Wisconsin Democrats to hold state convention in La Crosse this weekend

MADISON, Wis. — Democrats will flock to La Crosse this weekend for their state party convention, which will set the tone for the fall elections.

Democrats are playing both offense and defense, hoping to retain the governor’s mansion for Gov. Tony Evers and unseat U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson. The latter is expected to be a close race.

“More people view him unfavorably than view him favorably, that’s going to hurt him,” said UW-La Crosse political science professor Anthony Chergosky said. “On the other hand, it is going to be most likely a very favorable election year for Republicans — all of that adds up to a very close United States Senate race here in Wisconsin.”

The latest Marquette poll released this week shows Johnson losing to most of the Democrats running in the primary, but there is a lot that can change between June and November. The Democrats running in the U.S. Senate primary will speak Sunday morning at the convention.

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On the gubernatorial side, Chergosky said this weekend will provide Evers the opportunity to set the tone for his reelection bid.

“How does this indicate his potential strategy going into November 2022 is going to be something I watch very closely,” he said.

He added that Democrats likely chose La Crosse by design — western Wisconsin is a traditional swing area of the state that includes both small cities and rural areas.

“I think holding the convention in La Crosse is symbolically meaningful for Democrats because they really do need to have a base of voters outside of Milwaukee and Madison in order to do well in statewide elections,” he said.

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The convention comes more than a month after state Republicans held their gathering in Middleton. During the Republican convention, the party declined to endorse any of the candidates vying to replace Evers. Democrats do not endorse candidates at their convention under rules for the state party.