Tauchen hangs onto Assembly seat

Sarnwick, Hammond say party loyalty trumped issues
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Leader photo by Carol Ryczek Supporters of Wisconsin Assembly District 6 Rep. Gary Tauchen, center, gather to watch election returns at the Shawano County Republican headquarters in Shawano on Tuesday evening. Tauchen, a Republican, retained the seat he has held since 2006.

Incumbent State Rep. Gary Tauchen, R-Bonduel, defeated Democratic candidate Richard Sarnwick, a Shawano doctor, and Libertarian candidate Michael Hammond, a former Shawano area dairy farmer, in the race for the Sixth District Assembly seat in Tuesday’s election.

This was Tauchen’s seventh election to the seat that he’s held since 2006.

The unofficial results, which still have to be certified by the Board of Canvass, were:

Tauchen — 15,025

Sarnwick — 7,783

Hammond — 1,675

“We’re happy with the way the election went with the Assembly and the Senate,” Tauchen said, where the party held its majorities.

“Of course, the top of the ticket didn’t fare as well,” he added.

Gov. Scott Walker lost the election to Democrat Tony Evers. Though the race hasn’t been called yet, it looks like Josh Kaul is poised to replace Brad Schimel as attorney general, and U.S. Senate candidate Leak Vukmir lost to incumbent Tammy Baldwin.

“We’re just going to have to work with the people that have been elected and do our best to make Wisconsin a better place for everyone to live,” Tauchen said.

“The problem with the complete changeover is that there’s probably going to be less bills that gets passed because it’s going to take a year or two before everybody feels comfortable,” he said. “I’m expecting this first year to a year and a quarter or so are going to be pretty challenging to get things passed.”

Tauchen said that’s not because of any antagonism the Republican-controlled Legislature might feel toward to new Democratic administration.

“You try to figure out how you can can best work together,” he said, “but when there’s big changes like this, I think it takes a little bit to feel comfortable. It’s a challenge, like building a relationship. It takes time and effort.”

Sarnwick said he had a challenge running as a Democrat in this part of the state.

“The Republicans won big up here no matter who they were,” he said, noting that Walker, Schimel and Vukmir fared better in the Sixth Assembly District and further north.

“It’s a pretty Republican district, and that’s the way it is,” Sarnwick said. “I wish it were different, but when I looked at how the votes went, it looked not very favorable for anyone running as a Democrat. The norther you go, the redder it gets.”

Tauchen agreed that certain areas of the state are more conservative.

“In certain areas of the state that conservative idealism is more of the values that people in our community have than liberalism and growing government and giving handouts to everyone,” Tauchen said.

Sarnwick did have at least one positive view of the statewide results.

“Personally, I’m happy to see Walker out of there,” he said.

Hammond said he wasn’t really surprised with the results, though he was disappointed.

“I thought I’d do a little better, but it turned out the way it did,” he said.

Hammond conceded he wasn’t aware of any Libertarian candidates winning a major election.

“I don’t know that any have,” he said. “Nothing major, anyway. I can’t think of any that have. It’s hard to break habits. I was hoping but you can only do so much.”

Hammond said he was a “little surprised” that Walker lost the governor’s race.

“I thought he would probably get re-elected,” he said. “I thought it would be close. I don’t know that it makes a difference. I had a lot of issues with the things Walker was doing, too.”