Contested state legislative primaries in Wisconsin increase compared to 2020

There are 38 contested state legislative primaries in Wisconsin this year, 16% of the total number of possible primaries, and a 15% increase compared to the 2020 election cycle.

A primary is contested when more candidates file to run than there are nominations available, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

Republican candidates drove the increase this cycle. Of the 38 contested primaries this year, there are nine for Democrats and 29 for Republicans. For Democrats, this is down from 18 in 2020, a 50% decrease. For Republicans, the number increased 93% from 15 in 2020 to 29 in 2022.

Of those 38 contested primaries, nine feature an incumbent, representing 11% of incumbents who filed for re-election. This is the highest rate of incumbents in contested primaries since 2014 when 12% of incumbents faced primary challenges.

All nine incumbents in contested primaries this year are Republicans. No Democratic incumbents who filed for re-election face a contested primary.

Overall, 258 major party candidates—110 Democrats and 148 Republicans—filed to run. All 99 Assembly districts are holding elections this year as are 17 of the 33 Senate districts.

Thirty of those districts are open, meaning no incumbents filed. This guarantees that at least 23% of the legislature will be represented by newcomers next year.

Wisconsin has had a divided government since voters elected Gov. Tony Evers (D) in 2018. Republicans currently hold a 59-38 majority in the Assembly with two vacancies and a 21-12 majority in the Senate.

Wisconsin’s state legislative primaries are scheduled for August 9, the 12th statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

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