- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, trying to hold on to his seat in a race where he’s long been seen as vulnerable, went hard and soft in two new ads Wednesday in his tightening race against Democratic former Sen. Russ Feingold.

Feingold and a PAC supporting him also released new spots as they try to compete with the roughly $7 million spent to promote Johnson since Monday. Democrats have long seen the seat as a likely pickup and key to their hopes of regaining majority control of the Senate.

A Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday showed the race about even, just as it did three weeks ago. Feingold had an 11-point lead in that poll in early August. The latest survey of 1,255 likely voters was done between Oct. 26 and Monday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Feingold was campaigning Wednesday in Milwaukee with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and was expected to join Vice President Joe Biden at a Friday night rally in Madison. Johnson, meanwhile, was gearing up for a Republican bus tour on Thursday with Gov. Scott Walker, with House Speaker Paul Ryan joining him for a final sweep leading up to Tuesday.

Both candidates and their backers were flooding the airwaves with ads.

One of Johnson’s new spots features him sitting by a roaring fire, speaking directly to the camera about hope, kindness and courage with soothing acoustic guitar music in the background. The other spot features ominous music and dark images as the narrator slams Feingold as someone who spent his 34-year political career “in it for himself, not for you.”

Feingold launched a new ad called “Bigger Van” that emphasizes his travels across the state, saying he heard from seniors “concerned Ron Johnson is going to turn Medicare into a voucher program.”

The End Citizens United PAC announced Wednesday it was spending $500,000 on ads in Wisconsin that attack Johnson for taking a $10 million payout from his plastics company, Pacur, after leaving the company when he was elected to the Senate in 2010.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer

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