Janis Ringhand narrowly defeats Austin Scieszinski in 15th Senate race

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Jim Leute
August 12, 2014

JANESVILLE—It went down to the wire, and Rep. Janis Ringhand narrowly defeated Austin Scieszinski to advance as the Democratic candidate in November's general election for the 15th Senate District.

According to unofficial returns, Ringhand won Tuesday's three-way primary with 39.7 percent of the vote.

Scieszinski finished less than 300 votes behind and tallied 37.9 percent of the ballots cast.

Former Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan finished a distant third with about 22 percent of the vote.

Ringhand of Evansville now advances to face Republican Brian Fitzgerald in the November election to determine who will replace the retiring Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville.

Ringhand, the current 45th Assembly District representative, announced last fall that she would give up her Assembly seat to run for the Senate.

Scieszinski, a former Cullen staffer, and Sheridan entered the race months later.

Reached late Tuesday night, the 64-year-old Ringhand said she expected a close race but not the “nail biter” it turned out to be.

The 15th District includes pieces of five counties.

Ringhand easily defeated Scieszinski and Sheridan in Green, Jefferson and Dane counties.

She won Dane County in a closer count.

Scieszinski, however, carried his home county of Rock, outpolling Ringhand 5,422 to 4,857.

“I was very pleased with how well I did in Rock County,” Ringhand said. “I'm not a Janesville girl, but I was very happy with the turnout there.

“I'm a small-town girl not from the big city, so I'm very pleased.”

Ringhand said she would take a breather for a day or two before starting on what she calls Phase 2 of her campaign, the general election in November.

“We've been knocking on a lot of doors, and we'll continue to do that,” she said. “Of course, we'll also be making phone calls because it's much more streamlined.

“The number of people who vote in the general election is typically three times larger than the number for the primary, so we have lots of work in front of us.”

Ringhand said she would continue to focus on her campaign themes of job creation and economic development, restoration of education funding and a repeal of Gov. Scott Walker's Act 10.

The Evansville native is no stranger to public service and elected office.

She was first elected to the Assembly's 80th District in 2010. As a result of redistricting, she was re-elected in the 45th District in 2012.

Prior to her service in the Assembly, she served on the Evansville City Council from 1998 to 2002 and 2008 to 2010. In the middle, between 2002 and 2006, she was the city's mayor.

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