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Novak wins in 51st after Cates passes on recount
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The second recount in as many elections seemed likely after Dodgeville Mayor Todd Novak was declared the winner of the 51st Assembly District election by 59 votes Nov. 4.

But after canvasses of the five counties of the 51st District expanded Novak’s lead over Democrat Dick Cates to 65 votes, Cates announced Thursday he would not seek a recount.

Novak, a Republican, won the race to replace Rep. Howard Marklein (R–Spring Green) 10,642 to 10,577. Novak gained 23 votes and Cates 17 in the canvasses of Green, Iowa, Lafayette, Richland and Sauk counties.

“Having been born and raised here, I’m especially grateful for the confidence of my neighbors to represent them in the Assembly,” said Novak in a news release. “I will work hard and do my best to always listen with an open mind to the views of people across our area.”

“While it was a vigorous campaign on both sides, the election is over and it’s important that all of us pull together so we can make sure to bring jobs and opportunity to our area while always remembering to help neighbors in need. The very best part of the campaign was the opportunity to meet and talk with so many good people across the district. It reinforced to me just how important it is that they be represented well at the Capitol and that’s what I ran to do.”

“It’s been a long campaign season, and I’ve met many inspiring people over the course of the 13 months I’ve been running for the 51st Assembly seat,” said Cates in a statement. “This experience has re-affirmed my commitment to this great community that my wife and I have called home for the past 30 years.

“The voters have spoken, and the margin of 64 votes is too much to overcome in this race. I have decided — reluctantly — not to ask for a recount.”

Novak’s win was the last act in an election season that featured a primary election recount that reversed the result of election night, and an incumbent appearing to endorse the candidate of his opposite party.

The recount came after the Aug. 12 17th Senate District Democratic primary, initially won by Ernie Wittwer of Hillpoint by two votes. The results were reversed to a 33-vote win for Pat Bomhack of Spring Green after a recount in which ballots in the City of Monroe went missing and were not included in the recount, as well as changes in other counties.

Bomhack initially announced he was running for the 51st, two years after he lost the 51st Assembly Democratic primary, but switched to the 17th race. Bomhack got the endorsement of state Democratic Party officials.

Then, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin sent a mailer to Platteville addresses and other places in the 17th that quoted Schultz as saying that “Pat Bomhack is a good fit for the district because his values and positions on the issues that people care about, from my perspective, are similar to mine.”

Schultz’s comments were quoted from a story in The Capital Times of Madison. Schultz’s campaign director, Todd Allbaugh, quoted an interview Schultz had with WEKZ radio in which he said, “When asked by Sly if Dale was endorsing, Dale said, ‘I think people are smart enough to read between the lines, and I encourage them to do their research and come to their own conclusion.’”

Marklein defeated Bomhack with 55 percent of the vote.