The defeat of Democratic Senator Russ Feingold at the hands of Republican Ron Johnson in 2010 was one of the biggest political surprises to hit Wisconsin in years. The next biggest? Whether former governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson could win in a four way primary.
Thompson will go on to face Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin in the November general election. The victor in that race is likely to be linked to successful presidential candidate in the state, and a sign of whether or not Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s coattails were strong enough to bring out the GOP for Romney.
Although four Republicans were running, the real race has turned into a three-way between former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, former Congressman Mark Neumann, and businessman Eric Hovde. The race was originally believed to be a fight between Thompson and Neumann, and a classic “establishment v. Tea Party” narrative, until a last minute surge by Hovde, who has also been garnering Tea Party support, and has used his mostly self-funded campaign to attack Thompson.
Heading into the primary itself, however, the winner was anyone’s guess.
Regardless of who won the nomination, Baldwin’s campaign was taking nothing for granted. Yesterday they announced that she is the first politician to be endorsed by LPAC, the country’s first lesbian super PAC.
“Tomorrow morning, Tammy will have a challenger, who will be able to spend 100% of his energy attacking her. Secret groups funded by the Koch brothers, the US Chamber of Commerce, and Karl Rove have already spent millions of dollars attacking Tammy. Because she stands up for women. Because she believes in economic justice. Because she’s a lesbian.”
Baldwin was unconcerned about who gets the final nod. “Whoever emerges from the bitter GOP primary battle tomorrow, I’ll be ready,” the congresswoman stated via twitter.
Ready she was. Within moments of the race being called for Thompson, Baldwin released the following statement tying him to the GOP and especially the reactionary “Ryan Budget” being touted by the likely vice presidential nominee.
Tommy Thompson supports the policies of the past. Policies that have failed. Policies from the past that crashed our economy, and got us into our fiscal mess in the first place. He believes we should slash the very investments we need to move our economy forward, in education, innovation, and infrastructure — all while cutting taxes for those at the very top.
Tommy Thompson would actually cut taxes for millionaires like himself while increasing taxes on the middle class, increasing out-of-pocket health care costs for seniors, increasing the cost of higher education for students and their families, and ending Medicare as we know it for future generations.
That is not the America we believe in and it is not the Wisconsin we believe in. I believe that path is wrong for Wisconsin, wrong for our nation, and that we need to do what’s right for the middle class.”
Thompson and Baldwin are facing off to replace Democratic Senator Herb Kohl, who is retiring at the end of the year, and is part of the equation in which party holds the Senate in the fall.