By Scott Bauer
Republicans hope to make Donald Trump the first GOP presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan to win in Wisconsin and are working to send Sen. Ron Johnson back to the Senate in his rematch against former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.
The presidential and Senate races topped Wisconsin’s ballot Tuesday. Here’s a look at those and other issues on the ballot:
TRUMP VS. CLINTON
Democrats were optimistic that Hillary Clinton would extend their winning streak to eight straight presidential elections. Clinton appeared confident, not campaigning in Wisconsin since losing the Democratic primary in April to Bernie Sanders. She did send running mate Tim Kaine, Sanders and other surrogates to Wisconsin, while Trump personally campaigned despite lukewarm support from high-ranking state officials. House Speaker Paul Ryan canceled a Trump appearance with him in October and said he would not campaign or defend him, causing a rift in the party. But Ryan did campaign days before the election with Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
It’s 2010 all over again in the U.S. Senate race. This time, Johnson is the incumbent and Feingold is the challenger. When Johnson beat Feingold six years ago, he ended Feingold’s 18-year career in the Senate. Johnson argues that having been fired once by voters, Feingold does not deserve to be sent back. But Feingold, who is counting on high Democratic turnout for the presidential race, says Johnson has not led on the issues Wisconsin voters care about and should not be given a second term.
The 8th Congressional District in northeast Wisconsin is the only one in the state this year with an open seat. Republican Rep. Reid Ribble is retiring after three terms. Republican Mike Gallagher, a former Marine who helped advise Gov. Scott Walker on national security during his brief presidential bid, is running his first race. He’s challenged by Tom Nelson, the Democratic Outagamie County executive and former state representative. It’s the only congressional race with any intrigue this year. Ryan, who represents the 1st District in southeastern Wisconsin, faces nominal opposition. Ryan had more than 1,100-times more money than his Democratic challenger, Ryan Solen, heading into the election — $9.9 million to $8,500.
Even Democrats don’t think they can win majority control of the state Assembly, where Republicans have a 63-36 majority. Democrats were more hopeful in the Senate, where the Republican majority is a tighter 19-14. Either way, the Republican Walker remains as governor and has broad veto authority.
This is the first presidential election where Wisconsin voters are required to show photo identification to cast a ballot. Those who don’t have an acceptable ID on Tuesday can cast a provisional ballot, but they then must take additional steps to get credentials for that ballot to count. Any outstanding absentee ballots must be returned by Tuesday. In previous elections they could be postmarked by Tuesday and counted as long as they were received by Friday. Polls are open statewide 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Early voting turnout broke the previous record set in 2012, and overall turnout was predicted to be near 70 percent.