In Wisconsin, Romney and Santorum give governor, and recall, a wide berth
The recall election of Republican Gov. Scott Walker is the main issue on Wisconsin voters' minds, creating a host of obstacles for Romney and Santorum in the primary Tuesday.
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Having the recall dominate voters' minds in Wisconsin means potentially draining resources from get-out-the-vote efforts for the national candidates. Romney state chairman Ted Kanavas, a former Wisconsin state senator, says that for every Republican activist working for a Romney win there are about 30 involved in the Walker campaign. Romney’s campaign has one office open in the state; 21 are open for Walker.Skip to next paragraph
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“People are not focused on the presidential [primary],” Mr. Kanavas told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last week. “They are totally focused on the recall.”
In an effort to appeal to Wisconsin Republicans who support Walker’s efforts to curb union power, Romney is attacking Santorum’s voting record as a US senator, saying he voted against “right to work” legislation in Pennsylvania.
Santorum responded last week, saying his record in voting with AFL-CIO positions was 13 percent. “Calling Rick Santorum a big labor guy is like calling Mitt Romney a conservative,” he said.
“Even if the GOP primary is skeptical of unions, that may not be the case possibly here in November,” Mr. Franklin says.
Efforts to curb union power have stalled in many Midwest states, particularly Ohio, where voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum that rescinded legislation that curbed union powers, including limitations on collective bargaining, signed into law by Republican Gov. John Kasich. Using the union issue in the Wisconsin primary, Franklin says, could create a liability the Obama campaign will use to its advantage in Wisconsin “and other swing states in the fall where primary-winning positions may not be winning issues.”
For his part, Walker has yet to endorse either candidate, telling the Associated Press last week he “can’t afford to be focused on anything” but his own reelection.
“Walker says he needs to stay above the fray, but it also keeps his options more open to the kind of funding he needs down the line,” Ms. Duerst-Lahti says. “He’s going to need every Republican he can get when it gets down to the actual election.”
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