This month’s “Message from the CEO” is guest commentary from Rob Richard, WECA Director of Government Affairs. WECA President and CEO Steve Freese is currently on medical leave.
I know you all want to forget and move on. The political ads probably still play repeatedly in your dreams. While the 2022 election is now in the rearview mirror (whoops, sorry Georgia) it’s also a good time to reflect on what happened and what this means moving forward for your electric cooperative.
One thing is clear: Wisconsin is purple. Not like Minnesota Viking purple, but that purple you get after a long and bruising fight. That’s what Wisconsin just went through. Like after any fight, we can only hope that we have time to heal a bit before we are forced to face the next one. Political analysts will argue over what the results may mean and why some won while others lost, but at the end of the day Wisconsin’s voters simply don’t like to be put into a neat, prepackaged ideological box.
Since I’m writing this column only a few days after the election, official results are not yet available to me, but Senator Ron Johnson won a third term with a one-point victory over Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes. With this win, the nation quickly turned its attention to Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia, but with late-called Senate victories in Nevada and Arizona, the Democrats will once again control the upper chamber in Congress.
The statewide race results have Governor Tony Evers returning for a second term, but this time he will be joined by a new Lt. Governor, State Representative Sara Rodriguez. Democrat Josh Kaul also won a second term as Attorney General. In an open seat, Republican John Leiber won the race for State Treasurer. Finally, in what was the tightest statewide race with 0.3% difference, it appears long-time Democratic incumbent Secretary of State Douglas La Follette won yet another term by besting Republican challenger Amy Loudenbeck [at time of this writing, no call for a recount was announced].
The Republicans in the Wisconsin State Senate accomplished their goal—a supermajority—reaching 22 members with a seat-flipping win by Republican Romaine Quinn in Senate District 25, currently held by outgoing Democratic Minority Leader Janet Bewley, who did not seek re-election. Though most every political prognosticator in the state considered it a longshot, Assembly Republicans were hoping to accomplish the same supermajority goal in the lower house. They fell short and will come back next session with a 64–35 majority, once again setting up a divided government with the GOP controlling both houses of the legislature and Governor Evers in firm control of the executive branch with veto power.
Wisconsin’s congressional seats remain the same except for the 3rd congressional district. The sprawling seat along the Mississippi River, left open due to the retirement of 26-year incumbent Congressman Ron Kind, had Republican Derrick Van Orden defeating Democratic State Senator Brad Pfaff 52%–48%.
What’s changed politically? Not much. What all of this means for your local cooperative and the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association is that we will continue our mission to work with both sides of the aisle to find effective solutions to the challenges, and opportunities, that await us. We have big issues ahead of us on unregulated third-party ownership, electric vehicles, renewable energy initiatives, broadband expansion, energy reliability, etc. and, with so many new members coming into the Assembly and Senate, we have some introductions to make and policy positions to share.
For those cooperative members who engaged in this election and took the time to vote—thank you!
Democracy requires participation, so thank you for taking the time to let your voice be heard. When literally hundreds of millions of dollars are spent in this state to try to sway your opinion, it can easily get frustrating and annoying. But in the end, all that matters is the vote. Your vote.
As we approach putting 2022 behind us, I want to wish you a very blessed and happy holiday season, and may you find joy, peace, and prosperity in the New Year!