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Wisconsin Senate Race Moved to "Toss-Up" by Cook Report

1:50 PM, Aug 5, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Charlie Cook writes at the Cook Political Report (subscription required):

Just three weeks ago, we moved this race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold and businessman Ron Johnson, the presumptive Republican nominee, from the Solid Democratic column to Lean Democratic. After watching the back and forth between the candidates and having met with Johnson, the race is making yet another move to Toss Up.

Adding Wisconsin to the Toss Up list brings the number of Democratic-held seats that are toss ups or lean in Republicans’ favor to 11, one more than Republicans would need to capture a majority.

Russ Feingold has attempted to smear Johnson as an anti-Civil Rights Act, pro-Great Lakes Drilling "third part of that Rand Paul, Sharron Angle tripartition," but Cook says that line of attack doesn't ring true:

Johnson doesn’t come across as unreasonable or ultra-conservative. There is a sincerity about him that is likely to appeal to voters. Beyond these issues and the hope that the neophyte candidate who is still not fluent in every issue makes a serious mistake, Democrats don’t seem to have much ammunition, much less a silver bullet.

As I note in my write-up of Wisconsin Senate race, Johnson has the least political experience of any GOP candidate in a competitive Senate race this year. Of the 16 races highlighted in this Wall Street Journal article, only three GOP candidates have never held office before: Johnson, Fiorina in California, and Paul in Kentucky. The latter two candidates were involved in the 2008 presidential campaign (Fiorina for McCain, and Paul for his father). As Cook writes, Johnson may be the "ultimate outsider."

See Johnson's latest ad here, and you'll get a sense of why Feingold is running scared

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