State Rep. John Jagler, R-Watertown, cruised to the GOP nomination in the 13th SD on Tuesday, putting him in a strong position to win the heavily Republican seat in the April 6 special election.
With more than 99 percent of the vote in, Jagler was at 57.1 percent, while former GOP state Rep. Don Pridemore was at 31.6 percent. Todd Menzel, the CEO of a towing and recovery business, was a distant third at 11.3 percent.
Jagler said his victory was a reflection of the results he’s delivered for the 37th AD, where he’s served since 2013. He also said the guv’s budget released moments before the polls closed shows that Act 10 and billions in new spending will be on the ballot in April.
“I think it’s a pretty good sign that they wanted me there to be a check on Gov. Evers moving forward,” Jagler said. “You saw what he unveiled tonight in the budget proposal. We need someone to stand up, and I have a proven record doing that against Gov. Evers.”
Jagler will face Dem Melissa Winker, who lost a bid for an Assembly seat that’s part of the district in November. The winner of that April 6 election will replace former GOP state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, who resigned to join Congress. Former President Trump won the Senate seat in November with 58.5 percent of the vote.
Outside groups spent $118,900 to back Jagler on canvassing, radio, digital and mail, according to filings with the Ethics Commission. Those that backed him included the Republican State Leadership Committee and the Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin. He was also endorsed by the NRA, and the Wisconsin Realtors Association did an issue ad campaign praising him. That effort wasn’t reported to the state.
Pridemore also faced questions about his residency. His old Assembly seat is in a different Senate district, and he was renting a home from the Hartford mayor, who endorsed his campaign.
Pridemore, who announced plans to run for the Senate seat even before Fitzgerald won his House race, said the “establishment won” in the primary and suggested Dems who turned out for the state superintendent race backed Jagler.
“It was really a battle between endorsements and postcards vs. grassroots conservatives,” Pridemore said. “All I hear lately is Republicans are looking more like Democrats every day and they just don’t have any fight in them.”