By Sam Morateck and Jerry Bader
The race for the vacant 1st Senate District Seat became less complicated for Republicans Friday, when Alex Renard did not file nominating papers for the August primary. Friday was the filing deadline. Renard was defeated by State Representative Andre Jacque in May for the Republican nomination in a special election on June 12. Jacque faces Democrat Caleb Frostman in that contest.
It was believed all three men might file nominating papers for the fall election. That opened up the prospect of the Republican nominee defeating Frostman June 12 and then facing his May primary opponent again in September. It could have created a particularly awkard situation for five northeastern Wisconsin Republican representatives who endorsed Renard.
Renard’s absence also means Jacque doesn’t have to contend with an “I told you so” primary in August if he loses to Frostman. He will, however, be challenged by another Republican: Bill Nauta of Washington Island.
A 527 independent expenditure committee, The Midwest Growth Fund, was responsible for mailers viciously attacking Jacque. And Northeast Wisconsin Republican Representatives Joel Kitchens, John Macco, John Nygren, David Steffen, and Jim Steineke all endorsed Renard. Had he entered the fall race, the quintet faced a potentially difficult decision: if Jacque wins on June 12, would they back him in August, or stick with Renard against Jacque, who would be a sitting state senator. Despite the MWGF and numerous lawmakers endorsements Jacque won the may primary with 52% of the vote. That would have been especially difficult considering the chief argument against Jacque was that he couldn’t defeat Frostman.
Whether Jacque wins or loses next week, Republicans are now likely to unite behind him in August and November.