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Saturday, October 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 62.0° F  Fair
The Daily
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Candidates react to 48th Assembly District special election victory by Chris Taylor
The 48th Assembly District currently covers much of Madison's east side and adjacent communities, but will be reconfigured in Republican redistricting plans.
The 48th Assembly District currently covers much of Madison's east side and adjacent communities, but will be reconfigured in Republican redistricting plans.

After defeating five other Democrats in Tuesday's special primary, Chris Taylor, public policy director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, is set to be the new representative for Wisconsin's 48th Assembly District. However, legislative redistricting could affect the area Taylor represents -- including her home.

Vote margins were close in most wards. The difference between Vicky Selkowe -- the second-place candidate -- and Taylor was 931 votes. Nearly 400 of those votes came from Ward 33, which experienced the highest voter turnout of all Madison wards. Taylor lives in this ward, which covers a portion of the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood and has its polling place at Olbrich Gardens.

However, under the Republican redistricting plan addressed in a hearing Wednesday, the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood would no longer be part of the 48th Assembly District. Taylor's home would become part of a relocated 76th District that would also include Rep. Mark Pocan's neighborhood.

Fred Arnold hopes the results of Tuesday's 48th Assembly District special primary won't discourage the losing candidates from pursuing political endeavors in the future.

"Most of the people in the 48th were pleased to see a list of candidates they could identify with and, in general, respect," Arnold says, adding that he would hate to see any of those candidates unable to recover from the loss. "There's a pretty good crop -- some of them fairly young, great people, who have contributed a lot and will in the future. I don't want their future to be dulled or dimmed by this."

Arnold says his own future is "terrifically enhanced" by the race, regardless of its outcome. He enjoyed "great feedback and interaction with a wonderful array of people" throughout the campaign, and the only negative he'll take away is that he came in third and not first. He's disappointed, of course, because he "ran to win" -- but he's quick to add that the campaign was a "fantastic experience."

It's too early to make speculations regarding why the race turned out the way it did, Arnold says, but his team will sit down to analyze the results and determine what they did right and wrong. He's ready to close down the campaign and move onto other things, although he's not sure what those things might be, yet.

"I hoped at the beginning to lend some energy to the entire process," Arnold says. "If I made this a better campaign overall, simply by my presence, I'm pleased with that."

Vicky Selkowe won't let the election deter her from the work she considers to be most important.

"This campaign was about all of the issues that I have spent my entire career standing up for and championing," Selkowe says, adding that she'll continue to do the work she's been doing.

That work is "standing up for working families, fighting to improve our state and our community," through her role as a community member and as chief of staff to Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine).

Selkowe says she wouldn't change a thing about the way she ran her campaign, adding that it was difficult for candidates to try to differentiate themselves in a crowded field. This difficulty was enhanced, she says, by distractions such as recall elections.

"When the votes are divided that dramatically, it's hard to cobble together enough votes to win, especially during the summer," Selkowe says.

In a race among six Democrats who all share a staunch opposition to Gov. Scott Walker and his policies, Selkowe said it was difficult for voters to see the differences between the candidates, who had to work hard to distinguish themselves.

Andy Heidt disagrees with that perspective. He does not think the candidates were as ideologically similar as they were sometimes portrayed.

"I don't think any other Democrat was talking about single-payer [healthcare] in Wisconsin, the school funding plan I proposed or a mining moratorium," Heidt says.

His take on the race is that the person who spent the most money received the most votes, which he says seems to be a logical connection. However, Heidt adds, Chris Taylor is a "good person."

"We're going to find viable ways to make change, and it starts with individuals taking steps in that general direction," Heidt says of what's next for him. He plans to assemble a team to look further into the reality of establishing a state bank program -- one of the tenets of his campaign platform -- in Wisconsin.

Heidt believes Wisconsin needs to "fundamentally rearrange its priorities." He says it's not about one election; it's about the long haul.

Taylor, Bethany Ordaz and Dave de Felice were contacted for comment, but did not respond. Because Taylor faces no official registered opposition, the only thing that could keep her from filling the seat vacated by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi would be a successful write-in campaign in the August 9 general election.

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