At first blush, the idea sounds ridiculous. Why would Democrats Tom Barrett and Russ Feingold even consider attending a Tea Party debate? WisPolitics reports, deadpan:
Tim Dake, of the Milwaukee-based Tea Party group GrandSons of Liberty, said the gubernatorial debate is set for 4 p.m. on Aug. 29 at Olympia Resort in Oconomowoc. Republican candidates Scott Walker and Mark Neumann have accepted the invitation, though Dem Tom Barrett has not committed to it, Dake said. ..
Dake said the group is trying to iron out a date for a U.S. Senate debate. Republicans Dave Westlake and Ron Johnson have accepted, but Dem U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold hasn't committed, Dake said.
For Barrett, it just might be a chance to steal the limelight and again draw the contrast between himself and two guys who, at that stage, will be crawling farther and farther out on the right-wing limb to try to get Tea Party support in their primary. Barrett just might emerge -- in a televised debate -- as the only reasonable voice in the room, with some actual ideas rather than just rhetoric.
That doesn't mean he'd get the TP endorsement, but he might score some points with Wisconsin voters, which in the end is what really matters.
Then there's the Senate campaign, where Ron Johnson, who either is or is not a Tea Party candidate, depending upon whether the moon is waxing or waning, is giving the TPers fits.
John Kraus, Russ Feingold's senior strategist, told the Journal Sentinel:
...Feingold has cast votes against bank bailouts and the Patriot Act that match up with tea party views. "We're going to fight for every voter in the state," said John Kraus, Feingold's senior campaign strategist. "We have a good record on many of the issues these folks care about."
Ann Althouse, Wisconsin's uber blogger, is intrigued: