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Tiffany, Zunker advance to May 12

Local Republican voters helped propel State Sen. Tom Tiffany past his primary opponent Tuesday, while Democrats overwhelmingly chose Wausau attorney Tricia Zunker as their nominee for the 7th Congressional District.

Tiffany defeated Army veteran Jason Church, 43,769 to 32,287, while Zunker easily claimed victory over her opponent, Lawrence Dale, 35,535 to 4,465.

Tuesday’s results set up a May 12 general election between Tiffany and Zunker to decide who will replace former Congressman Sean Duffy, who resigned his seat toward the end of last year.

Area voters mostly followed the district- wide trends, favoring Tiffany in all but four local municipalities. Church had higher vote totals in Abbotsford, and the towns of Unity and Colby. He tied Tiffany, 27 to 27, in the town of Green Grove.

On the Democrats’ side, Zunker dominated Dale in every city, village and township, following along voters in the rest of the Seventh Congressional District.

Clark County Republicans went for Tiffany over Church, 1,516 to 1,467, while Marathon County party voters preferred the state senator, 8,817 to 6,556.

District-wide, Tiffany won about 58 percent of Republican votes, compared to 42 percent for Church. Zunker captured a full 89 percent of Democrats’ votes, compared to 11 percent for Dale.

Tiffany, who lives in Hazlehurst, was first elected to the Assembly in 2010 and the State Senate in 2012, where he represents District 12, which encompasses the northeast corner of the state, north of Wausau. He also works as a dam tender for the Wisconsin Valley Improvement Co. and ran a cruise business on the Willow Flowage.

Zunker, a Ho Chunk tribal member living in Wausau, holds a law degree from UCLA and now works as a law professor. She was elected to the position of associate justice on the Ho Chunk Supreme Court. Zunker also serves as president of the Wausau Board of Education.

Wisconsin’s Seventh Congressional District has been in Republican hands since 2011, after Duffy beat his Democratic opponent in the 2010 “red wave” election. Prior to that, Democrat Dave Obey held the seat for over 40 years.

The second major election on Tuesday’s ballots was the primary for Wisconsin Supreme Court. Incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly came out on top of the three-way race, earning 50 percent of the total statewide vote.

Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky came in second with 37 percent of the statewide vote. Marquette law professor Ed Fallone came in a distant third, with 13 percent of the electorate.

This sets up an April 7 general election between Kelly and Karofsky to decide who will sit on the state’s highest court for the next 10 years.

Just as in the Seventh Congressional primary, local voters followed the statewide trend when it came to voting for Supreme Court judge. Kelly earned the most votes in every local municipality, and was the clear front-runner in both Clark and Marathon counties.

Statewide, Karofsky beat Kelly in only 10 out of 72 counties, giving the incumbent a clear edge going into the general election on April 7.

Kelly is considered one of the high court’s conservative justices, so if he wins re-election, the conservative majority will stay at 5-2. If Karofsky, considered a liberal, were to upset Kelly, the court would be more evenly at 4-3.

Wisconsin’s next election on April 7 will feature the state’s presidential primary, along with local races for school boards, county representatives and members of municipal councils and boards.