Governor Scott Walker, a Republican who won election in 2010 and is seeking reelection in November, took to Twitter on Tuesday night with a somewhat ominous assessment: "Senate District 10 special election win by a Democrat is a wake up call for Republicans in Wisconsin", he wrote. Republican Sheila Harsdorf had held that seat since 2001 but stepped down previous year. A conservative group sponsoring Jarchow - the Koch brothers'-backed Americans for Prosperity - said in the run-up that "the eyes of the nation will be on western Wisconsin as voters go to the polls in the first special election of 2018".
But Schachtner's positive campaign could be seen as a repudiation of the harsh, divisive and arguably racist politics that propelled Donald Trump to the White House. "Right now, when you look at issues out there on a national scale, Democratic values are Wisconsin values", state Democratic Party spokeswoman Melanie Conklin said.
In other Tuesday elections, Democrat Dennis Degenhardt won 43 percent of the vote in Wisconsin's 58th Assembly District; in 2016, Hillary Clinton won just 28 percent of the vote there, and no Democrat contested the seat.
Unofficial results show Parry Schachtner defeated state Representative Adam Jarchow in the 10 Senate District, with 54.6 percent of the vote to Jarchow's 44.2 percent.
Schachtner is just the latest Democrat to win a seat that had once been considered virtually unwinnable for the party. As the chief medical examiner for St. Croix County, and a former first responder, Schachtner said she never once asked someone their political affiliation before providing care, and she doesn't care to do so now.
Gubernatorial candidate Mike McCabe, a political activist, said the Schachtner win didn't surprise him based on people he's spoken with across the state who feel marginalized. She vows to "fight to retain local control so that our communities can decide what is best for our growth, instead of letting out-of-state corporations damage our clean land, air, and water for their own profit".
He did not blame Trump by name, but said there is "frustration overall" with Washington.
Walker, who faces a challenge from at least 16 Democrats in his 2018 re-election bid, used the term "wake-up call" in nine tweets after Schachtner's victory was confirmed. A state senator from Iowa, Kevin Kinney, says Democrats are perceived as arrogant and as talking down to rural folks in the Midwest. It covers parts of Burnett, Polk, and St. Croix counties.
Meanwhile, some democrats say it's a sign of the future.