Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson is enjoying support from national Republicans as his rematch with Democrat Russ Feingold appears headed for a tight finish.
On Saturday, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence joined the fight in the Badger State. The Indiana governor stood shoulder to shoulder with all the members of Wisonsin's conservative power bloc: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Gov. Scott Walker, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, and Johnson himself.
“It would have been nice to have the posse come around a lot sooner," Johnson told reporters. "But bottom line, I’m glad they are here now, and I think it will make all the difference. And I think it certainly indicates how close this race is."
Feingold held his Senate seat for 18 years before being defeated by Johnson as part of the 2010 Republican wave. Until recently, Feingold was favored to return the favor, but a recent Marquette University Law School poll showed the race as a virtual tie after previously putting Feingold in front by six points.
Both parties have poured money and manpower into the race, seen as crucial to determining control of the Senate. No fewer than 45 outside organizations are now spending money in Wisconsin on Johnson’s behalf. Sixteen of them have spent more than $100,000, which is enough to buy television ads and contribute to the air war.
"This is a man we are going to send back to the United States Senate in a renewed Republican majority," Pence told the crowd in Mukwonago. "A man who was an outsider, a businessman who brought common sense conservative values to the United States Senate and Wisconsin is going to send Johnson back to that renewed majority.”
"We need to return Ron Johnson the United States Senate because he’s a workhorse," said Ryan, who has joined up with Johnson's campaign bus tour. "He’s an effective conservative."
At a rally in Madison, Feingold jabbed Johnson over abortion, privatization of Social Security, the minimum wage and Donald Trump.
"On these issues with Senator Johnson, you don’t even have a fighting chance," said Feingold. “[There is] zero chance he will vote with you against the corporations and the billionaires and the multi-millionaires."
Feingold and his supporters are up against a Republican ground machine that’s been oiled, tested and refined in the election, recall and re-election of Governor Scott Walker. An internal memo from the Johnson campaign boasts that volunteers for Johnson have knocked on 1.6 million doors in Wisconsin, and they are continuing at a rate of 84,000 visits per week.
"In the final days we are right where we want to be and the wind is at our backs,” one excerpt from the memo reads.
Supplementing the party's efforts, the conservative group American Majority Action (AMA) is boasting that their volunteers knocked on 50,000 doors to get out the vote for Johnson.
"Control of the US Senate comes down to Wisconsin," AMA National Executive Director Matt Batzel told Fox News. "This Senate race will be won or lost on the doors in key neighborhoods."
Michael Tobin joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Chicago-based correspondent.