Wisconsin US Senate candidates make their final push before elections

Both candidates increase campaigning in response to the approaching election

More stories from Sydney Purpora



Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidates Russ Feingold and Ron Johnson increased their campaigning within recent weeks in response to a tightening race.

The upcoming Nov. 8 Wisconsin U.S. Senate elections are forcing both candidates to use all of their resources, and more as the competition heats up.

Rodd Freitag, a UW-Eau Claire professor of political science, said there has been more advertising from both campaigns within the last few weeks as the election date approaches due to an increase in outside support in response to the tightening of the race.

Myron Buchholz, a former Democratic candidate in the 2016 third Congressional District of Wisconsin, said the U.S. Senate race is important because it will determine the control of the Senate.

Currently, the U.S. Senate contains 54 Republican seats, 44 Democrat seats and two Independents. With 34 seats up for reelection Nov. 8, the results could go in either direction, maintaining a Republican majority or switching to a Democratic majority.

Freitag said the Senate’s power of advise and consent to approve or reject nominees to the Supreme Court will be influenced greatly by the majority party.

“The Senate is closely divided enough that every position matters and it will impact the outcome of their overall decisions,” Freitag said.

Because there are more Republicans up for reelection than Democrats, Freitag said there is a greater potential for the Democratic party to pick up seats and they are relying on the Wisconsin seat to get a majority.  

With their strong opposing views, both candidates are emphasizing how they plan to take action if elected.


The Democratic candidate Russ Feingold was elected to U.S. Senate from 1993 to 2011 according to his website, with a promise to represent the states; his current campaign resembles the same promise.

The Democratic nominee said in his candidate statement for the 2016 U.S. Senate election he believes the best way to represent Wisconsin is to talk to the public. Starting out his campaign by visiting all 72 counties in the state, Feingold said he was able to hear from the people what they want out of this election.

“Wisconsinites want leaders who will listen to them and fight for them,” Feingold said in his candidate statement.

Emphasizing the middle class and working families, he said in an interview with Wisconsin Public Television he plans to boost the economy by closing loopholes for the wealthy, rebuilding infrastructure and raising the minimum wage.

In conjunction, Feingold said later in the interview he strongly opposes the trans-pacific partnership trade deal involving the U.S., Canada and 10 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, fostering free trade through strengthening economic bonds between the countries and eliminating tariffs on goods and services. Feingold said he wants to export goods overseas and not jobs.

Supporting the Affordable Care Act, Feingold said he wants to improve Obamacare by making it more affordable. He said he is also a strong supporter of funding Planned Parenthood and women’s health clinics.

Taking a look at National Security, Feingold went on to say he plans to go to the source and take down the leaders of ISIS by increasing intelligence agencies’ resources sending in more undercover agents. He also believes cutting their financial transports, such as oil exports, will weaken their fight.

Supporting Senator Elizabeth Warren’s bill allowing college students to negotiate a lower interest rate on their loans with the banks, Feingold said he wants to increase opportunities for Wisconsinites and make college more affordable.


According to the Republican candidate Ron Johnson’s website, he used his private sector perspective and manufacturing background throughout his term as Senator from 2010 to 2016. Johnson is currently the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and serves on the budget, foreign relations and commerce, science and transportation committees.

Tackling the issue of jobs and the economy, Johnson said in an interview with Wisconsin Public Television he wants to lower taxes and government regulations through a competitive tax system based on two principles: raise the revenue you need and do no economic harm.

“I actually do want to reduce the tax burden on every American, every Wisconsinite,” Johnson said in the interview. “I want Wisconsinites to keep more of their hard-earned dollars in their pockets.”

Johnson currently is not taking a stance on the proposed trans-pacific partnership, although he said he is in support of creating a new trade agreement in the future.

Moving toward improving health care, Johnson said he wants to eliminate the personal mandate to the health care system, giving the public the choice to purchase. In addition, he said he will give individual states the power to decide the health care systems they want to implicate and allow people to purchase health care across state lines.

Johnson said he does not support funding for Planned Parenthood, stating “no taxpayers’ dollars should go toward paying for it.” However, he said he does support funding women’s health issues and clinics.

On the topic of National Security, Johnson said the U.S. needs to strengthen the economy in order to improve the country’s security by bringing down the debt and deficit. He said working on the economy along with increasing the resources to strengthen military will be a step toward defeating ISIS.

In terms of education, Johnson said he wants to address the affordability of college first, and will continue to support the programs that lower student loan payments like Perkin Loans.

Despite their differing opinions, both Feingold and Johnson emphasize the importance of justly representing the state of Wisconsin throughout their campaigns.

With less than a week before elections and Wisconsin’s Senate seat under the counties’ microscope, the pressure is on for the candidates to give it their all.

The current poll results through Oct. 27 from realclearpolitics.com show Feingold with a 6.8 lead over Johnson.

To find out more information about the candidates and their views, visit wisconsinvote.org or each candidates website: russfeingold.com or ronjohnsonforsenate.com.