After a hard-fought race filled with racial overtones and barbs aimed in her direction, Democrat Sandy Pasch will return to the state Assembly next year after defeating three other Democratic challengers in Tuesday's primary election for the newly drawn 10th Assembly District.
"They came after her with nasty attack ads, but in true Sandy fashion, she rose above it, and we were able to succeed and we were able to win," said Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) to the crowd at Pasch's victory party at Art Bar in Riverwest Tuesday night.
By 10 p.m., with 17 percent of precincts reporting, Pasch had declared victory. No Republicans ran for the seat, so the Democratic primary winner will take office.
Pasch defeated African-American Democratic women — Ieshuh Griffin of Milwaukee and Millie Coby of Shorewood, along with Milwaukee's Harriet Callier, who dropped out of the race last week — with 63 percent of the votes, 3,531 total, to win the seat held by Rep. Elizabeth Coggs of Milwaukee, according to Patch media partners FOX6. Coggs plans to run for her cousin Spencer Coggs’ Senate District 6 seat.
However, Coby, who garnered 1,751 votes for 31 percent of the total, said it's not the end of her fight for the 10th. She's done it for 20 years and she'll continue to work hard for its residents.
"I haven't lost anything. We have a lot of momentum and will continue to work hard and do what is necessary for the people of this 10th Assembly District," she said. "I'm in this district, I live in this district and I will continue to make sure we have resources and the ability to help the people in the district."
With 3 percent apiece were Callier and Griffin, with 179 and 177 votes, respectively.
Pasch, who lives in Whitefish Bay, has spent the last four years representing Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Glendale, River Hills, Fox Point and a portion of Mequon. After redistricting, that 22nd Assembly District no longer included Shorewood but now stretches into the Republican strongholds of Waukesha and Washington County.
"The Republicans are the ones who decided they didn't want me in office, but today the voters said they want me to represent them," she said.
To continue to serve in the Assembly, Pasch ran for the new 10th District seat, which still includes Shorewood residents she has represented in the past, but mostly includes neighborhoods in Milwaukee's north side.
Pasch was not exactly a household name in Milwaukee, but she said she spent months knocking on every door in the district listening to residents' concerns.
"A lot of people told me no one has ever knocked on their door before who is an actual candidate, and they were happy to have someone listen to them," she said. "People want someone who will fight for them and listen to them."
Race frequently became an issue in the campaign to represent the African-American neighborhoods on the north side of the city. Pasch said it was unfortunate that her race became an issue in the campaign, but said the black voters she talked to didn't seem to care about the color of her skin.
"One man told me he didn't care if I was black, white or polka-dotted," she said.
Shorewood comes up big for Pasch
The village voted for Pasch by an overwhelming majority — nearly 96 percent, according to unofficial results from the Shorewood Village Clerk's office.
Of the 3,531 ballots cast in her favor, Pasch received 2,060 from Shorewood residents, which is 35 percent of all of those who voted in the race.
Pasch said her Whitefish Bay home is for sale, and she and her husband Allan have been looking at homes in Shorewood and Milwaukee over the course of her campaign. Starting Sunday, that home search will become more aggressive, she said.
While the Assembly doesn't resume session until January, Pasch said her work to represent the new 10th District begins immediately, and she plans to use her bully pulpit to speak about poverty, unemployment, foreclosure, access to affordable health care and quality public education.
“I am excited to continue our fight and strengthen the influence and voice of Milwaukee’s communities as the State Representative for the 10th Assembly District," Pasch said.