Ryan out, Thompson in for WI Senate race?

posted at 9:30 am on May 17, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

After a flurry of speculation in the past 24 hours, Paul Ryan has decided to stay in the House rather than run for the Senate seat vacated by Herb Kohl’s retirement, reports Major Garrett at the National Journal.  Ryan will announce his decision later today, which will leave the field open for former governor Tommy Thompson:

Rep. Paul Ryan is staying in the House, and won’t run for the U.S. Senate, two well-placed GOP sources tell National Journal.

Ryan began informing close friends of his decision Tuesday. Three GOP sources tell National Journalas soon as Ryan officially announces he won’t run for the Senate, former Wisconsin GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson, is expected to announce his candidacy for the Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl, who recently announced he was retiring.

Earlier today, Politico reported on Thompson’s decision to toss his hat in the ring:

Tommy Thompson, the Republican former Wisconsin governor and George W. Bush’s first secretary of Health and Human Services, has told friends he plans to run for the open Senate seat in Wisconsin, according to top Wisconsin sources. …

Thompson would give Republicans a popular former two-term governor to seriously challenge for this toss-up seat, which could prove the difference as Senate Democrats struggle to defend their majority with now eight retirements.

Thompson tried an ill-advised presidential bid in 2007, dropping out after a couple of painful debate performances.  He’ll do better at home, where Thompson has found repeated political success.  Thompson won state-wide office four times as governor, even when Upper Midwestern progressivism was still in vogue.  (Politico lists him as a two-term governor, but Thompson was governor from 1987 to 2001, resigning to take a position on George W. Bush’s presidential Cabinet.)  He beat an incumbent Democrat by 5 points in his first attempt, then attracted no less than 58% of the popular vote in the next three elections.

Steve Eggleston wonders if this will be for real in the Green Room, recalling Thompson’s Hamlet performance in 2010:

On this morning’s show, WISN-AM’s Jay Weber mentioned a pair of items that suggest that this time, Thompson’s campaign is real – Thompson reportedly regrets not running against then-Senator Russ Feingold in 2010 despite polls that suggested that he would beat Feingold. Further, Republican Party of Wisconsin executive director Mark Jefferson reportedly told Thompson that if he were to run this time, he would need to really run, and announce early.

Assuming Thompson runs, he will be a formidable opponent in the general election — assuming he wins the nomination.  If Thompson gets in, though, other Republicans such as Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen may have second thoughts about their own bids.  Either way, the nearly sure hold with Kohl may well turn into a lost seat.


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

Either way, the nearly sure hold with Kohl may well turn into a lost seat.

I think Thompson gives the GOP their best shot at this seat. How beautiful would it be to be able to rub it in the Dems’ faces in 2013 if Wisconsin’s governor and two U.S. Senators were are all Republicans? The only thing better would be the 2012 GOP nominee taking the state’s electoral votes.

Doughboy on May 17, 2011 at 9:32 AM

Either way, the nearly sure hold with Kohl may well turn into a lost seat.

Unless, of course, some low-level Republican activist starts pointing her finger at Tommy Thompson and screaming “RINO!” and siphoning campaign donations into her new pretty dress fund while we hand her the nomination.

Let’s hope we’ve learned since last year.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Paul Ryan is just settling into the chair of the House Budget Committee, which is going to be a crucial position in the next several years.

I think he is a terrific person for that position, and his influence there will only grow.

Good decision, in my opinion.

Brian1972 on May 17, 2011 at 9:34 AM

I’ve always liked Tommy.

Of course, I like his brother better, but…

JohnGalt23 on May 17, 2011 at 9:35 AM

Win-Win

Vashta.Nerada on May 17, 2011 at 9:36 AM

I concur with Doughboy and Brian1972. The decisions are not only smart politics, but they point us in the direction of national fiscal solvency– a bigger win for our country.

onlineanalyst on May 17, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Unless, of course, some low-level Republican activist starts pointing her finger at Tommy Thompson and screaming “RINO!” and siphoning campaign donations into her new pretty dress fund while we hand her the nomination.

Let’s hope we’ve learned since last year.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Oh God – Thompson is a anti-business pro-Crap and Taxer, too?

Marcus on May 17, 2011 at 9:40 AM

As long as the Dems lose that seat. I’m glad Ryan is staying in the House. He has more important, unfinished business there. He’d be a good Sec. Treasury for President Bachmann (or Cain, or Palin).

cartooner on May 17, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Oh God – Thompson is a anti-business pro-Crap and Taxer, too?

Marcus on May 17, 2011 at 9:40 AM

Let’s hope we’ve learned since last year.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Keep hoping.

