Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did everything he could to prevent an election to fill the vacant State Senate seat representing northeast Wisconsin’s historically Republican District 1. Now we know why.
In a district that President Trump took in 2016 by a 56-38 margin in 2016, and that Walker took in 2014 by a 61-38 margin, Democrat Caleb Frostman won Tuesday’s special election that the governor tried to block. Frostman’s victory continued a national trend of Democrats “flipping” Republican seats. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee celebrated the win as “the 44th legislative district to flip from red to blue since the 2016 election.”
The Wisconsin flip was particularly sweet for Democrats, as it represented a huge setback for Walker and his Republican allies in a State Senate that has rubber-stamped the governor’s assaults on unions, voting rights, the environment, and public education. Carolyn Fiddler, who tracks legislative races for Daily Kos, described the result as “Walker’s worst nightmare,” and that’s a fair assessment.
After eight years of dominating the state, Walker is running for a third term in 2018 and trying to retain control of a Senate chamber that has been the key legislative battleground during his tenure. But, suddenly, the Republicans look vulnerable—so vulnerable that even the governor has begun to fret about the prospect that a “blue wave” might sweep over the state this fall.
That’s a far cry from 18 months ago. The 2016 election left Walker’s Republicans with a daunting 20-13 advantage in the Wisconsin Senate.
In January of this year, however, Democrat Patty Schachtner flipped a Republican seat in a special election in northwest Wisconsin. The GOP advantage fell to 19-14 and Walker admitted the result was “a wake-up call for Republicans.” The governor knew that another special election loss would put GOP control in jeopardy this November, when several swing seats are up for grabs.