APPLETON — State Democrats are looking toward the future. In fact, they're already plotting a strategy for elections in two years.
Wisconsin just wrapped up a major election year in 2012 where Democrats won races for president and Senate, while Republicans won a number of congressional and state races.
Democrats Thursday announced plans to change those results in 2014. But Republicans say they're ready for the political battle.
In June, Wisconsin voted primarily Republican. Governor Scott Walker won every county in Northeast Wisconsin with the exception of Menominee County. But state Democrats plan to change that trend.
"We believe when people hear what Democrats stand for, what we're fighting for before it's drowned out in GOP campaign cash, that that's going to lead to a positive outcome for us in the upcoming election," said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca , D-Kenosha.
The Democrats' strategy includes hiring three political directors for key areas of focus in the state. The Fox Valley, Eau Claire and La Crosse.
"We want to put critical resources into the field where we think some of these key legislative swing seats are and frankly that are seats we think we can and should be winning," said Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair Mike Tate.
In November, Republicans gained seats in the state Assembly and retook control of the state Senate. Democrats blame Republican redistricting for the party's losses. But Outagamie County Republican Party spokesperson Ron Tusler says voters chose progress.
"We're seeing progress in the state of Wisconsin, progress that we're not seeing in the rest of the country, so I think people are very satisfied with what the legislature and our governor are doing for the state right now," said Tusler.
Democrats have yet to announce a candidate to challenge Governor Walker in 2014, but the party is investing a half a million dollars this year in what Mike Tate says is the party's earliest ever effort to rally support. Taking a page from President Obama's campaign using email and social media to help drive voters to the polls.
"Technology plays a key part in that, it's where I think our party has an advantage right now and we're going to bring that to bear on the legislative chambers," said Tate.
But Tusler says Republicans will be ready for the next fight.
"I don't think Democrats have an advantage in Wisconsin in their ground game, I think nationally that's maybe a topic for discussion, but I think the Republican Party of Wisconsin has just as good of a ground game, probably better than the Democrats do."
Democratic leaders say they plan to have those political directors in place in the next few weeks.
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