Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin lifts GOP hopes for US Senate takeover
Before he won Wisconsin's Senate primary Tuesday, Tommy Thompson led Democrat Tammy Baldwin in a hypothetical matchup by 5 points, a poll showed. This marks the former governor's reentry into politics.
Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, winner of Tuesday's GOP Senate primary, will face Democrat Tammy Baldwin, a seven-term US representative, in a Senate race expected to highlight stark ideological and partisan differences, particularly on health care.Skip to next paragraph
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Polls show Mr. Thompson starts the head-to-head contest, which will be closely watched outside Wisconsin, with a lead over Congresswoman Baldwin. They are vying for the seat of retiring Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat, and a Republican victory in Wisconsin could be catastrophic to Democrats' efforts to retain majority control of the US Senate.
Thompson won Tuesday's four-man primary by a slim margin, taking 34 percent of the vote. Eric Hovde, a local businessman and a tea party favorite, came in second with 31 percent, former US Rep. Mark Neumann got 23 percent, and Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald had 12 percent.
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Thompson had flirted with a 2008 presidential bid, but decided against it. His claim to fame outside Wisconsin is as the governor who authored welfare-to-work legislation that later became the blueprint for welfare reform during the Clinton presidency. Thompson later became secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush and, in recent years, has been an influential Washington lobbyist.
Thompson has a reputation as a moderate who strikes compromises with Democrats, says Arnold Shober, a government professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis.
“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.