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GOP, Dems already laying 2014 groundwork

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:47:21 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 27 2013 09:12:20 AM CST
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Neither political party is conceding any ground when it comes to preparing for Wisconsin's 2014 elections.

After a long 2012 campaign, Wisconsin's Republicans are already looking ahead to 2014.

The GOP has created four new field offices in Wisconsin that are scheduled to stay open year round.

At the new office on Madison's west side, the walls were still bare, and none of the 30 or so phones had arrived, but state Republican leaders were already excited about the new space.

"It starts here," said Brian Schimming, the vice chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party. "It starts on what goes on right here."

"We wanted to get an early start on what's coming in the next two years," continued Schimming. "And certainly in 2014, Madison and the Dane County area generates a lot of votes in this state for both parties."

The GOP is also opening permanent offices in Green Bay, Eau Claire, and Waukesha.

The offices will have a few paid staff members but mostly volunteers.

The Republican field directors will be responsible for building up county operations, coordinating activists, and developing outreach efforts.

Party spokesman Joe Fadness said the goal is to put the GOP in position to win in 2014. That's when elections will be held for governor and all eight congressional seats.

Vice chairman Schimming said the grass roots efforts will help build momentum before the 2014 election cycle.

"Politics is a process of addition not subtraction, so we want to make sure we're adding," said Schimming.

Executive director of the Wisconsin Democratic Party Maggie Brickerman believes the GOP's plans sound like a page right out of the Democrats' playbook.

Democrats are also increasing their efforts to get uncommitted voters on their side by putting boots on the ground in Green Bay, Eau Claire, and La Crosse.

"I really think that was more of a PR stunt in response to our roll out of our 72-county strategy last week," said Brickerman of the GOP's new offices.

"The 72-county strategy is an aggressive $500,000 investment in off-year organizing," continued Brickerman. "It's going to lay the foundation for beating Scott Walker and legislative Republicans in 2014."

"I think both parties know what's at stake in the elections coming up, we certainly do," countered Schimming. "They want to go after the governor, and go after Republican legislators, and frankly we're anxious to have that discussion."

GOP leaders said their recent successes at the state level, like Gov. Walker's recall election victory, will translate to morevictories on the national stage.

Democrats counter that their successes on the national level will help them to be more successful throughout the state.

Meanwhile, Rep. Paul Ryan said Republicans need to stay united and pick their fights during President Barack Obama's second term.

The party's vice presidential nominee from 2012 told conservatives that Republicans need to reject the president's proposals in some cases and make them better in others.

The Wisconsin lawmaker said in a speech Saturday to the National Review Institute in Washington that Obama will try to divide Republicans. But Ryan said GOP lawmakers "can't get rattled" and shouldn't "play the villain in his morality plays."

Ryan defended his vote on the "fiscal cliff" deal. He said that if the measure hadn't passed, every single taxpayer would have paid higher taxes.