The blue wave is sweeping Wisconsin, recently manifesting itself as Rebecca Dallet’s significant margin of victory over conservative judge Michael Screnock. Dallet won several counties President Donald Trump took in the 2016 presidential election, demonstrating the state’s Democrats are highly motivated and turning out for candidates with more liberal views.
An energized Democratic party will have huge implications moving through 2018, with partisan primary elections August 14 and the general election November 6. The state will vote for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, U.S. senator, representative in Congress, state senators for odd-numbered districts and representatives to the Assembly from all districts. Two particularly interesting races will be those for incumbents Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.
Walker’s concern regarding the blue wave is apparent. On April 3 and 4, Walker posted a series of tweets regarding the Supreme Court election results.
Tonight’s results show we are at risk of a #BlueWave in WI. 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.
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) April 4, 2018
This tweet — and all of the others — show Walker is undeniably aware his chances of re-election, despite the advantages of being an incumbent, have slimmed with the rise of a motivated Democratic Party.
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There is also speculation the true reason House Speaker Paul Ryan chose not to seek re-election was not to spend time with his family, but out of concern for winning the office back.
His term as the speaker has been a rocky one, with a conservative-majority Congress failing to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act as well as passing tax reform legislation riddled with mistakes and unintended consequences. These difficulties in Congress may have fostered some frustration and lowered Ryan’s chances of re-election, especially coupled with a strong Democratic challenger and multiple historically-safe Republican districts turning blue over the past year.
Democrats celebrate Ryan’s retirement as a product of the blue wave, as sincere as he may have been in wishes to spend more time with his family. His decision to not seek re-election eliminates any advantage he may have had as an incumbent candidate and puts the Republican House majority at risk, should a Democrat win the district in 2018.
Prominent Wisconsin Republicans should view a re-energized Democratic Party with concern and recognize that political stagnation in a Republican-controlled Congress with a Republican president has had consequences.
Additionally, Democrats need to focus efforts on sustaining the blue wave. As exciting as the blue wave is for liberals nationwide and in Wisconsin, the Democratic Party needs to take full advantage of an energized voting population with the ability to flip districts from red to blue.
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Democrats must be able to sustain blue wave momentum going into 2018, especially given competition within the party. Fourteen candidates are currently competing for the Democratic Party nomination in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race. While a large number of candidates illustrates Democratic enthusiasm going into 2018, it also complicates organized opposition to Walker, who, according to another columnist at The Badger Herald, “has proven time and time again to be a formidable candidate.”
Democrats must revitalize energy despite no clear frontrunner to rally behind in the race for governor. Only time will tell if internal battles will exhaust the Democratic Party come November.
Also, Democrats need to keep their base energized to hold onto Sen. Baldwin’s seat. Keeping seats is just as important as winning them back, and the Democratic Party must approach Baldwin’s campaign with the same level of enthusiasm to make sure that what is already blue, stays blue.
Juliet Dupont ([email protected]) is a freshman intending to major in political science and journalism.