Thompson-Feingold match getting closer

posted at 9:30 am on March 1, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Five weeks ago, a Rasmussen poll showed that former Governor Tommy Thompson ahead of Senator Russ Feingold by five points — if, as Wisconsin blog Lakeshore Laments noted at the time, Thompson ends his Hamlet/Brett Favre act and gets into the race.  Perhaps Thompson heard the call.  According to Politico, Thompson has increased his networking among former political aides, apparently interested in bringing a team together for the 2010 elections:

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, who served four terms as Wisconsin governor, is securing financial pledges and ramping up his outreach to longtime political aides in preparation for a possible campaign against Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.

Thompson has alerted his Washington-based law firm of his moves and is contacting key clients about the prospect of challenging Feingold, the most tangible signals yet that he’s seriously exploring a 2010 campaign.

“The governor has taken additional steps in the past week and will continue to do so over the next several weeks. If the meetings go well, you can expect to see an exploratory committee set up near the end of March,” former state commerce secretary and Thompson campaign manager Bill McCoshen told POLITICO.

Another longtime Thompson ally said the governor already has $200,000 in potential donations for a campaign that doesn’t yet exist.

Kevin at Lakeshore Laments’ frustration is not without reason.  Rumors of an electoral comeback have swirled around Thompson for quite a while without any moves coming from the supposed candidate himself.  Thompson has talked about a Senate bid for years, and recently stoked speculation that he was more interested in another term as Governor than anything else. The Brett Favre comparison is not without merit.

However, the Rasmussen poll appears to have pushed Thompson into something approaching action.  And well it should; the other GOP candidates trail Feingold despite his low level of popularity in Wisconsin.  Thompson gives Republicans an option for a credible candidate who can compete with Feingold’s stature in a statewide race.

One question will be whether Thompson is conservative enough to excite the Tea Party backers, but let’s face it: replacing the most liberal member of the Senate with anyone willing to at least oppose the thundering statism of the Democratic majority would be well worth it.  That doesn’t mean that a more conservative candidate shouldn’t compete against Thompson and win if possible.  However, having Thompson in the race at least gives Wisconsin Republicans the option of bringing out a heavy gun in the general election … assuming that Thompson actually gets in the race at all.

Update: Kevin has a new post up in reaction to this, and he’s right in saying that Thompson should go public soon if he plans to run.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

When does he have to announce he’s running? I really hope the GOP doesn’t p-ss away the opportunity to pick up seats in Wisconsin and New York because they couldn’t field any decent candidates.

Doughboy on March 1, 2010 at 9:35 AM

The Brett Favre comparison is not without merit.

Right. Because whenever I hear the name “Tommy Thompson” I think, “Oh, he reminds me of Brett Favre!”

Oh, and didn’t Thompson endorse the Senate’s health care “reform” bill? I’m sure he did.

DaydreamBeliever on March 1, 2010 at 9:36 AM

<—-THROW THEM ALL OUT !!!!

ELMO Q on March 1, 2010 at 9:40 AM

I think Thompson is the only one that can win against Feingold. I would vote Thompson over Feingold but would hope that Tommy only serves one term. I am not a big Tommy Thompson supporter but would take him over Feingold.

Kohl will be a senator forever. I wish there was a way to get him out of there too.

Brat4life on March 1, 2010 at 9:41 AM

Terrence Wall is my guy so far.

sammypants on March 1, 2010 at 9:42 AM

Thompson is such a retread.

Too bad the GOP can’t locate a better – more contemporary candidate.

jake-the-goose on March 1, 2010 at 9:42 AM

Wisconsin is liberal enough that I doubt a real conservative could win against Feingold. Sure would be nice to fire both halves of McCain-Feingold in one sweep.

highhopes on March 1, 2010 at 9:45 AM

Anyone is better than Feingold.

neoavatara on March 1, 2010 at 9:46 AM

By what measure is Feingold the most liberal member of the Senate?

I hope a decent Republican beats him, but I give Feingold credit for being thoughtful and not kneejerk.

WannabeAnglican on March 1, 2010 at 9:48 AM

Americans for Democratic Action gave Feingold a 100% liberal rating in 2008…he’s in the 90-95% lifetime range for them

http://www.adaction.org/

Uncle Bouncy on March 1, 2010 at 9:59 AM

Feingold needs to go.I would rather a Wall or Westlake but I will take Tommy.
Russ used to listen to people but he ticked off R with blocking Reagan 100 year celebration and independents with the Healthcare debate.

