RACINE COUNTY — Although the Green Bay Packers didn’t give much reason for fans to cheer on Sunday, area politicians and candidates on both sides visited their local party offices to rally their base for the coming election.
With 43 days remaining until the Nov. 6 general election, Republican and Democratic candidates for federal and state offices descended on Racine County to meet with volunteers and supporters.
Local Democrats, decked out in Green Bay Packers attire, held an event at the party office at 507 Sixth St. which used to house the Benjamin Beer Company. Republicans, similarly attired in green and gold, held an event with GOP candidates including Gov. Scott Walker at a new field office at 925 Milwaukee Ave., Burlington.
This fall, Democrats believe the fourth time’s a charm when it comes to defeating the incumbent Walker, and Republicans are equally confident of his re-election.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Schools Superintendent Tony Evers said Democrats have an opportunity “for a clean sweep this November,” and added “at the end of the day, we need to have a positive vision for the future.”
“We have not beat Scott Walker three times kicking him around the block; it hasn’t worked,” Evers said. “This time around, yes, we’re going to hold him accountable for his failed policies, but most importantly we’re going to be talking about the things that the people in Wisconsin care about.”
Evers called on volunteers and supporters to make the governor’s race a campaign about “values,” encouraged volunteers to make sure people are registered to vote and took a shot at Walker and voter identification laws.
“I was supposed to get my driver’s license renewed this month, it’s harder to get your driver’s license renewed than ever before,” Evers said. “That is connected not to safety on the road, believe me; it has something to do with voting this November.”
Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Mandela Barnes, who is going up against incumbent Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, said communities have been struggling the past eight years and, if elected, he plans to help enact policies that he hopes make a difference.
“People across this state have seen their communities go to referendum as they raise taxes on themselves just to fund their schools, just to fund their education system,” Barnes said. “When we fight to raise the minimum wage, when we fight to expand access to quality affordable health care by expanding Badger Care, and when we work to improve our economy and also our environment, that is how we know we’re going to win.”
Republicans rally base
Republican candidates on Sunday touted Wisconsin values, including allegiance to the Packers, and steered mostly clear of mentioning President Donald Trump during their Burlington campaign event.
The crowd of about 50 people was made up mostly of Republican campaigners, with virtually everyone in Packers attire, as Green Bay and Washington kicked off at noon.
Walker, who quipped that none of his campaign team does work during Packers games, didn’t argue with the results of a Marquette Law School poll that came out last week, putting his opponent Evers in the lead heading toward the Nov. 6. election.
Walker said the same has happened to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., in 2016, and as a result he and his campaign worked harder and came out with a win. Walker promised to do the same.
“I do not believe the poll was wrong then, and I don’t believe the poll is wrong now,” Walker said.
Walker, who has labeled himself the “education governor,” said that due to legislation passed by Republicans during his tenure, schools can now staff based on merit and pay based on performance.
Walker also said that more people in Wisconsin are working than ever before and that for the seventh month in a row, Wisconsin unemployment is at or below 3 percent, a number that was previously a record low. Although this is true, the August unemployment rate of 3 percent is still preliminary, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Walker added that Evers wants to spend more on administration, outside the classroom.
“It’s not about how much money we’re going to spend on education,” Walker said. “The difference is how much is going to be in the classroom.”
He said Evers’ plan to lift the property tax cap would deal a blow to senior citizens, working families, small businesses and family farmers.
Democrats hope to win in Congress, Senate
Before House Speaker Paul Ryan announced in April he would not seek re-election to the Wisconsin 1st Congressional District seat he’s held since January 1999, Democratic candidate Randy Bryce was aiming to challenge him.
“Paul Ryan has held this seat for the last 20 years, but as we know it’s not his seat,” Bryce said. “This is the people’s seat, and the people are going to take it back in November.”
Now Bryce, an ironworker and Caledonia resident, is going up against Bryan Steil, an attorney and Janvesville resident, and is trying to win the seat for Democrats.
One seat Democrats are trying to hold on to is in the U.S. Senate, the one occupied by Tammy Baldwin.
Baldwin went after the tax reform legislation passed last year, saying most of the benefits went to wealthy individuals and large corporations.
“People aren’t seeing the wages and salaries that they were promised,” Baldwin said. “And the very same people that supported that legislation are talking about addressing the hole in the budget by cutting Social Security and Medicare ... this is a race where the stakes are very high.”
Republicans hope to win in Congress, Senate
State Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, her party’s nominee to unseat Baldwin, also spoke of Wisconsin’s economic rise.
“I am so proud of how we turned our state around,” she said.
She called what’s happened in Wisconsin an “economic miracle.”
In the only mention of the president, almost 30 minutes into the speeches on Sunday, Vukmir said she stands with Trump and that the United States will finally build the wall on the border with Mexico.
Vukmir said Baldwin didn’t stand for Wisconsin or even American values and attacked her response to the overprescription of opioids by doctors at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
“If you can’t stand with our veterans, you can’t stand with any of us,” Vukmir said.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, called Ryan “a hard act to follow.”
But he said he knows that Steil is up to the job. He added that Steil had never been arrested, unlike Bryce, who’s been arrested nine times.
Steil said he was proud of working alongside the governor and other politicians while on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents and holding the line on tuition, which has remained flat since 2013.
“This year, Paul Ryan is going to take the speaker’s gavel and he’s going to hand it to somebody new,” Steil said. “And the choice could not be more clear. He’s going to hand it to a conservative to move this economic growth forward or he’s going to hand it back to the failed policies of the past and hand it back to Nancy Pelosi.”