Ironically, on the Republican side, Kapanke is among the only names in the discussion for Kind’s seat, according to a Washington-based Republican operative.
Kapanke has decent name recognition in the district, having earned almost 47 percent of the vote in a 2010 bid against Kind. Kapanke raised nearly $1.9 million in the effort.
But Kapanke’s state Senate district was one of the first to be certified for a recall election this summer. And it’s unclear if either Kapanke or Shilling would be positioned to mount a Congressional bid immediately after the recall. Another side effect to these July 12 recall elections: Should the Democrats capture three seats, they would flip Senate control and have more influence over redistricting.
Zielinski said whomever runs should benefit from enthusiastic Democrats who turned out for liberal candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg in April’s high-profile Wisconsin Supreme Court contest. That election, which Kloppenburg narrowly lost, was largely seen as a referendum on Walker’s budget. The 3rd district’s two largest cities, Eau Claire and La Crosse, supported Kloppenburg with 58 percent and 59 percent of the vote respectively.
While there’s no shortage of uncertainty in the 2nd and 3rd districts, one thing is for sure: Wisconsin will be a political battleground on multiple fronts in the 2012 cycle. There’s the residual effects of the recall elections, a presidential contest, a possible recall election targeting Walker and, of course, the fight to replace Kohl.
The Democratic operative summed it up: “Wisconsin is going to be ground zero.”
Correction: June 1, 2011
An earlier version gave an incorrect title for Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski.