Rep. Seidel launching 29th Senate District run

Assistant Democratic Leader Rep. Donna Seidel of the 85th Assembly District appears set to launch a run for the 29th Senate District seat held for the past year by GOP Sen. Pam Galloway. The all-but-certain announcement will be made at a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday. Seidel is well known in the most densely populated part the district, having served for 16 years in the elected position of Marathon County Clerk of Courts prior to being elected to the Assembly, where she is now in her fourth term.

More than 21,000 signatures were filed earlier this month to force the recall election for Galloway. While there were other potential candidates, including Marathon County Democratic Party Chair Jeff Johnson, Seidel’s entry into this race is a game-changer and she is likely to become the consensus candidate for the Democrats. We’ll have to wait to see if the GOP still has sham candidates as part of its recall strategy in this go-around, but just eyeballing it, the election should occur sometime between late May and mid-June.

The 29th Senate District is no cakewalk for a Democrat, although Russ Decker held it for 20 years prior to being upset by Galloway in the Republican wave of November 2010. There was significant spending by outside groups to support Galloway’s bid. (Decker upset long-time GOP Sen. Walter John Chilsen to take the seat in 1990.) Of the three Assembly seats in the 29th, the GOP holds two of them. Seidel’s seat has been a safe one for Democrats for a very long time and it’s likely to remain that way, even as an open seat election and with or without the redistricting alterations encompassed by Act 43. Jerry Petrowski’s 86th Assembly District seat may really be more about being safe for Jerry than it is about being safe for Republicans, in general. It has swung between parties at times, but Petrowski has held it solidly since 1998.

Republicans picked up four Wisconsin Senate seats to control the majority 19-14 after the 2010 elections, but they lost two seats in 2011 recalls, leaving them with a precarious 17-16 advantage in the chamber. If the Democrats can pick up any of the four seats being contested in this round of recalls, it will tip the balance over to the Democrats for the remainder of this session. Beyond the recall elections in late spring to early summer, general elections will be taking place in November for even-numbered Senate seats.

Other Senate seats up for recall include Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, along with Sen. Van Wanggaard of the Racine area and Sen. Terry Moulton of the Chippewa Falls area. Van Wanggaard’s district is grossly altered by Wisconsin Act 43 to carve out the City of Racine. But even if that interesting reconfiguration withstands challenges, it won’t be in time to help him with the recall and he’s looking at a very competitive scenario involving a lot of voters that he’s probably never going to be seeing again (one way or another.) Wanggaard has the dubious honor of being the Senator with the most petition signatures for his recall; more than 24,000.

Like Galloway, all GOP senators up for recall except for Fitzgerald have only a year in the Senate under their belts, although Moulton served two terms in the Assembly from 2005 to 2009. Moulton is all but certain to face former Assembly Rep. Kristen Dexter, who was elected in 2008, serving one term in the same district Moulton represented before losing in 2010. Dexter also has a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday. Odd piece of trivia: though some have been here for a long time, none of the four Republican senators up for recall are Wisconsin natives and neither is Scott Walker. (It’s no big deal. Neither were Jim Doyle or Bill Proxmire.)


Cap Times: Looks like Dems will win control of Wisconsin Senate:


3 Responses to “Rep. Seidel launching 29th Senate District run”

  1. It would seem to me that it would be very difficult to turn the majority of voters, who recently elected Galloway, against her. I’ve talked to people who signed the petition to recall Walker but refused to do so with Galloway.

  2. Part of the issue with gathering Galloway signatures was the same as with Kleefisch: low name recognition. It wasn’t so much that people not signing the recall petitions were supporters as that they didn’t know these officials well enough to want to proactively force an election. There is also reason to believe that the 2010 election in the 29th was much about voting against Decker and a general GOP wave of momentum, as opposed to voting FOR Galloway.

  3. Part of the reason that Seidel’s seat has been relatively safe is because local republicans have not quite figured out that running a right-wing extremist is not going to work in a historically democratic district and that as much as the party may hate moderates these days, only a moderate would have a prayer.

    I have long told Donna when Decker was in that senate seat that she should go for that one (for two reasons, Donna has always been really good about following up with constituents – or at least this constituent where Russ was not… and two… that opened the door for me in the assembly).

    I have always thought that a great time to make an assembly run would be when there was no incumbant… so there is a likely chance I will have the oppurtunity to put up or shut up.

    I did not sign the Galloway recall forms because she has not really been in office long enough to warrant the recall. She has done nothing illegal or unethcial. She has simply toed the republican line.. and that is what all good little republicans must do.

    She did keep a campaign promise and pushed hard for the passage of concealed carry. That alone in my personal book was enough reason why she should serve out the rest of her term.

    Now… in the Recall election would I vote Galloway or Seidel??… that would be a hard one for me… I have always like Seidel but I do worry that, especially in the last few years, she has started leaning a little too much toward party spokesperson versus representive if the district.

    Also… seeing the bad things that the dems can do when they are in total control and the bad things that the reps can do when they are in total control… having gridlock is not necessarily a bad option right now. I would rather have a government that cannot do anything than have one that can do really stupid things really effectively.

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