Editorial: Moderates sweep Wisconsin’s special elections

June 16, 2018

A Democrat won the 1st District seat in the Wisconsin Senate on Tuesday for the first time in more than four decades. It’s more evidence of a blue wave, Democrats say, meaning they think they have the support and momentum to win big this fall.

But a Republican won the open 42nd Assembly District seat in Columbia and parts of surrounding counties, including Dane. That means the blue wave might turn out to be just a trickle, according to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester.

Tuesday’s special elections to fill two vacant seats in the Legislature were a split decision, if you’re keeping score based on the winning candidates’ party affiliations.

But we view Tuesday’s results as a sweep for moderates and the sensible center of Wisconsin politics.

Caleb Frostman of Sturgeon Bay, a Democrat, won the 1st Senate District in northeastern Wisconsin. While he touts Democratic priorities including greater investment in public education and affordable health care, he also cautions, “We can’t just throw money at things.”

Frostman is an avid hunter and business leader who ran Door County’s economic development agency. He worked for big banks in commercial real estate finance and wants to help businesses expand, workers train and entrepreneurs succeed.

Jon Plumer of Lodi, a Republican, won the 42nd Assembly District, holding the seat and a large Assembly majority for the GOP.

Like Frostman, Plumer is civil and straight-forward, not a partisan fighter who spouts lots of talking points. Plumer has stressed the need for more cooperation across party lines. Plumer is a self-described moderate whose priorities include fixing roads and improving public education.

Sending more moderates from both parties to the statehouse bodes well for Wisconsin as it faces challenges including deteriorating roads and a workforce shortage. More of our leaders need to work together on solutions.

Our editorial board endorsed Plumer and is impressed by Frostman. Whether or not a blue wave washes more Democrats into office this fall, Wisconsin needs more leaders with open minds who can compromise to get things done.