Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Reince Priebus says that the GOP upset in Massachusetts yesterday should put Wisconsin Dems on notice.
Priebus said the election of Scott Brown, who beat Martha Coakley for the Senate held by Dem Ted Kennedy until his death, shows that the voters "want to take their country back," and a similar mood is pulsating in Wisconsin.
"Russ Feingold, Dave Obey, Ron Kind and Steve Kagen ought to watch their back," Priebus said in a conference call with reporters this morning. "We're coming after them."
Priebus took time to take particular shots at Feingold, who is being challenged two Republicans, Madison-area real estate developer Terrence Wall and Watertown businessman David Westlake. He said Feingold is a "rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi and the president."
"He is not a maverick. He is a plasticized Washington politician," Priebus said of Feingold.
Responding to a question about reports that Wall had not paid personal state income taxes in four of the last five years, Priebus said he didn't think it would be an issue in the campaign.
"Certainly Terrence Wall has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. He pays an enormous amount of taxes every year in the state of Wisconsin, and he certainly he has some deductions," he said.
Priebus said the Massachusetts election, along with governor elections in Virginia and New Jersey last year, are a referendum on Washington and show the dissatisfaction with the "Obama-Pelosi" agenda.
Brown was successful because his campaign emphasized he would be the "41st vote" against the Dem-backed health care reform bill, he said. And he said the dissatisfaction grows from the feeling that top Dems like Obama and Pelosi are not listening.
"There is a backlash against the powerful elite in this country and the party in power," Priebus said.
DPW Chair Mike Tate called it a stretch to see danger signs for Wisconsin Dems in November for a vote that took place a thousand miles away.
Still, Tate said there was no way to sugarcoat yesterday's results.
"What we saw in Massachusetts is an electorate with a high level of anxiety and impatience over the rate of change," Tate told reporters in a conference call.
"There's no denying there is palpable concern and fear about where things are going here in Wisconsin. Again, we will be working on addressing those fears and concerns."
Tate said Dems like guv candidate Tom Barrett and Sen. Russ Feingold are out talking to voters about their concerns, and the party will double down on its efforts to show Dems are working to create a hospitable climate for businesses to thrive in.
Tate said he's unsure what will happen next in regards to the health care debate in Washington, but he’s "looking forward to a conclusion about the health care debate."
He added Republicans have problems of their own, from GOP guv frontrunner Scott Walker's failure to lead in Milwaukee County to Wall's tax problems to House candidate Dan Kapanke's failure to repay taxpayers for legal bills.
Tate said he rarely agrees with conservative talk show hosts Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner. But he said the two said on the air this morning that Wall has "fatal flaws."
"This is a guy who has nothing in common with the average Wisconsin voter," Tate said, adding the wealthy developer seems to believe he can live by a special set of rules that don't apply to others.
DPW also took Kapanke to task today over delaying repaying the state for the party's legal costs stemming from a lawsuit over open records. Kapanke promised last year he would begin reimbursing the state the $38,000 a judge required to be repaid. But Kapanke now says he hopes to being repayment by June and pay off the full tab by year's end.
At the state level, Tate said he expects Dem leggie candidates to have strong records to run on in terms of promoting jobs.
"Scott Brown going to the Senate from Massachusetts will have little impact on what the makeup of our legislative delegation is next time around," Tate said.