After months of campaigning, voters will decide a week from today which candidate will be the Republican nominee in the race for governor. On the ballot are Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, former Congressman Mark Neumann, and Scott Paterick of Wisconsin Rapids.
Walker has long been seen as the frontrunner in the race, although recent polls have shown Neumann picking up support in at least a general election match-up against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the likely Democratic nominee.
UW-Madison Political Scientist Charles Franklin says the race has been a very difficult one to handicap, since there’s been almost no recent public polling directly comparing the two candidates. He says that creates a situation where conventional wisdom can “run away” and we just don’t know what the outcome will be.
Walker himself admits Neumann presents a formidable opponent, based largely on his self-financed campaign and previous political experience.
For their own part, Walker and Neumann have been traveling the state meeting with voters, in an effort rally support before the primary. The two candidates also met in three debates, although most observers have said neither candidate did enough to set themselves apart during those appearances.
Both candidates are playing up their experiences as what will help voters decide.
Walker, who currently serves as Milwaukee County Executive, says he can be the reformer Wisconsin needs to create jobs and attract new businesses. He points to his efforts to reform county government and cut spending as very similar to the problems currently facing Wisconsin. Walker also earned the endorsement of the state Republican Party during its annual convention earlier this year.
Neumann points to his own experience in Congress during the 1990s as an example of how he’ll lead the state. The home builder and former math teacher says his message of spending less, lowering taxes, and plans to bring jobs to Wisconsin is resonating with the public.
Voters will ultimately determine the nominee on September 14th. Regardless of the outcome, Neumann says that party needs to be united heading in to the general election.