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Brown County Could Determine Romney's Fate In Wisconsin

Ashley Riegle, Melissah Yang |
November 4, 2012 | 5:57 p.m. PST

Staff Reporters

A snap shot of the county based on information compiled from U.S. Census data and Green Bay news publications.
A snap shot of the county based on information compiled from U.S. Census data and Green Bay news publications.

This election's political campaigning, polling and media attention are focused on a handful of swing states that are too close to call. Brown County, Wis., is one of several swing counties that will help determine the outcome of the presidential election.

Brown County straddles Green Bay on the east side of the Wisconsin. According to Brown County's official website, the county is home to 245,000 residents, making it the fourth largest county in the state. 

The largest employer in Brown County is the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin: Business/Development Corp. Paper making, dairying, canning and construction are some of the leading industries in the area. Green Bay is home to three higher education institutions: The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, St. Norbert College and Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College. 

The county has swung blue or red over the past several election on both the state and national levels. Brown County went for Obama in 2008 by 9 points. More recently, Republican Gov. Scott Walker carried the county by a 20-point margin in a recall election four months ago. 

Polls show the 2012 presidential election to be tight in Wisconsin, and both candidates are doing all they can to reach out to the few remaining undecided voters.

Vern Krawczyk is Chairman of the Republican Party in Brown County. Krawczyk was confident for Romney when we spoke Nov. 5, the day before the election.  

"In this area, it's going to be a win for Romney. It feels that way," Krawcyzk said. He cited the Republican Gov. Walker's win as evidence. He would like to see a Republican sweep.  

But county Democrats are also feeling optimistic. We spoke to Brown County Democratic Party Communications Director, Deb Stover, four days before the election. President Obama had visited one day earlier to greet Brown County residents at a tarmac. Stover was still feeling the excitement of that event.

"I'm feeling pretty good right now. We have a ton of volunteers, and everyone's working hard," Stover said.

According to Stover, the tarmac visit was a huge success. The crowd was excited to watch Air Force One land and waved as it took off. Green Bay Packer safety, Charles Woodson, introduced President Obama to the cheering crowd. Obama "shook lots of hands" during his first visit to the county.

Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has not visited Brown County though he has made several visits to the state. Romney supporters in Brown County are hopeful their candidate will win on Election Day. 

Chip Thorne, a lifetime Green Bay resident who describes the area as "very conservative," has been self-employed as a contractor in the automotive business for 42 years. He voted for McCain in 2008 and has already cast his ballot for Romney this time around. He was impressed by the number of residents who had turned out to vote early at the polls. 

When asked how he feels about the political climate, Thorne said he was "scared to death" by the notion that President Obama may be re-elected. He cited the state of the economy and the situation in Libya as two examples of "disastrous policies." 

Thorne felt confident the county would give the job to Romney. He said he had several cars of people stop by his house - his yard full of Romney signs - to ask for directions to the Romney "Victory" office. 

"The first car, I thought well this is interesting, and then they kept coming!" Thorne said. "People are looking for the headquarters because they really want to volunteer and help. They're determined to find it. That's a good sign, I think."

Reach Ashley Riegle by email. Follow her on Twitter here.

Reach Melissah Yang by email. Follow her on Twitter here.



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