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Rhoades, Murtha, Harsdorf re-elected; Danou takes 91st

In a night when Democrat Barack Obama was elected president, local Republicans fared better, with both incumbent 10th District Senator Sheila Harsdorf and incumbent 30th District Assembly Representative Kitty Rhoades winning re-election by fairly comfortable margins.

Hudsonite Rhoades faced a strong challenge from Democrat Sarah Bruch, but Rhoades prevailed with a 19,442-16,010 win in Assembly District 30. Rhoades was first elected in 1998 and has held the seat since then.

"This has been an incredible year," Rhoades said early Wednesday morning after election results were tabulated. "The fear for most local Republican candidates was that the attitude nationally would affect our local races.

"The good news is that my constituents listened to the campaign at the local level. They listened to what the candidates had to say - they didn't just vote a straight ticket.

"Voters were willing to elect someone they know, trust and can get the job done."

Rhoades serves on numerous Assembly committees and is co-chair of the Joint (Assembly and Senate) Committee on Finance -- considered among the most powerful in the state structure.

"I am very appreciative to those who listened to my positions in the Assembly and gave me their support and approval at the polls." Rhoades said the number one issue in the election was the economy.

"Voters in our district told me they were at their limit - they can't take any more taxation at this time," Rhoades said.

Rhoades will likely lose her co-chair position on the state budget committee as it appears Democrats gained control of the Assembly by picking up five seats statewide. Full results were not available as of very early Wednesday morning.

The Democrats will now completely control state government with a majority in the Senate and a Democratic governor.

Incumbent 10th District Sen. Harsdorf defeated Democrat challenger Alison Page 55,549-42,829.

Like the Rhoades-Bruch race, the State Senate race was hotly contested and many observers expected a tight outcome.

In the 29th Assembly District race, incumbent Republican John Murtha easily beat Democratic challenger Chris Bukel, gaining 53 percent of the votes compared to Buckel's 43 percent while independent Craig Mohn gained only 4 percent.

The Democrats will retain the 91st Assembly District seat formally held by the retiring Rep. Barb Gronemus, D-Whitehall, with Chris Danou defeating Republican Dave Hegenbarth 14,514 to 11,602.

Independent challenger for the 91st seat Paul Bessler and Libertarian candidate Ted Burleson each received only a small portion of the votes.

Incumbent Rep. Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire, easily defeated Republican challenger Darcy Fields, also of Eau Claire, 19,304 votes to 13,164 to retain the 93rd Assembly District seat.

Rep. Ann Hraychuck, D-Balsam Lake, will serve a second term in the 29th Assembly District after defeating Republican Kent Muschinske of Dresser 16,407 to 13,211

Contact Doug Stohlberg at or 715.386.9333.