Johnson vs. Feingold: The rematch begins

Wisconsin’s bipolar political heritage could very well be a determining factor in one of the most hotly contested U.S. Senate races in 2016.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson rose to prominence at a tea party rally in Madison and rode that momentum to oust Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold in 2010.

The two rivals will square off in a rematch in 2016.

However, the Wisconsin electorate that sent Johnson to Washington, D.C., in 2010 will likely be very different from the electorate that will vote in 2016. Keep in mind that there was no presidential race on the ballot in 2010, like there will be in 2016. Wisconsin presidential electorates tend to be much larger and historically have trended in favor of Democrats.

That would explain why Feingold had the support of 54 percent of the registered voters responding to a Marquette Law School Poll in April, while Johnson was supported by just 38 percent, with 9 percent not expressing a preference. The poll interviewed 803 registered voters by landline and cell phone from April 7-10.

The Senate campaign and the debates in 2016 will feature two candidates with sharply contrasting philosophies about the proper roles of government in a democracy.

“I’ve heard from Wisconsinites who want a senator to fight for them. They want hard work and responsibility to be rewarded. They want someone who will speak truth to power – someone who will stand up to the lobbyists and special interests,” Feingold said.

Johnson said, “I welcome Russ Feingold into the Senate race. While I was building a small manufacturing business and creating real jobs in Oshkosh, Russ was building Washington into the gigantic, debt-ridden, tax-eating, unresponsive, and freedom-squashing government we have today. Russ Feingold wants more Washington, a more expensive Washington, and a more powerful Washington. I want to empower people. This campaign will give the people of Wisconsin a real choice.”

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