WAUKESHA -- Wisconsin state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald was one of those vying for the U.S. Senate seat on the GOP side. Democrat Tammy Baldwin is running unopposed in the primary -- and will face one of four men in November's general election. Tuesday night just before 10:00 p.m. as the results rolled in, Fitzgerald delivered a concession speech in the race.
Fitzgerald's campaign gained momentum in recent weeks and has seen an uptick in unsolicited donations. Fitzgerald believes one big reason is his decision not to go negative with his campaign and attack his Republican opponents.
Because of those donations, Fitzgerald began running his first and only television ad a couple weeks ago. It was a positive ad highlighting his role as a leader during Wisconsin's budget battle that led to the recall effort against Gov. Scott Walker.
Fitzgerald is 45 years old, and was born in Chicago but reared in Hustisford, Wisconsin. He now lives in Horicon. Fitzgerald attended UW-Oshkosh and is married with a son and daughter. Fitzgerald is a practicing Roman Catholic with municipal and state government experience.
Jeff Fitzgerald is one of the most well known figures in Wisconsin state politics because of the role he played in last year’s budget battle.
“Politics is always timing and I think I`m the right candidate for the time,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald is the youngest son in a competitive family. His father was a Chicago cop. When he was eight, the family moved to Hustisford, where his dad took a job as police chief. At UW-Green Bay, Fitzgerald walked on the basketball team before transferring to UW-Oshkosh, where he studied journalism. That led to his first gig in politics which was a family affair, as his father ran for county sheriff.
Later, Fitzgerald’s older brother Scott won a seat in Wisconsin’s state Senate. Jeff Fitzgerald then got the political itch, and ran for Beaver Dam City Council.
Fitzgerald won, and never looked back. The Fitzgeralds had created something of a Dodge County dynasty. “Little Fitz,” as he is known at the Capitol, moved up in the ranks — holding various leadership positions — crafting the message and drafting the candidates that would lead to the “Republican Wave of 2010.”
“I was the guy who had to get us back into the majority and that was a big part of me becoming speaker,” Fitzgerald said.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that if either Jeff or Scott Fitzgerald had wavered, the entire Gov. Walker revolution would have been over before it started.
“It was kind of the perfect storm. Without all three of us really being committed to seeing this through, it could have unraveled fairly quickly,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald was endorsed by the Republican Party at the state convention.
Fitzgerald met with supporters Tuesday night at Riverside Brewery in West Bend. Among those in attendance was Assistant Assembly Majority Leader Dan Knodl. Knodl said he'd support any Republican candidate who wins the GOP Senate primary but believes Fitzgerald has proven over the last year and a half that he's ready to fight in Washington.
"He`s proven himself as he said, battle tested and he`s not gonna back down from the controversy -- from all the pressures that come from making these momentous reforms that we know need to be made," Knodl said.
The latest Marquette University Law School Poll released Wednesday, August 8th shows the U.S. Senate Republican primary race tightening with less than a week until voters take the polls. Former Governor Tommy Thompson led the poll, but Thompson’s lead was shrinking.
According to the Marquette Law School poll, 21% of likely GOP primary voters are still undecided. In July, 25% of likely GOP primary voters were undecided.
FOX6's Mike Lowe profiled each of the five U.S. Senate candidates leading up to Tuesday's election. CLICK HERE to learn more about Jeff Fitzgerald.
CLICK HERE for additional coverage on the race for Wisconsin's U.S. Senate seat via FOX6Now.com.