AP

Wisconsin Democrats face hard road in Senate, governor races

Jun 22, 2022, 11:41 AM | Updated: 1:34 pm

FILE - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers addresses a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chamb...

FILE - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers addresses a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis. on Feb. 15, 2022. Wisconsin Democrats gathering for their annual state convention this weekend are focused on reelecting Gov. Evers and defeating Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, but also know that history is against them in the midterm year as voters face high inflation, rising gas prices and growing concerns about a recession. Evers and Democratic candidates seeking to take on Johnson are slated to speak at the convention. (AP Photo/Andy Manis, File)

(AP Photo/Andy Manis, File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Democrats gathering for their annual state convention this weekend are focused on reelecting Gov. Tony Evers and defeating Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, but also know that history is against them in the midterm year and voters face high inflation, rising gas prices and growing concerns about a recession.

The extent of how tight the election may be was made clear Wednesday with the latest Marquette University Law School poll. It showed Evers slightly ahead of his Republican challengers, while Johnson about even with each of the top Democrats running against him.

But the poll also showed Republicans are more excited than Democrats about voting, a significant marker in a midterm election when turnout is lower than in a presidential year. The prospect for Johnson improved, and worsened for Evers, the lower the projected turnout in the poll.

“Turnout matters in a game of inches in a state that has had so many close elections in recent years,” said Marquette pollster Charles Franklin.

And in a bad sign for incumbents, a majority of poll respondents said they felt the state was headed in the wrong direction.

Evers and Democrats know that the road ahead is a tough one — the last time a candidate for Wisconsin governor who was the same party as the president won was back in 1990 — but they believe they can overcome the headwinds.

“Whatever else is happening nationally, in Wisconsin Democrats are united and energized,” said Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler. Still, the Marquette poll showed 67% of Republicans were very enthused about voting compared with 58% for Democrats.

“There’s this real sense that the future of our state and that the whole country is on the line and that Democrats casting their ballots in 2022 could affect the rest of all of our lives,” Wikler said.

The Marquette poll showed President Joe Biden’s approval rating at 40%, with 57% disapproving, his lowest marks in Wisconsin since taking office. Evers’ approval rating was better at 48% while 45% disapproved.

Evers is fashioning his argument for reelection around serving as a roadblock to Republicans who control the Legislature, stopping their efforts to restrict access to abortion, overhaul how elections are run and loosen gun control laws. Republicans on Wednesday ignored a special session Evers called to repeal an 1849 law making abortions illegal that could go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Republicans argue Evers’ tenure has been a failure, saying he didn’t react quickly or forcefully enough to violent riots in Kenosha in the summer of 2021, he’s taking credit for a tax cut Republicans wrote and he’s not done enough to help the economy.

The Republicans running to take on Evers will meet in less than two months in the Aug. 9 primary.

The Marquette poll showed a tight GOP primary race. Tim Michels, a multimillionaire construction business co-owner who won the endorsement of Donald Trump, is in a dead heat with former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who has been in the GOP race the longest. Michels was at 27% compared with 26% for Kleefisch, who had been leading the pack before Michels got into the race in April.

Business consultant Kevin Nicholson was at 10% while state Rep. Timothy Ramthun trailed at 3%. Nearly a third of respondents, 32%, said they were undecided.

In the Senate race, the poll showed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes at 25% and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry at 21%. State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski trailed at 9% while Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson was at 7%. Similar to the Republican primary poll, roughly a third of respondents, 36%, said they were undecided.

The poll of 803 registered voters was taken between June 14 and Monday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. For questions about the Republican primary, the margin of error was 6.3 percentage points and for the Democratic primary it was 6.2 percentage points.

Evers and the Senate candidates will all speak at the convention in La Crosse this weekend, as will U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Attorney General Josh Kaul and other officeholders and candidates.

The Democratic convention is being held in western Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, which has an open seat this year due to the retirement of Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Kind. Republicans are targeting that narrowly divided district as one they can flip.

Three Democrats running in the primary for that seat are scheduled to speak at the convention. The winner will advance to face Trump-endorsed Derrick Van Orden, who lost to Kind in 2020 and whose attendance at the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has been a focus of criticism by Democrats.

Democrats, unlike Wisconsin Republicans, do not vote on endorsing candidates in contested primaries.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incid...

Associated Press

American Airlines CEO calls removal of Black passengers from Phoenix flight ‘unacceptable’

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix.

1 day ago

FILE - Crystal Baziel holds the Pan-African flag Monday, June 19, 2023, during Reedy Chapel A.M.E C...

Associated Press

The beginner’s guide to celebrating Juneteenth

For more than one-and-a-half centuries, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities. It marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Since it was designated a federal […]

3 days ago

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

7 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

8 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

11 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Wisconsin Democrats face hard road in Senate, governor races