Soglin Wins Madison Mayoral Race

Former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has defeated incumbent Dave Cieslewicz in Madison’s mayoral contest on Tuesday.

VIDEO: Cieslewicz Speaks About Election Loss|VIDEO: Cieslewicz Addresses Supporters After Conceding Mayoral Race

Cieslewicz was seeking a third term, but Soglin won the tight race after running a spirited, aggressive campaign. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Soglin had 44,542 votes to Cieslewicz’s 43,829 votes.

Soglin served as Madison’s mayor from 1979 to 1986, and again from 1989 to 1997. Many considered this election a rematch as Ciewlewicz and Soglin faced off for mayor in 2003. Cieslewicz won that contest and nabbed a second term in 2007.

Both men are Democrats, liberals and share similar position on many issues. They both promised to steer a course for the state’s capital city despite Republican control of the governor’s office and both chambers of the state Legislature.

Both candidates tried to harness energy stemming from opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to sharply curtail union rights. Soglin touted his experience and said he’s ready to take on poverty and other big challenges. Cieslewicz said he led the city through a tough economy and was more current on issues.

Cieslewicz’s campaign gathered at the Brink Lounge on Madison’s near East Side to watch the returns. Cieslewicz said he called Soglin to concede the race Tuesday night.

Cieslewicz addressed his cheering supporters, joking that “this is not a victory party.”

“Things did not work out for me the way I hoped,” Cieslewicz said. “Thank you for this opportunity. It has been an honor to serve as your mayor.”

Cieslewicz said that, unlike Soglin, he will not run for Madison mayor again. Instead, he’ll take a little time off and may re-enter the environmental sector where he worked before becoming Madison’s mayor.

The Soglin campaign gathered a few blocks away at the Nitty Gritty restaurant in downtown to watch the returns.

Soglin thanked his supporters, campaign workers and his family “for going through this with me one more time.”

“He knows the pulse of our city, and he’s a good manager. I’m a former city employee and I loved working for Paul,” said Julie Maryott-Walsh, a supporter at the Nitty Gritty.

“I was here as a student in the 1970s when Paul Soglin was an alderman, and he won the mayor for the first time. And I just think he’s going to bring some renewed energy back to the city of Madison,” said supporter Ron Luskin.

Soglin praised the way both campaigns were handled.

“We’ve had two tough campaigns together. If you combine the election results from the two of them, you could’nt find a hair to split the difference,” said Soglin. “And (Cieslewicz) deserves the credit. He deserves the recognition for some many, fine things that he’s done for our city.”

Soglin finished by saying he’s looking forward to working on the challenges ahead.

“This is the beginning of a very long journey.”

Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage.