Wisconsin Capitol Building

With the August 9th Primary fast approaching, Michael Best Strategies will be providing three separate updates on the Legislative Primary Elections. With this week being the third installment of the series, we will be focusing on incumbent lawmakers being challenged by members of their own party.

Challenging Incumbent Primaries

State Assembly

  • Assembly District 1Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) is being challenged in the August 9th Primary by fellow Republican Milt Swagel (R-Kewaunee). Kitchens was elected to the State Assembly in 2014 and has been re-elected since. This will be the first time since he was first elected to the Assembly that Kitchens will face a challenger in a primary election. Swagel, who turned in 394 signatures to get his name on the ballot, is a farmer and currently the District 12 Supervisor for the Kewaunee County Board. He is serving his second term on the county board. According to an article in the Green Bay Press Gazette, Swagel had an unsuccessful run for the board in 2018, but then defeated the incumbent supervisor by four votes, 130-126, to win the District 12 seat in 2020, then was unopposed in his 2022 re-election bid. Swagel also ran in the elections for Town of West Kewaunee chairperson in 2019 and ’21, but lost both races.
  • Assembly District 32Rep. Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) is being challenged in the August 9th Primary by Republican Bart Williams (R-West Bend). August was elected to the State Assembly in 2010 and has been re-elected since. This will be only the second time since he was first elected that August will face a challenger in a primary election. Since 2013, August has been elected the Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore. Bart Williams submitted 386 signatures to make the ballot. According to an article by the Wisconsin Examiner, Williams worked as a poll watcher for former President Donald Trump during the 2020 presidential election and also gave public comment at a state legislative committee hearing investigating election fraud.
  • Assembly District 33Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) is being challenged by Adam Steen (R-Burlington). Vos was first elected to the Assembly in 2005 and has served continuously since. Steen argues that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from former President Donald Trump and has criticized Vos for his handling of investigations into the election. Steen is backed by Rep. Timothy Ramthun (R-Campbellsport), who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor.
  • Assembly District 60Rep. Robert Brooks (R-Saukville) is being challenged by Samuel Kreig (R-Port Washington) in the Republican primary. Brooks has served in the Assembly since 2015. According to his campaign website, Kreig is an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee majoring in political science. He says his reason for running is to bring “the Next Generation of Conservatism to Wisconsin and to America.”
  • Assembly District 87Rep. James Edming (R-Glen Flora) faces a primary challenge from Michael Bub (R-Medford), a retired internet technology specialist and consultant. Edming has represented the 87th district since 2015. Bub previously ran against Edming in 2014, losing by only 19 votes in the Republican primary. He currently serves on the Taylor County Board and the Medford City Council and previously served as board president for the school board of Medford Area Public Schools. In an interview with The Star News, Bub criticized Edming for a lack of state support for broadband infrastructure in the 87th district, claiming that the district has received less than 2% of grants for expanding broadband from the Public Service Commission (PSC).
  • Assembly District 92Rep. Treig Pronschinske (R-Mondovi) faces a primary challenge from Ryan Owens (R-Osseo). Pronschinske has been a member of the Assembly since 2017. Owens is a member of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 434 and the owner of a small farm. According to his campaign website, Owens’ platform is centered around limited government, election reform, the Second Amendment, school choice, and opposition to abortion and vaccine mandates.
  • Assembly District 96Rep. Loren Oldenburg (R-Viroqua) is being challenged by Holly Liska (R-Hillsboro) in the Republican primary. Oldenburg is seeking his third term in the Assembly. Liska runs a farming business and chicken farm with her husband. Wispolitics.com notes that she has testified on various election-related bills before the State Legislature. Additionally, her campaign’s profile picture on Facebook is of her and Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow and election conspiracy theorist.

State Senate

  • Senate District 9Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) is being challenged in the August 9th Primary by Republicans Jeanette Deschene (R-Manitowoc) and Ruth Villareal (R-Sheboygan). LeMahieu was elected to the State Senate in 2014 and has been re-elected since. Deschene said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she decided to run for state Senate, in part, after losing her job with a health system in the fall because of COVID-19 vaccine work requirements. She said her campaign is focused on inflation, education, a rejection of vaccine mandates, crime and election issues. Ruth Villareal also worked as a nurse until, according to her campaign website, she lost her job due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. According to an article by Wispolitics.com, Villareal has spoken at 2020 decertification events. Her webpage identifies upholding the Constitution, school choice, medical freedom, and restoring our economy as her campaign’s key issues.
  • Senate District 21Senate Majority Caucus Chair Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) is being challenged in the August 9th Primary by Republican Jay Stone (R-Pleasant Prairie). Wanggaard was elected to the State Senate in 2010 and has been re-elected since. Stone is a retired hypnotherapist and vice president of Honest, Open and Transparent Government in Racine. With 603 filed signatures to challenge Senator Wanggaard in the GOP primary, Stone is running on a platform primarily centered around election integrity and a transparent administration. According to an article by Wispolitics.com, Stone has filed various complaints over how the 2020 election was administered.
Michael Best Strategies (Strategies) helps companies accelerate their success through a combination of strategic business consulting, lobbying, government relations, public affairs, and communications. The firm has thrived by providing a diverse team of professionals with the experience, skills, and relationships necessary to help each client achieve their goals more quickly and fully.