assembly Republicans had lost trust in Brandtjen.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has paid for political mailers to highlight Brandtjen’s anti-abortion record and her endorsement from Trump. Jodi Habush Sinykin has also run ads attacking Brandtjen as “too conservative,” which could boost her chances in a primary where the candidates are courting conservative voters.
A Republican organization known as Americans for Country First is investing over $55,000 on ads to encourage people to oppose Brandtjen in the coming primary election. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has previously declared that Representative Janel Brandtjen is “inept,” “unqualified” and that she “spends her time tearing others down and dividing the state.” according to an online ad.
The stakes are high in this race as the seat could determine whether the GOP regains a supermajority in the state Senate.
0. “Democrats Spend Money In Republican Wisconsin State Senate Primary” Patch, 17 Feb. 2023, https://patch.com/wisconsin/foxpoint/democrats-spend-money-republican-wisconsin-state-senate-primary
1. “Democrats spend money in competitive Republican Senate primary” Wisconsin Examiner, 16 Feb. 2023, https://wisconsinexaminer.com/brief/democrats-spend-money-in-competitive-republican-senate-primary/
2. “Race for Alberta Darling's seat, Republican supermajority possible” FOX 6 Milwaukee, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.fox6now.com/news/republican-primary-alberta-darling-seat
3. “A primary race for the state's 8th Senate District marked by political intrigue and a Trump endorsement” Wisconsin Public Radio, 20 Feb. 2023, https://www.wpr.org/primary-race-election-8th-senate-district-political-intrigue-trump-endorsement
4. “Three Republicans vying to challenge Democratic newcomer for open Senate seat” Wisconsin Examiner, 13 Feb. 2023, https://wisconsinexaminer.com/2023/02/13/three-republicans-vying-to-challenge-democratic-newcomer-for-open-senate-seat/
5. “GOP showdown set Tuesday to advance in 8th state Senate district special election” WISN Milwaukee, 21 Feb. 2023, https://www.wisn.com/article/gop-showdown-set-tuesday-to-advance-in-8th-state-senate-district-special-election/42996029
6. “After winning GOP primary, Knodl to face Dem Habush Sinykin in 8th SD general election” WisPolitics.com, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.wispolitics.com/2023/after-winning-gop-primary-knodl-to-face-dem-habush-sinykin-in-8th-sd-general-election
7. “Rep. Dan Knodl wins Republican primary for crucial 8th Senate District seat” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2023/02/21/wisconsin-senate-district-8-election-results-republican-primary-dan-knodl-janel-brandtjen-van-mobley/69912136007/