Vukmir, Sullivan in unexpectedly tight race

    Republicans have long thought knocking off state Sen. Jim Sullivan, a Democrat in a district that traditionally swings conservative, would be a cakewalk.
    However, recent polling shows the Wauwatosa Dem is even or slightly ahead of state Rep. Leah Vukmir, prompting a round of questions from GOP insiders about why she is underperforming.
    Sullivan was circled as the GOP’s No. 1 target shortly after he beat Republican incumbent Tom Reynolds in 2006, a Dem wave year. The district has become more Dem-friendly over the last four cycles, but still has averaged a GOP advantage of 3.5 percentage points at the top of the ticket, according to WisPolitics calculations.
    Combine that with what is widely predicted as a bad environment for Dems and the expectation that GOP guv hopeful Scott Walker will turn out Republican voters in his hometown, and Vukmir should win in a romp, the GOP has long argued.
    But polling showing the race has surprised insiders.
    Both candidates have raised money and have good-sized warchests – $138,730 for Sullivan and $130,082 for Vukmir – but now some Republicans are questioning how Vukmir has been running her campaign. Considering all the factors in her favor, she should be up on Sullivan by a significant margin, they believe. Insiders on both sides are calling the race a toss-up.
    Vukmir and Sullivan will debate the issues at Wauwatosa West High School auditorium on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m. The debate will be hosted by the Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce. Partners in presenting the event include the Waukesha Business Alliance, the Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce, the Milwaukee Press Club, Biz Times Media, and The public is invited to the debate. For additional information, contact the Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce at (414) 453-2330.

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