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Democrats share many similar ideas on how to address gun violence, school safety (copy) (copy)

Top Democratic candidates for governor, shown at a recent forum, discussed health care at a different event in Madison Thursday.

Voters will have two chances this week to hear from Democratic candidates competing to challenge Gov. Scott Walker in November.

All eight candidates in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary will participate in the first full debate of the campaign Thursday evening in Milwaukee. 

A recent Marquette University Law School poll showed state Superintendent of Public Instruction Evers in the lead, supported by 25 percent of Democratic primary voters. Evers also led in name recognition, but but 61 percent of voters still didn't know enough about him to have an opinion.

Milwaukee attorney Matt Flynn, campaign finance activist Mike McCabe and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin each pulled 7 percent in the poll, which found that 34 percent of primary voters were still undecided. Five percent of primary voters supported state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, and 4 percent supported Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin head Mahlon Mitchell. Former state Rep. Kelda Roys was supported by 2 percent of primary voters, and corporate attorney Josh Pade trailed at 1 percent.

The candidates will debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, fielding questions from WTMJ-TV anchors Charles Benson and Shannon Sims and WUWM radio's Mitch Teich. 

The debate will be televised live in the Milwaukee and Green Bay markets, on WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee and WGBA-TV in Green Bay, and broadcast on WUWM-FM radio from 6-7 p.m. An additional 30 minutes of candidate discussion, from 7-7:30 p.m., will air live on the radio and will also be streamed online by WUWM, TMJ4, NBC26, WisPolitics and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. WisPolitics.com will stream the entire debate. 

Four of the eight candidates will meet again on Sunday in Madison for a forum hosted by Wisconsin's Choice, a collaboration between Our Wisconsin Revolution and the Wisconsin Working Families Party.

In an effort to winnow the Democratic field, Wisconsin's Choice has held two of three rounds of online voting designed to select a "people's champion." 

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Voters who participated in the second round of the online poll selected McCabe, Mitchell, Roys and Vinehout as the finalists who will compete for the organization's endorsement. Voters were able to rank candidates in order of preference. A Wisconsin's Choice spokeswoman said last month that the group will not release the order of preference within the top four or how many votes they received, but said none of the candidates received more than 24 percent of the first place votes.

McCabe, Mitchell, Roys and Vinehout will field questions from the audience in a town hall format, and each candidate will have the chance to ask a question of one opponent. John Nichols, associate editor of the Cap Times and Washington correspondent for The Nation, will moderate the discussion.

For those who cannot attend the forum at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Goodman Center, Wisconsin's Choice will livestream it

A final round will take place from July 15-19. If a candidate receives 50 percent +1 of the vote, he or she will be named the "People's Champion" by the groups. To participate in the final round of voting, voters must commit to volunteering at least 10 hours before the primary election.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.