2022 Political Nuggets


 Joe Murray  |    September 13, 2021
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The 2022 midterm elections are 14 months away, but political candidates and parties are very busy getting organized, raising money and generally trying to put themselves in the best position to win next year or, in some cases, mitigate their potential losses.

As a political swing state, Wisconsin will receive a lot of attention from the two national political parties and their friendly third-party allies. The amount of campaign fundraising and spending is widely expected to skyrocket in 2022, with the statewide races at the top of the ticket driving down-ballot races for Congress and the state Legislature.

The 2022 midterm elections in Wisconsin will include the race for governor and lieutenant governor, U.S. Senate, attorney general, state treasurer and secretary of state. This, along with eight congressional races and 116 state legislative races, will generate lots of activity from candidates and party committees as the calendar inches closer to the 2022 midterms.

CANDIDATES

Here are six political developments to watch as we enter the beginning of the 2022 political cycle.

Mandela Barnes moves on: Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D-WI) is passing up the chance to be elected to a second term as lieutenant governor to run in the crowded Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. With Barnes out of the race, Gov. Tony Evers’ running mate will be determined in an early August 2022 primary election.

The statewide election for lieutenant governor is likely to draw multiple candidates from both
parties heading into next year’s midterm election. So far, only one Republican candidate has formally entered the race: the three-term mayor of Lancaster, David Varnam, who is running on a platform to lower property taxes and more aggressive economic development.

Roger Roth draws an early opponent: Appleton businessman Mark Scheffler has entered the race in the 19th Senate District to challenge incumbent GOP Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) in the 2022 election. Scheffler, a Democrat, is running on a platform of ‚Äúa sustainable economy, a sustainable environment, and a sustainable society.‚ÄĚ Scheffler describes himself as ‚Äúa proud progressive, a successful business leader, an avid outdoorsman, and a different kind of Democrat.‚ÄĚ Scheffler is the founder of Appleton Group LLC, an investment adviser.

Roth, a member of the WRA, was first elected to the Wisconsin Senate in 2014 and reelected in 2018. Since his election, Roth has earned a perfect score on pro-business and pro-real estate issues with the WRA. The 19th Senate District includes most of the city of Appleton, Neenah and Menasha, and portions of Outagamie and Winnebago counties.

Political fundraising: Campaign committees and political parties continue to raise more money every election cycle, with Republicans raising far more money than Democrats through their partisan campaign committees and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin vastly outraising the state Republican Party. This disparity reflects the current power structure in state government where Republicans have large majorities in the Legislature, and Democrats control most statewide offices, including the governor’s office.

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Ron Kind retires: Democratic Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) officially declared he will not run for a 14th term in 2022. As the longest-serving member of Wisconsin‚Äôs congressional delegation, Kind will retire after 25 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, which will likely make it more difficult for Democrats to main control after 2022. In 2020, Kind defeated his Republican challenger, retired Navy Seal Derrick Van Orden, by three points ‚ÄĒ the smallest margin of victory Kind has experienced in an election since his first election in 1996. Van Orden has already entered the race again for next year.

Wisconsin as a gubernatorial battleground: Over the last 20 years, Wisconsin elections for governor have been won or lost by narrow margins, and the outcomes evenly split. An analysis by Smart Politics found, ‚ÄúWisconsin‚Äôs last six races ‚ÄĒ including the 2012 Scott Walker recall contest ‚ÄĒ have been decided by an average of 5.1 points with Democrats winning three (Jim Doyle in 2002 and 2006 and Tony Evers in 2018) and the GOP winning three (Walker in 2010, 2012, and 2014).‚ÄĚ Political prognosticators project another close gubernatorial contest in 2022.

Midwest gubernatorial elections: Research by Dr. Eric Ostermeier shows that ‚ÄúFive states governed by Democrats have gubernatorial elections in the 2022 cycle in which voters have not elected a nominee from the same party as the sitting president for more than a quarter-century.‚ÄĚ
In Wisconsin, the last time voters elected a Democrat for governor with a Democrat in the White House was 1962, when Democrat John Reynolds won an open seat with John F. Kennedy in the White House. In fact, Ostermeier notes that ‚ÄúDemocrats have lost a staggering 32 of the last 33 elections for governor when a Democrat resides in the White House going back to 1855.‚Ä̬†

Joe Murray is Director of Political and Governmental Affairs for the WRA.

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