Schoolteacher upsets longtime Wisconsin state lawmaker

August 15, 2018 - 12:29 pm

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A schoolteacher who campaigned on improving education defeated a longtime Democratic state lawmaker in Tuesday's primary to take his seat representing the northern swath of Milwaukee County.

Lakeisha Myers upset state Rep. Fred Kessler by 23 percentage points in the 12th Assembly District. Myers will be unopposed in November.

Kessler, 78, had held the seat for 14 years after prior stints in the Legislature in the 1960s. Kessler, who is white, speculated that many voters who came out to support black candidates for governor and sheriff also voted for Myers, who is black.

"I think my constituents probably liked me," Kessler said, "but there was a situation where a wave took place that was not aimed at me."

Myers works as a teacher in the Milwaukee public schools system. Her campaign didn't immediately return email and voicemail messages.

She said on her campaign website that she ran because "neglect and starvation" have hurt Wisconsin's educational system. She also lamented what she calls the district's economic decline and called for the state to send fewer people back to prison for probation and parole violations.

Kessler said in an interview that his defeat was "a little bit of a surprise" but he knew it could happen.

He said he was a creative lawmaker and was disappointed he won't get to continue fighting against Republican-drawn legislative boundaries.

"I wanted to see that to the finish," Kessler said. "That was my motivation to run for re-election."

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