The matchups are set for the two special elections that will take place on Tuesday, June 12.
Senate District 1
Sitting state Rep. Andre Jacque (R-DePere) won the Senate District 1 primary by 300 votes against political newcomer Alex Renard. Although Renard had the endorsements of a number of elected officials and an overwhelming financial advantage, he couldn’t overcome Jacque’s familiarity and perceived grassroots support in the district.
Jacque now moves on to the general election where he will face Democrat Caleb Frostman, another political newcomer. Before stepping down to run, Frostman was the executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation.
Like the open 10th Senate District race in January that flipped from Republican to Democrat, this one will have national eyes on it as well. The seat has been in Republican hands for 40 years, and the district overwhelmingly supported Trump in 2016. In any other year, this likely would not be competitive, but after a number of high-profile wins across the country, Democrats believe this seat is in play.
The northeastern Wisconsin district will provide another test case as to voter intensity leading into the November midterms. Democrats are hoping the “blue wave” hasn’t crested yet and their recruiting of a solid candidate in Frostman will be enough to flip a second Senate seat in 2018. On the other hand, Republicans are watching the national polls, which show that the advantage in Democratic intensity may be waning. They also have the benefit of a known incumbent in a district that historically is very reliable for Republicans.
Whichever candidate prevails in June will be rewarded with having to turn around and run for the same office again in November. It is quite possible that Frostman, with the help of some motivated Democrats, pulls off the upset in a low turnout June election only to lose it to Jacque (or Renard) in November when turnout will be higher.
Assembly District 42
The state Assembly has a competitive special election of their own in District 42. Jon Plumer, a local elected official from Lodi who currently runs a karate studio, easily won the Republican primary. He will take on Ann Groves Lloyd, also from Lodi, who touts her farming background and is currently an academic advisor.
With the Assembly Republicans holding a 63-35 majority, the importance of this race may be overstated, but with Assembly Democrats continuing to lose ground during the 2016 general election, a win here could provide hope for them for a more fruitful November. Both parties have recruited solid candidates, so there is no clear advantage on that front. Like the race in the 1st Senate District, Trump won big in the 42nd Assembly District, and retired incumbent Keith Ripp’s re-elect results usually hovered around 60 percent. The district is a little better for Democrats than Senate District 1, but they still will have to overcome a historically Republican performing district and a Republican caucus that has put together an impeccable record of recent electoral success.
Similar to the winner of the open Senate seat, the winner of this race will have to go right back to the doors to prepare for their next election, which will take place just a handful of months later.