Lehman Takes 21st Senate District; Wanggaard Recount Decision Due Friday
Former Sen. John Lehman has been officially announced as the winner of the 21st Senate District recall election, but Republican incumbent Van Wanggaard isn't about to concede.
Democrat John Lehman has officially unseated Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) in the 21st District recall election that will determine the makeup of Wisconsin's state Senate.
The Racine County Board of Canvassers met Tuesday morning to certify the results of the June 5 election and found that not only did Lehman win, but he also increased his margin of victory by 55 votes.
Wanggaard has yet to concede and campaign officials say they have received allegations of voter fraud voting irregularities. However, County Clerk Wendy Christensen told FOX 6 News that she was not aware of any problems at the polling places on election day.
Mike Haas, general counsel for the state Government Accountability Board, said the agency has received some phone calls, emails, and copies of blog posts alleging fraud but nothing formal.
"We've not received any formal complaints with specific facts," said Haas, whose agency oversees elections in Wisconsin. "We tell people that, of course, we want to know about any potential fraud, but these cases are prosecuted by the district attorney, so local law enforcement should be notified."
The official results show Lehman defeating Van Wanggaard by 834 votes, which is up from the 779-vote margin of victory reported on election night. The final tally has Lehman with 36,351 votes and Wanggaard with 35,517.
During the canvassing process, about 20 people from the Wanggaard and Lehman campaigns watched as the votes were being re-tallied. Some even kept tallies on their own as they filled out the sheets as the numbers were being announced from each ward.
“Thank you to all the election workers – especially our hard working clerks and poll workers throughout Racine County,” Lehman said in a press release. “After today’s canvass, we are even more confident in our victory. I look forward to getting to work in Madison and focusing on new jobs for Racine County residents.”
With the victory, Democrats will have a 17-16 majority in the state Senate.
“People here wanted a new voice and this just goes to show that the voters in the 21st Senate District wanted new leadership and it’s time for Sen. Wanggaard to concede and to have a new leader, Senator-elect Lehman,” Lehman campaign manager Brad Wojciechowski said. “This is a 50-50 district, people like there representatives to be a voice for the people and that’s what we’re seeing with Senator-elect Lehman.”
Despite the outcome, Justin Phillips, Wanggaard's campaign manager, said the senator is still considering a recount and will make a decision on Friday. Because the difference is more than a half percent, any recount would have to be paid by the candidate that asked for it.
“We owe it to the county, everyone in the 21st Senate District and everyone in the state to determine whether we are going to move forward with a recount,” Phillips said. “We’ve had a number of people come forward that have asked us to do it — a number of people in the district, state and countrywide — so that is an option we are looking into.”
Dan Romportl, executive director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, supported Phillips:
The Wanggaard campaign will be considering its options regarding a recount over the coming days, and will make an announcement on its plans by the end of the week. CERS and the Wanggaard campaign have no further comment at this time.
But state Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate said Wanggaard would just be wasting time and money:
Given that Sen. John Lehman has picked up more votes during the county canvass — increasing his lead by 55 more to 834 votes over Sen. Van Wanggaard — we believe that Wanggaard should call off the recount process and move on as soon as possible for the residents of Racine's 21st Senate district. An increase in votes for Sen. Lehman makes it clear he has rightfully won and should begin representing those who elected him without further futile delays.