Republicans make huge gains

Story by Sam Rosenberry


Reflecting the similar nationwide trend, it was a tough election night for Democrats in Wisconsin.

The Republicans took two seats in the House, Republican Ron Johnson won the Senate seat over three-term incumbent Russ Feingold and Scott Walker took the governorship.

The only Democratic victories were in Districts 2, 3 and 4, including Representative Ron Kind’s defeat of Dan Kapanke by four percent in the third district.

On the state government level, Democrat Katherine Vinehout was the only state politician, that Eau Claire County could vote on, to win re-election to state senate.

In the local assembly districts, Democrat incumbents Kristen Dexter and Jeff Smith both lost by less than 90 votes to Kathy Bernier and Warren Petryk, respectively.

Jodi Kwarciany, who is the political director for College Democrats, said overall she wasn’t happy with these results.

“It’s hard and it hurts,” she said. ” … Sometimes defeat is a lot easier when you feel like you haven’t put anything into it, but this time we were really going for it full-force.”

She said she does still feel optimistic for the future, though, and thinks Democrats will always have solid ideas.

Treasurer for College Republicans and senior Jacob Kampen, on the other hand, was very pleased with the results.

“I’m very excited about how everything turned out,” he said. “I think everybody was expecting a pretty good Republican result, but it certainly, in my mind, turned out even better than what we were hoping for.”

Kampen said he feels job creation is an important issue to him and that it will be something Republicans will be able to take care of.

Rodd Freitag, political science professor at UW-Eau Claire, said he had predicted Republicans would win, but he thought the total amount of Republican wins was still impressive.

“It’s still a little bit surprising to see this happen,” he said. “Something on this scale is rare.”

On the state level, he felt that Feingold and Barrett were hurt by the current dislike of the Democrats. He added that he felt Johnson and Walker both ran intelligent campaigns.

Kampen agreed that there was a general dislike of current Democrats, which led to their loss of seats nationally. He thought it was not the case in state elections.

“Statewide, I think a lot of people like the Republican candidates we had running this year,” he said. “I think people voted for Scott Walker, and for state house and state Senate candidates.”

Kwarciany said she thought that improvements to the country were not happening quickly enough for a lot of people, which led to them not voting Democrat.

In Eau Claire County, Democrats fared better than they did in the state as a whole.

According to the Eau Claire County Clerk’s website, Feingold won by two percent and Barrett won by less than 400 votes. The county also voted for Kristen Dexter, Pat Kreitlow and Jeff Smith to keep
their seats.

Kwarciany wasn’t surprised with how the Democrats did in the county.

“The Eau Claire County Democratic Party is truly a well-oiled machine,” she said. “The efforts that have been going on have been going on for over a year because this is something we’re passionate about.”

City Clerk Donna Austad said turnout for the city was 57.5 percent and on-campus turnout was more than 40 percent in each ward.

In the end, Freitag said spending will be cut in the state and that even if Democrats won, they would have cut things as well.
“It’ll leave a mark,” Freitag said. “You’ll see it. Exactly how and in what way, we’ll have to wait.”