BY CRAIG D. REBER TH STAFF WRITER
Wisconsin’s Republican Party tidal wave swept through the southwest part of the state, with the GOP regaining two Assembly seats and retaining an Assembly and a Senate seat.
Republican Travis Tranel, a rural Cuba City agribusinessman, unseated incumbent Phil Garthwaite, of Dickeyville, a two-term Democrat, in the 49th Assembly District. It was a rematch of 2008. Garthwaite conceded late Tuesday night.
“I feel very humbled,” said Tranel, 25. “My name was on the ballot, but it was a total team effort and I am just blessed to be part of a good team.”
Tranel ran on a campaign of fiscal responsibility.
“It’s nice to win, but now we have to govern and get the economy turned around,” he said. “We have to tackle the deficit and start planning for the future. We have to create jobs for not only southwest Wisconsin but for the entire state. Wisconsin has to be known for being open for business.”
In 2006, Garthwaite became the first Democrat since 1912 to win the seat for Assembly District 49, defeating incumbent Republican Gabe Loeffelholz.
“I ran a positive campaign, and positive campaigns don’t work,” he said. “People say they want them, but they bought into his lies; he got the flashy, fancy stuff out there and it stuck.”
Going into Tuesday, Democrats held a 52-46 majority in the Assembly and an 18-15 majority in the Senate.
In the 17th Senate District, incumbent Republican Dale Schultz, of Richland Center, defeated Democrat Carol Beals, a Grant County supervisor from Platteville.
“I’m glad it’s over, and now we have the opportunity to move the state forward and deal with the issues that are most important to people economy and jobs,” Schultz said, citing a plan on his website to address the situation.
Schultz, 57, was elected to the state Senate in a September 1991 special election and has been re-elected since 1994.
In the 51st Assembly District, Howard Marklein, of rural Spring Green, outlasted his Democratic challenger John Simonson, of Mineral Point.
The 51st Assembly seat was vacated when two-term incumbent Democrat Steve Hilgenberg announced his retirement because of health concerns.
Simonson, of Mineral Point, a retired University of Wisconsin-Platteville economics professor, was making his second bid at elective office.
Marklein, who lives in rural Spring Green, is making his first bid at elective office. He is a CPA and a certified fraud examiner.
“I am excited about the challenges ahead and to begin a life of public service,” he said. “We’ve got challenges in the state in the budget and job climate. We need to start getting those issues addressed very quickly.”
Incumbent Republican Lee Nerison turned back an upset bid by Democrat Brian Murphy, of Westby, in the 96th Assembly District.