MILWAUKEE — Three of the Republican candidates for Governor will take the stage at Marquette University's Varsity Theater at 6 p.m. on Sunday. A GOP political strategist says "anything could happen."
Candidates Rebecca Kleefisch, Tim Michels and Timothy Ramthun are all ready to convince voters that they are the Republican who can beat Tony Evers in November.
The most recent Marquette Law School Poll shows Michels just barely in the lead. 27% of Republicans surveyed favored him, compared to 26% for Kleefisch and just 3% for Ramthun.
GOP strategist Bill McCoshen says all eyes will be on the front-runners.
"You have to assume that Michels, him being in the lead based on the latest Marquette Law School Poll, that he'll try to get out of there without making any mistakes," said McCoshen. "On Kleefisch's side, she's going to have to change the trajectory of the race. So, she's going to have to be pretty aggressive with Michels."
McCoshen also thinks Ramthun will need to spice things up.
"He's only got a single issue and that's election integrity. I don't think that will be enough to stand out on Sunday night. He's going to have to distinguish himself on other issues," he said.
Regardless of polls, McCoshen said a lot can change between now and the Aug. 9 primary election.
"Yes, Michels has the lead, he's got the momentum at this point and time, but there's 17 days left and anything can happen," said McCoshen.
For voters, McCoshen believes there's one big issue that everyone wants to hear about.
"I think voters, almost exclusively, are paying attention to the economy. Inflation, gas prices. That's the number one issue. Not only now, but it will be in November and I think whoever has the boldest plan on Sunday night, that's going to serve them very well," he said.
The major difference between this debate and last week's Senate primary debate? Candidates might spend more time going after each other.
"None of them went after the front-runner, Mandela Barnes, but I don't think that will be the case this Sunday," said McCoshen.
It's a race that any of the candidates could still win and a debate that could shake up the trajectory of this upcoming election.
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