Janis Ringhand easily defeats Brian Fitzgerald in 15th Senate race

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Jim Leute
November 4, 2014

Janis Ringhand is looking forward to a change of address at the state Capitol.

Ringhand, who has represented the 80th and 45th Assembly districts since first being elected in 2010, easily defeated Janesville Republican Brian Fitzgerald on Tuesday to fill the 15th Senate District seat being vacated by Tim Cullen, D-Janesville.

The Evansville Democrat carried four of the five counties in the district, which includes portions of Rock, Green, Jefferson, Walworth and Dane counties.

With only a few wards left to report, Ringhand had about 60 percent of the districtwide vote.

“That's about what we expected,” the 64-year-old Ringhand said late Tuesday night. “The district usually splits about 60-40, and that appears to be where things will settle out.”

In August, Ringhand won a three-way primary with fellow Democrats Austin Scieszinski and Mike Sheridan to advance to Tuesday's general election.

Ringhand enjoyed the late support of Cullen, as well as other area Democratic lawmakers and a wide variety of statewide organizations.

“I look forward to working with everyone in the district,” Ringhand said, adding that she's first looking forward to a few days off since jumping on the campaign trail in October 2013.

Ringhand campaigned on job creation for the district, often citing her work on the Assembly's Workforce Development and Small Business Development committees.

She also cited her experience in working in her family's small business as evidence that she understands and appreciates the concerns of owners who want to grow their businesses.

A hallmark of her campaign, however, was what she often referred to as her ability to work with others to get things done.

Much of that, she said, is rooted in the six years she served on the Evansville City Council and the four years when she was the city's mayor.

“I've always had the ability to work collaboratively with people, and I look forward to doing that in the Senate,” she said. “I was able to do that with 98 others in the Assembly, so I know I can do it with 32 others in the Senate.

“I have always been able to reach across the aisle, and I'll continue to do that.”

Ringhand said she had hoped Democrats would do better Tuesday to close the size of the Republicans' hold on the state Senate.

“It appears that's not going to happen, but I'm confident I can work with everyone,” she said.

Fitzgerald, a Janesville businessman, was making his first run at statewide office. He is serving his first term on the Janesville City Council.

Fitzgerald said he didn't want to be a politician but instead wanted to serve in Madison to help local businesses and create jobs in the district.

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