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Simac to take on Holperin

Polling booths stand empty as poll workers Jan Hall (center) and Alice Sternberg (right) chat Tuesday afternoon at the VFW Hall in Rhinelander. Voter traffic was low in Rhinelander for the Republican primary race between Robert Lussow and Kim Simac.

Photos by Luke Laggis/River News

Tea party leader wins GOP primary

According to unofficial counts by the Associated Press, Eagle River's Kim Simac has won the Republican primary in the Senate District 12 recall election.

The individual responsible for organizing the recall effort, she will advance to challenge Democratic state Sen. Jim Holperin in mid-August.

Simac attributes her success in the primary election to her grass roots approach to campaigning and because her message "resonates with people."

"It's just all the people supporting me," she said Wednesday.

"Getting out and meeting everyone really helped."

One of Simac's primary motivations for organizing the recall effort and running against Holperin is when the senator fled to Illinois to block Senate business back in February. The recall effort also comes on the heels of Gov. Scott Walker's polarizing plan that diminishes the collective-bargaining rights of most public workers. 

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Simac garnered about 59 percent of all votes cast within the district.

Her opponent in the partisan primary, Bob Lussow, a retired airline pilot and the current chairman of the Lincoln County Board, earned a respectable 41 percent of the total votes.

Simac did one better in her home county of Vilas, earning 62 percent of all votes cast, with Lussow earning 37 percent. About 54 votes, or one percent, were cast for write-in candidates.

Simac received high levels of support in the towns of Land O' Lakes, 73 percent and Winchester, 76 percent, and garnered 78 percent of votes in the town of Manitowish Waters.

Though he failed to secure a majority of the votes in any municipality in Vilas, candidate Lussow fared better in the towns of Conover, Lincoln and Washington, earning 45 percent, 46 percent, and 45 percent of the votes, respectively.

Lussow fared best, however, in Simac's home city of Eagle River, where the vote was close to being evenly split. Simac scraped the majority with 51 percent of votes and Lussow garnered 48 percent, with about one percent of Eagle River voters who cast their ballots in support of write-in candidates.

Though Simac also secured the majority of votes in neighboring Oneida County, her victory there was not as decisive. Simac earned 56 percent of the votes, Lussow 43 percent and 63 votes, or about one percent, were cast for write-in candidates.

Unlike Vilas County, Lussow was able to secure a majority of votes in individual towns in Oneida, and did so in the following: Lynne, 68 percent; Nokomis, 54 percent; Piehl, 68 percent; Pine Lake, 54 percent and Schoepke, 52 percent.

He also secured the majority of votes in the city of Rhinelander, earning 56 percent of the 671 votes casts.

Now with the primary under her belt, Simac said she's ready to hit the road once more to continue meeting people.

"I feel really excited. We have 26 days."

Though, on Wednesday, she did not yet know of any upcoming debates with Holperin, she said "the schedule's packed full."

Simac continues to hold tight to her campaign message that, if elected, she intends to stick around and represent the people of the Northwoods.

"I want to be their voice in Madison and stay at the table and represent them," Simac said.

She is slated to face Holperin in the general recall election Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Laurel Carlson may be reached via email at lcarlson@lakelandtimes.com.


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