With House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s revelation Tuesday that, despite previous speculation to the contrary, he will not be running for Kohl’s seat, Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (and former secretary of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush) is now the Republican front runner.
Wisconsin Democratic Senator Herb Kohl announced last week that he would not run for re-election in 2012. According to local news reports, Thomson has been considering running since early this year – but only if Kohl and Ryan stayed out of the race.
Pundits speculate that Thompson likely will get the Republican nomination, having won and served four terms as Wisconsin governor he is a popular figure in the state.
Local Madison station TODAY’S TMJ4 reports that Thompson is recruiting staff for a potential campaign.
“He’s taken the steps necessary to put a serious campaign together. Whether he has a primary or he doesn’t, he’ll be prepared to run either way,” Thompson’s political advisor Bill McCoshen said.
In anticipation of a Thompson run, Democrats already have the knives out for the former governor.
“Thompson has been too busy taking lobbying cash from Big Oil and Wall Street to stand up to the divisive, anti-Wisconsin agenda of Paul Ryan and Scott Walker,” state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said in a statement to the LA Times.
Not getting as much coverage, but also sniffing around is Republican Rep. Mark Neumann, who has also indicated that he might seek the seat.
For the Democrats, Rep. Tammy Baldwin has voiced interest and supporters are urging Rep. Ron Kind and former Sen. Russ Feingold to run.
With Scott Walker’s union reforms and the prospect of a close race, many expect the Wisconsin senate race to be one of the ones to watch in 2012.