Gracelynn on March 1, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Thompson has the name recognition to pull it off, and ‘anyone but Feingold’.

And frankly, Wisconsin voters are morons drawn to names. In a state that voted by two-thirds majority to amend the state constitution to protect the right to keep and bear arms, they continually re-elect Herb Kohl, who has never failed to vote for an anti-gun rights measure. But the Kohl name is everywhere, on department stores, grocery stores, stadiums, so he gets elected. And he votes just as Liberal as Feingold; he just does it under the radar.

Doorgunner on March 1, 2010 at 10:01 AM

Oh, and didn’t Thompson endorse the Senate’s health care “reform” bill? I’m sure he did.

DaydreamBeliever on March 1, 2010 at 9:36 AM

That should disqualify him. It would be a disaster if the former health secretary, a Republican was the single vote for healthcare.

What a fumble that would be!

(I can do football too.)

petunia on March 1, 2010 at 10:09 AM

Wisconsinites will vote for anyone who promises not to increase the tax on their beer. Its as basic and simple as that, eh?

jbh45 on March 1, 2010 at 10:10 AM

Wow, I did not know Feingold blocked a Reagan 100 year celebration.

Well, it is clear he has become not just kneejerk, but a jerk.

WannabeAnglican on March 1, 2010 at 10:12 AM

One question will be whether Thompson is conservative enough to excite the Tea Party backers, but let’s face it: replacing the most liberal member of the Senate with anyone willing to at least oppose the thundering statism of the Democratic majority would be well worth it.

This will become a huge question that will be answered fairly quickly: where the Tea Party backers will draw their lines on compromising their principles. At this point, I would suggest to Mr. Thompson, he better get in line with the priorities of the Tea Party’s stance on reducing the size of the government, or he may find himself out in the Wisconsin cold.

Rovin on March 1, 2010 at 10:13 AM

I’ve done a lot of business in Wisconsin over the years, including while Thompson was governor, and was struck by how popular he was even in the uber liberal bastion of Madison. And, he wasn’t a Snow/Collins type either, though clearly he’s no Jim DeMint.

But Wisconsin, as a whole, is a lot closer to Massachussetts in it’s politics and in a whole other universe as, say, Texas.

While I’d prefer a strong conservative candidate, anyone who could knock off Feingold is getting my help.

TXUS on March 1, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Anyone is better than Feingold.

neoavatara on March 1, 2010 at 9:46 AM

That’s what Huckabee supporters said about Romney and see how that turned out!

The goal for the Cheesehead GOP is do what it takes to win. Taking Feingold out is the only thing that matters.

highhopes on March 1, 2010 at 10:15 AM

Who cares? It is one career politician against another. Isn’t the whole point here to get rid of career politicians that have lost touch with normal citizens? This blog article shows that we clearly lose site of the prize here.
Replacing a democrat career politician with a republican career politician just isn’t good enough.

paulsur on March 1, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Tea Party people aren’t libertarians, who are always willing to lose the race and feel real good about themselves afterward.

Every Tea Party I’ve attended and people I’ve spoken with understand that the ultimate goal is to move the GOP in a conservative direction, but after the primary is over the support goes to the more conservative candidate.

With that I suppose I can thank the libertarians, who showed everyone how to remain useless and out of power and helpless to change anything.

bonnie_ on March 1, 2010 at 10:21 AM

Replacing a democrat career politician with a republican career politician just isn’t good enough.

paulsur on March 1, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Yes, it is. I’ll take the ‘baby step’ over a ‘Pelosi-Healthcare-All-Or-Nothing’. And in Wisconsin, your dream candidate can’t get funding anyway.

Doorgunner on March 1, 2010 at 10:22 AM

He’d be better than Feingold, just as Brown is better than Coakley.

But what is with the ‘will he or won’t he’ crap? Dude needs to come out and declare one way or another. Who knows, maybe there are good GOP candidates out there interested in the race but waiting on what he’ll do. They need time to network and fundraise and everything, too. Dragging this out doesn’t sit well with me. Same with Pataki in NY. The GOP won’t have a better chance to win those seats for some time, I’d bet, so I don’t understand the hesitancy.

changer1701 on March 1, 2010 at 10:28 AM

I hope a decent Republican beats him, but I give Feingold credit for being thoughtful and not kneejerk.

WannabeAnglican on March 1, 2010 at 9:48 AM

Methodically tearing down the constitutional rights (McCain-Feingold), of every American, and voting lockstep with every liberal entitlement brought forward in congress can hardly be considered “thoughtful”. Feingold’s ability to not appear “kneejerk” is pajorative in his case.

