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Vote for 8th Senate District to be held on April spring election

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Voters will decide on April 4 who will take the state Senate seat previously held by longtime Sen. Alberta Darling, who retired earlier this week after 32 years in the Legislature.

Gov. Tony Evers on Friday ordered that the special election to fill the 8th Senate District seat will coincide with the spring election, which also includes several local races and a high-stakes race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court that will determine whether conservatives or liberals hold a crucial majority on the state’s high court.

Voters in the Town of Middleton waited hours to cast their ballot. Town Hall is the only polling location for the entire Town of Middleton, hosting about 5,000 registered voters.

Darling announced last month she would be stepping down from the Legislature. She was first elected to the state Assembly in a May 1990 special election and was reelected in November 1990 before being elected to the Senate in 1992. Darling said she authored more than 200 bills that eventually became law.

In his announcement, Evers described Darling, R-River Hills, as “a diligent leader who’s always carried herself with poise, class and grace.”

The period for circulating candidate nomination papers has begun. They must be filed by 5 p.m. Jan. 3. If a primary is needed, it will be held in conjunction with the upcoming Feb. 21 spring primary.

Republicans secured 22 of the state’s 33 Senate seats in the Nov. 8 general election, providing the party with a two-thirds majority. Republicans would reclaim a veto-proof majority with a win in the race for Darling’s now-vacant seat.

Republicans came two seats short of a two-thirds majority in the state Assembly. Both chambers need supermajorities in order to successfully overturn a governor’s veto.

State Rep. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown, announced earlier this week he would be a candidate for the 8th Senate District seat. Knodl, who has served in the Assembly since 2009, said in a statement he planned to focus on issues including “runaway inflation, attacks on parental rights, and efforts to defund our police.”

Fellow state Rep. Deb Andraca, D-Whitefish Bay, told earlier this week she will not be running for the seat.

The 8th Senate District has trended Republican in previous elections. It is located north of Milwaukee and includes portions of Whitefish Bay, Brown Deer, Cedarburg, Grafton, Menomonee Falls and Germantown.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court majority could flip next year with the race to fill the seat currently held by retiring conservative Justice Patience Roggensack. Four candidates, two liberals and two conservatives, have so far announced they are running for the seat.

With the Republican-controlled Legislature and Evers, a Democrat, unlikely to find a compromise on abortion, groups on both sides are eyeing the state high court race as the likeliest venue for getting their way.

Spring elections don’t see the level of turnout that occurs in midterm or presidential elections, although participation is rising. Nearly 1 million votes were cast in the 2018 Supreme Court election, about 1.2 million in 2019 and more than 1.5 million in 2020.

Election recap: Get full results and exclusive coverage of Tuesday's election

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Results reflect outcomes in all precincts unless otherwise noted.

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"Unfortunately the math doesn’t add up," Michels told supporters. "I just called Gov. Evers and I conceded."

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Leading by around 40,000 votes with an estimated 93% of ballots counted early Wednesday, Johnson said he's confident Barnes cannot make up his deficit.

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In a race centered around abortion and his public safety record, Kaul's showing notched Democrats another statewide win Tuesday night. 

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Democrat Barrett defeats GOP challenger Hamilton in the first competitive Dane County sheriff’s race in eight years.

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Stoughton and Waunakee referendums were among those heading toward passage.

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