It took orders from three judges to prod him into action, but Scott Walker finally scheduled two special elections. The June 12 elections for a state Senate seat in northeast Wisconsin and an Assembly seat in the center of the state will provide evidence of how well the so-called “blue wave” is holding up in Wisconsin.
Financial background versus ‘personhood’ promoter
The Democrats in both races have been endorsed by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and the Human Right Campaign.
In Senate District 1, Democrat Caleb Frostman hopes to win a seat that became vacant last December when Walker tapped former Sen. Frank Lasee to join his administration. Lasee became administrator of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Worker’s Compensation Division.
A former telemarketing supervisor and longtime office holder, Lasee won his last bid for election in 2014 by 25 percentage points, despite residing far outside the district, which is composed of Brown, Door, Kewaunee and Calumet Counties.
Lasee’s wife and six daughters live in Racine County. Democrats tried to disqualify him from the ballot, claiming his actual residence was with his family.
But the Government Accountability Board said to let the voters decide. (Walker later shut down the board because he said it was biased against Republicans. The board was composed of six nonpartisan former judges selected by the governor.)
Frostman has a decent chance of pulling off a victory on. June 12. The district voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but Donald Trump prevailed in 2016. Trump’s victory margin in SD-1, however, was less than it was in Wisconsin’s 10th Senate District, where Democrat Patty Schachtner scored a solid upset in a January special election. And, in April, Democratic-backed Supreme Court candidate Rebecca Dallet won the district.
Remarks made by Walker after Schachtner’s victory suggest it was the outcome of her race that spooked him into postponing further special elections.
Although the candidates elected in June will have to run again in November and there are no legislative sessions scheduled for the rest of the year, Walker seemed to fear that additional Democratic upsets would lend momentum to a gathering “blue wave” in the state.
With Frostman, Democrats have a stronger and much more relatable candidate than Republicans. Last night, GOP primary voters in SD-10 chose state Rep. Andre Jacque to run against him. Jacque is regarded as something of a “nut job” on both sides of the aisle. Republican leaders supported his opponent, businessman Alex Renard Andre, in the primary.
Jacque won the obscure race with 52 percent of fewer than 10,000 votes cast, even though Republicans had invested heavily in Renard, helping him to raise $43,679 in April.
Jacque opposes abortion under any circumstances, as well as hormonal contraception and the use of fetal tissue in medical research. He’s best known for pushing a bill declaring fertilized eggs as “persons” under the law. Even Wisconsin Right to Life rejected that idea.
Anti-choice voters, however, are among the most reliable and motivated voting blocs in low-profile elections, and their turnout on June 12 could drag Jacque across the finish line.
Frostman, on the other hand, seems tailor-made for the district. His website features a picture of him in a Packers hoodie, gleaming for the camera as he shows off his catch from a fishing expedition.
It doesn’t get more Wisconsin than that.
A native of Green Bay, Frostman has a strong financial background. He was vice president of commercial real estate for US Bank in Minneapolis before returning home to Wisconsin in 2016 to serve as executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corp.
Frostman told the Door County Pulse that he first came to understand the effect of legislation on people’s lives when a dejected fraternity brother at UW-Madison came out to him as gay after voters in the state banned same-sex marriage. The young man showed Frostman scars from a suicide attempt.
“That was probably what turned me to paying closer attention,” Frostman told the Pulse. “It wasn’t that I had a harsh outlook. I just wasn’t aware. Being a straight white due, I had no idea what other folks had to go through. Hurtful legislation affects people. I never forgot that.”
Frostman is endorsed by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and the Human Rights Campaign.
Karate school owner versus Ph.D. holder
GOP voters in Assembly District 42, where the other June 12 special election is slated, chose karate school owner and Lodi Town Board Member Jon Plumer in a four-man race for the nomination. He will face Democrat nominee Ann Groves Lloyd at the polls on June 12.
AD-42 is a heavily gerrymandered district which, on the map, resembles a particularly elaborate puzzle piece. It’s a largely rural area located in the central southern part of the state.
Most of the district lies in Columbia County, which is part of the Madison media market.
The Assembly seat became vacant when Republican Keith Ripp resigned last December to become an assistant deputy secretary with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.
Again, the Democrat in the race has a plausible path to victory.
Although Hillary Clinton only got 46 percent of the vote in the 2016 presidential race, Columbia County supported Dallet by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin.
Plumer came under attack from Democrats in early April for allegedly avoiding being labeled a Republican.
Although he’s not well known outside the district, Plumer has a positive public profile in Lodi’s business community. In addition to his position on the Towne Board, he’s a past president of the Lodi and Lake Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce.
Plumer conceivably could face backlash from other Republicans who say the race was rigged by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. He made it clear that the party establishment was behind Plumer, and he tried persuading the other GOP candidates to drop out of the race.
Vos is under fire for spending $4,300 to charter a plane to Ohio in February 2017 for a Republican strategy meeting. While there, Vos attended a meeting with his close personal friend Cliff Rosenberger, who has since resigned as Ohio Assembly Speaker due to an ongoing FBI corruption probe.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the trip occurred four months after a Republican campaign donor tied to Rosenberger donated $15,000 to a committee controlled by Vos.
Lloyd apparently enters the race free of such baggage. Born and raised on her family’s farm, she has an ebullient personality that’s made her a popular alder on the Lodi Common Council.
She holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration.
One of Lloyd’s chief policy interests is education. In her jobs as UW-Madison director of career services and associate dean for student academic affairs, Lloyd “saw firsthand that there is no better on-ramp to the middle class than a quality education,” she says on her website.
On the site, she also expresses pride in her grandfather and great-uncle who “served in their state government on the Progressive ticket.”
Another area of great interest for Lloyd is clean water, and she has a particularly clever and engaging ad on the subject on YouTube. Like Frostman, she’s been endorsed by both the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and the Human Rights Campaign. She’s also backed by Emily’s List.