Rovin on March 1, 2010 at 10:31 AM

Don’t worry Feingold, I’m sure McCain will endorse you.

conservnut on March 1, 2010 at 10:45 AM

Replacing a democrat career politician with a republican career politician just isn’t good enough.

paulsur on March 1, 2010 at 10:16 AM
Yes, it is. I’ll take the ‘baby step’ over a ‘Pelosi-Healthcare-All-Or-Nothing’. And in Wisconsin, your dream candidate can’t get funding anyway.

Doorgunner on March 1, 2010 at 10:22 AM

Agreed.

Leaving Feingold in office simply because Thompson ‘just isn’t good enough’ of an improvement would be worse.

Midas on March 1, 2010 at 10:56 AM

I’ve lived in Wisconsin for 13 years. This state leans Democratic by about 5 points. I like Wall, but only Tommy would have the stature to defeat Fine-gold. He does this by depriving Fine-gold of the mushy middle.
-
I think Wall should stay in the race for a time and get some name recognition built up so he can knock off old senile Herb Kohl in 2012. Later this cycle he can throw his support to Tommy and build up some brownie points for the future.

Metanis on March 1, 2010 at 11:01 AM

There are times when one must vote for the lesser of two evils. If only enough people had realized this in November 2008, we wouldn’t have this hack amateur as president now. That doesn’t mean McCain would have been a savior but I doubt we’d be seeing the total meltdown of our country we’re seeing now.

Big John on March 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Why does it always have to be one of the old guard? Why not one of the young guns? Is name recognition the only reason politicians get re-elected? Are voters that shallow? Or do the old boys work the news media better than the young fellows?

Skandia Recluse on March 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Skandia Recluse on March 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Part of the reason Tommy has such appeal is that he rescued a state with high taxes, high unemployment, and an exodus of talented and educated citizens into one of the best economies in the upper-Midwest. Now, under \”Diamond Jim\” Doyle, he of the no-bid contracts to political supporters, the business climate sucks as it did under Thompson\’s predecessor. People remember how well the state was doing under Thompson\’s leadership, and he has a lot of political capital here. He may have no personality (trust me, I know two of his daughters quite well), but he is a great executive, and would be infinitely better than the poster boy for the Hate America Left publications like the Nation or Mother Jones (who adore Feingold).

PimFortuynsGhost on March 1, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Madison’s highest paid city government employee last year wasn’t the mayor. It wasn’t the police chief. It wasn’t even the head of Metro Transit.

It was bus driver John E. Nelson.

Nelson earned $159,258 in 2009, including $109,892 in overtime and other pay.

He and his colleague, driver Greg Tatman, who earned $125,598, were among the city’s top 20 earners for 2009, city records show.

They’re among the seven bus drivers who made more than $100,000 last year thanks to a union contract that lets the most senior drivers who have the highest base salaries get first crack at overtime.
And there was a lot of overtime – $1.94 million last year, $467,200 more than the bus system budgeted for and the most ever for the system – as employees exhausted sick leave and took advantage of unpaid leave through the federal Family Medical Leave Act, officials said.

Ah Madison.

journeyintothewhirlwind on March 1, 2010 at 11:39 AM

I hope he’s a better Senate candidate than he was as a Presidential candidate.

therightwinger on March 1, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Considering how I never expected to get this seat in a million years even a few months ago, I’ll take Thompson over Feingold. As long as he doesn’t become another Specter, Feingold or Snowe. I don’t know his record but at the very least he has shown hismelf to be a team player, so if tea party politics actually sets the agenda in Congress after the election, he’ll play ball.

Daemonocracy on March 1, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Replacing a democrat career politician with a republican career politician just isn’t good enough.

Yes, it is. I’ll take the ‘baby step’ over a ‘Pelosi-Healthcare-All-Or-Nothing’. And in Wisconsin, your dream candidate can’t get funding anyway.

Why not put up a respectable candidate, who is not a creer pol, who will be interested in representing the people instead of representing their campaign contribtions? This will to accept the slow screw instead of the fast screw has to stop. We have to want to stop getting screwed altogether.

paulsur on March 1, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Republicans need to have reasonably fiscally conservative candidates in EVERY race. Even in the most die hard democrat districts.

These candidates do not need large chests of cash, they just need to be on the ballot as a choice for people that are simply voting the bums out!

Freddy on March 1, 2010 at 1:25 PM

You may not like him on television, but Tommy Thompson is a really, really good man. I know this from personal experience (he has been a friend of my family’s since the early 1960′s), and I can’t let a thread go by without stating what I know about that. He has earned my loyalty.

