Steven Walters
The State of Politics

Why Walker Waved Red “Danger” Sign

He's experienced a wave election before, but that time it helped him.

By - Apr 9th, 2018 10:08 am
Gov. Scott Walker. Photo by Kate Golden/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Gov. Scott Walker. Photo by Kate Golden/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

There was a wave election on Nov. 2, 2010. Republicans won the Governor’s Office, Assembly and Senate. It drowned Democrats, who had controlled the Governor’s Office for eight years and the Legislature for two years.

Now, it’s Gov. Scott Walker playing lifeguard for the Republican Party he leads.

“Risk of a #BlueWave in WI,” the Republican who led that 2010 wave and wants to win a third term on Nov. 6 tweeted Tuesday night.

“The Far Left is driven by anger & hatred — we must counter it with optimism & organization. Let’s share our positive story with voters & win in November.”

Walker hoisted the red beachfront “danger” flag after these storm clouds:

*One of his judicial appointees, Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock, lost Tuesday’s election for an open Supreme Court seat. The Wisconsin Republican Party spent more than $400,000 to help Screnock.

And Screnock lost big, getting only 44% of the statewide vote against Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet. She got a stunning 81% of votes in Dane County and 65.7% of Milwaukee County’s votes. More votes in the court race were cast in Dane County than Milwaukee County.

*Although Republicans had controlled the 10th State Senate District, which borders Minnesota, for 18 years, Democrat Sen. Patty Schachtner beat a conservative Assemblyman and won a special election there in January. She’ll hold the seat until the 2020 election.

On the same day, a Democratic candidate had a strong showing in a special election in Assembly District 58 – an upscale suburban Milwaukee district where Democrats didn’t even run a candidate in 2016.

*Three judges – two in Dane County and one in the Court of Appeals – told Walker he had to call special elections in the Door County-centered 1st Senate District and Columbia County-based 42nd Assembly District. The elections will be June 12.

Although Walker and GOP legislative leaders said the elections would waste money, and the Legislature won’t be in session again until January, Democrats sued to force the governor to call those elections.

Why the lawsuit?

Democrats have mobilized their voters with anger at Republicans in Washington and Madison, and know that momentum would continue with upset wins or close votes in two districts the GOP has controlled. It would also give Democrats a strategy for Nov. 6 elections in both districts.

But two Wisconsin political veterans, Republican strategist Mark Graul and Marquette University pollster Charles Franklin, said it’s too early in the election cycle to predict a Democratic “wave” on Nov. 6.

“The April electorate in Wisconsin is just very different than the electorate you have in November,” Graul told the New York Times. “They’re just very different animals, and not comparable.”

Franklin agreed:

“Dallet’s victory, and by a substantial margin, shows that the [January] special elections … were not one time, isolated, flukes. It is a long time to November, and turnout then will more than double the court race. But Dallet’s performance in usually Republican areas is a warning signal.”

There were other warning signs for Republicans in county-by-county vote totals in the two districts with June 12 elections.

In the 1st Senate District, for example, Dallet – the Democrat in the race – won Door County with 62% of the vote.

The 1st Senate District also includes all or part of four other counties – Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Brown and Calumet. Dallet got 55% of the Brown County vote, got 49% of the vote in both Kewaunee and Calumet counties, and won – with 50.3% of the vote – in Manitowoc County.

Since 1977, the 1st Senate District has been represented by two Republicans – former Senate President Alan Lasee and Frank Lasee, who got a Walker Administration job on Dec. 29.

The 42nd Assembly District includes all or part of six counties – Columbia, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Marquette, Green Lake and a sliver of Dane.

Dallet won Columbia County, the heart of the district, with 56% of the vote. But she got only 43% of the vote in Dodge and Fond du Lac counties, 44% in Marquette and 41% in Green Lake.

One on-line news service, Splinter, ran this headline Wednesday: “Scott Walker is Scared as Hell after Liberal Judge Wins Wisconsin Supreme Court Seat.”

The story noted this other Walker tweet:

“Wisconsin is working with RECORD-LOW unemployment thanks to our reforms, but the risk of a #BlueWave puts everything in jeopardy – balanced budgets, collective bargaining reforms, $8B in tax cuts, welfare reform & more.”

Wave? Or will Republicans learn to surf?

Steven Walters is a senior producer for the nonprofit public affairs channel WisconsinEye. Contact him at

2 thoughts on “The State of Politics: Why Walker Waved Red “Danger” Sign”

  1. Eric J. says:

    -Start updating that resume Scotty. See what the real world is all about .
    -““The Far Left is driven by anger & hatred ” —Far left ??? From high republican districts ?? No; that’s called motivated voters . Your failure to understand the difference is what makes you vulnerable.
    -The ” out of state money ( and how much do you receive from out of state ?) ” and ” union bosses ” are long gone .
    “Wisconsin is working with RECORD-LOW unemployment thanks to our reforms,” ( Then why the MASSIVE tax benefits to FOXCONN ???)
    -At this point you can’t escape your record and policies.
    -Your cake has been baked.

  2. Terry says:

    Dump Walker! Legalize weed!

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