A couple weeks ago I got in a little debate with a Republican lobbyist about where the "heart" of the Wisconsin Republican Party is. I argued that its heart is in the Milwaukee suburbs, specifically in Waukesha County, the wealthiest county in the state. "Oh yeah? What about farms? What about agriculture," he countered.
Don't get me wrong. There are many, many elected Republicans from rural parts of the state, and I would guess the GOP is as likely to court the farm lobby and its votes as Democrats. But it is telling that Sen. Russ Feingold's campaign is taking the offensive on the ag issue. Zach Wisniewski, from Blogging Blue, sums up the sentiment Feingold's campaign has been trying to take advantage of:
If you noticed there's no mention of agricultural issues [on Westlake or Wall's websites], you'd be correct, and in a press release issued on Monday, Sen. Russ Feingold's campaign asked Terrence Wall and Dave Westlake why they're not talking about agriculture on their campaign websites.
Feingold, one of the most beloved public figures in left-leaning intellectual circles, is going after Wall and Westlake for being elitists. It's the same theme he's using to go after Tommy Thompson when his campaign refers to him as "former Bush administration official" or "former lobbyist," and when it accused him of saying that the senate election would be about national issues, rather than issues specific to Wisconsin. For the record, I thought the latter was a misleading attack.
The message is clear: It's Russ Feingold vs. the Country Club.
It would be especially interesting to see how rural Wisconsin votes in a Feingold-Thompson match-up.