Outgoing Sen. Caleb Frostman is far too young a man to go down in Wisconsin history as a footnote for winning a court-ordered special election in June and losing the general election in November to his special election challenger Rep. Andre Jacque.
Wisconsin should expect to hear more from him.
“I had a ton of fun. I had more fun than I ever expected,” he said just a couple of days after pulling an all-nighter in the Extraordinary Session that was called to scale back the powers of incoming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul.
“I have no regrets,” Frostman said. “I’m super proud of our campaign. Learned a lot. Met a lot of amazing people. I look back on my time these last eight months-ish really fondly. Wish we would have prevailed in the fall, but very, very positive memories and experiences.”
Asked if he gained anything personally from the experience of running a campaign and serving, even for the brief time, as 1st District Senator, Frostman revealed that he is an “introvert by nature.”
“Knocking on people’s doors talking about politics intimidated the heck out of me,” he said.
But he soon found he really enjoyed it.
“That was my favorite part of the campaign – knocking on doors and meeting folks,” he said. “There was some disagreement, but so many folks just want to be heard, and that does inform, perhaps, your perspective on later decisions.”
And did he learn anything about the 1st Senate District when he knocked on those doors?
“It shed light on a lot of things. You see a ton of humanity,” he said. “It absolutely expands your perspective on everything from the have and have-nots. You see some living in abject poverty and you knock on some million-dollar doors. It did truly inform our platform in different ways. It was a very effective way to communicate with voters and become more known, but also to inform our platforms and move forward.”
What’s next for the outgoing Senator who left his job as the executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation earlier this year to run for office?
Frostman said his focus is to apply for jobs in Door County and northeastern Wisconsin, ideally in economic development or the nonprofit sector, but left the door open to options in Madison. When Evers brought his gubernatorial campaign for an event in Sturgeon Bay, Frostman and the incoming governor seemed to have a great rapport.
“I’ve got the utmost respect for him and would love to help move Wisconsin in the right direction and be part of that process to manifest the values we’ve been talking about the last eight months in his administration, so we’ll see what shakes out,” Frostman said.
And what did he make of the Extraordinary Session?
“It’s not only petty but truly unprecedented in the 170-year history of Wisconsin,” he said. “We’ve only had a few lame duck sessions to pass things like Rose Bowl committees. We’ve never curtailed the powers of the incoming attorney general or governor.
“My 24 hours in session were pretty unique,” he continued. “I loved the process but pretty disgusted by the outcome and debating the merits of what was put in front of us, having such incredible colleagues to formulate a plan. It’s what I wanted to do. It’s why I raised my hand for this.
“Having the Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader flatly say to the press they don’t trust the incoming AG and governor because they are liberals and that means they’re going to use their last remaining vestiges of power to insert their failed agenda into Wisconsin life because they disagree with someone’s politics is really disheartening and flies in the face of what democracy is and what the voters loud and clear put forth.”
Now those measures rest in the hands of outgoing Gov. Scott Walker.
“I honestly think it will define his legacy,” Frostman said. “Wisconsin has had a really complicated relationship with Scott Walker for eight years. I’m hopeful but I’m not holding my breath, if he wants to reconcile the State of Wisconsin in the face of this defeat then he will veto. It may seem improbable but it will be impossible if he signs this.”
Frostman said he doesn’t think hyper-partisanship is going away anytime soon, so he had this advice.
“I implore folks to stay vigilant, stay passionate. The worst thing we could do is become downtrodden and complacent and let these folks run roughshod over what were the winning values. The legislative majority, 54-46 in favor of Dems. We won every constitutional office and U.S. Senate. The majority has spoken. We just have a petulant minority that wants to do one last power grab, take their ball and go home.”