Under Wisconsin's new legislative design, Democrats hope down-ballot contests can help Biden. (Part-1)

Madison— Democrats see Tuesday's presidential primary as a rare opportunity for a general election campaign in Wisconsin.

New legislative districts approved this month eliminate GOP advantages that gave the GOP control of the Wisconsin Assembly despite Democrats winning 14 of 17 statewide elections. Democrats think they can now contend for a majority and that heated legislative elections can help elect President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in November.

State Democratic Party chairman Ben Wikler calls the idea “reverse coattails,” a play on the idea that the top of the ticket carries down-ballot candidates. “It drives up turnout among people who had been unlikely to vote, which can directly affect Biden-Harris' vote total,” he added. “That's why, I think, the new state legislative maps have consequences far beyond the Legislature.”

Wikler's notion is too early to test. Both parties expect the fall rematch between Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump to be close in several key states, notably Wisconsin, which shifted from Trump to Biden four years ago.

Republican Assembly speaker Robin Vos, who recruits and elects GOP candidates to maintain the party's majority, disputed the Democratic premise. Vos, the state's longest-serving speaker, declared "absolutely not." Voters will vote in the presidential contest because that's where the oxygen is.

Democrats said they will pay greater attention to small towns, suburbs, and rural regions that were GOP-heavy but are now in competitive races. When Democrats simply had to beat veto-proof GOP majorities, those districts were unimportant. They will now have additional campaign personnel and volunteers to boost turnout

Democrats are defending Senate seats in six competitive states to maintain their 51-49 control, including Wisconsin. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, seeking a third term, may face billionaire businessman Eric Hovde, who has just nominal Republican opposition in the Aug. 13 primary.

Baldwin believes legislative races' “reverse coattails” might help her. Previous districts “were so gerrymandered, which meant there were whole swaths of Wisconsin where there weren't competitive races,” she added.

View for more updates