Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published 9:08 a.m. CT April 4, 2018 | Updated 2:05 p.m. CT April 4, 2018
|Madison reporter Patrick Marley discusses the results and the aftermath from yesterday's elections including what this means for the Republicans and the next races to watch.|
1. Gov. Scott Walker got the message — loud and clear: The biggest losers in the state on Tuesday were the St. Louis Cardinals (walk-off homer by Ryan Braun), the Boston Celtics (swatted away by Giannis) and Walker. Not only did the second-term Republican governor's pick for the Supreme Court go down in flames, but the voters also rejected his party's proposed constitutional amendment to do away with the state treasurer's office.
And a Walker-endorsed candidate narrowly lost in a race for Waukesha County Circuit Court judge. Yes, in Waukesha County, the base of the Republican Party in Wisconsin, making the governor 0 for 3 for the night. And how did Walker respond? By going to Twitter and blasting his opponents — "driven by anger & hatred" — while most people were still in bed. Hmm, sound familiar?
The big question for Democrats now is, can they settle on an opponent for Walker this fall? Last we checked there were still nine legitimate candidates, with no clear frontrunners, vying for the right to challenge him.
2.Democrats are deeply motivated to vote: Both Republican and Democratic insiders were in agreement on one thing Tuesday night — a blue wave had just swamped the state. Said one top GOP official: "Dems are pissed at losing." And at President Donald Trump. And at the National Rifle Association. And just at whatever.
This was never more true than in Dane County, where liberal Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Dallet rolled up an 81% to 19% advantage over conservative Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock.
The numbers have got to worry U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman and House Speaker Paul Ryan at least a little bit — Dallet got about 48% of the vote in their districts — and the Republicans running in the upcoming special elections in June. "You'd have to call out the National Guard to keep Democrats from the ballot box right now," said a Dem strategist.
3. Eric Holder and his group were massive in the election: One top Democrat had this to say Tuesday night: "The full extent of the weight Holder laid down here isn't totally understood." Behind the scenes, the former Obama attorney general and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee pumped $500,000 into local groups for organizing, advertising and getting other groups, especially unions, to help Dallet.
Beyond that, Holder's outfit successfully sued Walker over his decision not to hold special elections after two GOP lawmakers stepped down to join his administration. The court fight meant two weeks of bad publicity for the governor.
Holder's help was key, given that the state Democratic Party did next to nothing to help out Dallet. While the Republican Party spent more than $345,000 on Screnock, the Dems gave a single in-kind donation of about $6,000 to her campaign.
4. Democrats finally found a winning formula for the Supreme Court: The last time a liberal candidate won an open seat on the state Supreme Court was 1995. Many of the young Dems getting out the vote this week weren't even born then.
How did the Democrats do it? Consider Dallet's profile. She's a veteran local judge with experience as a prosecutor. And she's a Gen-X-er. And a woman. Don't be surprised to see Democrats field similar candidates for the Supreme Court in the future.
With her victory, the state's highest court will soon have six female justices and one male. Back in 1992, when I first started covering politics in Wisconsin, it was the reverse, with six male justices and one female. The one constant: liberal Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who is up for re-election next year.Washington Bureau Chief Craig Gilbert talked to voters in three of Wisconsin’s most Republican counties, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington
5. Money can't buy you love or even a new Milwaukee County Board: First, let's all agree on this — Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has more money than any of us realized. We should have figured that out when he spent $5.6 million of his own cash to win re-election in 2016.
Then Abele goes out over the past year and drops another $1 million from his campaign account and via a new group, Leadership MKE, on County Board and other local races. In all, he won in nine of the 14 races in which he took sides, even knocking off incumbent Supervisors Peggy West and Steve F. Taylor.
But Abele missed his biggest target — Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb Sr. It's not clear yet how much the county exec spent from his wallet on the board chairman, but many in the district would say it was too much. In the end, some strategists say, there was a backlash in the district against all the ads and numerous mailers from Abele's team.
Contact Daniel Bice at (414) 224-2135 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DanielBice or on Facebook at fb.me/daniel.bice.