With the April elections in the rear-view mirror, a fierce U.S. Senate battle is among the races looming next.
Seven months out, Racine County is already shaping up as a key battleground in the rematch between Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Democrat Russ Feingold, whom Johnson unseated in 2010.
The state Republican Party fired the first shot last week, targeting the county in an anti-Feingold advertisement. Both sides say their efforts will ramp up in a county that has been a bellwether for Wisconsin.
Residents went for Republican Scott Walker in all three of his gubernatorial races, while voting for Democrat Barack Obama for president in 2008 and 2012. Johnson won the county in 2010, while Democrat Tammy Baldwin carried Racine County in her successful 2012 U.S. Senate bid.
The state Republican Party has a paid organizer already on the ground. It has opened offices in Racine County in past election cycles and is expected to do so again this year.
Nancy Milholland, a Racine County Republican Party member and co-chair of the Johnson campaign in the county, said the county will play a big role in the election.
“We definitely are making a strong effort to make people aware of where Ron stands on the issues, the stark contrast between him and Russ Feingold,” she said.
The state GOP launched its first attack in the Racine area Tuesday with a print advertisement, blaming Feingold for higher taxes on small businesses and family incomes.
The ad, which ran in a few state papers, coincided with the April 15 tax deadline.
“Senator Feingold hasn’t met a tax he didn’t want to raise, and he has a long record of choosing to raise taxes on hardworking Wisconsin families, rather than make the tough choices to keep government fiscally responsible,” state GOP spokesman Pat Garrett said in a statement.