State Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat known for embodying — and embracing — the "Madison liberal" label, scored an easy victory Tuesday over Republican Chad Lee in southeast Wisconsin's 2nd Congressional District.
Pocan, 48, was the heavy favorite, and his victory in the low-wattage race keeps the solidly liberal district in the Democratic column, where it's been since 1998. He replaces U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who gave up the seat this year to run for the U.S. Senate.
"This district expects a lot from its representatives, and I plan to work hard to be another strong, progressive voice like Tammy," Pocan said in an interview after claiming victory at 9:25 p.m. in a ballroom at Monona Terrace before hundreds of supporters.
On stage, Pocan introduced his mother and brother in the audience, then kissed his partner of 10 years, Phil Frank, who stood next to him on stage. "He's been a rock," Pocan said of Frank, whom he married in Canada in 2006.
The kiss was on the lips — "a real one," Frank joked later.
Pocan, 48, a print shop owner who lives on Madison's Near East Side, has served in the state Legislature for 14 years and took over Baldwin's Assembly seat when she moved up to Congress 14 years ago.
This was the second run for the seat by Lee, 29, of Mount Horeb, the vice president of a technology start-up. He lost to Baldwin two years ago by a 62-38 percent margin.
The district stretches from Baraboo to Beloit and includes all of Dane County.
It was the only open seat among Wisconsin's eight U.S. House seats. Incumbents swept the remaining seven seats, ensuring Wisconsin's House delegation remained five Republicans and three Democrats.
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan won re-election over Democratic challenger Rob Zerban and Libertarian Keith Deschler for the 1st Congressional District, despite also being on the ticket as Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate.
Wisconsin's longest-serving U.S. representative, Republican James Sensenbrenner, was elected to his 18th consecutive term, beating back a token challenge by Democrat Dave Heaster in southeastern Wisconsin's 5th District. The reliably Republican district includes parts of Jefferson, Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties.
The 69-year-old was first elected in 1978. One of the wealthiest members of Congress, he's known for being tight-fisted with spending.
In the 6th Congressional District in east-central Wisconsin, Republican Tom Petri extended his 33-year career in the House by holding off a token challenge by Democrat Joe Kallas. The 72-year-old Petri was first elected to Congress in 1979.
Petri is regularly listed among the wealthiest members of Congress. The Associated Press determined in September that he was the only member of Wisconsin's House delegation who didn't pay state income taxes from 2002 to 2005. His spokesman said it was because of investment losses related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Freshman U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble turned back a strong Democratic challenge to retain his seat in northeastern Wisconsin's 8th District, defeating Jamie Wall on Tuesday in a race where Democrats thought they had a credible chance to pick up a U.S. House seat. It had been held by a Democrat for two terms before Ribble was elected with help from the tea party in 2010.
Incumbents Ron Kind, D-La Crosse; Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee; and Sean Duffy, R-Ashland, also fended off challenges in their districts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.