Wisconsin’s Kenosha County Elects Its First Republican Executive

Wisconsin's Kenosha County Elects Its First Republican Executive Wisconsin's Kenosha County Elects Its First Republican Executive


By Jason Clemons | Wednesday, 06 April 2022 06:11 PM

The highest elected office in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, has flipped red for the first time.

On Tuesday night, Republican state Rep. Samantha Kerkman was elected Kenosha County executive, defeating Democrat Rebecca Matoska-Mentink by a margin of approximately 51% to 48%.

Kerkman also becomes the first woman to serve as Kenosha County executive.

Democrat Jim Kreuser, the outgoing Kenosha County executive, has occupied this post since 2008. Before that, Sheriff Allan Kehl served as Kenosha's top Democratic official from 1998 to 2008 — before resigning amid scandal, pleading guilty to federal conspiracy charges of violating campaign finance laws.

The city of Kenosha garnered national attention in 2020, when riots erupted in the area after a police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, heightened racial tensions around the country. Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Kenosha was also the site of the deadly shootings involving Kyle Rittenhouse, who was later acquitted on all charges, with the jury viewing his actions as self-defense.

Kenosha has been a swing county in previous Wisconsin presidential elections. On the Republican side, former President Richard Nixon took Kenosha in 1968, and former President Donald Trump carried the county in 2016.

Late Tuesday night, Kerkman thanked her supporters for trusting her vision for Kenosha County.

"I think it was the experience that I bring from Madison," Kerkman told the Kenosha News. "I have been working with the county executive for years on issues that impact the county."

Kerkman also campaigned on her "reputation of being eagle-eyed in saving money for Wisconsin taxpayers," according to reports.

It remains to be seen if Kerkman's victory will be a prelude to a "red wave" occurring during the midterm elections in November.

It's worth noting, however, that former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican candidate for governor, endorsed 48 school board candidates in this election cycle, and 34 of them won — including eight incumbents.

Conservative candidates also picked up school board seats in Waukesha, Wausau and Kenosha counties.

And Maria Lazar, the Republican-backed candidate for a state Court of Appeals seat, defeated a sitting judge who was appointed by Gov. Tony Evers.

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