You can expect the negative campaign ads in the race for US Senate to only get worse after the primary. UW Political Scientist Charles Franklin says incumbent Democratic Senator Russ Feingold has already been targeting the GOP front-runner hard, and he’s not likely to let up with several recent polls showing a close race between him and Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson. Franklin says that means voters are probably in for a number of negative ads from both candidates, assuming Johnson wins the Republican nomination.
Johnson faces David Westlake of Watertown and Stephen Finn of Milwaukee in the Republican primary on September 14th.
For the most part, Franklin says Johnson has focused most of his advertising on introducing himself to voters, with a few ads also going after Feingold as a career politician. Feingold has made efforts to defend his record, but also gone after Johnson for what Franklin describes as “rookie mistakes” on the campaign trail.
Johnson has drawn fire for comments made in support of oil drilling in the Great Lakes and blaming global warming on sun spots. The candidate has later sought to clarify those statements, but Feingold and his supporters have used them to criticize Johnson in the media and in campaign ads.
The impact of those attacks may not be clearly known though at this point in the campaign. Franklin says many voters just aren’t paying attention to the race yet, and likely won’t until after the primary later this month.