In the special election to fill the open 10th Senate District seat, Democrat Patty Schachtner has emerged the victor after capturing 55 percent of the vote. She succeeds Sheila Harsdorf who resigned from the Wisconsin Senate in November to head up the state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.
Of more than 22,400 cast across five counties, Schachtner garnered 12,241 votes to 9,907 cast for Rep.Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) and 273 for Libertarian Brian L. Corriea, according to the unofficial results.
The race has been considered a litmus test throughout the state — and beyond — to gauge whether the special elections success experienced by Democrats elsewhere in the country would find its way to Wisconsin. Schachtner’s predecessor, Harsdorf, a Republican from River Falls, had held the seat since 2000.
In a statement, Schachtner said her campaign was about “... investing in people and revitalizing our area, whether that is making sure every Wisconsinite has access to affordable health care, funding our public schools, technical colleges and UW campuses, or investing in good-paying jobs right here in Western Wisconsin. Tonight, voters showed that they share those priorities, and I am deeply grateful for their support.”
The results demonstrate that money didn’t seem to have the usual effect on the outcome. According to a Wisconsin State Journal report, Jarchow reported that he raised $240,00 in addition to loaning himself $50,000, while Schachtner raised $180,000.
Outside spending by the conservative Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin included $50,000 for radio and digital ads advocating for Jarchow as well as the same amount on “issue ads”, the kind that don’t specifically advocate for the election of or defeat of a candidate. According to One Wisconsin Now, both the Republican State Leadership Committee and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce also spent a combined $78,000 on issue ads.
On the other side of the equation, reported WSJ, the Greater Wisconsin Political Expenditure Fund — which backs Democrats — spent $30,000 for online advertising in support of Schachtner and opposing Jarchow. Schachtner also received support from a new group, Postcardstovoters.org, that supports Democrats by mobilizing volunteers across the nation to send personalized get-out-the-vote postcards.
Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) welcomed Schachtner to the State Senate, noting, “Patty’s message of building up our communities and bridging our differences clearly had an impact as we saw some of the best numbers Democrats have seen in this district in decades. The results from today show that Wisconsin is ready for a change in Madison.”
In a post-election statement, Jarchow thanked his supporters, congratulated Schachtner and acknowledged that she had prevailed in what he called a “hard-fought campaign” as well as commending Corriea for his participation.
“I look forward to working with Patty in Madison and continuing to deliver results for the people of Northwestern Wisconsin,” Jarchow added.
Noting that she, too, looks forward to working with Rep. Jarchow, Schachtner concluded, “Three months ago, I would never have imagined that I’d be running for State Senate. To my supporters who voted for me, and also those who didn’t, I promise to fight every day to make sure your values and needs are represented in Madison.”