Sarnwick wins Dem nod for 6th District Assembly

Switalla endorses Sarnwick against Tauchen

Richard Sarnwick defeated William Switalla in the Democratic primary Tuesday for the 6th District Wisconsin Assembly seat.

Sarnwick won 61 percent of the vote to Switalla’s 39 percent. The unofficial vote tally was

Sarnwick — 1,453

Switalla — 919

In Shawano County, Sarnwick won 906 votes to 551 for Switalla.

The totals still need to be certified by the Board of Canvass.

Sarnwick now goes on the the Nov. 6 general election where he will face incumbent Rep. Gary Tauchen, R-Bonduel, and Libertarian candidate Michael Hammond.

Sarnwick, a Shawano doctor, is making his first foray into politics.

“I worked hard on knocking on doors in the district and going to parades and doing the debates and doing all the other things that occurred,” Sarnwick said. “I’m happy it turned out this way. It was my first run for office, so I had no idea if I worked hard enough or not.”

Some votes were lost Tuesday, Sarnwick said, because voters could not cross over and participate in both the Republican sheriff’s primary and the Democratic primary for the Assembly.

“A lot of people said to me, ‘I wish we could cross-vote in the primary, but we couldn’t cross-vote. So we didn’t vote for you, we just voted for the sheriff,’” Sarnwick said. “That seemed to be the big race going on.”

In Shawano County, 1,457 voters cast ballots in the Democratic Assembly race, while 6,141 cast ballots in the Republican sheriff’s race.

Sarnwick said he will be working to broaden his support over the coming months, including winning over those who supported Switalla, mostly on the western edge of the county.

In Shawano County, Switalla carried Wittenberg, Tigerton and the towns of Bartleme and Morris.

Sarnwick acknowledged he is facing an uphill battle in an Assembly district many believe has been gerrymandered to favor Republicans.

“It’s going to be a big challenge,” Sarnwick said.

However, Sarnwick said, “having been here in Shawano and having met a lot of people and having participated in the farmer’s market for years and years, I have a lot of contacts and I’m hoping that those will be valuable.”

Sarnwick said he is excited to have the opportunity to run.

Switalla said he will “absolutely” support Sarnwick in the November election and plans to hold a house party to help drum up support.

Switalla said Sarnwick faces a challenge, however, in a district designed to favor Republicans.

“It’s very gerrymandered. They fixed it,” Switalla said. “I think a Democratic candidate has a real battle, a real uphill battle. It’s been years that people have run against Gary Tauchen and they’ve never gotten close.”

Switalla said the real opposition, however, is not Tauchen specifically.

“I still don’t believe they’re running against Gary Tauchen, they’re running against the Republicans,” he said. “When I talk to people, Gary Tauchen doesn’t do anything. Even when I talk to the Republicans, he doesn’t do anything. I don’t think it’s Gary Tauchen we’re running against, it’s the Republican Party.”

Switalla said Sarnwick will need to focus on Democrats who aren’t voting.

“And you’ve got to get lots of signs out there,” he said. “Tons of signs.”

Switalla said Sarnwick will need to broaden his support across the district.

“You’ve got to stretch it out,” he said. “You’ve got to get Clintonville all the way up to Hortonville.”

He also suggested Sarnwick introduce himself to various groups and clubs.

“He’s got to get into the tavern league, get into the taverns,” Switalla said. “He’s got to get those people that aren’t voting. He has to get people to meet him and know who he is. They need a push. Democrats need a push.”

Sarnwick and Switalla were on the same page on many issues, including their opposition to using taxpayer money to fund private schools, the need for environmental protections — including more possible regulation of large concentrated animal feeding operations and stricter enforcement of regulations already in place — and removing barriers to voting put in place by the Republican-controlled Legislature and governor.

Switalla was making his second bid for the Assembly seat after being defeated by Tauchen two years ago.