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Democratic primary could help Republicans in far northern Senate race

 Mike Simonson

Wisconsin Public Radio

There will be a Democratic primary in the race to fill retiring State Sen. Bob Jauch’s seat, and the Poplar Democrat wishes it wasn’t so.

Park Falls Mayor Tom Ratzlaff says he and State Rep. Janet Bewley have a lot in common. But Ratzlaff says a primary in this 12 county far northern district is good for the party.

“An election is what it is and elections are about choice. If people think I’ll be better in that position then that’s the choice I’m going to give them. If they think Janet is going to be better in that position, then again, that is going to be their choice.”

Jauch, who endorsed Bewley, says it will Democratic name recognition in a district that spans 7,500 square miles. But he worries the race will drain campaign coffers, hurting the winner’s chance against Republican Dane Deutsch in the general election.

“Janet’s going to raise money, but you really wonder if Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce wants to dump $100,000 or $200,000 in this campaign like they did four years ago,” Jauch said. “Or like Americans for Prosperity decides to dump money into this race even though they can’t find northern Wisconsin on a map.”

As for Bewley, it’s all good.

“It is what it is and I’m ready for it,” she said.

The traditionally Democratic district could have a tight race. Deutsch almost scored an upset four years ago against Jauch. He lost by just two percentage points.