Poll shows Bradley within one point of La Follette

IMG_6525A new poll shows Secretary of State candidate Julian Bradley is just one point down in his campaign to defeat 36-year incumbent Doug La Follette.

The Gravis Marketing/Townhall.com poll conducted Oct. 3-4 and published Oct. 5 showed La Follette leading Bradley by just one point, 44-43, with 13 percent undecided.

This is great news for Bradley, who has spent the past 10 months driving around the state explaining the need to bring value back to the office, which has crumbled during his opponent’s tenure. La Follette’s armor seems to be made of Sculpey; he’s never faced a strong challenge, and now he’s up against a charismatic, tireless young Republican (who also happens to be black).

Bradley is even attracting national attention, having been named one of 14 statewide candidates to watch nationwide in 2014 by the Republican State Leadership Committee. Newt Gingrich, who is also host of CNN’s Crossfire, also recently hosted a breakfast reception for Bradley in Eau Claire.

While Bradley is inspiring the GOP grassroots, La Follette’s base isn’t exactly fired up about him. He even needed to remind attendees at the state Democratic convention that “that was an applause line” when he mentioned his own race in a speech.

La Follette is more vulnerable than most people think. He represents a stale brand of liberalism and embodies the tired, worn-out legacy of his famous distant relative, “Fighting Bob” La Follette, the progressive hero who helped transform America.

“Fighting Bob,” by the way, was a Republican for most of his career.

Today’s La Follette, “Do-Nothing Doug,” is precisely the opposite. Instead of fighting tirelessly for what he believes is right, this La Follette has sat idly by over the decades as his duties were stripped away by members of both parties. He’s made little to no effort to bring any value back to the office, preferring to collect a salary in a role that’s increasingly idle.

The differences between the hard-nosed, positive approach of Bradley and the litigious, lethargic one of La Follette were on parade during a joint interview on Wisconsin Public Television in which Bradley challenged La Follette repeatedly over his lack of initiative.

Doug, why should you be re-elected, the interviewer asked. “I like my job and I like doing it,” La Follette replied. Compelling.

Pressed by Bradley over his lack of initiative in fighting for the office, La Follette complained, “If you have the governor against you, it’s pretty hard to show leadership.” Inspirational.

Bradley pointed out that he’s forged relationships with many members of the legislature, most of whom could only recall a single time, if any that they’d even met La Follette.

With 13 percent up for grabs and polling showing voter enthusiasm swinging toward the governor and GOP ticket, things are looking very, very good for Bradley. No one, not even Bradley, knows what’s next for him should he win.

In the same poll Walker led Burke 50-46 among likely voters, mirroring what Marquette University’s polling last found. In the poll 34 percent of the respondents identified as Democrats, 33 as Republicans, and 33 as independents.

About the writer: Chris Rochester has worked in communications and finance for a state Senate and congressional campaign, consulted on numerous Assembly and local races, and has held leadership roles in his local Republican Party. He's communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.