Will Dems’ string of wins shake GOP con­fi­dence?

Repub­li­cans look to larger turnout in fall as bet­ter out­look of fu­ture

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Front Page - Molly Beck

MADI­SON - For the third time this year, Wis­con­sin vot­ers have handed Democrats key wins by mar­gins that could chip away at the con­fi­dence Re- pub­li­cans gained from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s vic­tory in the state less than two years ago.

In a pair of spe­cial elec­tions Tues­day, vot­ers in the 1st Se­nate District elected Demo­crat Caleb Frost­man over GOP Rep. An­dre Jacque of De

Pere with a huge 20-point swing from Trump’s 18-point win­ning mar­gin in


In the 42nd As­sem­bly District con­test, Repub­li­cans kept the seat with a mod­est 6-point Demo­cratic swing from Trump’s 14-point edge to Repub­li­can Jon Plumer’s 8-point win over op­po­nent Ann Groves


The win in the 1st Se­nate District — the first for a Demo­crat in more than 40 years — fol­lows a sur­prise win for Democrats in Jan­uary of an­other long-held GOP Se­nate seat, and a sweep­ing statewide win by Supreme Court Jus­tice­elect Re­becca Dal­let in April.

“(The elec­tions) are three pretty strong in­di­ca­tors of Demo­cratic strength and over-per­for­mance in tra­di­tion­ally Repub­li­can Se­nate dis­tricts,” said Charles Franklin, a poll­ster and po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist at Mar­quette Univer­sity Law School. “Dal­let’s win is a less of a break­ing of nor­mal prac­tice be­cause we do have lib­er­als on the court, but these two Se­nate dis­tricts have gone a long time with­out Demo­cratic mem­bers. I don’t think you can dis­count that. Cer­tainly, there is spin to try to, but I don’t think you can dis­count that.”

Frost­man, for­mer ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Door County Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Corp., said Wed­nes­day the prospect of a “blue wave” in the fall helped on Tues­day.

“I don’t think it was a blue wave that won this for us, but I think the idea of a blue wave be­ing pos­si­ble gave folks that ex­tra oomph,” Frost­man said. “I think the op­ti­mism is back and peo­ple be­lieve we can win.”

With Frost­man’s vic­tory, Democrats are now within two seats of tak­ing con­trol of the state Se­nate should Frost­man keep his seat in Novem­ber when he must run for a full term.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Scott Fitzger­ald (R-Juneau) ac­knowl­edged the dif­fer­ence in en­thu­si­asm be­tween Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can vot­ers this year but was skep­ti­cal it would mean big changes for the Leg­is­la­ture given the low turnout of Tues­day’s races.

“To com­pare (the spe­cial elec­tions) to what it’s go­ing to look like when you have a con­tentious U.S. Se­nate race (and the gov­er­nor’s race) ... it’s go­ing to be a huge turnout for a midterm elec­tion,” he said. “Com­pared to the (pres­i­den­tial races), I think it’s just a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal and I’m fine with that.”

As­sem­bly District 42 is just north of Madi­son and in­cludes most of Columbia County and parts of Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake and Mar­quette coun­ties.

Se­nate District 1 in­cludes all of Door and Ke­waunee coun­ties and parts of Brown, Man­i­towoc, Calumet and Ou­tagamie

“This builds on a pat­tern in spe­cial elec­tions in Wis­con­sin since Trump’s elec­tion. Democrats have not won all of the seats they at­tempted to flip, but their per­for­mance shows a clear shift in the cen­ter of grav­ity in the Demo­cratic di­rec­tion.”

Barry Bur­den Po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son


Move­ment to­ward Dems

Barry Bur­den, a po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sinMadi­son, said though the Democrats won just one of the two con­tests held Tues­day, both dis­tricts moved sig­nif­i­cantly in the Demo­cratic di­rec­tion from vot­ing pat­terns in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“This builds on a pat­tern in spe­cial elec­tions in Wis­con­sin since Trump’s elec­tion. Democrats have not won all of the seats they at­tempted to flip, but their per­for­mance shows a clear shift in the cen­ter of grav­ity in the Demo­cratic di­rec­tion,” Bur­den said.

Franklin said, how­ever, Repub­li­cans are cor­rect to point to low turnout in the spe­cial elec­tions and in the Supreme Court race when com­pared to what is likely in Novem­ber.

“With higher turnout in Novem­ber and two statewide par­ti­san races for gov­er­nor and the (U.S.) Se­nate, one would ex­pect the bases for both par­ties to be rel­a­tively mo­bi­lized by their par­ties to get all of their votes out and so that may equal­ize some of this,” Franklin said.

Alec Zim­mer­man, spokesman for the state Repub­li­can Party, said Plumer’s com­pa­ra­ble per­for­mance to Trump in 2016 and Walker in 2014 gives the GOP a good fore­cast for Novem­ber.

“Jon Plumer not only won big, he achieved roughly the same per­cent­age of sup­port as Pres­i­dent Trump and Gov. Walker — show­ing that re­gard­less of the anger and en­ergy on the left, Wis­con­sin Repub­li­cans are putting to­gether win­ning cam­paigns that are in tune with the needs of hard-work­ing fam­i­lies,” he said. “We look for­ward to build­ing off last night’s win for more vic­to­ries in Novem­ber.”

Bur­den said given the out­look, “Repub­li­cans will need strong per­for­mances from Scott Walker and other lead­ers at the top of the ticket plus the ben­e­fits of in­cum­bency to keep what they have in Wis­con­sin in 2019.”

Frost­man’s and Plumer’s wins Tues­day will be short-lived — both must win again in Novem­ber to be seated for a full term.

Look­ing to the fall

Jacque said he ex­pects his cam­paign to fare bet­ter in the fall with a dif­fer­ent elec­torate.

“I do think we’re go­ing to get a dif­fer­ent re­sult in Novem­ber when we’re talk­ing to a much larger group of folks,” he said.

Plumer’s win of­fers a breath of re­lief for Walker, who had been warn­ing sup­port­ers of the blue wave com­ing his way ever since a Jan­uary spe­cial elec­tion when Demo­crat Patty Schacht­ner earned a state Se­nate seat in western Wis­con­sin that had been held by a Repub­li­can for decades.

That district swung al­most 30 points from Trump’s 17-point mar­gin in 2016 to the Democrats’ 10-point vic­tory in Jan­uary.

Plumer did not re­turn a phone call seek­ing com­ment. His op­po­nent Ann Groves Lloyd said in an in­ter­view that she sees Tues­day’s elec­tion as “a dry run” for Novem­ber’s con­test.

The lead­ers of the win­ners’ re­spec­tive par­ties each said their new mem­bers sig­naled an elec­toral shift in their fa­vor.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) said Frost­man’s win “rep­re­sents a gen­er­a­tional shift in Wis­con­sin pol­i­tics.”

As­sem­bly Speaker Robin Vos (RRochester) said in a tweet that Plumer’s vic­tory is ev­i­dence that the blue wave is just a “trickle” in the state As­sem­bly.

In spe­cial elec­tions across the coun­try since Trump be­came pres­i­dent, 25 leg­isla­tive and con­gres­sional seats have flipped from red to blue, ac­cord­ing to Franklin. Just five have gone the other way.

The spe­cial elec­tions will fill the seats left va­cant af­ter for­mer Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) and for­mer Rep. Keith Ripp (R-Lodi) stepped down in De­cem­ber to join Walker’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Walker at first didn’t or­der spe­cial elec­tions but did so in March af­ter los­ing a law­suit brought by vot­ers. The law­suit was paid for and lit­i­gated by a group led by Holder, and Democrats ac­cused Walker of stalling out of fear that Schact­ner’s vic­tory would be repli­cated.



Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.