VanderLeest: My 34% Vote ‘Shows How Well My Message Was Received’

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Republican candidate David VanderLeest, who lost Tuesday’s recall election for the Wisconsin state Senate against Democratic incumbent Dave Hansen, doesn’t think his nearly two-to-one result was all that bad — considering how he had almost no money against the well-financed Hansen. And he also wishes the state GOP, who effectively dropped him due to his financial and legal problems, could have helped him out a bit.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Hansen has won by 66%-34%, a raw-vote margin of 20,653-10,604. But Tuesday night, VanderLeest was looking on the bright side.

“We were outspent 1,500 to 1 and lost 2 to 1,” VanderLeest told WisPolitics, also adding that he wished the state GOP would have helped his campaign: “I think the support could have been much greater, given that we were the first one out of the chute.”

“I’m actually feeling pretty good considering how much I was outspent,” VanderLeest also told the Associated Press. “It shows how well my message was received.”VanderLeest was not the GOP’s preferred candidate. Instead, Republicans became stuck with VanderLeest after their originally recruited candidate, state Rep. John Nygren, failed to submit the required 400 valid petition signatures. Nygren submitted slightly over 400 signatures for himself — despite the fact that Republicans had been able to gather 18,000 signatures to trigger a recall — with not enough of a buffer for when a few them were disqualified. Nygren initially filed a lawsuit to get onto the ballot, but lost in court and announced he would not continue to appeal the decision.

Throughout the campaign, VanderLeest was plagued by questions about his fitness for office, after revelations about his personal finances and reports of domestic violence (which included a plea of no-contest to two charges of disorderly conduct).

As the election headed into its home stretch, VanderLeest made such statements as, “None of it’s true. I don’t smoke rocks, and that’s the truth,” and threatened to sue Hansen and various Democratic groups for slander. (He also claimed to have learned that there was an investigation against these groups for racketeering. The source: A complaint filed by a supporter close to his campaign.)

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