by Thomas E. Mitchell, Jr.
A new era in Black Wisconsin politics was ushered in Tuesday as two old guard political figures were among the candidates who were replaced by a fresh cadre of office seekers to the state’s Assembly and Senate.
Incumbent State Rep. Jason Fields (11th Assembly district–1,206 votes, 32%) and State Sen. Candidate, State Rep. Beth Coggs (Sixth Senate district–4,445 votes, 33%), lost to challengers Mandela Barnes, a community organizer who received 2,589 votes (68%), and Milwaukee County Supervisor Nikiya Harris (6,373 votes, 48%) respectively.
The community also lost long-held Black representation in three Assembly districts to White candidates–State Representatives Sandy Pasch (10th Assembly district–3,678 votes, 61%) and Frederick P. Kessler (12th Assembly district–1,922 votes, 72%), and newcomer Evan Goyke (18th Assembly district–1,627 votes, 37%). Two of the three–incumbents Pasch and Kessler–are established legislators who ran in redrawn districts that were predominately Black and represented by African Americans.
Voters in the community–particularly in the three Assembly districts to be represented by White legislators–also rejected the “vote for individuals who look like us” mantra that was uttered by Coggs and supporters of Millie Coby (1,969 votes, 33%), an educator and activist who lost to Pasch.
Coby was one of five MCJ endorsed candidates who lost Tuesday. The other candidates the newspaper endorsed to lose were: Fields, Coggs, Fields’ brother, college instructor Jarett Fields, who lost to Goyke. Fields could only garner 803 votes, (18%). Community organizer Tracey Dent lost to LaTonya Johnson in the 17th Assembly district. He finished third collecting 1,071 votes (23%) to Johnson’s 2,048 votes (43%).
Political observers are anxious to see how fast the “fresh blood” that will be infused in Madison will make their presence felt tackling the myriad of issues facing the city’s Black community, from education to transportation and–more importantly–job and business creation.
With no opposition to worry about, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin cruised to victory Tuesday night. She will face-off against former governor and Republican Candidate Tommy Thompson, who won a closer than expected contest over businessman Eric Hovde. Thompson garnered 189,579 votes (34%) to Hovde’s 169,886 (31%).