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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Control over Legislature up in the air

With a large budget deficit and unemployment just below 8 percent, the question of whether Democrats can maintain control of the state Legislature will be answered Nov. 2.

Democrats took the assembly majority in 2008 with slim margins. As the houses stand now, the assembly has one independent and a 52-46 Democratic majority. The state Senate has an 18-15 majority in the Democrats' favor.

""Given how closely divided the assembly was two years ago, I think you have to assume that it's extremely competitive this year,"" UW-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin said.

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Republican Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Andrew Welhouse said he believes that poor Democratic leadership at the local and national levels will drive Wisconsin voters to Republicans in this election.

""People of Wisconsin are smart enough to know that over the last two years the Democrats had 100 percent control of both houses of the legislature and the governor's office in Madison, as well as the Congress and the presidency in D.C,"" Welhouse said.

State Senate Democratic Committee Executive Director Kory Kozloski disagrees.

""We recognize that there are some national trends that are not as favorable, but here at a local level, if you look at the senate races, we're very encouraged by the kind of campaigns that our candidates are running,"" Kozloski said.

With recent polls showing leads for Republicans in both the Wisconsin gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, some believe those numbers will trickle down to the state elections.

""This year it's competitive, but with forces favoring the Republicans,"" Franklin said.

Although state Senate Majority Leader Sen. Russ Decker, D-Wausau, is locked in a tight race to keep his seat against surgeon Pam Galloway, Kozloski said he is not worried about losing his leadership.

""It's gonna take more than a deluge of money on TV to knock him out,"" Kozloski said. ""I have a lot of confidence that Russ is gonna be able to come through.""

However, Welhouse said he feels ""confident that there will be large gains in both houses"" for Republicans.

Seventeen of the 33 Senate seats and all 99 Assembly seats are up for election this year.

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