Green Bay Press Gazette
Tuesday’s special elections in Wisconsin: What you need to know
Patrick Marley, Milwaukee June 11, 2018
(Photo: Craig Gilbert / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
MADISON – Wisconsin will hold two closely watched special elections Tuesday, the latest test of whether a “blue wave” could be coming this fall.
Why are the elections being held?
Tuesday’s elections will fill the seats of former Sen. Frank Lasse (R-De Pere) and former Rep. Keith Ripp (R-Lodi), who stepped down in December to take jobs in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration.
Walker didn’t call special elections at the time. Voters in those districts — with the help of a group run by former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder — sued and courts ruled Walker had to call the special election.
In Senate District 1, Republican Rep Andre Jacque of De Pere faces Democrat Caleb Frostman, the former head of the Door County Economic Development Corp. The district includes all of Door and Kewaunee counties and parts of Brown, Manitowoc, Calumet and Outagamie counties.
In Assembly District 42, Republican Jon Plumer, a Lodi Town Board member and owner of karate schools, is running against Democrat Ann Groves Lloyd, a Lodi alderwoman and University of Wisconsin-Madison academic adviser.
The district is just north of Madison and includes most of Columbia County and parts of Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake and Marquette counties.
Caleb Frostman (left), the Democratic candidate in Tuesday’s special election for state Senate, talks to Sturgeon Bay voter Tom Fernandez. (Photo: Craig Gilbert / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Are the races being closely watched?
Since President Donald Trump took office last year, 25 legislative and congressional seats have flipped from Republican to Democrat, according to Charles Franklin, a pollster and political scientist at Marquette University Law School. Just five have flipped the other way.
Among the seats that went to Democrats was a state Senate seat in western Wisconsin won by Patty Schachtner in January. Walker called that result a “wake-up call” that should warn Republicans they could be in trouble this fall.
Election experts say people shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from one election night, but Tuesday’s results could help guide the narrative about whether a “blue wave” is coming.
Candidates for Assembly District 42 seat meet in Lodi for candidate forum. WisconsinEye
How long will the winners hold the seats?
Not long. The districts are up for election again in November, so both the winners and the losers will have to stay in election mode.
Election observers say Tuesday’s winners will have an edge in the fall election, but no guarantee they will win again. Turnout in the fall is certain to be much higher in the fall than on Tuesday.
What’s at stake?
In one sense, the stakes are low because the seats will immediately be up for election again. In another, they’re high because the Senate seat is an important part of Democrats’ strategy to try to take over the upper house.
Republicans control the Senate 18-14 and Democrats would need to net three seats in the fall to take power in that house.
Republicans have a much firmer, 63-35 margin in the Assembly.