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All the information you need to know about August's Partisan Primary


July 26, 2018

Local voters will head the polls Tuesday, August 14 to take part in one of the most significant Primary Elections in years in Wisconsin. While voter turnout in Primaries, even important ones, is traditionally very low, the outcome of this election will play a key role in deciding who the state’s next governor is, as well as shaping a variety of other important races.

This is a Partisan Primary, which means you may only vote in one party’s races - either Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green or Constitution. If you choose a party and vote in races for more than one party, only those votes in your selected party will be counted. If you do not choose a party and vote in multiple parties’ races, none of your votes will be counted.



In the Republican Primary, incumbent Governor Scott Walker will be challenged by Robert Meyer, who calls himself as a “different kind of conservative” from the one currently in office: “I’ll lead Wisconsin government back to providing the most people with the greatest opportunities,” Meyer’s campaign stated. “The Republican Progressives wrested control away from a corporatocracy and championed social justice, jobs, equality and the Wisconsin Idea. That’s our heritage and I find it inspiring.” He said it is time to move on from the right’s “narrow Libertarian faction worldview.”

After eight years in office, Walker is both a veteran governor and an experienced campaigner. On January 3, 2011, Walker was first inaugurated as the 45th Governor of Wisconsin. One of his first reforms, Act 10, proved to be one of the most controversial and divisive bills in recent memory in the state. Walker touted the bill, saying it helped eliminate the state’s $3.6 billion budget deficit, but the act also effectively broke up public employee unions in Wisconsin, prompting widespread protests and an ultimately unsuccessful recall election in which Democrats spent in excess of $23 million yet lost by a sizeable margin. The recall elections were the most expensive elections in Wisconsin history, costing more than twice what the regular gubernatorial election cost. Despite protests and spending, Walker managed to win by an even wider margin (around 7 percent) in the recall than he did in the previous regular election. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the cost of the recall elections for the governor and lieutenant governor to Wisconsin taxpayers was $18 million.

In 2014, Walker had another strong showing on Election Day, beating Democratic challenger Mary Burke by close to six percentage points and earning another four years in office.

Much of Walker’s recent campaign activity has been focused on Foxconn, a Taiwanese manufacturer’s plant being lured to Wisconsin with up to $4.5 billion in state and local tax money. President Donald Trump and Walker recently campaigned together at the future site of the plant in Racine County, which both touted as proof of Wisconsin’s economic growth.

Also in the Republican Primary, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Attorney General Brad Schimel will run unopposed.

Jay Schroeder and Spencer Zimmerman will face one another for Secretary of State.

Travis Hartwig and Jill Millies will square off in the Republican State Treasurer Primary.

At the Congressional level, five Republicans will battle in the U.S. Senator Primary: George C. Lucia, Leah Vukmir, Griffin Jones, Kevin Nicholson and Charles Barman.

Republican Casey Helbach will run unopposed in the state’s District 27 Legislative Primary.



Democrats, who have been widely unsuccessful in gaining or retaining seats in recent years in Wisconsin, appear to be hopeful that they can finally defeat state Republicans by force of sheer volume of candidates. On the Democratic side, 10 people, narrowed down from an even more crowded field a few weeks ago, are on the ballot in the gubernatorial primary. But two of them (Andy Gronik and Dana Wachs), despite appearing on the ballot, have recently dropped out of the race, leaving a total of eight active candidates.

The gubernatorial candidates on the Democratic ballot are Andy Gronik, an entrepreneur and business consultant who suspended his campaign and endorsed Kelda Helen Roys; Matt Flynn, a Navy veteran, attorney, and former Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin; Tony Evers, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction; Josh Pade, an attorney; Mike McCabe, founder and president of Blue Jean Nation, a grassroots group “dedicated to getting regular people in the driver’s seat” of government; Mahlon Mitchell, President of the Fire Fighters of Wisconsin; Kelda Helen Roys, an entrepreneur, attorney, and former Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Assembly; Paul R. Soglin, the longest-serving mayor in Madison’s history; Kathleen Vinehout, a farmer and State Senator; and Dana Wachs, who suspended his campaign and endorsed Tony Evers..

Kurt J. Kober and Mandela Barnes will face one another in the Democratic Primary for Lieutenant Governor.

Democrat Josh Call will run unopposed for Attorney General.

Doug La Follette and Arvina Martin will face off for Secretary of State.

Dawn Marie Sass, Synthia Kaump and Sarah Godlewski will all vie for State Treasurer.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is unopposed in the Democratic Primary, as is U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan.

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach will run unopposed in the 27th District, while State Rep. Sondy Pope is unopposed for her District 80 Assembly seat. Sheriff Dave Mahoney is unopposed, as is Circuit Court Clerk Carlo Esqueda.



In the Libertarian Party Primary, Phillip Anderson will run unopposed for Governor, and Patrick Baird will run unopposed for Lieutenant Governor.



In the Green Party Primary, Michael J. White will run for Governor, while Tiffany Anderson will run for Lieutenant Governor.



In the Constitution Party Primary, Terry Larson will run for Attorney General and Andrew Zuelke will run for State Treasurer.

How the primary works

A primary election is an election in which registered voters select a candidate that they believe should be a political party’s candidate for elected office to run in the general election. They are also used to choose convention delegates and party leaders. Primaries are state-level and local-level elections that take place prior to a general election. Wisconsin utilizes an open primary system; registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party’s primary.

Poll times

In Wisconsin, all polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time. An individual who is in line at the time polls close must be allowed to vote.

Registration requirements

To register to vote in Wisconsin, one must be a citizen of the United States and a resident of Wisconsin for at least 10 days prior to the election. A voter must be at least 18 years of age. One can register by mailing a form to his or her local municipal clerk. An individual can also register in person at the municipal clerk’s office. If registering by mail, the application must be postmarked no later than 20 days before the election. In-person registration must be completed by 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day. Same-day voter registration is also available, as long as the registrant provides proof of residency at the polls.

Online registration

On March 16, 2016, Governor Scott Walker (R) signed into law SB 295, which authorizes the creation and implementation of an online voter registration system. The online registration system went live in early 2017.

Voter ID requirements

Voters in Wisconsin are required to present photo identification at the polls. A bill requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls was introduced in the Wisconsin state legislature in January 2011.

Early voting

Wisconsin permits no-excuse early voting. Early voting permits citizens to cast ballots in person at a polling place prior to an election. In states that permit no-excuse early voting, a voter does not have to provide an excuse for being unable to vote on Election Day.

Absentee voting

All voters are eligible to vote absentee in Wisconsin. An application must be received by the municipal clerk no later than 5 p.m. on the Thursday before Election Day. If mailed through the U.S. Postal Service, a returned absentee ballot must be postmarked no later than Election Day and received by the municipal clerk no later than 4 p.m. on the Friday after the election.


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