Several politicians with history or ties to the plastics industry are in serious, and in some cases unexpected, battles for a spot on Capitol Hill.
The most recent polls put Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) in a statistical dead heat with challenger Russ Feingold to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate.
Johnson, former president of sheet extruder Pacur LLC in Oshkosh, Wis., is at 44 percent and Feingold, a former senator and Democrat, at 45 percent, according to the final Marquette Law School poll.
Johnson started the campaign with upbeat ads highlighting his job creation efforts and manufacturing experience. But the TV spots have turned more somber as the race has tightened and millions of dollars in ads sponsored by outside groups have poured into the race.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, some $12.5 million in ads will run in the final week of the race: $7.2 million for Johnson and $5.3 million for Feingold.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee alone is spending about $1 million on Johnson TV and internet spots. Other Johnson ad backers include Americans for Prosperity, funded by the Koch brothers, and Reform Wisconsin Fund, a super PAC bankrolled primarily by billionaire Diane Hendricks, owner and chairwoman of another company with deep plastics ties: ABC Supply Co. in Beloit, Wis., a major distributor of roofing, siding and home construction products.
According to the Marquette poll, self-identified independent voters lean toward Johnson 46 percent to 40 percent. That's a reversal from an October poll in which independents preferred Feingold 44-37.
Also seeing an uphill re-election fight is California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham. After 16 years in the Air Force, he partnered with Mike Hutchings to start Denham Plastics LLC, a Salinas, Calif.-based recycler and reseller of agricultural harvesting containers such as bulk bins, pallets and totes that has bounced back since a devastating fire in 2012.
Denham has also been in politics since 2002, first as a state assemblyman and then in the U.S. House since 2010. Locked in a tight race with Democrat Michael Eggman for California's 10th Congressional District seat, Denham has taken heat for his support of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, though House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) visited California to rally the base for Denham in late October.
After more than 15 years in the House, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the former CEO of a vehicle security system and car audio equipment company that injection molded its own components, also faces a surprisingly tough race, also in part for his support of Trump.
Polls show Issa's opponent, Doug Applegate, a retired Marine colonel who served in Iraq, within a few percentage points of Issa.
And looking to get back to Washington — and take his plastics ties with him — is former Indiana governor and U.S. Senator Evan Bayh.
Bayh, a Democrat, has drawn fire for an increase in wealth from 2010, when he left the Senate after two terms. Financial disclosures show he has made nearly $6.3 million since January 2015 in salary, speakers' fees and board compensation, including the board of Evansville, Ind.-based Berry Plastics Group Inc.
Bayh, a fiscal conservative and former two-term governor of Indiana, reportedly was paid $400,000 for his time on Berry's board.
His opponent, three-term House Republican and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Todd Young, has managed to cut Bayh's 20-point lead when he entered the race down to 6 points in the most recent polls.