While Wisconsin?s Democratic presidential primary gains attention and excitement, both remaining campaigns are swiftly organizing and mobilizing with announcements of endorsements and candidate visits Thursday.
Sixteen Wisconsin legislators, including Madison Reps. Joe Parisi and Spencer Black, endorsed U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. Obama had previously won the endorsement of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.
?First, I believe he?s the best choice for the future of this country,? Black said. ?He shows that he has good judgment by being right on Iraq from beginning, and he also has the ability to inspire the nation, which I think will help him make the kind of changes we need in the primary.?
Parisi called Obama ?like no one that I?ve seen in my generation,? and said though he hadn?t originally planned to endorse anyone, he too found Obama inspiring.
?His message of hope, and being someone who looks at what we have in common, very much resonates for me,? Parisi said. ?I have two young daughters, and I?m very concerned about the world that they?re going to inherit.?
U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is also building up a Wisconsin campaign. Two major Wisconsin endorsements for Clinton have come from U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton.
Carly Lindauer, Wisconsin press secretary for the Clinton campaign, confirmed Clinton would be visiting Wisconsin before the primary, though Doyle and others had speculated she might skip the state altogether.
?We plan to be vocal and competitive here,? Lindauer said. ?We strongly believe that Sen. Clinton has a message here that certainly resonates with Wisconsin voters.?
Lawton is state co-chair and Midwest co-chair for Clinton?s campaign, ?so it?s tough to be more involved,? she said. Lawton said Clinton is the candidate most in sync with Wisconsin?s priorities.
?My endorsement for Hillary Clinton is a very strong commitment to the dream of somebody who believes like I do in the great potential of government to do good in our lives and who knows how to deliver on that promise,? Lawton said.
Momentum is quickly building in Wisconsin for Obama, according to Dan Leistikow, the campaign?s Wisconsin communications director.
?We?re working very hard to organize that support and translate it into the kind of change people across the country are working for,? Leistikow said. ?People can rest assured he?ll be campaigning very hard, and they will see a lot of him.?
The Obama campaign also won the endorsement of the Milwaukee Area Technical College faculty union, which broke from its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, currently supporting Clinton.
?The primary is very important in Wisconsin, and Barack Obama is the candidate who would best represent the interests of students, of vocational technical college students, faculty and staff, and who has best chance of winning,? said Michael Rosen, president of the group.
President George W. Bush has increased funding for certain technical college programs at a rate lower than inflation and has proposed cutting them altogether, according to Rosen.
Rosen added that out of all the candidates so far, Obama has energized young people in a way the group hasn?t seen before.
?He seems to understand and know how to do that effectively,? Rosen said. ?We think that?s critically important as we move beyond the Bush years.?