The Wisconsin Senate Chamber. The Majority party sits in the outer row, while the Minority party sits in the inner row.

The Wisconsin Senate is divided into 33 districts; the odd numbered districts are up in midterm years while the even districts are up in presidential years. Republicans currently hold a 18-15 advantage in the chamber.

The filing deadline is June 2nd, 2014, so the field is not set yet, and there is a lot of time for things to change.

Join me below the cheese curd to learn more about the individual races.

Senate District 1: Door County, Two Rivers, Kimberly, De Pere, Brillion, Kewaunee
Incumbent: Frank Lasee (R)
52%-47% Romney 2012.

Senator Frank Lasee was first elected in 2010, succeeding his father, Al, after serving 14 years in the Assembly. This district didn't change too much in redistricting, and leans Republican. Senator Lasee is popular, and while he has been somewhat loud in the past, I haven't heard a single piece of news on him since he dropped out of the 2012 US Senate race. No Democrat has filed to run yet, but I expect that to change. Baring a wave, Lasee is safe.

Rating: Likely Republican.

Senate District 3: Milwaukee, West Milwaukee, West Allis, Greenfield  
Incumbent: Tim Carpenter (D)
69%-30% Obama 2012.

Senator Tim Carpenter was elected to the Senate in 2002, after serving 18 years in the Assembly. This district got bluer in redistricting by shedding Archie Bunker types in Greenfield, while gaining West Milwaukee, and is safe Democratic. This district has the largest Hispanic population of any Senate district in the state. Senator Carpenter will cruise to re-election. The next senator from this district will likely be Hispanic.

Rating: Safe Democratic

Senate District 5: Wauwatosa, West Allis, Brookfield, Elm Grove, New Berlin
Incumbent: Leah Vukmir (R)
56%-43% Romney 2012.

Senator Leah Vukmir was elected the Senate in 2010, defeating incumbent Democratic Sen. Jim Sullivan. Vukmir succeeded Scott Walker (who still lives in this district in Wauwatosa) in the Assembly in 2002. This district has gotten much redder in redistricting by expanding westward into Wauke$ha County, and losing West Milwaukee. No Democrat has filed to run yet, but I expect that to change. While being a somewhat controversial figure, Vukmir will easily win re-election.

Rating: Safe Republican.

Senate District 7: Milwaukee, Saint Francis, Cudahy, South Milwaukee, Oak Creek.
Incumbent: Chris Larson (D), Minority Leader.
59%-39% Obama 2012.

Senator Chris Larson, the Minority Leader, was first elected in 2010, after defeating sitting Sen. Jeff Plale in the Democratic primary. This district hardly changed at all in redistricting, only adding a few precincts here and there. This is a blended district, with the northern section (AD-19) being strongly Democratic, the middle section (AD-20) leaning Democratic, and the southern section (AD-21) leaning Republican. As a whole, however, this district is safe for Larson, or any other Democrat. No Republican is running yet, but that will change.

Rating: Safe Democratic

Senate District 9: Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Plymouth, Chilton Sheboygan Falls, Kohler.
Incumbent: Joe Leibham (R)
53%-46% Romney 2012.

Sen. Joe Leibham was elected to the Senate in 2002, narrowly defeating incumbent Sen. Jim Baumgart (D). This was a sign of how much this district had (and has continued to) trend Republican. While Sheboygan and Manitowoc are Democratic, everything else in the district is very Republican. Democrat Martha Kniess Laning has filed, but Leibham is popular, and the district is red, and only getting redder as time goes on.

Rating: Safe Republican.

Senate District 11: Fort Atkinson, Delavan, Lake Geneva, Muckwonago, Elkhorn, Jefferson.
Incumbent: Neal Kedzie (R)
56%-43% Romney 2012.

Senator Neal Kedzie was elected to the Senate in 2002. This district got bluer in redistricting by losing most of its Wauke$ha County territory, and gaining blue Fort Atkinson, but it is still strongly Republican. No Democrat has filed here yet, but that might change. Kedzie is not controversial, and will easily be re-elected in the district where Scott Walker grew up (Delavan).

