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Wis. voters face tight Senate, presidential races

Associated Press Modified: November 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm •  Published: November 6, 2012

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republicans are hoping that having a native son on the Tuesday's presidential ticket will help deliver the state to their White House pick for the first time since Ronald Reagan's 1984 landslide re-election.

But even with U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Janesville as Mitt Romney's running mate, President Barack Obama isn't conceding Wisconsin or its 10 electoral votes. Obama won the state by 14 points in 2008, but polls show this year's race is close.

The state's U.S. Senate race between Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin and longtime former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson is even closer. They are vying to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl, and the more than $65 million spent on the race has made it the most expensive U.S. Senate race in state history.

Voters also will choose all eight Wisconsin members of U.S. House, all 99 members of the state Assembly and half of the state Senate.

Ryan cast his ballot in Janesville early Tuesday and was asked whether he and running mate Mitt Romney would win the election.

"I think we are. I feel good about it," said Ryan, who voted with his wife, Janna Ryan, at a local library. Their three children, Liza, Sam and Charlie, watched as their parents cast their votes.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who lives in Kenosha County, said he voted at a polling place in Somers and felt good about what GOP campaign workers have been able to accomplish.

"We have done, I think, the Romney campaign, the volunteers here and across the Midwest I think just an incredible job of party ID, getting out the vote, identifying who your voters are and then using the technology, the manpower and the people to get the job done and find these folks a way to get to the polls," Priebus told WISN-AM in Milwaukee.

Ron Perkins, a 66-year-old insurance agent from Sun Prairie, said he voted for Romney. He said his son convinced him to vote for Obama four years ago, and that the president hasn't lived up to his expectations.

"He was a better speaker than a leader," Perkins said.

Cari Herling, who is also a Sun Prairie insurance agent, said she voted for Obama, just as she did four years ago.

"I just feel (Obama) has such integrity. I trust him," said Herling, 44. "I don't think Romney understands people who are down and out. ... I believe (the problems of) the last four years weren't just Obama. I believe Obama walked into a mess."

Wisconsin was among a shrinking number of battleground states in the waning weeks of the campaign, leading to multiple visits by the candidates and their surrogates. Obama visited Wisconsin three times in the five days before the election, even bringing rock 'n' roll star Bruce Springsteen on Monday, while Ryan tailgated with Green Bay Packers fans Sunday and stopped in Milwaukee on Monday night.

Obama was expected to do well in the Democratic stronghold areas of Madison and Milwaukee, while Romney should rack up votes in the suburban counties around Milwaukee. The race could come down to who does best in swing parts of the state, such as the Green Bay and Fox Valley regions.

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