Patty Schachtner, the chief medical examiner for St. Croix County, will take the seat that had been held for 17 years by former Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) defeating state Rep. Adam Jarchow.
Harsdorf took a job as GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s agriculture secretary.
In an interview, Schachtner said she thought she beat state Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) because the race had turned nasty in mailings from groups outside the district.
“It wasn’t nice. It was mean,” she said of the campaign literature. “People just said, ‘You know what? We’re nicer than that.’ ”
Jarchow said in a Twitter post that he had called Schachtner to congratulate her.
“I look forward to working with her as our new state senator,” he wrote in his tweet. “Thank you to all who worked so hard for our campaign.”
Schachtner took 55% of the vote to Jarchow’s 44% in unofficial returns.
In special elections for the state Assembly, voters in Washington County chose a Republican and voters in Racine County chose a Democrat, according to unofficial results.
Republican Sheila Harsdorf had held the seat since 2001, but she left in November to become Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s agriculture secretary. In 2016, Harsdorf won re-election by 26 percentage points, and Trump beat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by 17 points. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romneywon the district in 2012.
“This campaign was about investing in people and revitalizing our area, whether that is making sure that 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,” Schachtner said in a statement. “Tonight, voters showed that they share those priorities, and I am deeply grateful for their support.”
Attorney Adam Jarchow, Schachtner’s GOP opponent, conceded the race Tuesday night.
Republicans clearly sensed that this district was vulnerable. The conservative Americans for Prosperity spent at least $50,000 on ads, and the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce threw in another $80,000.
On the Democratic side, Greater Wisconsin spent $30,000, and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee spent $10,000.
Republicans will still control the state Legislature, with an 18-14 majority and one vacancy in the Senate.