MADISON (WITI) -- The 2014 campaign for the top prize in Wisconsin politics is already underway. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has announced a strategy to unseat Gov. Scott Walker, getting "boots on the ground" in all 72 counties nearly two years before the election.
"It's really putting a face on the ground an early as we can, earlier than ever before. It's a recognition that we're never going to be able to raise the types of money he raises. We don't have the Koch brothers, and corporate chieftains funding our operations. We believe our message resonates better and there's more Democrats than Republicans out there. Our job is to educate them, and get them out to vote," Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said. At this early stage, Democrats don't have a declared candidate, but possibilities include:
- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who could make a third run for the job
- Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, who is the favorite of many in the base, but has said if he returns to politics it would be at the federal, not state level
- Kathleen Falk, who ran for governor during the recall election
- Members of the Wisconsin Legislature, including Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, and state Senators Jon Erpenbach and Chris Larson
- Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who currently holds the same office Gov. Scott Walker held prior to winning the governor's office
"Obviously good candidates will emerge in time for local office as well as governor. When that happens it will shift into the face," Tate said.
The Republican Party, led by new Executive Director Joe Fadness believes the Walker campaign will have advantages in money and volunteers that allowed Gov. Walker to win the recall election by seven points in June.
"Regardless of who the opponent is, we take it seriously and we'll be ready to protect the governor. The Democrats can open offices and they can follow our lead, but the bottom line is the Republican Party has a lead in the ground game and we will have the resources it takes to protect the governor," Fadness said.
The GOP has four campaign offices it never closed and views voter outreach outside of a traditional campaign cycle as an important first impression.
"You look at 2012 and we made 10 million voter contacts across the state. We helped protect the governor and lieutenant governor from a baseless recall. We helped increase the majority in the Assembly and take back the Senate. We had great success here but we didn't stop," Fadness said.