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Wisconsin’s 1st Senate District To See Special Election Re-Match In November

Sen. Caleb Frostman, Republican State Rep. Andre Jacque Will Again Vie For 1st District Senate Seat

Wisconsin State Capitol, Senate
Justin Kern (CC BY-NC-ND)

Voters in northeastern Wisconsin will see a strikingly similar ballot this November to their special election ballot from June 12.

This summer, Republican state Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, lost to now-Sen. Caleb Frostman, D-Sturgeon Bay, in a special election called by Gov. Scott Walker. Five months later, Frostman and Jacque will again vie for Wisconsin’s 1st Senate District to represent Door and Kewaunee counties along with portions of Brown, Calumet, Manitowoc, and Outagamie counties.

The race could go a long way toward deciding who controls the Wisconsin Senate, where Republicans currently hold an 18-15 majority. In order for Democrats to win control of the chamber, they’d likely need to hold Frostman’s seat and flip two others.

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Jacque has served in the Assembly since 2011, and while he missed a chance to move up to the Senate in June, he said he has a connection to voters in northeastern Wisconsin. It’s the impetus behind why he’s running in November.

“I wasn’t hand selected by party leaders like my opponent,” Jacque said, highlighting his willingness to buck party leadership in Madison. “I was heavily outspent in both the primary as well as the special general election. I was outspent not only by my opponent but by outside groups as well.”

Jacque added he has worked across the aisle on issues like brownfield redevelopment, medical assistance for people with disabilities and domestic violence.

While Frostman, the former executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corp., has been in the Senate since June, he has yet to cast a vote because the Legislature is out of session.

But he has since been appointed to the board of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Since becoming a state senator, Frostman said he has been fielding calls from constituents on things like water quality.

“People are really hyper aware of access to water, water quality,” Frostman said. “I have people ask me, ‘What good is proximity to a great lake if I can’t swim in it? I can’t eat the fish out of it. Why would I dream about a retirement home in the country with views of rolling pastures if I have to run to town every day to buy water?’”

The 1st Senate District includes areas of karst geology that include shallow topsoil and porous rock, making water quality a particularly important issue.

Whether close to home or farther away, Frostman said water is a concern to his constituents. He said the “Back Forty” mine along the Menominee River on the Wisconsin-Michigan border has come up a lot.

“It does affect more than just Michigan. It is a border water. That river flows directly into the bay of Green Bay which is, obviously, a huge recreational area. A huge part of what our ‘brand’ is and what gives our area value in the first place,” he said.

According to David Helpap, an associate professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the re-match between Frostman and Jacque is “unique in recent memory.”

Especially because, “the person who is now technically the incumbent has never actually been involved in a legislative session,” he said.

Still, Helpap said there is power in being a seated senator and that the “I” for incumbent goes with that designation on November’s ballot.

The 1st Senate District has traditionally voted Republican prior to Frostman’s victory there this year. President Donald Trump won the district by 17.5 percentage points in 2016, and Gov. Scott Walker won it by 23 percentage points in 2014.

Frostman defeated Jacque by just under 3 percentage points in June.