State Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, appears to have won re-election with a margin of just 58 votes in a race that is likely to be subject to a recount.
With all precincts reporting Wednesday, Shilling finished with 43,565 votes to 43,507 for Republican Dan Kapanke, who was seeking to retake the seat he lost in a 2011 recall.
Because Shilling’s margin is less than 0.25 percent of the total votes cast, Kapanke can request a recount at no cost to his campaign. He has three days to request a recount after all votes are canvassed, which is expected to be completed next week. The deadline to begin canvassing is 9 a.m. Tuesday.
There are at least 34 provisional ballots that will have to be counted if the voters show up by 4 p.m. Friday with valid identification.
At 3:40 a.m. Wednesday, Shilling, the minority leader in the state Senate, released the following statement:
“I am proud to have earned the support of the voters in the 32nd Senate District and I look forward to continue serving as a strong voice for western Wisconsin in our State Capitol,” she said.
Shilling’s campaign manager said she would have no additional comment Wednesday.
Kapanke was not ready to concede.
In an early morning Facebook post, he wrote, “The vote is close and we must make sure every vote is counted, including provisional and military ballots. I am looking forward to the conclusion of the official canvass.”
Kapanke did not respond to calls seeking further comment Wednesday.
Republicans, riding a wave of support for Donald Trump, extended their Senate majority to 20-12 by knocking off Democratic incumbent Julie Lassa of Stevens Point. A Kapanke win would give the GOP its largest Senate majority in nearly 50 years.
Kapanke is attempting to retake the 32nd District seat he lost to Shilling in a 2011 recall spurred by anger over Republican efforts to curtail collective bargaining rights for public workers. He was first elected to the seat in 2005.
The owner of the La Crosse Loggers campaigned with a focus on education, touting his support for school choice and the state voucher system.
Kapanke was pleased to see the strong Republican showing across the state and nation, saying Republican nominee Donald Trump’s performance shows the GOP message is “well-received.”
“He’s outperformed in so many of the states no one expected him to,” Kapanke said Tuesday night.
Shilling campaigned with a focus on infrastructure, calling for expanded funding for both roads and broadband internet.
“Families in Wisconsin have said they want leaders to restore funding for local schools, increase access to affordable health care and expand economic opportunities for hardworking families,” she said in her Wednesday morning statement. “From student loan debt relief and higher family wages to infrastructure investments and groundwater protections, I’m committed to advancing solutions to the most pressing issues facing our state.”
Independent Chip DeNure finished third with 2,087 votes, or 2.3 percent. He campaigned with a focus on blocking the DOT-proposed north-south corridor and legalizing recreational marijuana.
The 32nd District includes La Crosse, Crawford and parts of Vernon and Monroe counties.
County Shilling (D) Kapanke(R)
La Crosse 31,953 28,969
Vernon 6,405 7,225
Crawford 3,433 4,080
Monroe 1,774 3,233
TOTAL 43,565 43,507