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Why Are Ron Johnson and Sean Duffy Teaming Up in a New Ad?

Wisconsin senator and congressman both stand to benefit from joint effort

Wisconsin Rep. Sean P. Duffy and Sen. Ron Johnson recorded an ad together and are sharing its cost. (Screenshot)
Wisconsin Rep. Sean P. Duffy and Sen. Ron Johnson recorded an ad together and are sharing its cost. (Screenshot)

In a rare move for a senator running for re-election and a congressman in a safe seat, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Sean P. Duffy, released a joint ad Tuesday, an effort that could help both of their political fortunes. 

The TV and digital spot by the two Republicans will air in Duffy’s 7th District, a vast northern part of the state where Johnson needs to turn out GOP voters in big numbers. Johnson is seeking a second term against Democratic former Sen. Russ Feingold in a tightening race that’s attracted late outside investment from both parties

The ad, called “Outsiders,” is marketed to voters who are frustrated with politics and may be supporting Donald Trump, who has strong support in the 7th District. The main media market is Wausau, but the district is big enough that the message could have far reach. 

“You might not think a businessman with a whiteboard and a lumberjack with an ax have much in common,” the narrator says as the ad opens. “But Ron Johnson and Sean Duffy are both hard-working outsiders who tell it like it is.” 

Duffy’s been a popular surrogate for Johnson. His lumberjack image is a big part of the ad, with a clip of him wielding an ax appearing side-by-side with a shot of Johnson and the whiteboard that has been a part of his businessman image in his paid communication.

In the ad’s final cut, Johnson and Duffy have switched shirts. Johnson is wearing one of Duffy’s plaid flannel shirts, while Duffy is wearing a blue dress-shirt.  

Duffy doesn’t face a competitive election this year. But he could be a contender for the Senate in 2018, so his involvement in a statewide campaign like Johnson’s may bolster his viability for a potential candidacy down the road. 

The Duffy and Johnson campaigns are sharing the cost of the ad but didn’t release how the cost was split.

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