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Meet the candidates who will determine if Republicans gain a supermajority in the Wisconsin Senate

Dan Knodl (left) and Jodi Habush Sinykin
Courtesy of candidates
Rep. Dan Knodl (left) and Jodi Habush Sinykin (right)

Following the retirement of former Wisconsin state Sen. Alberta Darling, a Republican, the vacant 8th District state Senate seat will be filled by either Republican Rep. Dan Knodl or Democrat Jodi Habush Sinykin. This election will also determine whether or not Republicans gain a supermajority on the state Senate by holding two-thirds of the seats.

Who are the candidates?

Representative Dan Knodl
Courtesy of Dan Knodl
Rep. Dan Knodl

Dan Knodl

Party: Republican

About: Knodl represents the 24th District in the Wisconsin state Assembly. He says he wants "to continue not only [former Sen. Alberta Darling's] good work, but my good work as well." Knodl says his proudest legislative achievements are the victim protection bill that Gov. Tony Evers signed into law as well as tax cuts.

How his business experience shapes his views: "Well, I think [my business experience] is really the reason that I ran for office. My one business I had, the state came in ... through eminent domain actually took my business. You have to be compensated for. It bought a business that I had been building and growing for 16 years. All of a sudden I didn't have a choice that, that business and the property was going to be taken from me," Knodl says.

He adds, "The years of experience, over really 40 years of small business ownership, I've employed hundreds of people. I've had to deal with many regulations, over burdensome regulations, quite frankly. And so those are some of the things that I focus on ... in the state Assembly is the regulatory burden upon businesses."

Stance on abortion: Knodl says, "The 1849 law that protects the life of the mother is the most important aspect. ... That has to be in place and the life of the mother is of utmost importance so we can have a child brought to term. I would add, which I have signed on to the bill, that we would have exceptions for rape and incest, and I believe that the medical procedures do need further definition in what might be constituted as abortion. It appears we have some medical doctors that might not be comfortable doing other medical procedures that I would not consider abortion, we think of stillborn or stillbirth that they're cautious to do because I think that falls under abortion."

He says, "we have to be prudent to have equal protection for the mother and the child."

Stance on how to use the power of a potential Republican Senate supermajority: "Well, it's part of our state Constitution and it does give the authority to the House — very similar to the national level or the Assembly or the House — would bring forward impeachment process. The simple majority in the House and then it would have to be a two-thirds majority in the Senate," Knodl says.

He continues, "I've taken an oath to uphold the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution, and if there is identified that there is an official that is corrupt or has failed to do their job, quite frankly, we should consider them for impeachment — and that be specific to Milwaukee with the district attorney and the Circuit Court judges, including Janet Protasiewicz, which who have dealt out lenient sentencing, ... too little bail and they have put their community in jeopardy and in harm's way, and they should be held accountable for that."

Links: Website| Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Jodi Habush Sinykin
Courtesy of Jodi Habush Sinykin
Jodi Habush Sinykin

Jodi Habush Sinykin

Party: Democrat

About: As an attorney, Habush Sinykin says, "I have spent my career building coalition of Wisconsin citizens and policymakers to bring about important solution to pressing problems." She points to her work on the Great Lakes Compact and a puppy mill law.

How her business experience shapes her views: Habush Sinykin says, "I have, together with my husband, over 28 years experience running a small manufacturing business in Wisconsin. We've created good jobs for over 130 Wisconsin citizens. We've kept our facility in Wisconsin. And we have strong union endorsement and worker loyalty in our business."

She says there's a need for young workers in the state and points to, what she calls, "regressive policies that our legislators have been putting forward that have been discouraging young families and our viable workforce to want to move to Wisconsin, stay in Wisconsin, remain in Wisconsin." Changes Habush Sinykin would like to make to encourage young workers to Wisconsin include tax reform, affordable health care and abortion access.

Stance on abortion: Habush Sinykin is "strongly in favor of a woman's right to choose her own health care options, including the right to choose an abortion" and "honestly cannot tolerate this new reality that Wisconsin women now have less rights, less healthcare options than women in our neighboring states of Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan."

Thoughts on a Democrat winning this seat: Habush Sinykin says, "We can't overlook the fact that a win in Senate District 8, flipping this seat blue would send a strong message to the Republican majority that they have to moderate their views. ... They would be incentivized to start working together again across the aisle and addressing real problems that Wisconsin is facing."

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Election day is April 4. Check out WUWM's voter guide to learn about the races on the ballot and how to vote.


Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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