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Wisconsin GOP pushes toward super-majority

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s primaries set the battle lines for a push by Republicans to secure veto-proof legislative super-majorities, locking in high-stakes match-ups against Democrats around the state.

After Tuesday’s primary, Republicans head into November with solid control of both the Assembly and Senate thanks to district boundaries they drew in 2011. Their goal now is to flip three seats in each house. If they succeed, they’ll win a two-thirds majority in both the Assembly and Senate, which translates to enough votes to override Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ vetoes.

That would largely remove the governor from the political equation for the next session, which figures to be pivotal for the next generation of Wisconsin politics. Republicans are due to redraw district boundaries next year to reflect population changes recorded in the 2020 census and will define districts to their liking so they can maintain legislative control for another decade. Evers would be powerless to stop them if his vetoes can’t stand.

The state Democratic Party has launched a “Save the Veto” campaign and has been raising money for its candidates at an astonishing clip; the party last month reported raising a record $10 million during the second quarter of the year.

Tuesday’s primary set one-on-one match-ups in four of the six key races.

One of the hottest contests this November figures to be for an open seat in western Wisconsin’s 32nd Senate District.

Former state Agriculture Secretary Brad Pfaff emerged from a three-way Democratic primary on Tuesday. Pfaff decided to run for the seat after Republican senators fired him from his post last year, an unprecedented move that reduced Evers to sputtering profanity to reporters.

Pfaff will face a familiar Republican foe in November. Dan Kapanke, the La Crosse Loggers baseball team owner, bested Pfaff to win the seat in 2004 before losing it to Democrat Jennifer Shilling in a 2011 recall spurred by his support for then-Gov. Scott Walker’s labor union restrictions. He lost again to Shilling by just 61 votes in 2016.

Republicans also have their sights set on the open 30th Senate District in northeastern Wisconsin. Democrat Dave Hansen had held the seat for 19 years before announcing his retirement earlier this year, but the area is traditionally conservative.

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