Wisconsin Special Election Offers GOP Bright Spot on Bleak Night

Dan Knodl
via Dan Knodl

Republicans notched a key win in a special election race for the Wisconsin state Senate. Despite the state Supreme Court loss that hands liberals a majority, the special election win could render that victory meaningless.

In an astonishingly expensive state Supreme Court election that became all about abortion, the conservative candidate was definitively routed.

That race carries warning signs and implications about issues for the 2024 presidential election, but the night wasn’t all alarm bells for the GOP.

In a simultaneously occurring special election for Wisconsin’s 8th Senate District, Republican candidate Dan Knodl declared a victory.

With about 1,300 votes separating the two at that time, Democrat candidate Jodi Habush Sinykin refused to concede. The race had flipped several times over the course of vote counting.

But with 99% of the vote in an most of the outstanding from conservative Lisbon in Waukesha County, Knodl’s win is all but assured.

Habush Sinykin’s campaign said it would issue a statement in the morning.

Power to Impeach

While state Republicans still lack a veto-proof majority in the legislature, Knodl’s win gives them a senate supermajority that allows them to impeach state officials for “corrupt conduct in office or for the commission of a crime or misdemeanor”.

Their numbers are great enough to not need a single Democrat vote. Impeachment would also remove officials from office.

In a pre-election interview, Knodl said he would be willing to consider impeaching Milwaukee County officials including judges and District Attorney John Chisholm.

He also brought up Janet Protasiewicz before she won tonight’s state Supreme Court election, saying she had “failed” as a circuit court judge.

When asked directly if he would vote to impeach her, should she win, he answered, “I would consider it.”

Mordecai Lee, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said Republicans would almost certainly use their new power to target Democrats.

“I would not be surprised if the two-thirds majority wants to entertain proposing and pursuing those scenarios, and in a sense they would say to themselves why not, this is what the Constitution gives us the power to do,” Lee said.

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