Paul Ryan, right, brought Van Wanggaard to podium before his race was decided
There's a new sheriff in town -- literally and figuratively.
Racine County elected Sheriff's Department Investigator Christopher Schmaling as its new sheriff, but the bigger news was the Republican sweep across the country, which echoed in Wisconsin as well as locally.
Wisconsin has a new senator and a new governor. Three-term Democratic senator Russ Feingold will be replaced by Republican Ron Johnson. "It's on to the next battle; it's on to the next fight; it's on to 2012," said Feingold. The governor's mansion will be occupied by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the race to succeed Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.
John Lehman, right,
with Cory Mason
The only challenged Democrat to withstand the Republican onslaught was 62nd District Rep. Cory Mason, who won a third term by defeating Republican Chris Wright. Democratic Rep. Bob Turner, who's been in the Assembly since forever -- 1990 -- easily defeated his Libertarian opponent, George Meyers.
In his concession speech at 11 p.m. at the Buona Vita restaurant, where the Democrats gathered for what felt like a wake, Lehman said "It's a Black Tuesday" with both houses of the Legislature and the governorship changing from Democratic to Republican control. "But we have done all we could do and we still talk straight. So many folks in this room have so much to be proud of. We talked issues, but we didn't get the best response with the word "progressive" but we have to keep at it.
"This is not the last election that will take place. It's been an honor for me."
Cory Mason celebrates
with his wife, Rebecca,
and their baby, Amelia
"This is a tough night," Mason noted, recalling something that Harriett Tubman, of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War era, said. "She said, 'Anytime the dogs are coming for you, you just keep going.' Well, it's the same for progressives." Mason said jobs and the economy are still his priorities. "I'm ready for the fight," he said.
All that took place at the Democratic gathering. Over at the Republicans' party at the Marriott -- which was much more like a celebration from the get-go with numerous TV screens declaring Republican victories around the country as soon as the East coast polling places closed -- the evening started with a victory speech by Rep. Paul Ryan, no less sincere with its inevitability, as he easily defeated Democrat John Heckenlively.
Paul Ryan, accepting congratulations Tuesday night
Ryan said, "A year ago, I would have been surprised (by these national results), but not now." Still, there was one outcome that surprised him: "I can't believe we beat Mike Sheridan in Janesville." Sheridan, the Assembly Speaker, a Democrat, was narrowly defeated by Republican Joe Knilans.
The national results, in which the U.S. House of Representatives went from Democratic to Republican control, mean a big promotion for Ryan: He now becomes chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee. But before that, his wife, Janna, pulled him away from the party at about midnight, to put his children -- boys 5 and 7 and a daughter, 8 -- to bed in their hotel rooms.
There was a small glitch in the Van Wanggaard victory celebration, as I discovered when I tracked him down near 11:30 p.m.. He was huddled with his staff in a small hotel room down a long corridor, pointedly staying away from the media. Reason: He still wasn't sure of the race's outcome.
Although Lehman had given his concession speech at the Democratic gathering 45 minutes earlier, that word never got to Wanggaard. Lehman told the Dems that he'd called Wanggaard to offer congratulations, "but he didn't pick up, so I left a voicemail message." Well, when I finally got to Wanggaard, he checked his cellphone, and couldn't find the message -- and his staff certainly wasn't going to take the word of a mere reporter.
Van Wanggaard has a kiss for his wife, Mary Jo, as he accepts State Senate victory
Eventually, the message was found and Wanggaard came forth to give the good news to his supporters at the victory party. After giving his wife, Mary Jo, a kiss -- well, a few of them to satisfy the cameras -- he said, "It's going to be almost a complete sweep in this county. Now we have to step up to the plate and do what we say we're going to do.
"Today we sent a message to the Madison spenders. We're going to restore accountability to Madison, and that starts in Racine County."
Here are some of the final numbers reported by the Racine County Clerk:
With 116,760 registered voters in Racine County, there were 73,498 votes cast.Final Racine County vote totals are HERE.
There were 15,707 straight Democratic votes cast; compared to 19,551 straight Republican votes. The Wisconsin Green Party garnered 53 straight party votes; the Libertarians got 97.
Paul Ryan: 46,584
John Heckenlively: 24,366
State Senator, District 21
John Lehman: 28,922
Van Wanggaard: 32,031
Assembly, District 61
Robert Turner: 10,024
George Meyers: 2,166
Assembly, District 62
Cory Mason: 10,453
Chris Wright: 8,571
Tony DeCubellis: 403
Assembly, District 63
Robin Vos 19,520
Racine County Sheriff
Joseph Buckley 23,085
Chris Schmaling 44,802
Jeffrey Gerrietts 3,427
Advisory Referendum on possible additional taxation for transportation
The detailed count -- precinct by precinct -- is HERE.
Get more Post! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Want to advertise? Learn how!