One of the more unusual battles in Wisconsin politics is now taking place in Kenosha County.
Thanks to a redistricting map that both opposed, state Reps. Samantha Kerkman and John Steinbrink are campaigning against each other in a newly drawn 61st Assembly District that includes all of Kenosha County, minus the city of Kenosha and the town of Wheatland.
Steinbrink, a Pleasant Prairie Democrat, and Kerkman, a Randall Republican, have a combined 28 years of experience in the Legislature, serving as members of a Kenosha-area delegation long known for banding together, regardless of party affiliation.
Such a race doesn’t occur often.
Districts are redrawn every 10 years to account for population shifts, and the result often reflects the priorities of the political parties in charge — in this case, Republicans on all fronts.
For Steinbrink, it meant moving out of what was considered a safe Democratic district, and into a more rural and suburban area that, generally, has more often favored Republicans.
For Kerkman, it took a safe Republican district and added the more evenly split village of Pleasant Prairie and the challenge of facing an incumbent whom she has long considered a friend.
The last time this scenario played out here was in 1982, when a similar redistricting dichotomy pitted Brighton Democrat Mary K. Wagner against Burlington Republican Cloyd Porter.
Porter prevailed and held the old 66th District seat until Kerkman succeeded him in 2001. Wagner lost that race, but not her place in local politics; she has now served more than 20 years as a Kenosha County circuit judge.
What will happen this time around won’t be known for sure until after the Nov. 6 election.
Below are short biographies of Kerkman and Steinbrink. For a full story on each of them, click on the link in the related story section on the left side of this page.
Samantha KerkmanParty -- Republican
Age -- 38
Residence -- Randall
Education -- Graduate of Wilmot High School; bachelor’s degree, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Occupation -- Full-time legislator
Elected experience -- Assembly representative, 2001-present
John SteinbrinkParty -- Democrat
Age -- 63
Residence -- Pleasant Prairie
Education -- Graduate of Tremper High School; attended Carthage College and UW-Madison farm and industry short course
Occupation -- Grain farmer, legislator
Elected experience -- Assembly representative, 1997-present; Pleasant Prairie Town Board, 1985-89; Pleasant Prairie Village Board, 1989-present (board president, 1995-present)