For much of its history, Wisconsin’s Kenosha County has been dominated by the Democratic Party. However, is appears that dominance is coming to an end.
First Republican county executive elected in over three decades
As Fox News reported, Kenosha residents elected Republican Samantha Kerkman on Tuesday night to serve as county executive. It noted Kerman’s victory marks the first time that a member of the GOP has won the office since 1988.
“I think it was the experience that I bring from Madison,” Kerkman was quoted by the Kenosha News as saying on Tuesday evening.
“I have been working with the county executive for years on issues that impact the county,” she continued, with the paper noting that Kerkman had campaigned as “being eagle-eyed in saving money for Wisconsin taxpayers.”
According to Fox News, Kerkman will replace Democrat Jim Kreuser, who has served as county executive since first being elected back in 2008.
His predecessor, fellow Democrat Allan Kehl, held the role for a decade before resigning amid allegations of campaign finance law violations. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that he was later sentenced to two years in federal prison.
Riots may have helped push voters to the right
Kerkman’s win may not be an anomaly, as Kenosha County has also moved towards Republicans at the presidential level in recent years.
Former President Donald Trump carried the county by a fraction of a percent in 2016, becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to win there since 1972.
Trump went on to grow his margin of victory four years later, winning Kenosha again by over three percentage points in 2020.
Some of that shift may be a reaction to the rioting which broke out in the city of Kenosha after police there shot accused rapist Jacob Blake.
The community was wracked for several days by acts of violence, including an attack that left an elderly man with a broken jaw after he attempted to defend his store.
Some citizens responded by taking up arms, and they included then 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse was acquitted of murder charges late last year after a jury found that he killed two rioters and wounded a third in self-defense.