JohnGalt23 on May 17, 2011 at 9:42 AM

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 9:34 AM

You exhibit quite a lot of fear…

ladyingray on May 17, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Speaking of Ryan:

Four Pro-Growth Axioms To Avert Shared Scarcity

By REP. PAUL RYAN

1. We have to stop spending money we don’t have, and address the structural drivers of our debt.

2. We have to restore common sense to the regulatory environment, so that regulations are fair, transparent and predictable.

3. We have to keep tax rates low and predictable, so that job creators have incentives to invest in America.

4. We have to refocus the Fed on price stability, instead of using monetary stimulus to bail out Washington’s failures. Businesses and families need sound money.

Insert witty screen name here on May 17, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Let’s hope we’ve learned since last year.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 9:34 AM

I think we have. The fact that Scott Brown will likely not face much of a primary challenge despite everything he’s done to alienate the Tea Party and conservatives shows that we’ve come to terms with some states being too blue to support true right-wing candidates. Besides, Tommy Thompson is not as bad as Mike Castle.

Doughboy on May 17, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Doughboy on May 17, 2011 at 9:51 AM

You’re probably right, but raising the specter of the Wilmington Witch is S.O.P. for me – mostly because she cost us Colorado, Washington, and very nearly cost us Pennsylvania. Three unforgivable sins, in my opinion.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 9:54 AM

I like Thompson. Lets hope the republicans in Wisconsin support his candidacy. No “tea party” candidates this time please.

lonestar1 on May 17, 2011 at 9:56 AM

For those who are saying, “No ‘tea party’ candidates”, I point out Senator Ron Johnson was of the Tea Party Movement.

Steve Eggleston on May 17, 2011 at 9:57 AM

Unless, of course, some low-level Republican activist starts pointing her finger at Tommy Thompson and screaming “RINO!” and siphoning campaign donations into her new pretty dress fund while we hand her the nomination.

Let’s hope we’ve learned since last year.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Tommy Thompson is a RINO, and a spend-happy imbecile that helped Wisconsin get into the dismal financial state it’s in.

MadisonConservative on May 17, 2011 at 10:00 AM

You’re probably right, but raising the specter of the Wilmington Witch is S.O.P. for me – mostly because she cost us Colorado, Washington, and very nearly cost us Pennsylvania. Three unforgivable sins, in my opinion.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 9:54 AM

Wait a sec. You could sort of blame her for Pennsylvania since it’s within close proximity to Delaware. But Washington’s been a problem for the GOP for years, especially when Dino Rossi is on the ballot. And Colorado had way more to do with the horrible Republican nominee for governor than Christine O’Donnell. If the GOP hadn’t screwed that one up, they probably would’ve won both the governor’s race and knocked off Michael Bennet(which might’ve doomed Obama in 2012 since he needs that state).

Doughboy on May 17, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Doughboy on May 17, 2011 at 10:00 AM

We can’t afford to make excuses for our bad choices. Dispatching Mike Castle came at a very high price.

As for Colorado. The governor’s race was a loss the minute McInnis was caught plagiarizing, but the Senate race was a nailbiter that we lost by less than a percent. The margin was similar in Washington. O’Donnell was a factor in tipping those races – she was on every comedy show, every advertisement, every mailer – saying “I’m not a witch.” This was our candidate, and she earned our party designation.

It’s the exact same reason why New York was a total and complete loss in ’10. Carl Paladino was insane and caustic, and every “regular” GOP candidate got washed out to sea with him. Bye bye, AG’s race, hello, re-elected corrupt comptroller. Bad candidates have ripple effects.

I’m looking out for the health of other conservatives in other states, and we can ill afford to be shortsighted like loose-cannon Erick Erickson is already behaving in Virginia’s race.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Tommy Thompson?

Ugh.

Why doesn’t George W Bush just move there and run for the Senate? Doesn’t this RINO crowd ever go away?

moochy on May 17, 2011 at 10:10 AM

I hate it when free American citizens fail to support the establishment candidate who is running back through that revolving door.

People need to be taught by those who are smarter how to vote, it really is for their own good.

Bishop on May 17, 2011 at 10:16 AM

People need to be taught by those who are smarter how to vote, it really is for their own good.

Bishop on May 17, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Right. We need down-home wisdom candidates like Carl Paladino and Sharron Angle to really win.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Four term governor?????? How long are the terms in Wisconsin? Is there a limit to how many can be served?

Cindy Munford on May 17, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Right. We need down-home wisdom candidates like Carl Paladino and Sharron Angle to really win.
KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Were they chosen by the voters or did they hold a gun to everyone’s head to coerce the vote?

Admittedly not the best candidates ever to run for office, but that says more about the dismal state of their opponents than it does about them.

But hey that’s why we have smarter people, to tell all of us how stupid we are for not choosing the lifer retreads who never go away.

Bishop on May 17, 2011 at 10:26 AM

It’s interesting that it’s okay to trash some Republican candidates but not others.

