County’s Political Parties Geared Up for Fall Elections

During the final weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 general election, the political parties in Door County are promoting their respective candidates and the issues they believe will attract votes.

Both the Republican and Democratic parties are operating campaign headquarters in Sturgeon Bay, where supporters can stop by to get candidate information and yard signs. The county Republicans set up shop at 210 S. 1st Ave., on the east end of the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge, where The Spoon was located. The county Democrats have their headquarters in the former Nicolet Bank building at 217 N. 4th Ave.

In addition to the races for state Assembly and Senate, the local parties are also involved in the larger, statewide races, in which various polls seeking to gauge voter sentiment recently put this fall’s races within a few percentage points for the U.S. Senate seat and Wisconsin governor. Republican Ron Johnson is seeking a third six-year term for the former, and Democrat Tony Evers a second four-year term for the latter.

The county Democratic Party helped to get out the word about its U.S. Senate candidate, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who held a fundraiser in the county Oct. 1, when donors, ranging from the $30 “young professional” level to the $2,900 “host” level, were invited to meet Barnes at the event near Whitefish Dunes.

County Democratic Party chair Kris Sadur said the county party hasn’t been informed at this point about political events planned for Evers to visit here, but that could “change in two minutes” as Election Day approaches.

County Republican Party chair Stephanie Soucek said the party has a free event planned at its headquarters Oct. 29, 4:30 pm, when various GOP candidates in the state are invited to meet with voters.

An elephant statue decorated with American flags stands outside the Door County Republican Party headquarters at 210 S. 1st Ave., where The Spoon was located on the east end of the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge in Sturgeon Bay. Photo by Kevin Boneske.

Focus on Issues   

Both county chairs said their respective parties are advancing issues they believe matter to voters and will attract their votes.

For Republicans, Soucek said those issues include inflation, education and crime, with the current dissatisfaction about them being blamed on Democrats.

“I think our party is pretty energized right now,” she said.

Soucek said party members are encouraged by recent polling data indicating support shifting toward Johnson, but she expects the race between Johnson and Barnes to be close.

Along with partisan control of the currently evenly split U.S. Senate being on the line in the race between Johnson and Barnes, she said it would also be a “big deal” to elect Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels to support legislation that Evers has vetoed from the GOP majorities in the state Assembly and Senate.

Sadur said the issue of states now being able to restrict access to abortion, following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in late June to overturn Roe v. Wade, is attracting support for Democratic candidates.

“We’re looking for people who are interested in the issues,” she said.

Sadur said the county party was involved in the Sept. 28 panel on reproductive rights held by Northern Door Activism at the Peach Barn Farmhouse & Brewery in Sister Bay, which included the 1st Assembly and Senate District Democratic candidates, Roberta Thelen and Andrea Gage-Michaels, respectively, and lieutenant governor candidate Sara Rodriguez. (See the related story.)

Sadur said an “unscientific poll” taken this summer at the party’s county fair booth, where mason jars were labeled with issues for people to vote on by placing beans in the jars, indicated the overwhelming top issue was reproductive freedom. She said some other top issues in the bean-counting poll were clean water, health care and education. 

In contrast to all the negativity in politics these days, she said she wants to present the issues with a “positive spin.”

Volunteer Doug Henderson staffs the Door County Democratic Party headquarters in the former Nicolet Bank building at 217 N. 4th Ave. in Sturgeon Bay. Photo by Kevin Boneske.

Key to the Door

Even though the outcomes of the fall general election may not turn out to be a case of “as Door County goes, so goes Wisconsin” – given the small portion that the county vote total contributes to the total votes cast statewide – how county voters vote in the statewide races could nonetheless be indicative of a larger pattern.

Sadur pointed out that the past few presidential results in the county have favored who ended up getting elected, with Democrat Barack Obama winning in 2008 and 2012, followed by Republican Donald Trump being the county’s top vote-getter in 2016, and then Democrat Joe Biden carrying the county and state in 2020.

Soucek said voter patterns during recent elections have tended to be more conservative and Republican in the southern part of the county, with more Democratic support in the north, but the local party will be seeking to reach individual voters throughout the county on issues that matter to them.

She said the county Republican Party is looking for volunteers to perform tasks such as knocking on doors to get out the vote, putting up signs, running radio ads and digital ads, and doing literature drops.

Sadur said the county Democratic Party has been involved in a multicounty effort to put up signs in support of Democrats as part of the get-out-the-vote efforts.

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