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Wisconsin Dems invest $7M in TV ads for 5 key state Senate races

Wisconsin Democrats plan to spend some $7 million on television ads for five state Senate races they believe are pivotal in their bid to seize control of the chamber.

Wisconsin Democrats plan to spend $7 million on television ads in five state Senate races they believe are key to regaining control of the chamber.

The State Senate Democratic Committee said Wednesday that the buy will target races in Milwaukee’s northern suburbs, the rural areas north of Madison, the Fox Cities, Green Bay and La Crosse.

Republicans currently hold a 22-10 supermajority in the 33-seat Senate, but Democrats hope new district boundaries Gov. Tony Evers signed in February will help them chip away at the GOP advantage.


Sixteen Senate seats are up in November, including eight currently held by Republicans and four open seats. Four Democrats are not up for re-election this cycle; that means Democrats need to win 13 seats in November to gain the majority. In a sign of how the new maps have energized the party, Democrats have put up a candidate in every Senate race on the ballot for the first time in more than 20 years.

Democrats plan to run ads in the 8th Senate District, which includes Milwaukee's conservative leaning northern suburbs. The new maps pulled Republican Sen. Duey Stroebel out of his old district and put him in the 8th, where he'll face Democrat Jodi Habush Sinykin.

Ads are also on tap in the redrawn 14th District, which covers parts of Columbia, Marquette, Green Lake and Waupaca counties. Democrat Sarah Keyeski is running against GOP incumbent Joan Ballweg there.

The committee also will target the 18th District, which now runs from Appleton south to Oshkosh along Lake Winnebago's western shore. The seat is open, with Democrats Kristin Alfheim and Joseph Carmen and Republicans Anthony Phillips and Blong Yang are all running.

Ads are slated for the 30th District as well. That district covers the western shore of the bay of Green Bay, from the city of Green Bay north to Marinette. The seat is open. Democrat Jamie Wall and Republican Jim Rafter are running for it.

The last district in the committee's ad buy is the 32nd in western Wisconsin, where Republican Stacey Klein is looking to unseat Democratic incumbent Brad Pfaff.

Andrew Whitley, the State Senate Democratic Committee's executive director, said the committee picked those districts because President Joe Biden and Gov. Tony Evers won them in 2020 and 2022, respectively, suggesting Democratic legislative candidates stand a good chance of success in them. The ads will be tailored to the issues in each district and will begin airing after Wisconsin's Aug. 13 primary, he said.

A spokesperson for Senate Republican Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu didn't immediately respond to an email.

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