Obama Boosts Wisconsin Democrats Trying to Oust Walker

President Barack Obama sought to energize Democratic voters in Wisconsin with a rally for gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, who’s challenging incumbent Republican Scott Walker.

“She will be your next governor as long as folks vote,” Obama today told an overflow crowd of about 3,500 at a Milwaukee high school. “We need you to go talk to your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers. You’ve got that cousin on the couch watching old Packers games but doesn’t always vote in the midterms.”

Walker, who in 2012 survived a union-backed recall vote, is running even with Burke, a former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive, according an average of four polls compiled by the the website Real Clear Politics.

“What both candidates in Wisconsin are really thinking now is it’s all about turnout,” said Neil Kraus, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin in River Falls. “Both sides are going to try to maximize their core constituencies.”

The rally for Burke was at North Division High School, in an urban Milwaukee ward where Obama won 99 percent of the vote in 2012, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Turning out Wisconsin’s black voters, who are centered in Milwaukee, could be key to Burke winning election, Kraus said.

10 Votes

“Four years ago, Democrats lost the governor’s race in Wisconsin by just 10 votes per ward,” Obama said. “Your vote will decide the course Wisconsin takes.”

Walker sent his supporters a fundraising e-mail today tied to Obama’s visit.

“President Obama is coming to Wisconsin to campaign for my defeat,” Walker wrote. “I expected it. In fact, I’m wondering what took him so long to come to Wisconsin.”

Before the rally, Obama attended a closed-door fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. According to the DNC, the approximately 25 attendees paid from $16,200 to $32,400 to attend the event at the Umami Moto Restaurant. The restaurant, which serves sushi, said today on Twitter that the day “is pretty exciting!!!”

Wisconsin doesn’t have a U.S. Senate race this year. Obama, whose approval ratings are at about 41 percent in recent national polls, has shied away from appearing with Senate candidates as Democrats try to keep control of that chamber. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest last week pointed to Obama’s DNC fundraising as a way he’s helping Senate candidates.

Senate Numbers

Democrats are defending 21 seats in the Senate with Republicans poised to gain the six spots they’d need to take control of the chamber.

After Wisconsin, Obama is scheduled to appear on behalf of Democratic candidates for governor this week in Michigan, Maine and Connecticut, all close contests. Obama also is making a rare appearance for a Senate contender, Democrat Gary Peters, who held a 15-point lead in a recent Detroit News poll over Republican Terri Lynn Land in Michigan.

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Massachusetts tomorrow to campaign on behalf of Democratic congressional candidates.

Maine Event

Two days from now, Obama will fly to Portland, Maine, to campaign for Representative Mike Michaud, the Democratic candidate for governor. Michaud is in a three-way race against Republican Paul LePage, the incumbent, and independent Eliot Cutler.

The next day, Obama will speak at Rhode Island College, in Providence, about women and the economy. The event, aimed at turning out female voters, was rescheduled from earlier this month when Obama canceled his political travel after two U.S. health-care workers were diagnosed with Ebola.

On Nov. 1, Obama will campaign for Peters, a Democratic congressman who is seeking the open Senate seat in Michigan, and Mark Schauer, a Democratic candidate seeking to unseat a Republican governor.

The next day, Obama plans to travel to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to campaign for Dan Malloy, the Democratic incumbent governor. Obama also rescheduled that trip.

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