5 things to know about Wisconsin’s mid-term elections

WiG and AP reports

 Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke are running neck-and-neck in recent polls, but close contests are nothing new for Walker, who survived a recall election just two years ago. Walker has been plagued with constant scandals, revelations of massive croynism, missing money from his flagship “job creation” agency and his failure to reach even half of the 250,000 jobs he pledged to create during his first term. Meanwhile, groups backed by the Koch brothers are spending millions of dollars in advertising designed to tarnish Burke’s image, putting her at a distinct disadvantage in a political landscape where money wins races.

With Election Day just two months away, here are five things to know about the races on November’s ballot:

2 TELEVISED DEBATES

Walker and Burke have agreed to two televised debates, neither of them in the state capital where Burke lives and Walker spends most of his time. They will meet Oct. 10 in the La Crosse-Eau Claire television market and Oct. 17 in the Milwaukee market. Both debates are sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation Board. Specific times and locations have yet to be announced.

CASH WILL POUR IN

Expect another election season in which outside groups spend more than the candidates. The Republican Governors Association is backing Walker, with an anticipated $2 million television ad buy expected to begin in September. Meanwhile, the Greater Wisconsin Committee is airing television ads attacking Walker, and Emily’s List, which works to elect Democratic women, also is expected to spend heavily on her behalf. Walker’s 2012 recall election was the most expensive race in state history, costing $81 million.

HAPP AHEAD

With two motorcycle-riding prosecutors running against each other, the attorney general’s race is one to watch. A poll released Wednesday by the Marquette University Law School puts Democrat Susan Happ ahead of Republican Brad Schimel by 7 percentage points. But that’s within the 3.5 percent margin of error, and one-fourth of registered voters don’t know who either of the candidates is. Plus, Happ ran TV ads in the three-way Democratic primary, while Schimel was not on the air and ran unopposed. Happ is the district attorney in Jefferson County; Schimel holds the same post in Waukesha County.

SENATE COULD FLIP

Democrats are unlikely to regain control of the Assembly, where Republicans have an overwhelming majority. But the Senate is a different story. The GOP holds a slim 17-15 majority, with seven seats open, including four held by Republicans. Three of those races look competitive. If Democrats can hold their current seats and pick up those three GOP districts, they’ll take back the chamber.

FRESH FACE IN CONGRESS

Incumbents are likely to return to Congress in seven of Wisconsin’s eight districts. But U.S. Rep. Tom Petri’s retirement ensures at least one fresh face will be heading to Washington. State Sen. Glenn Grothman is the favorite after winning a hard-fought, four-way primary to capture the GOP nomination in the Republican-leaning district. The outspoken and uncompromising Grothman faces Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, a fiscally conservative Democrat who could have some crossover appeal in a district accustomed to the moderate Petri.

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