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Wis. voters face tight Senate, presidential races

Associated Press Modified: November 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm •  Published: November 6, 2012
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The only other statewide race is for Kohl's U.S. Senate seat, which Democrats have held since 1957. Should Thompson win, Wisconsin would be represented by two Republicans in the Senate for the first time since 1957.

With temperatures in the 30s and light flurries falling, 34-year-old warehouse clerk Chris Pfeifer emerged from his Madison polling station inside a library that's part of a suburban strip mall. Pfeifer voted for Baldwin.

"She's been a really good representative for the district," Pfeifer said. "I think Tommy's had his chance already."

Pfeifer described the Senate campaign as "vicious" and said he was glad it was over.

Dave Zeman, a 60-year-old doctor from Madison, voted for Thompson, saying he agreed more with his policies than with Baldwin's.

"I do think his ad is pretty close, that Tammy Baldwin is arguably more liberal than Nancy Pelosi," Zeman said, referring to one of the numerous attack ads in the race attempting to label Baldwin as a liberal extremist.

Even though he's the GOP vice presidential candidate, Ryan is seeking re-election to the U.S. House seat he's won seven straight times since 1998. Ryan is being challenged by Democrat Rob Zerban, but should he win both races, he would have to give up his congressional seat.

Ryan is one of five Republicans representing Wisconsin in Congress, and two of them — Reps. Sean Duffy in the 7th District and Reid Ribble in the 8th District — face credible challenges from Democrats. The other incumbents are expected to easily win re-election.

Baldwin gave up her U.S. House seat to run for Senate, and Democratic state Rep. Mark Pocan is widely expected to with the district, which covers the liberal capital city of Madison and surrounding area.

In the Legislature, Republicans hope to erase the slim Democratic majority in the Wisconsin Senate won after recall elections earlier this year. Democrats hold a 17-15 majority with one vacancy in a Republican district. Of the 16 seats to be elected Tuesday, only six are currently held by Republicans. Of the 10 seats held by Democrats, two incumbents are viewed as vulnerable. Republicans are also eyeing an open seat currently held by a Democrat who is retiring.

The margin is much wider in the Assembly, where Republicans hold a 59-39-1 edge going into Election Day and are not expected to lose the majority.

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Associated Press writers Todd Richmond in Sun Prairie, Philip Elliot in Janesville and Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee contributed to this report.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sbauerAP .