The Wisconsin Senate District currently served by Sen. Frank Lasee is represented in the state Assembly by three Republicans who may or may not have an interest in running for the seat in the Nov. 6, 2018, election.
Lasee announced Friday that Gov. Scott Walker has appointed him administrator of the state Division of Workers Compensation. A spokesman for the governor told reporters there would be no special election to fill the seat since the state Legislature does not have many days left in the current session.
Incumbent Reps. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay; Andre Jacque, R-De Pere; and Ron Tusler, R-Harrison, would have to choose between running for another two-year term in the Assembly or the open four-year term in the Senate.
Of the three, Jacque is the most experienced, having been first elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Kitchens would be running for a third term in the Assembly, Tusler only a second.
Democrats who might be interested in the job would include any of the people who have run in recent years. Lasee defeated Dean Debroux to win a second term in the Senate in 2014.
Assembly candidates in the 1st Assembly District have been Lynn Utesch, Joe Majeski, Patrick Veeser and Arnie Johnsrud; in the 2nd, no Democrats have run since Jacque defeated Larry Pruess in 2012, although independent Mark Grams was on the ballot in 2016; in the 3rd, Tusler defeated Sharon Wasileski to succeed longtime lawmaker Al Ott, who defeated Kole Oswald in 2012 but was unopposed in 2014.
It will be the first time in four decades that the Senate seat has not been held by someone named Lasee. Frank’s cousin Alan Lasee represented the district from 1977 through 2011.
The last Democrat to represent the 1st Senate District was Jerome Martin from 1970 until his death in 1977. Alan Lasee was first elected to the Senate in a special election to succeed Martin.
Frank Lasee issued this statement on Friday:
“It is an honor to have been asked by Governor Walker to serve as the Division Administrator for Worker’s Compensation in the Department of Workforce Development. I look forward to working with Secretary Allen and my co-workers in the Department of Workforce Development.
Earlier this year the Worker’s Compensation Research Institute recognized Wisconsin as being first among the 18 states studied for lowest level of attorney involvement in worker’s compensation cases. This study showed Wisconsin’s Worker’s Compensation programs promote rapid resolution of disputes and those quick determinations lead to lower costs and faster payment of benefits.
“I thank my constituents and the people of Wisconsin for the honor and privilege of serving them and our state as their State Senator. I look forward to serving our state in my new role as Division Administrator for Worker’s Compensation.”