MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Republicans likely won't be getting the veto-proof majority they hoped for come November, according to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).
Vos and Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) shared their early predictions for Election Day during a virtual WisPolitics event Wednesday.
All 99 seats in the Wisconsin State Assembly are up for re-election at the same time a presidential race dominates the national spotlight.
Democrats like Hintz say that's a good thing, while Vos says it's important for candidates to have their own identity.
“We certainly think it helps us,” Hintz said. “Every 12 years you have a cycle where there's only one statewide race, neither U.S. Senator is up, no Constitutional offices, and the fact that you have a divisive president where we're seeing traditional Republicans either voting for Joe Biden or having to make a decision on actually turning out.”
“We know rural Democrats have a hard time standing next to Joe Biden, some of our suburban seats, people have a more difficult time standing next to Donald Trump,” Vos said. “I mean that's just the challenge we have right now, so I think that's why it's important that we in the legislature have always had the opportunity to have our own brand in addition to running with the top of the ticket.”
Running a campaign in 2020 has been unlike any year before.
Republican candidates have been more apt to do in-person events and go door-to-door amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it's not a tactic Democrats are ruling out.
“Probably more than ever, people want to have a conversation, they want to talk about issues, they've been home by themselves only talking to, perhaps, their relatives or a few close friends so they want to have that political conversation in a way that maybe would not traditionally be the case,” Vos said. “So I feel very strongly, as we've gone across the state I can say less than a dozen times has someone been offended that we knocked on their door.”
“I've been doing sort of a hybrid where I do doors depending on the neighborhood and demographics and drop other times,” Hintz said. “Certainly, going to events where you can be outside and socially distance, and I think the speaker is right. If you have a mask on and you can keep distance, you know people don't have to answer the door even if they're home.”
Republicans want to flip three seats in each chamber this November to give them a veto-proof majority to pass anything they want, but Vos isn't confident that will happen especially given how much money Democrats have raised.
“I don't think it's likely only because of the environment that we're in,” Vos said. “When you have, literally, two or three times the money that Republicans do, Democrats have been trying to buy this election in this cycle in a way that they did last cycle when they spend more money against Governor Walker than he did himself.”
“The opportunity is there, obviously the national political environment is volatile,” Hintz said. “I don't try to make predictions in August and September, but if you said a year ago this is the position that you're gonna be in I would say I am happy with that.”
Still, leaders on both sides of the aisle are confident they can flip seats across the state.
“Kriss Marion, who ran a very competitive race against Howard Marklein in that senate seat, is a great candidate that fits the district that we think is going to offer a contrast that exposes Todd Novak as really being a rubber stamp in the 51st,” Hintz said. “Deb Andraca, who's been engaged as anybody in her suburban community, against Jim Ott offers a real contrast.”
“We have four of the best potential pick up opportunities,” Vos said. “I think we're going to beat Robyn Vining. We have an excellent candidate in a woman named Bonnie Lee. She has been working harder than almost any candidate we have. In Northwestern Wisconsin, James Bolen almost beat the Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley by two points in a Democrat year in 2018. He is running really strong.”