“The most important election of our lifetime.”
How many times have we heard that phrase, on both sides of the political aisle? It’s all about motivating the base to turn out. Will the 2018 election turn out to be one of those watershed elections? Will the Republican wave of discontent that ushered Donald Trump into the White House in 2016 continue?
Will tax reform, and a stronger economy be enough for Republicans to hold their majorities? Can they pick up any U.S. Senate seats? Or, is there enough discontent with the current administration to usher in a mid-term shift? These are important questions that will be explored over the next several months.
Let’s take a look at the House of Representatives delegation from Wisconsin in Washington D.C. There likely won’t be any changes in the House of Representatives, where all the 2016 races were decided by margins of at least 20 percent, but let’s review (fundraising data from fec.gov):
1st District: Paul Ryan
As speaker of the House, Republican Paul Ryan has a strong national presence and a loyal following in the southeastern corner of the state. He will, undoubtedly, have a Democratic challenger. At this point, Randy Bryce, an ironworker from Racine, has raised more than $2.5 million. He appeared at a rally Saturday in Racine with Bernie Sanders, and spouts the usual Democratic talking points, but I would expect that Ryan easily will retain his seat.
2nd District: Mark Pocan
I am not aware of any Republican candidates who have filed to face Democrat Mark Pocan. This Madison-dominated district, surrounded by its deep blue wall, is a steep mountain for Republicans. I would hope that the next redraw of the maps in 2022 gives a refreshed look for the northern parts of the 2nd District.
3rd District: Ron Kind
Democrat Ron Kind ran unopposed in 2016, after several solid challenges. The last redistricting made this split district much bluer. There is a Republican challenger, Steve Toft, a career army officer who has returned to his Wisconsin roots. Toft has a real uphill battle, but after 22 years, Kind deserves a dogfight of a race.
4th District: Gwen Moore
Democrat Gwen Moore was unopposed in the 2016 race in this Milwaukee-area urban district. To date, no Republican challenger has stepped forward. More Moore, but what choice do we have?
Republican Jim Sensenbrenner more than doubled the vote of his 2016 challenger, and thus far has one Democratic challenger, Tom Palewicz. Much like Ryan, Sensenbrenner has a long record in Congress, and should retain his seat.
Republican Glenn Grothman won this seat by about 20 points over Sarah Lloyd in 2016. According to her website, Lloyd is not running in 2018. There is a Democratic challenger, Dan Kohl, who has raised more than $800,000, so both candidates are close in their fundraising efforts. This race will probably be the most hotly contested house race in the state.
7th District: Sean Duffy
Republican Sean Duffy won his race by about 25 points in 2016. While no challenger has emerged, one likely will surface.
Republican Mike Gallagher won his initial race by almost 25 points, and to date, has one Democratic challenger, Brown County Assistant District Attorney Beau Liegeois. To date, Liegeois has raised less than $50,000, far less than Gallagher. This has been a close race in other election cycles.
U.S. Senate race
There certainly is more to say about the upcoming U.S. Senate race, where undoubtedly, incumbent Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin will face a strong Republican challenge. This would be a key pickup if the Republicans can unseat Baldwin. When meeting her, she is friendly and approachable. Politically, Sen. Baldwin is the epitome of liberal, progressive thought — damaging for Wisconsin and the nation. I can’t think of a single signature accomplishment she has put forth for the people of Wisconsin.