Rating: Safe Republican.

Senate District 13: Watertown, Beaver Dam, DeForest, Columbus, Oconomowoc, Lake Mills, Mayville, Waterloo, Hartford.
Incumbent: Scott Fitzgerald (R), Majority Leader.
56%-43% Romney 2012.

Senator Scott "Big Fitz" Fitzgerald, the Majority Leader, was elected to the Senate in 1994, defeating incumbent Barbara Lorman in the Republican primary. The further west you go in this district, the more Democratic it becomes. However, the Democratic strength is massively overwhelmed by Dodge County and Oconomowoc. This district also got slightly redder in redistricting. Though Big Fitz is somewhat controversial, he is popular in the redder parts of the district, and will easily dispatch Democrat Michelle Zahn, who is no Lori Compass (who interestingly was drawn out of this district).

Rating: Safe Republican.

Senate District 15: Janesville, Beloit, Whitewater, Edgerton, Milton, Evansville, Broadhead, Oregon.
Incumbent: Tim Cullen (D), retiring.
62%-37% Obama 2012.

Tim Cullen was re-elected to the Senate in 2010 after originally being elected in 1974 (defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Swan), and serving until he was tapped by Gov. Tommy Thompson to head the Department of Health and Family Services in 1987. Sen. Cullen announced his retirement, citing the hyper-partisanship that had become the reality at the Capitol during his absence from the Senate. Cullen also served as Majority Leader for a time during his first stint in the Senate. Democratic State Rep. Janis Ringhand is the only Democrat filed at this point, but fellow Democratic Rep. Andy Jorgensen was exploring a run. I could not find whether Jorgensen has defaulted to Ringhand or not, so it is yet to be seen who the Democratic nominee will be. However, whoever the Democrat is in the race, they will be the next senator, as this district got even more Democratic in redistricting by shedding reddish western Rock County, and adding Evansville (and Rep. Ringhand), and parts of Dane and Green Counties. No Republican has filed yet, but I expect that one will.

Rating: Safe Democratic.

Senate District 17: Platteville, Monroe, Boscobel, Dodgeville, Mauston, Reedsburg, Richland Center, Darlington.
Incumbent: Dale Schultz (R), retiring.
57%-42% Obama 2012.

Senator Dale Schultz was elected to the Senate in a 1991 special election, after serving 8 years in the Assembly. Sen. Schultz was to face a strong primary challenge from the right from State Rep. Howard Marklein after voting against many of Gov. Walker's major proposals. Schultz opted to retire instead of face an uphill primary battle. Had he won the primary, Schultz would have been strongly favored in the general. Without Schultz, this district is Target #1 for a Democratic pickup. Don't let the Obama numbers fool you, though. This is an ancestrally Republican area (up until about he mid-2000s, Republicans ran virtually unopposed), and is redder the further down the ballot you go. Last cycle, I expected Democrats to pick up at least two of the three Assembly seats nested in SD-17, but it wasn't to be. Rep. Marklein, for example, was re-elected in AD-51 52%-48%, while Obama was winning it with 59%. Redistricting moved the district slightly to the right, but it was mainly swapping-out Prairie du Sac and Sauk City (66% Obama '08) with Monroe (62% Obama '08). Democrat Ernie Wittwer is somewhat of a some-dude, but he should preform well against Marklein, given a lot of Democrats in the won't have Dale Schultz to vote for anymore. However, I would not be surprised if Marklein won, given the down-ballot strength of Republicans in this district, plus the lower off-year turnout.

Rating: Leans Democratic.

Senate District 19: Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Winneconne.
Incumbent: Mike Ellis (R), Senate President.
49%-49% Obama 2012 (Obama by 12 votes).

