Knilans claims seat in 44th Assembly
44th Assembly District
Joe Knilans 8,684
Mike Sheridan 8,168
JANESVILLE Traversing Janesville's wards and knocking on thousands of doors, Joe Knilans walked the walk for months.
Come January, he'll have the opportunity to talk the talk as the new representative of the 44th Assembly District.
The Republican challenger knocked off three-term incumbent and Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan on Tuesday.
"Janesville has spoken," Knilans said late Tuesday night. "I knocked on all those doors, even (on Tuesday), because I wanted to make myself seen and because every single vote counts.
"Mike didn't knock on any doors because he apparently felt he didn't have to."
In his travels Tuesday, Knilans said he encountered 12 people and 11 of them said that they had voted for him.
"I thought that was a pretty good omen," said Knilans, a former assembler and supervisor at General Motors who now works for J.G. Innovations of Janesville.
Knilans now will turn his attention to taking office in January.
"My mission is to get up there and find like-minded people who I can work with to make the best decisions to move things forward for Janesville and Wisconsin," he said. "I'm really looking forward to jump-starting the economy with Scott Walker."
Knilans said he heard loud and clear that the economy and jobs should be his first priority. He acknowledged riding a wave of voter discontent that seemingly spread across the country.
"I don't want to take anything away from my victory, but there were a lot of things that played into it," he said.
One of those, Knilans said, was Sheridan's relationship with a lobbyist for the payday lending industry and his handling of it.
"When I talked with the older people, it was the ethics of that situation, and when I talked with the younger people who are struggling, it was the failure to put a cap on the industry that upset them," Knilans said.
"Also Tuesday, I talked with a retired GM guy who had his 30 years in. He said he voted for (Russ) Feingold, (Tom) Barrett and me. I asked why, and he said it's because Mike hadn't done the best things for Janesville."
Sheridan could not be reached for comment late Tuesday night.