Cindy Munford on May 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Bishop on May 17, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Can’t have it both ways, bud. Either the weirdo candidates are clearly the right choice and you support them, or they’re clearly the wrong choice and you don’t support them. You don’t get to blame the states’ primary electorates for nominating candidates you push for around here.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Were they chosen by the voters or did they hold a gun to everyone’s head to coerce the vote?

Bishop on May 17, 2011 at 10:26 AM

They won their primaries fair and square. That doesn’t mean Republicans can’t pull their heads out of their asses and refrain from making the same mistake again and again.

I’m looking out for the health of other conservatives in other states, and we can ill afford to be shortsighted like loose-cannon Erick Erickson is already behaving in Virginia’s race.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 10:09 AM
Oh god, what is that nitwit doing in Virginia?

BuzzCrutcher on May 17, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Oh god, what is that nitwit doing in Virginia?

BuzzCrutcher on May 17, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Quote: “I will move Heaven and Earth to put Jamie Radtke in the U.S. Senate.”

That would be vapid Paultard Jamie Radtke, who’s probably never even balanced her checkbook, much less a budget.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 10:37 AM

I’m not thrilled with Thompson running, but could live with it.

The only thing is that he’s got to make his decision VERY quickly here, as he’s got a nasty habit of throwing his name out as a candidate for a Wisconsin race, basking in media attention, and then opting out, which usually leaves the party worse off because it costs them other candidates.

teke184 on May 17, 2011 at 10:39 AM

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 10:23 AM

I’m so glad you’re King. Whatever would I do if you weren’t here to tell me what’s best for me.

Vince on May 17, 2011 at 10:42 AM

You don’t get to blame the states’ primary electorates for nominating candidates you push for around here.
KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Actually I can as that is how they were chosen; if you don’t like the process then get out there and lobby for change.

Like I said, if Angle and Paladino were that bad then their competition must have been stone-cold pitiful. I’m not pulling the lever for some fud just because he has a party designation next to his name, if you want to, go for it.

Bishop on May 17, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Hope they don’t end up nominating a Tea Party candidate whom nobody’s ever heard of. Like Christine what’s-her-name in Delaware.

taxed_in_IL on May 17, 2011 at 10:44 AM

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 9:34 AM

I never want to think about that woman ever again.

nickj116 on May 17, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Right. We need down-home wisdom candidates like Carl Paladino and Sharron Angle to really win.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Heh.

nickj116 on May 17, 2011 at 10:52 AM

The Ryan non-candidacy for Senate is official. Quoting from the campaign site:

“I am grateful for the tremendous outpouring of encouragement that I have received from my friends and supporters since Senator Kohl announced he would not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate. For my family and me, the most important factor in making this decision was determining where I could make the biggest difference. Our nation is quickly approaching a debt crisis that will do serious damage to Wisconsinites and all Americans if it is not properly addressed. I believe continuing to serve as Chairman of the House Budget Committee allows me to have a greater impact in averting this debt-fueled economic crisis than if I were to run for the United States Senate.

House Republicans have taken bold steps forward in tackling our fiscal and economic challenges – we have led, where others have not. I want to keep building on this progress and therefore, I will seek to continue serving my employers of Wisconsin’s First District as their Representative in the House.”

Steve Eggleston on May 17, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Thompson tried an ill-advised presidential bid in 2007, dropping out after a couple of painful debate performances. He’ll do better at home, where Thompson has found repeated political success.

Thompson WAS “painful” in those debates–and he seemed really old and out of touch. Hopefully he can connect with his roots and win a Senate seat for the good guys. As a former Governor, shouldn’t he align himself with Scott Walker, and also campaign with Wisconsin’s other “new” Senator, Ron Johnson?

Steve Z on May 17, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Ryan is man who needs to stay where he is. He needs to accomplish what he can do relative to the Budget before he moves on to any other job. I wouldn’t even vote for him for dog catcher until he shepherds a change in Government spending into law. Once, he accomplishes his task in the House, I would be happy to consider him for President. Obviously, he faces stiff opposition from the Democrats. He won’t achieve all that we would like, but he does need to get a good deal.

thuja on May 17, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Four term governor?????? How long are the terms in Wisconsin? Is there a limit to how many can be served?

Cindy Munford on May 17, 2011 at 10:26 AM

4-year terms, no term limits.

Steve Eggleston on May 17, 2011 at 11:15 AM

I can only muster 2 thoughts on a Thompson candidacy; really? and UGH. He could be the one guy that would keep WI from going purple to full red even if he wins. He’s of those who can actually believe “big government conservative” is not an oxymoron.

Don’t get me wrong. Anyone with an (R) behind their name is getting my vote, but a Senator Thompson would more forestall than complete a conservative conversion. (our worst is still better than their best)

This will prove a test of manhood for Feingold cause Thompson is probably the only guy who scares him.

