Both the Republican and Democratic leaders of the state Senate have a lot riding on Tuesday's primary election after having endorsed candidates in high-profile primary campaigns.
Both Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, and Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson, a Democrat, have taken the rare step of endorsing candidates in campaigns for open seats.
Fitzgerald is backing former state Sen. Van Wanggaard in his primary with Jonathan Steitz. Wanggaard lost his seat in the 2012 recall elections to Democrat John Lehman, but after redistricting, the seat became one of the most conservative districts in the state.
Larson is backing Pat Bomhack over Ernie Witttwer in the Democratic primary for the seat left open by retiring Republican Sen. Dale Schultz. The district is a top target for Democrats, but Republican Rep. Howard Marklein is also running and has raised considerably more campaign money than either Bomhack or Wittwer.
Mordecai Lee, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee political science professor and former state senator, said there's a reason leaders don't endorse during a primary very often.
"Politicians have long memories, and politicians believe in the maxim about never forget, never forgive and always pay back," Lee said.
If Fitzgerald or Larson picked wrong and the other candidate makes it to the state Senate, Lee said that person will arrive in Madison angry at the leader who stood in his way.
"And then, to sort of do a payback. Does everything that he can to undermine that legislative leader and to make them look bad, make them fail, promote other people to challenge them, not support them when they ask for help," Lee said. "And in the meantime, the legislative leader has to bend over backwards to try and repair a friendship and develop a working relationship."