EAU CLAIRE — Chippewa Valley Republicans expressed excitement Tuesday about this week’s scheduled visit to Eau Claire by Vice President Mike Pence.
The vice president is expected to talk about the importance of manufacturing during a stop at Midwest Manufacturing on Thursday — less than six weeks from the Nov. 3 election.
No times or other details had been released about the visit as of press time, It follows campaign stops last week to Mosinee by President Donald Trump and Monday to Manitowoc by Democratic challenger and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Brian Westrate of Fall Creek, treasurer of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said the visits by Pence and Trump show they are interested in Wisconsin — even the “up north” parts of the state often ignored by candidates.
“It is a long-held belief within politics that in-person visits matter to voters,” Westrate said. “Voters like to believe that a candidate has been to where they live and knows a little about how they live. Each of us wants to think our corner of the world is worth inspection.”
Westrate is also optimistic Pence’s visit could have a positive impact on Republican candidates in other races, citing the conventional political wisdom that “the better the top of the ticket does, the better everybody down ballot does” in that party.
“My hope is that this visit from the vice president would shine some additional light on other Republican candidates up and down the ticket,” Westrate said.
One of those candidates, Republican congressional hopeful Derrick Van Orden of Hager City, plans to join Pence at the Eau Claire event. Van Orden is challenging U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, who will be joined today by former second lady Jill Biden in a virtual campaign event, in the 3rd Congressional District.
“Derrick is excited to be there because it builds on the grassroots momentum he’s already seeing,” said Van Orden campaign spokesman Justin Giorgio.
Giorgio said the visit offers two potential benefits: It can help any candidate who is recognized by a vice president, and it can generate enthusiasm to vote among the party faithful.
State Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Lake Hallie, who isn’t up for reelection this year but nonetheless has been campaigning for fellow Republican legislators, said she isn’t sure yet if she will be able to attend the Pence event. Still, she maintained such a vice presidential visit could provide a boost to other Republicans.
“The coattails work all the way up and down the roster,” Bernier said. “It’s important to identify with the party and the policies you agree with.”
After his appearance in Eau Claire, Pence is scheduled to start a bus tour and attend a Cops for Trump event in Minneapolis. He last visited the Chippewa Valley in May 2019 when he held a rally at J&D Manufacturing in Altoona to tout the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.