On Labor Day, Wisconsin Republicans and Democrats make separate appeals to middle-class voters

MILWAUKEE -- Seeking to win over Wisconsin voters on Labor Day, Democrats said union members were more fired up to vote this year while Republicans pointed to the low unemployment rate as a sign their policies were working.

At Milwaukee's Laborfest, few people stood in the rain to hear Democratic officeholders and candidate speak from a drenched Miller Lite Oasis stage. Still, Democratic Party of Wisconsin officials said they've noticed a change in the labor movement before this year's election.

Rep. David Bowen

"Higher enthusiasm. Higher energy than 2016, absolutely," said said state Rep. David Bowen, the state party's vice chairman.

In 2016, Donald Trump became the first Republican to win Wisconsin in 32 years. Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, in many ways the president's opposite, has been talking about similar economic themes and promoting American-made products.

"It's time to recommit ourselves to standing up for Wisconsin workers," Baldwin said during a news conference outside the Summerfest grounds.

Baldwin has a tough re-election challenge from Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir. On Monday, Vukmir pointed to Wisconsin's low unemployment rate and said workers were faring better under GOP policies.

“Wages are up, we're seeing incredible economic growth, and unemployment is below 3 percent," Vukmir said in an email. "Now, we need a senator who will take the Wisconsin Way and this economic miracle to Washington.”

President Trump tweeted about the holiday several times on Monday.

"The worker in America is doing better than ever. Celebrate Labor Day!" he said in one tweet.

Baldwin and Vukmir's race may decide which party controls the U.S. Senate in 2019. About $40 million has been spent by the candidates and outside groups.

Baldwin is promoting legislation that would require government to buy American-made materials for infrastructure projects. She opposes the Republican-approved tax cuts that Vukmir praises.

Senator Tammy Baldwin

"It didn't trickle down. We were promised it would trickle down and working people would see raises. We're not seeing that," said Baldwin.

Republicans say the strong economy is proof the tax cuts have worked.

Baldwin and Vukmir were in a dead heat in the last Marquette University Law School poll, and Baldwin said she's not taking her re-election for granted.

Asked to respond to Vice President Mike Pence's prediction last week of a "red wave" in Wisconsin and elsewhere, Baldwin was measured.

"I don’t think anyone should take anything for granted. We have to look at what the stakes are," she said.