That was at least the special election story before yesterday, when Republicans in Wisconsin promptly lost a state Senate seat in a district Trump won by 17 points.
Democrats snagged a GOP-leaning state Senate seat in western Wisconsin on Tuesday, buoying progressive hopes that they could ride a wave of victory this fall.
Patty Schachtner, the chief medical examiner for St. Croix County, will take the seat that had been held for 17 years by former Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls). Harsdorf stepped down in November to take a job as GOP Gov. Scott Walker's agriculture secretary.
In an interview, Schachtner said she thought she beat state Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) because the race had turned nasty in mailings from groups outside the district.
“It wasn’t nice. It was mean,” she said of the campaign literature. “People just said, ‘You know what? We’re nicer than that.’”
In a post on Twitter, Jarchow said he had called Schachtner to congratulate her.
“I look forward to working with her as our new state Senator,” he wrote in his tweet. “Thank you to all who worked so hard for our campaign.”
Also Tuesday, in special elections for the state Assembly, voters in Washington County chose a Republican and voters in Racine County chose a Democrat, according to unofficial results.
But the focus Tuesday was on the 10th Senate District, which consists of parts of Burnett, Polk, St. Croix, Pierce and Dunn counties along Minnesota's border.
Schachtner's win gives Democrats momentum, but they remain deep in the minority. Once she is seated, Republican will hold an 18-14 advantage, with one district vacant. That seat belonged to Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere), who joined Walker's administration last month, and won't be decided until November, when 17 of the state's 33 Senate districts are up for election.
This is a state legislature seat that never should have been in doubt in Scott Walker's red Wisconsin. And nobody panicked faster than Walker himself.
Walker, who had tweeted earlier Tuesday urging residents of the 10th Senate district to get to the polls and vote for Republican Adam Jarchow, wrote online after the race had been decided that “Senate District 10 special election win by a Democrat is a wake up call for Republicans in Wisconsin” who must do a better job touting their record to voters.
“WAKE UP CALL: Can’t presume that voters know we are getting positive things done in Wisconsin. Help us share the good news,” the governor wrote in a subsequent post, adding in two others that the state’s GOP also can’t presume voters are aware “that more people are working than ever before” and that “we invested more actual dollars into schools than ever before.”
It's only getting worse for the party of Trump and they know it.