Hey Steve, great work on the Supreme Court recount btw…

the murmur on May 17, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Bad candidates have ripple effects.

I agree with this analysis somewhat. However, if incumbents and party leadership wish to avoid challenges from such bad candidates, they should be more responsive to voters in the first place. O’Donnell won the primary not because she was any great shakes but because Mike Castle 1) sucked and 2) ran a crappy, “I’m entitled” campaign, and was therefore doubly vulnerable.

That should be the lesson of DE, properly understood. Fortunately, many incumbents got that message even while the commentariat focused on the salacious, but ultimately irrelevant, details of O’Donnell’s candidacy.

Missy on May 17, 2011 at 11:54 AM

So he didn’t run against an incumbent and then regretted it when he discovered to his chagrin that the incumbent was a dead duck and lost. Now he’s Mr. Courage by going for an empty seat? I hope he has more cajones than that because he’ll need it. We’ll need it. Tommy, if you’re in it to win and for the right reasons then I wish you well. If you’re in it for a perceived cake walk and ego boost then don’t waste our time please. Only you know the answer to that right now.

jnelchef on May 17, 2011 at 12:05 PM

I agree with this analysis somewhat. However, if incumbents and party leadership wish to avoid challenges from such bad candidates, they should be more responsive to voters in the first place. O’Donnell won the primary not because she was any great shakes but because Mike Castle 1) sucked and 2) ran a crappy, “I’m entitled” campaign, and was therefore doubly vulnerable.

Part of it too is that we don’t trust the GOP establishment. They have lost all credibility over the last 12 or so years. If we could trust the GOP in congress to actually support conservative ideas and not always fold for big gov’t and spending, we wouldn’t be so open to rabble rousers and wouldn’t be so resistent to establishment candidates like Castle or Thompson.

If we could trust that teh GOP caucus would actually hold tough on important issues, we probably would be comfortable with an establishment guy simply adding another vote to the GOP caucus.

But we can’t count on the caucus as a whole to do that.

Look at it in reverse, most blue-dog democrats actually stick with the dem party on the big issues. We have the reverse, most left-leaning republican always buck the party on the big issues.

So, since we can’t trust the establishment, we find it hard to support an establishment candidate.

Monkeytoe on May 17, 2011 at 12:07 PM

Monkeytoe on May 17, 2011 at 12:07 PM

Exactly right, and great points, esp. about the Dems hanging together. I am fine with blue state RINOs pleasing their base on the small stuff if they toe the line on the big stuff.

Missy on May 17, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Unless, of course, some low-level Republican activist starts pointing her finger at Tommy Thompson and screaming “RINO!” and siphoning campaign donations into her new pretty dress fund while we hand her the nomination.

Let’s hope we’ve learned since last year.

KingGold on May 17, 2011 at 9:34 AM

It was the energy shown by the low-level activists (that you are denigrating) that gave the GOP a massive win in 2010.

And yes, although you might not like it, Tommy Thompson IS a RINO!! And as most RINOs, he is a political COWARD that will NEVER run against a perceived strong Democrat (Feingold) but would gladly jump in when he thinks a seat can be obtained easily.

What did he achieve in all his years as Governor? If he had governed like a conservative (cf. Walker), Wisconsin would have been purple-red and Feingold would have been retired a long time ago.

I would advise Wisconsin to go for someone who is NOT ashamed to be a conservative and make McConnell and his ilk in Washington uncomfortable.

TheRightMan on May 17, 2011 at 12:26 PM

For the Columbia Journalism School types, working at A/P this headline would translate as…

Ryan out, Severson in for MN Senate race?

Gotta cover all the bases for the J-Tards out there, and their dwindling number of readers.

MNHawk on May 17, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Tommy Thompson is a RINO, and a spend-happy imbecile that helped Wisconsin get into the dismal financial state it’s in.

MadisonConservative on May 17, 2011 at 10:00 AM

So true that!!! Ron Johnson proves that we can do better!

P. Monk on May 17, 2011 at 1:05 PM

http://minx.cc/?post=315157

cpaulus on May 17, 2011 at 1:06 PM

I applaud Ryan’s decision and admire his focus on what matter most. We need him in the House to lead spending and tax code reform. 2012 is going to be a historical year.

DWB on May 17, 2011 at 1:21 PM

I’ve met Tommy – he was a good, lifelong friend of my father and mother. Whatever you think of him politically (I see the reaction is quite mixed), I can tell you with absolute certainty he’s a really good guy, even when the cameras aren’t rolling.

I will support him for this seat. Thank goodness Kohl is gone.

capitalist piglet on May 17, 2011 at 4:56 PM

This thread is like a gold fish bowl…full of carp(ers)

AReadyRepub on May 18, 2011 at 2:06 AM