On Tuesday, Democrat Caleb Frostman won the special election for Wisconsin Senate District 1, giving Team Blue its 43rd state legislative pickup of the cycle.
Frostman, an avid sportsman and local businessman, won the district 51-49 percent, a 21-point swing from Donald Trump’s 56-39 win here in 2016. Frostman’s campaign focused on jobs and job training, education, and protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources (and … concrete, apparently).
This race was one of two Wisconsin legislative special elections that very nearly didn’t happen, thanks to Gov. Scott Walker's fear of losing seats to Democrats. Way back in December, after Walker started noticing the obvious trend of Democratic success in special elections, he quietly came up with a super-genius idea: He simply wasn’t going to hold them anymore.
That is, rather than risk losing special elections for two legislative seats—which became vacant because he appointed their occupants to cushy jobs—he’d instead let them remain empty and leave their residents without representation in the state capitol for nearly a year.
It’s no excuse for giving democracy the middle finger, but Walker wasn’t wrong to be worried. In January, Democrats flipped a historically and solidly Republican state Senate seat in a special election, leading Walker to freak out more than a little bit—publicly, too. Then in April, progressive Judge Rebecca Dallet pulled off a massive 56-44 statewide win for an open seat on the state Supreme Court, demolishing Walker’s handpicked conservative candidate.
Democrats sued to force Walker to follow state law and call the special elections to fill the legislative seats he wanted to leave vacant. The governor’s nakedly anti-democratic ploy was thoroughly smacked down by a state court judge—a Walker appointee, no less.
So the EXTREMELY REASONABLE response from Walker and his cronies in the legislature was to try to ram through emergency legislation that would literally cancel these special elections.
I mean, it makes sense in a dictatorial, profoundly anti-democratic way. Don’t want to lose special elections? Just don’t hold ‘em.
Satisfyingly, this effort also got smacked down by the courts, not once, but twice.
Could there be a more delicious end to this saga than a Democratic victory in an election Walker fought like hell to block from even happening?
And the best part is, Wisconsinites will now have a new and vocally progressive voice representing them in Caleb Frostman.