Politics Wisconsin

WINNOWED DOWN: Candidates Make the Cut for November’s Election

a rundown on who made it through the August primary in Wisconsin and the Chippewa Valley

V1 Staff |

VOTE EARLY, NOT OFTEN. An Eau Claire poling place.
VOTE EARLY, NOT OFTEN. An Eau Claire poling place.

While election season never seems to end with our 24-hour, social media-driven news cycle, actual Election Days are still a pretty big deal. And we’ve got a big one coming up this fall. Wisconsin voters – and if you’re reading this, that group probably includes you – will choose a U.S. senator this fall, as well as members of Congress, plus a governor, state senators and representatives, and a whole bunch of partisan county officials, including sheriffs. The primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 9, winnowed the fields of candidates in all of these races down to one candidate per party. In case you’re not the kind of person who stayed up late that night eagerly awaiting election returns (hey, everybody’s gotta have a hobby!), here’s a quick rundown on the most important matchups in the Chippewa Valley and the state in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 8.


Most of the Chippewa Valley is in the 3rd Congressional District, which has been represented by Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, for more than 20 years. Kind didn’t run again, so he will be replaced by either his endorsed successor, state Sen. Brad Pfaff (who emerged from a Democratic primary field that included Rebecca Cooke of Eau Claire and Deb Baldus McGrath of Menomonie), or his 2020 Republican foe, the Donald Trump-endorsed Derrick Van Orden. While it’s traditionally been Democratic, the 3rd District went to Trump in 2020, so expect this to be a high-profile Congress as the two parties vie for control of the House.


Likewise, there will be nationwide implications for the outcome of the U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (first elected in 2010) and Democratic nominee Mandela Barnes (the state’s first black lieutenant governor). Barnes won the primary handily after several top opponents, including state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski (an Eau Claire native), dropped out of the race. Considering the Senate’s current partisan split is literally 50-50, expect the Johnson-Barnes matchup to get a ton of attention.


Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is running for a second four-year term against Republican businessman Tim Michels, who beat former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch to win the GOP primary.


Here are the matchups in several local races for the state Legislature. Not sure which district you live in? Visit myvote.wi.gov and type in your address.

31st Senate District: Incumbent Jeff Smith (D) vs. David Estenson (R).

29th Assembly District: Incumbent Clint Moses (R) vs. Danielle Johnson (D).

67th Assembly District: Incumbent Rob Summerfield (R) vs. Jason D. Bennett (D).

68th Assembly District: Nate Otto (D) vs. Karen Hurd (R).

91st Assembly District: Incumbent Jodi Emerson (D) vs. Josh Stanley (R).

93rd Assembly District: Incumbent Warren Petryk (R) vs. Alison Page (D).


There are also some notable county-level elections in the Chippewa Valley, such as the contested races for open sheriff seats in Eau Claire and Chippewa counties. In Eau Claire County, Democrat Dave Riewestahlwill run against Republican Don Henning. In Chippewa County, the matchup is between Republican Travis Hakes and Democrat Chris Kowalczyk.