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Republican Loren Oldenburg won defeated Paul Buhr in a see-saw battle for the 96th Assembly District in which the lead changed several times until settling on a winner.

Oldenburg garnered 12,316 votes, for a percentage of 51.62, while Buhr got 11,545 votes, ending up with 48.38 percent.

Oldenburg, 53, who, like the 65-year-old Buhr, is a dairy farmer near Viroqua will replace retiring Republican Rep. Lee Nerison, who opted to retire after seven terms.

This was the first try for public elective office for both, although both have had leadership roles in local, state and national organizations related to agriculture.

Oldenburg, president of the Chaseburg Cenex Cooperative and past president and board member of the Westby Cooperative Creamery, co-owns a business with wife Linda, “The Happy Canvas by Linda.”

He had acknowledged during an interview before the election that he might have to change his ag business model if he won — probably dropping dairy and shifting totally to crop farming.

“It will be a change of lifestyle,” Oldenburg said. “When I decided to run back in March, it was an emotional decision. Dairy cows have been in my family for 140 years, and that very well could end.”

Health care is one of the priorities for Oldenburg, who emphasizes the need to make health care more affordable, with more options for plans under the Affordable Care Act, as well as guaranteeing coverage of preexisting conditions.

La Crosse area contested legislative results

Candidate Votes Percent
31 Senate District
185 of 185 precincts
Mel Pittman (R) 35,685 46.06
Jeff Smith (D) 40,022 51.65
Aaron Camacho (G) 1,776 2.29
70th Assembly District
60 of 60 precincts
Nancy VanderMeer (R) 15,026 61.97
Cari Fay (D) 9,222 38.03
92nd Assembly District
70 of 70 precincts
Treig Pronschinske (R) 12,956 55.35
Rob Grover (D) 10,451 44.65
94th Assembly District
24 of 24 precincts
Albert Rohland (R) 11,567 39.78
Steve Doyle (D) 17,496 60.16
96th Assembly District
76 of 76 precincts
Paul Buhr (D) 11,545 48.38
Loren Oldenburg (R) 12,316 51.62

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Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

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