The wall-to-wall coverage of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions has made it easy to forget that there’s a primary election in Wisconsin on Aug. 9.
Wisconsin used to hold its primary in September. The election was moved up in order to ensure enough time for absentee ballots to be sent out to and collected from soldiers serving abroad.
The 2012 Wisconsin fall primary still got some attention as there was a competitive GOP race for the U.S. Senate seat that was ultimately captured by Democrat Tammy Baldwin. But, without a big statewide race to capture the headlines — Ron Johnson and Russ Feingold are going virtually unchallenged in the primaries for this year’s U.S. Senate race — the fall primaries seem like an afterthought.
Which is a shame as there are some big races going on around the state. In Milwaukee County, Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm is being challenged by Verona Swanigan. Chisholm has been a big player in the fight to keep the John Doe investigations alive, so Swanigan is being bolstered by a number of groups on the right, hoping that they can elect a “Democratic” district attorney in the mold of “Democratic” Sheriff/GOP convention speaker David Clarke. Also in Milwaukee, the primary will almost certainly determine who will go on to win two state senate seats in November.
Then there are the adorable races; candidate Paul Nehlan believes he honestly has a chance at taking down Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in a Republican primary race. I mean, Neelan has like no chance of winning, but I have to admire someone so bold — even if his latest ad basically just attacks Ryan for not being xenophobic enough for Republican voters.
Here in Dane County, there’s a three-way Democratic primary in the Assembly race to replace retiring Rep. Robb Kahl (D-Monona). There’s a surprisingly brutal district attorney primary race as Bob Jambois is challenging his boss, Democratic District Attorney Ismael Ozanne. In both cases, the winner of that primary will go on to win the race in November. That is, unless you think a Republican is going to win a countywide race in Dane County.
None of these races are as exciting as a presidential or U.S. Senate race, but they are still important. It may be hard to focus on anything else political when a major party’s presidential candidate is asking Russia to help him with some espionage, but the outcome of these races will help shape our communities and our state.