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Wisconsin’s Kenosha County executive flipped red for the first time in decades after the city gained widespread attention amid damaging riots and the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.
Voters elected Samantha Kerkman on April 5th as the county executive. The race was described as nonpartisan, but Kerkman had the backing of Republicans and serves as a Republican state representative. Her opponent, Rebecca Matoska-Mentink, is a Democrat and serves as the Clerk of Courts.
It is the first time a woman will serve in the position and the first time since at least 1998 that a Republican has been elected. The Associated Press reported Kerkman is the first Republican ever to hold the officially nonpartisan office, though Fox News has not independently confirmed the report.
The current Kenosha County executive is Democrat Jim Kreuser, who has served in the position since 2008. He was preceded by Allan Kehl, who served as a Democratic sheriff in the county before being elected county executive from 1998 to 2008. Kehl resigned in 2008 and was later sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws.
Kenosha is a swing county and had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Richard Nixon until former President Donald Trump’s 2016 run, Fox 6 reported. The county voted for Trump again in 2020. Wisconsin is also a swing-state, with Trump winning the state in 2016 but losing it in 2020 to President Biden.
BUSINESS OWNER: KENOSHA ‘LOOKS LIKE A WAR ZONE’
Kenosha grabbed the nation’s attention in 2020 following the police-involved shooting of Black man Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down by the incident. Riots soon erupted in the city after the shooting, which coincided with riots and protests in other cities across the country following the death of George Floyd.
On the second night of unrest in Kenosha, Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and injured another. His trial gained widespread attention and he was ultimately acquitted of all charges in 2021.
The fallout from the rioting left the city looking like “a war zone,” according to business owners at the time, and the damage topped $50 million.
Kerkman thanked her supporters late Tuesday and pointed to her experience serving as a state representative as resonating with voters.
DAMAGE BLAMED ON RIOTING IN KENOSHA TOPS $50 MILLION, COUNTY ASKS FOR FEDERAL HELP TO REBUILD
“I think it was the experience that I bring from Madison,” Kerkman said late Tuesday, according to Kenosha News. “I have been working with the county executive for years on issues that impact the county.”
She also campaigned on her “reputation of being eagle-eyed in saving money for Wisconsin taxpayers.”
Social media commenters celebrated Kerkman’s win, calling it a “preview of [the] November midterm” and arguing the “red wave is coming.”
Republican-backed candidates in local school board races also came out as winners Tuesday in the Milwaukee suburbs that are critical for the Wisconsin GOP in statewide elections.
Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican candidate for governor, endorsed 48 school board candidates. Of those, 34 won including eight incumbents, based on preliminary results. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, a former teacher, school administrator and state superintendent, did not endorse in any race.
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Conservative candidates picked up school board seats in Waukesha, Wausau and Kenosha, but lost races in Beloit and the western Wisconsin cities of La Crosse and Eau Claire.
The Republican-backed candidate for a state appeals court seat in southeastern Wisconsin, Maria Lazar, also defeated a sitting judge who was appointed by Evers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/kenosha-county-flips-red-democratic-leadership