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Wisconsin Democrats Sweating Out GOP Supermajority Push

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Scott Olson
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Election officials count absentee ballots on Nov. 4 in Milwaukee.

Wisconsin Democrats waited anxiously on Wednesday to see if they had blocked a Republican attempt to build legislative supermajorities that would negate Gov. Tony Evers’ veto powers and allow them to advance their agenda at will over the upcoming session.

>>2020 Wisconsin Election Results

Republicans went into Tuesday’s elections with a 63-34 advantage in the Assembly and an 18-13 edge in the Senate. The GOP was looking to add three seats in the Assembly and three in the Senate, which would give them the two-thirds majority in each house they would need to override the Democratic governor’s vetos.

With supermajorities, Republicans would be able to write the next state budget to their liking. Perhaps more important, they would be able to redraw the state’s electoral boundaries next year so that the GOP would maintain its legislative majorities for the next decade. Democrats’ only recourse would be a lawsuit.

Republicans set their sights on flipping six swing districts along Wisconsin’s borders. Democrats countered by spending nearly $2 million to try to hold six seats, which was an unprecedented sum. As of Wednesday morning, it appeared the strategy had worked for the most part.

Republican state Rep. Rob Stafsholt easily defeated Democratic Sen. Patty Schachtner to win northwestern Wisconsin’s 10th Senate District. Schachtner had won the traditionally conservative district in a 2018 special election and was seen as vulnerable.

Republican Eric Wimberger was leading Democrat Jonathon Hansen in northeastern Wisconsin’s open 30th Senate District. The area leans conservative but Hansen’s Democratic uncle, Dave Hansen, managed to hold the seat for 19 years before he decided to retire, opening the door for Republicans to finally take back the seat.

The race between Republican Dan Kapanke and Democrat Eric Pfaff for western Wisconsin’s 32nd Senate District was too close to call.

Republicans also targeted Democratic Reps. Robyn Vining in southeastern Wisconsin’s 14th Assembly District; Beth Meyers in northern Wisconsin’s 74th Assembly District; and Steve Doyle in western Wisconsin’s 94th Assembly District. Those races were still too close to call Wednesday morning, but all three Democrats held leads over their challengers.

All in all, it appeared Republicans might have a chance to achieve a supermajority in the Senate but not in the Assembly, which would not be enough to thwart Evers.

State GOP Chairman Andrew Hitt still called the elections a success, saying in a statement that despite all the money Democrats pumped into the races, Republicans still control the Assembly and lost two state Senate seats.

State Democratic Party spokeswoman Kate Constalie didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

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