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Wisconsin Democrats have flipped a GOP stronghold to capture a state legislative district that voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in 2016, as Democrats touted a surging “blue wave” that Republicans mocked as a “blue trickle.”
Democrat Caleb Frostman beat GOP state Rep. Andre Jacque in the 1st Senate District on Tuesday. In a separate special election, Democrat Ann Groves Lloyd conceded her race to Republican Jon Plumer in the 42nd Assembly District.
Frostman’s win marks the 43rd legislative seat flipped since Trump took office. Republicans have held the district for more than 40 years, and voters there ushered in Trump by a 17-point margin two years ago. Democrats had hoped to win Tuesday’s races in both traditionally conservative districts, buoyed by their success in securing an open seat in the northwestern Wisconsin 10th state Senate District in January. Liberal-backed Rebecca Dallet also won a spot on the state Supreme Court in April.
“The momentum is palpable in Wisconsin, where we’ve already seen massive swings in our direction in SD-10 and the state Supreme Court race,” the Democratic National Committee said in a statement.
As it is, Tuesday’s elections leave Republicans with a 64-35 advantage in the Assembly and an 18-15 edge in the Senate. The Legislature isn’t expected to convene again until January, which means Frostman and Plumer probably won’t vote on anything before they have to run for re-election in November.
The two seats had been vacant since December, when Gov. Scott Walker appointed Republicans incumbents Frank Lasee and Keith Ripp to his administration. Walker refused to call elections — as required by state law — until he lost a court battle that forced his hand.
Both parties have plenty of talking points heading into November, and each claims their respective wins show they are in great shape.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos tweeted Plumer’s win, saying the Democrats’ blue wave weakened to a “blue trickle” that hit a “red wall” in his chamber.
Frostman, the former executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation, looked ahead to a rematch with Jacque.
“Our work doesn’t stop here,” Frostman said. “The fall elections will change the future of our state and I hope my support network will grow as we work to get re-elected.”
Jacque predicted he will prevail in November, when turnout will be higher.
“It’s a June special election,” Jacque said. “It’s obviously going to be a lot different ball game in November.”
Plumer didn’t return a voicemail Tuesday evening.
Lloyd said she didn’t have much time to campaign because Walker didn’t schedule the elections until late March. Now, though, she has built a network, she said.
“I’m excited to get a chance to spend the next five months getting to know the district and the people in the district even better,” she said.
Voters in the 42nd Assembly District said Tuesday that they were divided over what the elections this week will mean for the midterms.
“We can sit here and make all the predictions you want, I think it’s a lot of hoopla,” said Mike Busser, 51, a business owner in Lodi who voted for Plumer.
A Lloyd voter, 79-year-old Ardell Christianson, said that no matter who wins, it will be an accurate picture of which party has momentum for the fall. She thinks Walker delayed calling the election “because Republicans are afraid.”
Voters on both sides decried the nasty campaign.
“I don’t know how I can vote for the person I like, given all the mud he’s slung,” said Earl Bilkey, a 77-year-old Democrat. He said he voted for Plumer because he thought the Republican would achieve more.
Associated Press writer Scott Bauer contributed to this report from Lodi.
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