Senator Mike Ellis, the Senate President, was elected to the Senate in 1982, defeating incumbent Democratic Sen. Gary Goyke (father of current Rep. Evan Goyke of Milwaukee), after serving 12 years in the Assembly. Sen. Ellis is regarded as a moderate (though not as moderate as Sen. Schultz), and is quite popular in this district. Ellis hasn't faced a strong challenge in years. This year is different, though. Democrats are running State Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber. This district hardly changed in redistricting (basically, only the suburban Town of Center was dropped), but that change allowed Obama to win the district. It is a swing district, but Ellis is popular, and with off-year turnout, he should have the edge. This seat will definitely be up for grabs once the almost-73 year old Ellis retires.

Rating: Leans Republican.

Senate District 21: Pleasant Prairie, Caledonia, Racine, Mount Pleasant, Union Grove, Burlington, Twin Lakes, Sturtevant.
Incumbent: John Lehman (D), retiring.
55%-44% Romney 2012.

Senator John Lehman was first elected to the Senate in 2006, after serving 10 years in the Assembly. He was swept out in the 2010 wave by Republican Van Wanggaaaaaaaaarad. Lehman then turned around and was narrowly swept back into the Senate as voters recalled Sen. Wanggaard. In redistricting, Lehman's district, and the neighboring 22nd District, were the most altered district in the state. Uber-blue Racine was removed and replaced by the conservative exurbs of western Kenosha County. Rather than run a suicide-run against Wanggaaaard, who is running again, Lehman decided to retire, and is running for Lt. Governor. 2011 22nd District recall candidate Jonathan Steitz (R) has filed, but I expect Van Wanggaaaaard to again be the next Senator from the 21st. No Democrat has filed yet.

Rating: Safe Republican.

Senate Districts 21 and 22. Textbook example of 'Packing and Cracking' type of gerrymandering. As many Democrats are packed into SD-22 as possible, while the remaining ones are cracked among the three Assembly districts nested in SD-21, ensuring no competition.
Senate District 23: Chippewa Falls, Marshfield, Bloomer, Stratford, Neillsville, Osseo, Augusta, Stanley, Eau Claire, Altoona.
Incumbent: Terry Moulton (R)
51%-48% Romney 2012.

Senator Terry Moulton was elected to the senate in 2010, defeating incumbent Democrat Pat Kreitlow. Moulton previously served in the Assembly from 2005 to 2009. This district became redder in redistricting by loosing most of the Eau Claire territory it had, and picking up part of light-red Marshfield. Even though Romney only narrowly won this district, as previously mentioned, the main source of Democratic votes (Eau Claire) was removed. I just can't see Democrats winning this district, barring a wave. No Democrat has filed yet, but I expect someone will.

Rating: Likely Republican.

Senate District 25: Superior, Washburn, Ashland, Hurley, Spooner, Rice Lake, Phillips, Park Falls, Clear Lake, Cumberland,
Incumbent: Bob Jauch (D), retiring.
56%-43% Obama 2012.

Senator Bob Jauch was first elected to the Senate in 1986, after serving 4 years in the Assembly. Sen Jauch announced his retirement, like Sen. Cullen and Sen. Schultz, citing hyper-partisanship. State Rep. Janet Bewley (D) has filed to run. No Republicans have filed yet. This district changed slightly in redistricting, losing most of Sawyer County, but gaining Price County. This change made the district marginally more blue. Northern Wisconsin is trending Republican lately, and Sen Jauch was only narrowly re-elected in 2010. But, that was 2010. Rep. Bewley should be fine though, becoming the next senator from the 25th District. Due to this being an open seat in an off year in an are that is slowly but steadily trending Republican, I can't rate this as safe.

Rating: Likely Democratic.

Senate District 27: Middleton, Verona, Waunakee, Mount Horeb, New Glarus, Ridgeway, Baraboo, Prairie du Sac, Sauk City, Portage, Fitchburg.
Incumbent: Jon Erpenbach (D)
62%-37% Obama 2012.

