Wisconsin’s former Republican governor, Tommy Thompson, won his primary Tuesday, which may signal more trouble for Democrats who are in danger of losing control of the U.S. Senate.
Recently, Republicans made inroads in Wisconsin politics by turning back a recall of Governor Scott Walker. A few days ago, Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney named popular Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate and the two barnstormed Wisconsin for days, building home-state support for the ticket.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama sightings in the state prior to the failed the recall election are sparse, at best.
Thompson faces Democrat Tammy Baldwin, a seven-term US representative, in the Wisconsin Senate race; the two represent very different ideological and policy divides.
Polls have Mr. Thompson about even in the race that has national implications. However, Thompson faced stiff opposition in his primary and Baldwin did not in her race. At stake is the seat of Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat, who is retiring. A Republican win in Wisconsin could be key to handing Republicans control of the US Senate, according to a Christian Monitor report.
Thompson beat back a primary challenge by Eric Hovde, a Wisconsin businessman with tea party support by 3 points, or 34 to 31 percent while former US Rep. Mark Neumann and Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald trailed at 23 and 21 percent respectively.
Thompson was also secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush and is an influential lobbyist.
Arnold Shober, a government professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., is quoted in the report as saying Thompson has a reputation for bipartisan decision-making.
“He represents a George W. Bush version of what Republicans should be: that government is a good thing, that we don’t need to get rid of it; tax relief is good, but let’s also make government do good stuff. He compromised,” Mr. Shober says.
However Thompson moved to the right during his latest campaign, bringing in controversial speakers like former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and aging rock star Ted Nugent to shore up the conservative base. Thompson, like Mitt Romney, has pledged to vote to repeal President Obama's health-care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“We have always in America, ladies and gentlemen, promised our children and our grandchildren that we're going to give them a country that is stronger, freer, fairer, safer, with more options than we had.… And for the first time, ladies and gentlemen, for the first time, I don't think we can fulfill that promise unless we take it back,” Thompson told supporters late Tuesday following his victory.
For her part, Baldwin supports Mr. Obama’s health-care reform law, which according to the CBO has already doubled in cost. “Thompson will stand with those who already have too much power and influence in Washington.
Johnson and Baldwin will start at near even in an average of polling data however Baldwin has a large campaign stash because she was unopposed in her primary.