WisPolitics brought together a panel of political experts to discuss “the state of politics and policy in DC and Wisconsin and how it will affect 2018 elections” last Thursday: James Wigderson, editor, RightWisconsin; Paul Maslin, Democratic pollster with FM3 Research; Mark Graul, Arena Strategy Group and Republican strategist; and Joe Zepecki, Zepecki Communications, top adviser to former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke. The moderator was Jeff Mayers, Editor of WisPolitics.

The event was held at the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts in Milwaukee. Panel members agreed primaries are good for the panel members. On making predictions for next year, the consensus of the panel was Ringo Starr was right, “tomorrow never knows.” After that the panel was certain about everything.

Some excerpts from Wigderson’s remarks:

On whether the state budget being late will be an issue next year:

“I really don’t think the budget is going to be as much of an issue as he would seem to think. Right now the budget is being resolved probably this week [it passed Friday]. And the way it’s playing out for the most part the one things that’s going to come out that everybody is going to remember is that there’s more education spending now than ever before. That was the one thing that when you looked at the polling in the last election cycle that Republicans were vulnerable on. Now they’ve addressed that issue. As they go into the next election cycle, that’s what people are going to remember.

“They’re not going to remember that it passed in September or that it was debated in August or July. Part of the problem that Democrats have is what the Republicans have been debating about as far as the state budget, is that they’ve been debating about tax cuts and education spending. How much more to spend on education and how much to cut taxes. Those are conversations that people like to hear. So while they get frustrated that things aren’t working – I would agree with him on the national level where it’s complete dysfunction – but when the budget’s going to be resolved and you’re going to have those two issues working for Republicans, I don’t think that the budget’s going to be late is going to be a factor next year.”

On Foxconn:

“Let’s start with the basics on this. First of all, Democrats are going to be running against economic development and economic growth, against manufacturing growth. If that is their plan, and it seems to be. Every single Democrat has gotten into lock step on opposing this Foxconn deal – except for the ones who represent the area. And let’s understand, too, that now suddenly you’ve got this, Scott Walker being able to play a little bit in Racine and Kenosha, the areas that were Democratic area that are now going to be looking at economic growth in their area.

“So with that going on, I just can’t imagine why the Democrats, except those in Madison, seem to think this is an issue for them. They’re going to be running against manufacturing, jobs and economic growth, the very things that helped Donald Trump win Wisconsin. Those kinds of promises. And for the Democrats to think this is a winning strategy, I think they’re silly.”

On Senator Tammy Baldwin:

“So I want to thank Jeff for asking me to be here because the last time I was on a panel like this where Jeff was moderating, I was asked about the U.S. Senate race last year and I said there was no chance in hell of Ron Johnson getting re-elected. So this is my part where I say, Ringo Starr is right. Tomorrow never knows.

“But that said, but the important thing is in understanding the Baldwin race, one, it is an uphill climb for Republicans, just for all of the reasons that he cited regarding the long term trends and an unpopular incumbent president is going to be weighing down on the Republican candidate.

“I do think the Republicans actually have two strong candidates. That’ll help. I think that Baldwin is a lot stronger than some Republicans believe. That being said, I don’t think it’s going to be the health care issue so much that drags her down. It’s going to be the Tomah scandal that’s going to be repeated over and over and over again.

“And then, getting back to the health care issue. Get used to hearing the words, ’32 trillion dollars.’ Because that was the number that the Urban Institute gave on Bernie Sanders’ first Medicare-for-all plan, and that’s what the Republicans are going to repeat over and over and over again is 32 trillion dollars.

“But, I hate to make any predictions. I really think that Republicans, just because of the way things are going in Washington, are going to have a harder time knocking her off and there are much more vulnerable Democrats in red states than Tammy Baldwin.”

You can watch the whole panel discussion at Wisconsin Eye.