Josh Pade, Kelda Roys, Paul Soglin, and Kathleen Vinehout at a debate.
The Democratic field has been heavily slashed. Several minor candidates failed to get enough signatures to be on the ballot before the deadline expired. Two others, Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik and State Representative Dana Wachs, dropped out due to lack of support. Both had plenty of money, but they also spent a lot and got nowhere. When the June Marquette Law School poll came out, it showed Gronik at only 4 percent and Wachs at 2 percent. Both men were largely unknown and probably would've done better had the field not been so crowded.
This leaves Tony Evers, Matt Flynn, Kelda Roys, Mike McCabe, Mahlon Mitchell, Josh Pade, Paul Soglin, and Kathleen Vinehout in the race. I imagine the new poll for July will lead to more candidates dropping out of the race. The Marquette poll was good for Evers, who still has a commanding lead over all his opponents. He has 31 percent and I think this is because he is the only Democrat who's won a statewide election. It also appears that Wisconsin's Democratic establishment is rallying behind Department of Public Instruction superintendent. Evers has received endorsements from former Senator Herb Kohl and several current and former state legislators and municipal officials. The Evers campaign was obviously disappointed in their third place showing at a straw poll during annual Democratic Party of Wisconsin's convention in Oshkosh, but it has not seemed to significantly damage their support.
None of the other Democrats gained any traction. In fact, several have lost support since the March Marquette poll. Soglin has been running a very lazy campaign and has suffered by seeing a decrease in support from 9 percent to 4 percent. McCabe, the former executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, has gone from 6 percent to 3 percent. Pade, a corporate attorney from Kenosha, has the most irrelevant candidacy since Bob Harlow dropped out. He went from no support in March to 1 percent in June and is now back to about 0 percent in July.
Others are just hovering around where they started. State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, who is also running as highly progressive candidate, rose from 5 percent to 6 percent over those three months. The same goes for Mahlon Mitchell, the president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, who had 4 percent in March and now has 6 percent in July. The winner of the convention's straw poll, former State Representative Kelda Roys, has barely budged from about 0 percent in May to 3 percent in July. Roys is still getting some good press. She has received endorsements from groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY's List, so she will gain momentum from them. However, she is very far from Evers and it might be too late to catch up.
Meanwhile, Walker has a lot going for him. The June Marquette poll shows him leading every Democrat. Roys might be the darling of the liberal grassroots, but she gets trounced in a general election. Walker defeats her, 48 percent to 40 percent. McCabe performs the best. Walker is ahead of him in a close race, 44 percent to 42 percent. Walker beats Evers 48 percent to 44 percent and Soglin 48 percent to 39 percent. On one hand, the Wisconsin economy is strong. On the other, the Democrats are suppose to have an advantage with a Republican in the White House.
Right now, they should be concerned that Walker has an edge. He has a net positive in the approval rating and the July poll showed that 52 percent of Wisconsin voters think the state is heading in the right direction while 42 percent think it is not. Winning back the Governor's Mansion and the Wisconsin State Capitol won't be as easy as it seems.
|Leah Vukmir speaks at a rally in Waukesha - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|
Between the March and June polls, Vukmir won the official endorsement of the Republican Party of Wisconsin at their state convention in Milwaukee. Eric Hovde, potential candidate who received 30.8 percent in the 2012 Republican Senate primary, decided to not run this time around. Some of his supporters from the last time he was a candidate must have transferred to Vukmir.
Since the June poll, the news has only gotten better for Vukmir. She received the endorsement of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. She also has the support of Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Representative Glenn Grothman, and Representative Sean Duffy. Four of the five Republicans in the House of Representatives are supporting her. The only exception is Mike Gallagher. Additionally, the National Rifle Association have endorsed her, but this was announced after the poll was conducted.
So far, this primary has not been nearly as negative as the one in 2012. There have been attack ads from super PACs, but nothing too severe. It has been a very low-key primary, but that could change as August 14 approaches. The race is sure to tighten further with all the momentum that Vukmir has received. This primary in Wisconsin will probably be divided along familiar lines. Craig Gilbert, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Washington bureau chief, posted a very informative article on how Republican primaries usually conclude. Generally, Wisconsin Republicans are often always divided between the southeast and the rest. Southeastern Wisconsin, where most of the population is located, usually votes for one of their own who has a track record in politics. Upstate and western Republicans tend to prefer more of a populist.
Scott Walker vs. Mark Neumann
Vukmir took over Walker's Assembly seat in Wauwatosa when he became the Milwaukee county executive. She has since become a state senator, covering territory in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. She has the backing of the very conservative suburbs. Her challenge is to win there by wide margins like Walker did to offset Neumann's support in the rest of the state.
Whoever wins will have to be ready to take on Baldwin. The incumbent has the advantage in polling and fundraising, but that can change quickly. In 2016, Republican incumbent Ron Johnson never led in the Marquette poll against Russ Feingold. What he managed to do was close the gap and ultimately win in November. Vukmir and Nicholson might be behind, but victory isn't impossible.
Evers and Vukmir are the favorites in the primary races, but that doesn't mean other candidates shouldn't lose hope. Both primaries still have a lot of undecided voters despite voting being only weeks always. That leaves some unpredictability in both primaries. The question is whether it will be enough to help other candidates as Vukmir and Evers begin to consolidate support.