Senator Jon Erpenbach was first elected to the Senate in 1998. This district changed in redistricting. Most of Green County was dropped, while eastern Sauk County and Portage were added, to help shore up Sen. Luther Olsen in the 14th District. This made this district slightly bluer. Of note, Russ Feingold's political career was started back in 1983 by winning an iteration of SD-27. No Republican has filed yet, but it doesn't really matter, as Sen. Erpenbach will sail to another term.

Rating: Safe Democratic.

Senate District 29: Wausau, Mosinee, Medford, Ladysmith, Hayward, Rothschild, Schofield, Weston, Kronenwetter, Marshfield.
Incumbent: Jerry Petrowski (R)
52%-47% Romney 2012.

Senator Jerry Petrowski was elected to the Senate in a 2012 special election, after serving in the Assembly since 1998. There were two major changes to this district, each of which made it slightly redder. First, this district picked up part of the city of Marshfield and the village of Auburndale. Second, Price County was totally excised, in favor of adding most of Sawyer County. This district has zoomed to the right over the last few years. As late as 2006, it was safe for Democrats. Now, I have a hard time seeing Sen. Petrowski, who is fairly popular, not get a full four-year term.

Rating: Likely Republican.

Senate District 31: Eau Claire, Prescott, Ellsworth, Durand, Mondovi, Galesville, Arcadia, Whitehall, Black River Falls.
Incumbent: Kathleen Vinehout (D)
54%-44% Obama 2012.

Senator Kathleen Vinehout was first elected to the Senate in 2006, defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Brown. This is my home senate district, so I am biased. I know and like Sen. Vinehout. She seems to truly care about the people of SD-31. Like many districts, this one changed fairly significantly in redistricting, making it bluer. First, the remainder of Eau Claire was added to shore up Sen. Moulton. Also, western Pierce County was added because the Wisconsin extension of Michelle Bachmann-land (SD-10) had to shed people. Lastly, eastern Jackson and northern Monroe Counties were shed in order to more efficiently pack Democrats. So far, both Pierce County Board member Mel Pittman and Pepin County Board member Bill Ingram have filed as Republicans (I happen to know Pittman's campaign treasurer). Ingram was unsuccessful in a 2010 Assembly run, and also is a relative of former Assembly Speaker C. A. Ingram. If Sen. Vinehout could beat the popular brother of Tommy Thompson (the late Ed Thompson) in a redder district, in the most Republican year in recent memory, she should be able to easily beat both Mr. Ingram or Mr. Pittman.

Rating: Safe Democratic.

Senate District 33: Wauke$ha, Delafield, Pewaukee, Sussex, North Prairie, Hartland, Merton, Oconomowoc Lake, Dousman, Chenequa, Nashotah, Wales.
Incumbent: Paul Farrow (R)
66%-33% Romney 2012.

Senator Paul Farrow was first elected in a 2012 special election. His mother, Margaret Farrow, was the Senator in this district during the '90s, before being tapped by Gov. Scott McCallum (I wonder what he's up to these days) to be Lt. Governor. This district changed in redistricting, in that it moved westward and southward. This didn't really effect the partisanship in any meaningful way, as it just dropped uber-red places in exchange for more uber-red places. It is solely in Wauke$ha County, after all. That also means that Sen. Farrow will have absolutely no trouble at all winning a full four-year term. No Democrats have filed here yet, and I won't be surprised if none do.

Rating: Safe Republican.


Overall Ratings:

Safe D: 3, 7, 15, 27, 31 (5)
Likely D: 25 (1)
Lean D: 17 (1)
Tossup: None (0)
Lean R: 19 (1)
Likely R: 1, 23, 29 (3)
Safe R: 5, 9, 11, 13, 21, 33 (6)

D to R: 21 (-1)
R to D: 17 (+1)
Net Change: None (0)
Projected Senate: 18-15 Republican Majority.


Coo-dos to you if you made it this far in the diary. I will take any thoughts, praises or criticisms in the comments below. Thanks for reading!!!! On Wisconsin!!  

Originally posted to Dirt Road Democrat on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 11:23 PM PST.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive.


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