Dan Knodl wins 8th Senate District, giving GOP two-thirds super majority in Wisconsin state Senate

NOW: Dan Knodl wins 8th Senate District, giving GOP two-thirds super majority in Wisconsin state Senate

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Republican Dan Knodl's victory in the 8th Senate District gives the GOP a two-thirds majority in the Legislature's upper chamber, something that could lead to impeachments of some elected officials.

"It's been a hard-earned victory," Knodl told CBS 58 Wednesday.

The Republican from Germantown defeated Democratic candidate Jodi Habush Sinykin, 51% to 49%. Knodl will replace former Sen. Alberta Darling, who retired last fall after serving 30 years in the Senate.

Knodl said he is ready to get to work.

"I look forward to that engaging with the constituents of this larger Senate district that I will now be representing," Knodl said.

The newly-elected state senator got handshakes and congratulations from his new colleagues. His addition to the Senate gives Republicans a two-thirds majority.

A unified bloc would allow them to successfully convict an impeached elected official.

According to the state constitution, the state Assembly may impeach an elected official by a majority vote because of "corrupt conduct in office or for the commission of a crime or misdemeanor."

Republicans hold a firm majority in the Assembly and so a vote to impeach an elected official could easily be accomplished. After that, the Senate tries the impeachment, followed by a vote for conviction. A two-thirds vote in the Senate is required for conviction, which then leads to the impeached being removed from office.

During the campaign, Knodl floated the idea of the Senate exploring an impeachment and conviction of Janet Protasiewicz -- the newly-elected state Supreme Court justice -- and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

But experts say while the GOP-run Legislature is free to impeach an official for almost any reason, based on the open-ended definitions of an impeachable offense, the party may not want to go down that road.

"I still think it's unlikely though," Marquette University political science professor Paul Nolette told CBS 58. "Because after all, let's say that [Janet] Protasiewicz was impeached and removed from office; well not only is that going to anger a lot of Wisconsinites, probably not just Democrats, but many who feel like this was going against the will of the voters, but Tony Evers as governor would be able to replace that person."

The Senate's top Republican, Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, told CBS 58 there's not an appetite to pursue an impeachment against Protasiewicz for her time as a circuit court judge.

"When Representative Knodl floats the idea of potentially impeaching Janet Protasiewicz for what she's done as a Milwaukee Circuit Court judge, that's not something you would pursue?" CBS 58 asked LeMahieu.

"No," LeMahieu replied.

But Knodl said an impeachment against Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm is something he wants to consider for what he calls a dereliction of duty for his handling of crime issues including the bail of Darrell Brooks, the Milwaukee man convicted for killing six people and injuring dozens more in the Waukesha Christmas parade in 2021.

"There needs to be some accountability," Knodl said. "This is a measure, really the only measure that we have as outside of Milwaukee County - in this case, district - as non-voters, to take advantage of."

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