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Senate races may tip party control
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MONROE - Southwest Green County will have a new state senator next year in Madison, for the first time since 1991.

The question is, will Democrat Pat Bomhack or Republican Howard Marklein emerge victorious from the Nov. 4 general election to claim the 17th District seat that Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, has held for 23 years?

And will the winner tip the power of the Senate control?

Schultz chose not to run for the seat this year. He is one of the seven non-returning incumbents, four Republicans and three Democrats, whose seats are up for grabs in the November general election.

In the 15th District, Democrat Tim Cullen is also not returning. He was first elected to the chamber in 1974, serving until 1987, and was re-elected in 2010. Democrat Assemblywoman Janis Ringhand of Evansville and Republican Brian Fitzgerald of Janesville will battle for the seat in the general election. District 15 includes the eastern portion of Green County.

The race for Wisconsin District 17 isn't being touted by media as one of the fascinating Senate races in the nation to watch this November. The race's biggest claim to fame came during the Democrat primary in August, when candidate Ernie Wittwer lost to Bomhack after the Green County canvas board discovered 110 ballots missing during a recount. The uncounted, lost ballots resulted in a healthy 30-vote lead for Bomhack following his meager five-vote loss that triggered the recount.

But the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee in July listed Wisconsin as one of the states whose Republican Senate majority it hopes to flip to Democrat control, thereby, making the Wisconsin Senate a battleground chamber in the nation.

If the Democrats are not able to beat Republican incumbents in the upcoming election (no incumbents faced primary competition on Aug. 12), they'll need to take three of the four retiring Republicans' seats, while keeping their retiring Democrats' three open seats, to take control of the Senate.

Wisconsin Senate District 17 is one of seven seats being vacated by retiring incumbents this fall.

The Wisconsin Senate lists 33 state senator seats filled by 15 Democrats and 18 Republicans.

A total of 17 seats, in the odd-numbered districts including the vacancy, are on the November ballots.

Three districts are considered shoe-ins, with little or no major party opposition for the candidates: Democratic incumbents, Tim Carpenter (District 3) and Jon Erpenbach (District 27), are running unopposed. Republican Leah Vukmir (District 5) faces Libertarian Wendy Friedrich in the general election. Of the remaining seven district races, Republican incumbents are running for re-election in five and Democrat incumbents in two.