I just got a hold of WisPolitics' handicapping of the Assembly races from a very helpful reader. These analyses are a few weeks old now, but they're the latest we got at this point.
The handicaps confirm most of what I've been hearing about the battle for the lower chamber. It predicts that the presumed GOP wave will not have a great effect on the legislative races, and that incumbents in both parties will be favored to retain their seats, even if they are ideologically opposed to the projected electorate.
The only incumbent Democrat who is rated as a probable loss is Rep. Ted Zigmunt, who represents a region to the South of Green Bay, including New Denmark, and was elected as a part of the Democratic wave two years ago. WisPolitics rates the race as a leaning towards the GOP.
In addition, Reps. Jim Soletski (Green Bay), Kristen Dexter (Northwest), Phil Garthwaite (Southwest) and Ann Hraychuck (Northwest) are incumbent Democrats whose races are rated as toss ups. All four were elected in either 2006 or 2008, both big Democratic years.
The Fox Valley seat that Tom Nelson is vacating is favored to go to the GOP. Another open Democratic seat, in the great Northwest, is being vacated by longtime Democratic Rep. Mary Hubler, and is also neck-and-neck.
Both "independent" seats are favored to turn over to the GOP. Bob Ziegelbauer was never really much of a Democrat, but when he comes back to the Assembly in January, he will likely be voting for a Republican leader, which he did not do in the past. Jeff Wood who caucused with the Dems in the last two years of his tenure, will represent a loss to the Dems as well as to the media.
The only Republican seat that is rated as a toss up is the one Brett Davis is leaving, the 80th. Janis Ringhand, who lost to Davis by only a couple hundred votes two years ago, is in a tight race with Republican opponent Dan Henke in the traditionally blue area just South of here.
What does this all mean? It suggests a Republican takeover is very likely, but that Democrats are not defenseless. What the WisPolitics analysis did not discuss was the role of outside groups, including the state parties. It may not be clear until after the election how much money was spent by third parties on behalf of Dem and Republican candidates.
Mike McCabe, director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, believes the outside spending has heavily favored the GOP. "I'd say Republican groups are spending at least twice as much as pro-Democrat groups in state races this year. But you wouldn't know it by looking at what little has been disclosed so far," he wrote in an email to The Sconz.
More than half of the money reported as of a few days ago was from the Greater Wisconsin Committee, which will likely pour as much as two million into attacks against Scott Walker. But what about groups helping legislative candidates. Kory Kozlowski, of the State Senate Democratic Campaign, believes groups such as WEAC are giving Dems an advantage over Republicans, however, as McCabe noted, a group called the Republican State Leadership Committee is pledging over $1 million to legislative races in Wisconsin alone.