We’re lucky he’s considering getting back into politics (and by the way, he has a business – he’s quite capable of functioning outside of government, for those who don’t know that either).

Go get ‘em, Tommy. Doyle or Feingold – either way.

capitalist piglet on March 1, 2010 at 1:30 PM

I hope he’s a better Senate candidate than he was as a Presidential candidate.

therightwinger on March 1, 2010 at 12:28 PM

He was elected governor four times. He grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. People there “get” him. He’s a good guy.

capitalist piglet on March 1, 2010 at 1:34 PM

capitalist piglet on March 1, 2010 at 1:34 PM

It’s obvious the people here who are critical of Tommy have no clue about Wisconsin politics, or Thompson’s character.

Is he a publicity hound? No. Is he an effective and likeable man, who gets the big picture? Absolutely. And he doesn’t come across like a fake ambulance chaser like Feingold.

PimFortuynsGhost on March 1, 2010 at 1:48 PM

There are times when one must vote for the lesser of two evils. If only enough people had realized this in November 2008, we wouldn’t have this hack amateur as president now.
Big John on March 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Lesser of 2 evils is right, especially in WI. I am a 7th generation native and I can tell you Tommy will get many more votes than Wall. (though he is whom I would rather vote for). We need to remove Russ the flaming progressive. I like what I have read so far on Wall, but if TT throws his hat in the ring he will get some votes from Dems disgusted with all the fed and state spending.

wi farmgirl on March 1, 2010 at 4:41 PM

It’s obvious the people here who are critical of Tommy have no clue about Wisconsin politics, or Thompson’s character.

Is he a publicity hound? No. Is he an effective and likeable man, who gets the big picture? Absolutely. And he doesn’t come across like a fake ambulance chaser like Feingold.

PimFortuynsGhost on March 1, 2010 at 1:48 PM

He is a decent man and was well liked by many, but was a long time enabler of entitlement programs. I recall many years of buses of Chicago people coming up to Milwaukee and living on our food stamps and such. It took many years to staunch that bloodletting of our states money. Thompson was governor at the time. He did reform it but it was after years of it going on.

wi farmgirl on March 1, 2010 at 4:47 PM

Why does it always have to be one of the old guard? Why not one of the young guns? Is name recognition the only reason politicians get re-elected? Are voters that shallow? Or do the old boys work the news media better than the young fellows?

Skandia Recluse on March 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

I don’t get it either. I thought that is what the ground up movement was all about. That is why I would prefer Wall to Thompson because there would not be that old boys taint to it. It seems to me that unless term limits change new blood is the only way to get around it. I do think part of it is the stakes are so high right now no one wants to take any chances. They don’t want to forfeit votes, and they want reps that know their way around and can get something done.

wi farmgirl on March 1, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Why does it always have to be one of the old guard? Why not one of the young guns? Is name recognition the only reason politicians get re-elected? Are voters that shallow? Or do the old boys work the news media better than the young fellows?

Skandia Recluse on March 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

All the Wisconsin Young Guns are going after other offices (Scott Walker is going for the governor’s seat, Paul Ryan’s staying in the House to get in line for a leadership position, Sean Duffy’s going after David Obey).

steveegg on March 1, 2010 at 6:59 PM

He is a decent man and was well liked by many, but was a long time enabler of entitlement programs. I recall many years of buses of Chicago people coming up to Milwaukee and living on our food stamps and such. It took many years to staunch that bloodletting of our states money. Thompson was governor at the time. He did reform it but it was after years of it going on.

wi farmgirl on March 1, 2010 at 4:47 PM

Let’s review the history of what Thompson had to work with. When he became governor in 1987, the Democrats had solid majorities in both houses of the Legislature. It wasn’t until 1995 that he had a Republican Legislature with which to work.

steveegg on March 1, 2010 at 7:18 PM

With Feingold getting paid for being a empty suit, it would be good to have Tommy in office. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Wall does not have the name recognition, and most importantly…the money needed to un-seat Mr. Do-Nothing.
Again, my suggestion (like anyone is hanging on my suggestions…LOL) is that Mark Neumann should run against Mr. do-nothing. Both Scott Walker and Mark Neumann are good CONSERVATIVE men that are running against each other for Governor of Wisconsin. Mark should drop-out of the governor race and redirect his campaign to run against Feingold…er, Mr. do-nothing.

JimmyGee on March 2, 2010 at 10:00 AM