Redrawn district lines have candidates introducing themselves to new voters

BELOIT, Wis. — It is not often that when you hear a knock on your door, it is a congressman, but voters in Beloit witnessed that this weekend when U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil canvassed the area — which is new to his district.

Wisconsin redrew its congressional district lines as part of the census that happens every ten tears. Beloit used to be represented by U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan in Congress, but it now joins cities like Racine, Kenosha and Janesville in southeastern Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.

It is a change that Beloit voter James Waters did not even know had taken place. It was his first time meeting Steil on Sunday, and he says he plans to vote Republican up and down the ticket.

Beloit is like many Wisconsin cities in that it tends to vote Democratic. Because of how the lines were drawn in Steil’s district — adding cities like Beloit and South Milwaukee, and removing conservative parts of Waukesha County — the seat is now much more competitive.

Steil said it was important to make inroads in those newer, and bluer, parts of his district and possibly turn them red.

“I want to get out and meet everybody,” he said. “The issue is you can’t absolutely meet everyone, but I’m out talking to everybody.”

Sunday’s event came amid a swing for Steil through those traditionally Democratic areas — he stopped through South Milwaukee the day before.

“I think we can change a lot of minds today and ultimately have a huge impact on the election,” Steil said to a handful of volunteers ahead of the canvass.

Campaigns are able to target specific houses they think will have the most benefit — likely Republican voters who may need encouragement to go to the polls.

As Steil spoke to the potential voters, issues like the economy resonated as top of mind for them.

“Right now, jobs and gas prices are the biggest two things,” said Beloit voter John Petersen.

flowers in a front yard garden

“We used to be able to plant this little flower garden here for probably about 50-60 bucks, this year I think it probably cost us over $200,” says James Waters, a Beloit voter who says he’s concerned about rising prices.

Waters, the voter meeting Steil for the first time Sunday, pointed to the garden in his front yard.

“We used to be able to plant this little flower garden here for probably about 50-60 bucks; this year, I think it probably cost us over $200,” he said. “We need help, that’s for sure.”

Steil faces a Democrat and political newcomer Ann Roe in the November election this fall.