2 races are next test for parties in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Democrats hoped to keep up their midterm momentum Tuesday, seeking victories in special elections for a pair of open legislative seats.

The seats in northeastern Wisconsin’s 1st Senate District and south-central Wisconsin’s 42nd Assembly District have stood vacant since December when Gov. Scott Walker appointed Republican incumbents Frank Lasee and Keith Ripp to his administration.

Walker refused to call elections for the seats as mandated by state law, leading to Democrats speculating he was afraid Republicans would lose. Walker has warned of a “blue wave” approaching in this fall’s elections.

A judge in March ordered Walker to schedule the contests.

Both districts lean conservative. In the 1st, GOP state Rep. Andre Jacque, one of the Legislature’s most conservative members, faces Democrat Caleb Frostman, former executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation.

Republican Jon Plumer faces Democrat Ann Groves Lloyd in the 42nd Assembly District. Plumer is a karate school owner and Lloyd retired from her job as a University of Wisconsin-Madison academic adviser earlier this month.

The elections won’t change the balance of power in either chamber. The winners will have to turn around and immediately prepare to run again in the August primary and November general elections. And they probably won’t take a legislative vote this year; the Legislature isn’t scheduled to be back in Madison until January.

There’s still plenty at stake for both parties.

Democrats hope to extend momentum seen in Democrat Patty Schachtner winning an open seat in a conservative northwestern Wisconsin state Senate district in January. That was followed by liberal-backed Rebecca Dallet winning a spot on the state Supreme Court in April.

Republicans are looking for victories to blunt that energy and signal they’re still in control of Wisconsin politics heading into the fall.

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