For roughly one month leading up to the Wisconsin Senate primary, every time I tried to watch a video on social media, an advertisement would pop up attacking Republican Senate candidate, Leah Vukmir. “Who is Leah Vukmir?” and “Leah Vukmir is no conservative” were the beginning and end to the ad titled “Puzzle,” released by The Club for Growth. The advertisement has since been taken off their website and cannot be found on YouTube, yet it left an impression on me and ultimately impacted my vote for the Republican primary. Leah Vukmir went on to win her race and is facing Tammy Baldwin this November for one of Wisconsin’s Senate seats and these attack ads on her may have been the reason why.
People in the Northland, typically Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and North Dakota, are not your typical American voters. Many of the Democrats in the area are considered left, simply because they favor unions and higher wages for manual labor workers. People there are generally nicer to strangers, more loyal to their neighbors, and they tend to put a focus on family. This means our political debates at the pub are more welcoming, productive, and fact based than you would get in many other areas of the country.
When I first saw the ads attacking Vukmir, I decided to investigate both her and the Club for Growth who funded the attack ads. Had the candidate the Club for Growth was supporting, Kevin Nicholson, released the ads, I would have respected him, but he was not responsible for the attack ads— an out of state billionaire was. Nicholson was a Marine and his policy was so similar to Vukmir’s that he probably would have won my vote based on his military service— if Club for Growth had not released attack ads.
A major issue many in the Northland had with Nicholson was that his ads were funded from out of state. Marquette’s first poll even had the former Marine with a ten-point advantage, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. This lead in the polls shrunk as the summer months went on and Club for Growth ramped up their advertisements.
Senators are elected to appropriately represent their state evenly and fairly, yet Nicholson seemed to be mainly funded by Club for Growth, which receives money from billionaire, Richard Uihlein, who is based in Illinois. Therefore, I, as a Wisconsinite, see Vukmir getting attacked by an out-of-state billionaire, while she receives a more respectable endorsement from Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan and Scott Walker. This made my decision as a voter clear and I voted for Vukmir.
In November, Vukmir and Baldwin will be facing off, and I have yet to see any attack ads. The GOP’s attempted red wave has a major district also in the Northland that attack-ads may affect.
Minnesota’s 8th district is unique as incumbent senator Rick Nolan (D) is retiring, and, due to the mining industry thriving under the Republican administration, many people believe this is a rare district in 2018 that could flip red. Republicans want to win so badly that both President Trump and Vice President Pence were in the district’s largest city within the last year. Trump also tweeted support for the Republican candidate, Pete Stauber, on multiple occasions.
Due to the DFL not endorsing a candidate until after the primary and the RNC endorsing Stauber right away, a lot of Super Pac money is in the Northland again. I see ads attacking Joe Radanovich appearing now, calling him a typical politician and connecting him to Keith Ellison’s allegations of abuse.
While these ads may be effective elsewhere, the Northland has a different culture. An honest advertisement will go further than an attack in Minnesota, and Pete Stauber should focus on advertising his effectiveness as police commissioner and not trade insults with his opponent.
People here care more about being genuine and Super Pac attack ads make a candidate actually seem like a typical politician. If Republicans truly want to block a blue wave, they need to be careful. Many blue-collar workers on the Iron Range may not respond positively to outside money. Make sure to keep a close eye on Minnesota’s 8th district race this November, and try to connect the money to the results.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.