Morning Digest: Democratic legislator inches toward challenging GOP Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard.

Leading Off

WI-Gov: Wisconsin Democrats still don’t have any noteworthy candidate yet to run against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who is expected to seek a third term in 2018 but has not formally announced yet. However, Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout established a campaign committee in mid-June, and she recently told the AP that she’s still considering whether to run or not but hasn’t officially jumped in. The senator said she has no timeline for when she might reach a decision.

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Vinehout has represented a rural western Wisconsin legislative seat centered around Eau Claire since 2006 that flipped from 54-44 Obama to 49-45 Trump, and she narrowly won re-election in the 2010 and 2014 GOP waves, meaning she has experience winning over just the sort of Obama-Trump voters that Democrats will likely need to persuade if they’re to oust Walker next year. However, Vinehout’s record includes a checkered past on abortion rights, and she only took a measly 4 percent in the 2012 gubernatorial recall Democratic primary, so it’s unclear just how enthusiastically she’ll be received by the party base if she does run next year.

Of course, having any legitimate contender run is better than no viable candidate whatsoever. A handful of other Democrats have previously expressed interest in running here, including Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, Assemblyman Dana Wachs, and businessman Andy Gronik, but there’s no sign of how keen they are on actually joining the race.

A new Marquette poll recently gave Walker an evenly split 48 percent approval rating to 48 percent disapproval, and he could be vulnerable next year. However, the governor’s national donor network will assuredly give him all the funds he needs to bludgeon the eventual Democratic nominee on the airwaves, and he won’t be an easy target.