Expert says this week, gubernatorial campaign will begin "in earnest"

MADISON (WITI) -- This week will be a big week in the race for governor. The Republican Governors Association is set to launch an early TV ad campaign to bolster Scott Walker. The ads will hit the airwaves the same day that more than 27,000 emails connected to the criminal John Doe investigation will be released.

Mary Burke and Scott Walker have already been acting like candidates in the middle of a heated campaign -- arguing about each other's records.

"I think that's what drives a lot of the decisions he makes. Being a career politician I think very much informs the decisions that he makes," Burke has said.

"I would be more than happy to stack my career against the brief time she's been on the school board where property taxes have gone up dramatically and where the results are anything but positive in the city of Madison," Walker has said.

Now, still nine months before any ballots are cast, some outside forces will shake up the race for governor.

"I think we might be able to look back and say this is the first week in earnest that the campaign started," Marquette University Political Scientist John McAdams said.

McAdams says this is a critical week, with a big TV ad campaign and the release of thousands of emails and documents collected in the John Doe investigation of former Walker aid Kelly Rindfleisch on Wednesday, February 19th.

"I think it's unlikely those e-mails will have anything terribly embarrassing. Now, any large number of e-mails is likely to have something somebody can spin in a negative way, but I think the bad news for Walker in those e-mails is now old news," McAdams said.

On the same day the emails will be released, the Republican Governors Association will launch an early ad blitz.

"You want to define your opponent before your opponent can define herself," McAdams said.

The RGA is spending six figures on broadcast and cable TV ads. These will be the first TV ads in the race -- some nine months before the election. The ad has not been released, but will reportedly slam Burke for her time as Governor Jim Doyle's commerce secretary.

"It's a cliche -- the best defense is a good offense, but clearly, they want to put Mary Burke on the defensive. Particularly they want to put her on the defensive on the issue of jobs and associate her with the Doyle administration," McAdams said.

In the most recent Marquette University Law School poll, Walker had a six-point lead over Burke.