Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to meet with Black voters in Milwaukee during her latest stop to the swing state Thursday, as the Biden campaign intensifies its outreach to the critical base of voters.

“Whoever wins Wisconsin will become president of the United States,” Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said on WISN’s “UpFront,” which is produced in partnership with WisPolitics. “You win Wisconsin, you become president. And winning Wisconsin means the turnout in Milwaukee.”

The latest Marquette Law School poll showed just 37% of Wisconsin’s Black voters said they felt “very enthusiastic” ahead of November’s election.

“If we’re still having that same type of conversation around Labor Day, then I think that is a problem,” said Angela Lang, executive director of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities in Milwaukee. “If that enthusiasm gap isn’t kind of made up around Labor Day, then I think folks are in trouble. Democrats would be in trouble.”

Republicans are looking to capitalize and are preparing to mobilize their own field groups out of the GOP field office on the north side of Milwaukee.

“We have, I would say, some of the best street teams to go out and do doors in the city,” said Orlando Owens, Milwaukee County GOP’s north branch chair. “These are young Black people who make their own conscious decision to say I am going to support this movement.”

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s vice chair and president, says it took the entire Southeast Wisconsin region and “even the entire state” to solidify its $3.3 billion investment into a new artificial intelligence data center in Racine County.

“It’s a massive construction project,” he told “UpFront.” “But more than that, we really see this as something that will create the technological foundation for the next generation of manufacturing.”

The company is predicting some 2,000 jobs by the end of 2026 and is being built on land once held by Foxconn.

“I think our philosophy in part, sort of reflecting some of the recent history here, is under promise, over deliver, work with the community,” Smith said. “But I think we’re going to go fast. That’s why we’re just talking about the next two-and-a-half years. I feel confident, given everything I’ve seen today, that before these two-and-a-half years end, we’ll be talking about the next phase.”

The project is also expected to bring some 2,000 construction jobs between now and the end of 2026.

“It’s entirely possible that we would have considered Southeast Wisconsin, but no doubt we are the beneficiaries of that earlier effort — the land that was initially acquired that we’re now able to buy, even the electrical infrastructure,” Smith said. “More will need to be built. We’re proposing to the utility commission a price that will pay so that we, in effect, pay for an expansion of the electrical grid, but we are building on what was started before, but we are building on what was started before, and no one should lose sight of that either.”

Col. Charles Merkel, commander of the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee, says it will likely take more than a year to know whether the base will house the KC-46A Pegasus, a newer fleet of refueling planes.

“That would guarantee us a flying mission here for decades to come,” Merkel told “UpFront.” “We’re always thinking about modernizing our facility and making sure that we’re taking care of the facility in the best way possible, but also posturing ourselves for future missions.”

The 128th is one of 15 finalists nationwide. Merkel said the finalists will first be narrowed to five before one base is selected.

“Part of that is doing what we’re doing right now, getting the word out, letting people know who we are and what we do,” Merkel said. “And the other part is engaging our elected officials and letting them know that this process is going on and pushing them that information. As somebody in uniform, I can’t lobby, but I can provide information. So we want our elected officials to know that, OK, this process is going on, and we would love for you to advocate for getting a newer tanker in Milwaukee.”

Merkel says he hopes the fact Madison’s 115th Fighter Wing received the new F-35s will benefit the 128th’s bid.

“We’re trying to look at that as a positive and saying, all right, we want to pair up the newest tanker with the newest fighters,” Merkel said.

See more from the show.

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