Dowling wins clerk of court primary with support from townships, villages

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By Steve Prestegard and Correne Martin


With few exceptions, a plurality of Southwest Wisconsin voters chose candidates that ended up getting their party’s nomination in the Aug. 9 primary election for the Nov. 8 general election. 

In the Crawford County Clerk of Court race, incumbent Nancy Dowling retained her position moving forward into the general election, despite a strong representation from voters for her opponent, Lisa Miller, the current deputy clerk. Final results countywide concluded with Dowling edging out Miller, 965 votes to 601.

In the city of Prairie du Chien, Miller tallied 273 votes, while Dowling garnered a fair amount less with 229. However, Dowling had strong showings in most of the townships as well as in the villages of Gays Mills, Soldiers Grove and Wauzeka. For instance, the town of Clayton chose Dowling over Miller, 110-19, Gays Mills also swayed her way, 51-10, and Haney Township voted Dowling, 39-7.

Federal races

State Sen. Brad Pfaff (D–Onalaska) won the four-way Democratic race to succeed U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D–La Crosse) with 38.9 percent of the vote over Rebecca Cooke of Eau Claire (31.2 percent), Deb Baldus McGrath of Menomonie (19.1 percent), and Mark Neumann of La Crosse (10.8 percent.)

Pfaff won in Crawford County with 1,048 votes to 226 for Cooke, 208 for McGrath and 128 for Neumann.

Pfaff will face Republican Derrick Van Orden of Prairie du Chien, who lost to Kind in 2020, and Libertarian Rustin Provance of Pepin.

As expected after three candidates dropped out of the race before the primary, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate with 77.8 percent of the vote. The three candidates who dropped out before the primary finished well behind Barnes—Alex Lasry had 8.9 percent of the vote, state treasurer Sarah Godlewski had 8.1 percent of the vote, and Outagamie County executive Tom Nelson had 2.2 percent of the vote. 

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R–Wisconsin) also easily won his primary challenge over David Schroeder of Milwaukee, with 83.7 percent of the vote. 

Both Barnes and Johnson won in Crawford and Grant counties.

Statewide races

In contrast to what most pre-primary polls predicted, 2004 U.S. Senate candidate Tim Michels won the Republican primary for governor, with 47.2 percent of the vote over former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who got 42 percent, state Rep Tim Ranthum (6 percent) and former Rep. Adam Fischer (1.2 percent). Kevin Nicholson, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2018, got 3.6 percent even though he pulled out of the race before the primary.

Kevin Nicholson, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2018, suspended his campaign earlier this summer.

Michels won in Crawford County with 906 votes to Kleefisch’s 376. 

Michels will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and independent Joan Ellis Beglinger of Cross Plains.

State Sen. Roger Roth (R–Appleton) won the Republican primary for lieutenant governor with 30.1 percent of the vote. Former Lancaster mayor David Varnam had 5.2 percent of the vote. 

State Rep. Sara Rodriguez (D–Brookfield) won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, with 76.5 percent of the vote over Peng Her of Madison. 

Roth will be on the ticket with Michels, and Rodriguez will be on the ticket with Evers Nov. 8. 

In the closest statewide race of the primary, Fond du Lac County district attorney Eric Toney won the Republican nomination for attorney general, with 37.5 percent of the vote over Rep. Adam Jarchow (R–Balsam Lake), who had 36.9 percent. 

Toney will face Democratic incumbent Josh Kaul in November.

With Godlewski not running for reelection, Aaron Richardson of Fitchburg won the Democratic primary for state treasurer with 38.4 percent. John Leiber of Cottage Grove won the GOP primary. Richardson and Leiber face Constitution Party candidate Andrew Zuehlke of Ripon, a previous candidate, in November.

Secretary of State Douglas La Follette, the longest serving statewide office-holder, defeated Alexia Sabor of Madison to win the Democratic primary. The Republican nomination went to state Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R–Clintonville). La Follette and Loudenbeck face Libertarian Neil Harmon of West Allis and Wisconsin Green Party candidate Sharyl McFarland of Milwaukee in November.

Legislative races

In the area’s only Assembly district with a primary, Rep. Loren Oldenburg (R–Viroqua) defeated Holly Otteson Liska of Hillsboro in the 96th Assembly District Republican primary, with 80.1 percent of the vote. Oldenburg will face Democrat Jayne Swiggum of Gays Mills, who beat Mark Fritsche of Tomah with 58 percent of the vote.

Steve Prestegard is the editor of the Platteville Journal, a sister publication of the Courier Press.

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