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MEMO: Special Elections Spell Trouble For Scott Walker–Again

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TO: Interested Parties
FROM: DGA Executive Director Elisabeth Pearson
DATE: June 13, 2018
RE: Special Elections Spell Trouble For Scott Walker–Again
Last night’s crushing defeat for Scott Walker in a Wisconsin special election is just the latest in a string of bad news for the embattled Governor attempting to run for a third term in increasingly hostile territory.
Democrat Caleb Frostman won a State Senate seat that Democrats haven’t held for 40 years, a seat President Trump carried by a whopping 18 points in 2016 and Governor Walker won by 23 two years earlier. This is a special election Walker had refused to hold until forced by the courts because he knew it would not go well for his party.
Here’s what people are saying about Walker’s latest loss:
AP: Wisconsin Democrats have flipped a GOP stronghold to capture a state legislative district that voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in 2016… Walker refused to call elections — as required by state law — until he lost a court battle that forced his hand.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Democrats have to be ebullient. After all, they won a Senate seat they hadn’t held since the 1970’s.
Daily Beast: Wisconsin Democrats may have put fear into the heart of Republican Gov. Scott Walker again.
The Nation: It represented a huge setback for Walker and his Republican allies in a State Senate that has rubber-stamped the governor’s assaults on unions, voting rights, the environment and public education. Carolyn Fiddler, who tracks legislative races for the Daily Kos, described the result as “Walker’s worst nightmare,” and that’s a fair assessment.
Vox: It appears as though Walker’s concerns were founded. In a state that was so crucial to Trump’s 2016 victory and where Democrats have a vulnerable senator up for reelection this fall, Tuesday’s special election is an indication that Democrats are enthusiastic to get out to the polls.
He knew this election would go badly for him because it’s just the latest in a string of electoral defeats for Walker’s Wisconsin Republican Party.
In April, he was handed a bruising defeat in a state Supreme Court race that Walker said shows “we are at risk of a #BlueWave in WI.”  And here’s what others had to say about that loss:
Politico Morning Score: “BAD NEWS FOR WALKER — Democrats win in Wisconsin Supreme Court race”
Washington Post’s The Fix: “Now that he has lost another race, this one statewide with a candidate he was all in for, Walker is outright hitting the panic button for his party.”
CNN: “Big win by liberals in Wisconsin is bad news for GOP and Scott Walker”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “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 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.”
GOP Strategist Charlie Sykes: “This is freaking code RED.”
Esquire: “Very rarely will a politician receive the kind of ass-kicking that Walker got on Tuesday, when Wisconsin held an election for local and state positions…Up and down the ballot, voters repudiated Walker’s governorship.”
Buzzfeed: “In central Milwaukee Tuesday, voters who turned out in freezing rain said they were motivated by opposition to Screnock: his close ties to Walker…President Donald Trump, they said, was hanging over the race, motivating people who typically did not show up for April elections to come to the polls.”
New York Magazine: “Tonight’s results also make it abundantly clear why Scott Walker tried so hard to avoid calling two state legislative special elections, only doing so when forced to comply with state law by a judge he had himself appointed.”
Back in January, Walker called his party’s defeat in a state Senate special election that swung 26 points towards the Democrats “a wake up call for Republicans in Wisconsin.”
In March, the AP reported that, “Walker has made clear he sees worrisome signs for the GOP and the hard-line conservatism that’s marked his eight years in office. Wisconsin, which helped hand the White House to Republicans, is looking for something different, Walker has said.
According to Politico, Walker’s campaign hit the panic button fully this spring, retooling its fundraising, rewriting its call scripts and fundraising pitches, doubling its field offices, even emailing donors “We could lose.”
And last year, following Governor Ralph Northam’s massive victory in Virginia, CNN reported that Walker and the RGA “fear a 2018 midterm wipeout after Virginia loss,” and “haven’t figured out what to do about an increasingly toxic national political environment that led to a surge in Democratic support in the Virginia suburbs.”
More than 7 months later after that loss, it’s increasingly clear that Walker still hasn’t figured it out. After all of Scott Walker’s ‘wake up calls’ and ‘panic buttons’ he is still losing, a troubling sign for his own appearance on the ballot in November.