By Dylan Deprey
Supporters for Russ Feingold and incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson wielded signs and shouted chants, separated outside of Marquette Law School’s Eckstein Hall. In a similar fashion, the candidates inside may not have been physically separated, but in the final U.S. Senate Debate they were just as divided on the issues as those braving the brisk October night.
The final uninterrupted ninety minute televised debate was broadcast live on WISN 12, and was moderated by Mike Gousha, the host of WISN 12’s public affairs program, “UPFRONT.”
“This will be one of the most closely-watched Senate races in the country. From the state of our economy to the fight against ISIS, the election features a wide range of issues that affect each and every one of us,” Gousha said. “We think it’s important to sit down, have a candid conversation with the candidates, and provide voters with information they need when they go to the polls.”
As voters are already making their way to the polls for early voting, Nov. 8 is right around the corner, and undecided voters had one last opportunity to hear both candidates’ positions on the issues.
Both candidates claimed that if elected their seat in the senate would fight for Wisconsin’s struggling working middle class.
“They feel like they can’t pay their bills, even though the people at the top and Wall Street are doing so well,” Feingold said.
Feingold said that stagnated wages, student loans and prescription drug costs were all issues that needed to be addressed in fixing the Middle class, which has deteriorated in Wisconsin with the loss of manufacturing jobs over the past decade.
Feingold criticized Johnson’s voting record over the past six years, and claimed that he was in the hands of corporate interest. He used Johnson’s ‘nay’ votes for a Federal Minimum Wage Increase as an example.
“Sen. Johnson votes against the working people in this state every time,” Feingold said.
Johnson empathized with the working middle class having worked his entire life. He said his career began at young age as a dishwasher at a local restaurant and eventually ended up building the Oshkosh plastic fabrication company Pacur from the ground up.
“All my votes are based on the interests of Wisconsinites and Wisconsin families,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that his vote for the federal minimum wage increase was because of a potential for lost jobs, rise in business costs and an increase in prices for the rest of the United States.
Johnson believes in giving more freedom to the people with less government sanctions on issues including the taxes and government funding for higher education.
“The government is going to come and pick your pocket for the fruits of your hard earned labor,” Johnson said.
The candidates also addressed issues including endorsing presidential candidates, homeland security, immigration, opioid addiction, student loans and campaign reform.
Feingold said that his main issues during the election is for the middle class to just simply pay their bills, which involves federal student loans and increasing the minimum wage. He also said that with the 4th worst roads in the country, he would work to fix infrastructure as well as work on comprehensive business reform.
Johnson said the biggest issue was growing the economy through changing regulatory burdens and the tax system, as well as utilizing our national resources. He said that he would continue to focus on defending the nation as Chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.