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First recall election debate still important for both parties

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will face off in the first debate of this recall campaign Friday night.

But after months of hearing about this recall? Is this debate still important or have voters already made up their minds?

The last time these two candidates went head to head was back in October 2010 before Walker went on to win the election and become governor. That means a lot of time has passed and a lot of things have changed.

It's a rematch 15 months in the making.

"This will be the first time since the initial gubernatorial campaign that these two candidates have gone head to head," said Julian Bradley, La Crosse County Republican Party chairman.

For the La Crosse County Republican party, Friday night's debate will be about what the governor has done right.


"I think quite a bit has changed," said Bradley. "That's what we need to find out from Mayor Barrett is ‘What would you have done? How would you have affected the change? How would you have closed the gap on a multi-billion dollar budget deficit?'"

And for the La Crosse County Democrats, it will be about what the governor has done wrong.

"I think Tom considers this unfinished business and that's why he was interested again in running against Scott Walker because now I think he can point to what Gov. Scott Walker didn't say the first time and what he has done," said Vicki Burke, La Crosse County Democratic Party chairwoman.

But haven't voters heard it all already being bombarded with countless political ads? Don't voters know where each candidate stands on the important issues?

Bradley says maybe not.

"It gives both candidates a chance to step up and say, not just in a 30-second clip, to say, ‘here's what I would do and here what I will do' and in the governor's case, ‘here's what I've done and will continue to do,'" said Bradley.

While both sides agree there are still undecided voters out there, Friday night's debate just might be the night where they get one step closer to casting their ballots.

"I think it matters to people if they look at the candidate and see what they thought they would see," said Burke. "This will give an opportunity for people to judge again the candidates side by side."

Both headquarters are set to have viewing parties to watch the debate Friday, starting at 8 p.m.

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