Kenosha County, Wisconsin which was the site of extensive Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the summer of 2020, just elected a Republican-backed executive for the first time this century.
Samantha Kerkman, a former Wisconsin Republican state legislature, defeated Rebecca Matoska-Mentink, the County Clerk of Courts in the race.
The race was fairly close, with Kerkman winning nearly 15,000 votes, which was 51.23% of the vote.
Kenosha Country saw a 143% spike in crime in 2021.
Kenosha was the site of major civil unrest in the summer of 2020 after a young African American man named Jacob Blake was shot after he drew a knife on police. Coming in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the shooting ignited the city into several nights of rioting which culminated in the deaths of two protestors in altercations.
The man who shot these protestors, Kyle Rittenhouse, was acquitted by a jury last year, who ruled that they had been shot in self-defense.
Conservatives celebrated the legislative victory on Twitter after the results became apparent.
Red tsunami is coming! https://t.co/AcLNLaZIJ2
— Mercedes Schlapp (@mercedesschlapp) April 6, 2022
The rightward shift in Kenosha has been ongoing for several years, data has shown:
Kenosha and surrounding townships, which saw large scale property destruction during protests shortly before the 2020 election, swung 4 points more toward Trump than demographically similar WI townships, with the difference being robust to various controls https://t.co/PnzOi9YcOl pic.twitter.com/3K5nnPcuAC
— (((David Shor))) (@davidshor) May 13, 2021
Kerkman attributed her win to “the experience that I bring from Madison. I have been working with the county executive for years on issues that impact the county.”
She also cited her “reputation of being eagle-eyed in saving money for Wisconsin taxpayers,” which she campaigned on.
Jim Kreuser, the incumbent country executive, stated that “I congratulate County Executive-elect Kerkman for her success in Tuesday’s election. The voters made their choice, and we are already working on the transition process. I look forward to working with County Executive-elect Kerkman on a successful transition, so that county government continues to run smoothly.”
Kerkman stated that she wanted “to thank all my supporters and everyone who came out to vote. [Matoska-Mentink] called, and I appreciate that. In the new role, we’ll work very closely together. I look forward to working with the County Board and all the county offices.”
Matoska-Mentink will remain Kenosha County Court Clerk.
Matoska-Mentink said “I ran a positive campaign, and I stayed true to myself. I continue to have a job I love, and I’m going to continue to support our county, our county government, and we’re going to keep moving Kenosha forward.”