Wisconsin Democrat, Republican party chairs preview primary election

MADISON, Wis. — The chairs of the Wisconsin Democratic and Republican parties offered their takes Monday on how Tuesday’s primary election will play out.

With a competitive gubernatorial race on the Republican side of the ballot, GOP chair Paul Farrow said he expects an average turnout, despite Tuesday’s election being a midterm primary.

“The level of energy that we’re seeing on the Republican side is there,” Farrow said. “There’s a lot of people who are passionate about making a change.

Democratic chair Ben Wikler couldn’t say how voters for his party would turn out for the primary but did predict a large turnout from both sides in November’s general election.

“What we saw in the spring election of this year, relative to the last time we had a spring election with no statewide candidate on the ballot was an 86% jump in voter turnout,” Wikler said. “It’s really breaking the record books.”

The Democratic primary became much less competitive in the last two weeks, specifically in the race for Senate where the majority of the party’s candidates dropped out and endorsed Mandela Barnes. Despite suggestions that some Democrat voters may choose to instead vote in a more competitive GOP primary, Wikler said most voters will stick with the party they know.

The Republican gubernatorial primary underscores deep divisions within the party, with former Vice President Mike Pence endorsing Rebecca Kleefisch and former President Donald Trump endorsing Tim Michels. The duo was in the state campaigning for their respective candidates last week, but Farrow doesn’t think that will change the makeup of the race.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about endorsements in the Republican party in different ways,” Farrow said. “The people of Wisconsin are the most educated when it comes to elections and they are passionate about their positions.”

Whoever wins Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary, they’re in for a race against Governor Tony Evers, a race that Wikler said will be close regardless.

“This is Wisconsin,” Wikler said. “This is the state of hairline elections.”