The candidates running for retiring Sen. Herb Kohl’s seat will debate each other three times before this November’s election.
The debates will be held Sept. 28, Oct. 18 and Oct. 26. The first and last debates will be held in Milwaukee, and the second will be in Wausau.
The debates will largely be focused on the economy and will spend little time on social issues, University of Wisconsin political science professor Donald Downs said in an interview with The Badger Herald. He added President Barack Obama’s health care law, recently upheld by the Supreme Court, would also be an issue the campaigns will focus on.
Downs said many voters in Wisconsin may have already made up their minds about the race, and the debates might not have as much effect on public opinion because of this.
“I would not be surprised if most people have made up their minds,” Downs said. “[Democratic candidate Tammy Baldwin] is pretty well known, and of course, [Republican candidate Tommy Thompson] is as well.”
As for Wisconsin politics being a part of the debate, Downs said there is a possibility, although he added Thompson would need to be careful to not alienate Gov. Scott Walker’s opponents.
The debates will underscore several issues that the two candidates have already debated in public for the last several months.
In a statement, Thompson, who served as governor in the 1990s, said he will focusing on the nation’s unemployment and underperforming economy in the debates.
“I look forward to discussing my plan to turn our economy around and bring jobs back to Wisconsin,” Thompson said in the statement. “My opponent and I have clear differences on the issues. With 23 million Americans looking for work, I want to use my successful experiences as governor growing 750,000 jobs to help get our country moving in the right direction.”
The campaign for Baldwin, a congresswoman from Madison, said during the debates she would show the “clear choice” that Wisconsin voters will have this election. In an email to The Badger Herald, campaign spokesperson John Kraus said Baldwin is the candidate that will stand up for the middle class, as he said she has done in Congress.
“Tammy has taken on powerful special interests in Washington, and Thompson has worked for them, helping them write their own rules in a game that has been rigged against Wisconsin’s middle class,” Kraus said.