South Carolina senator and tea party stalwart Jim DeMint has endorsed former congressman Mark Neumann in the Wisconsin Senate Republican primary.
The race for retiring Sen. Herb Kohl’s seat pits Neumann against former Governor Tommy Thompson and State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald on the Republican side.
The endorsement, which DeMint announced Monday, is as much of an attack on Thompson as it is an endorsement of Neumann.
“Mark Neumann is a proven, conservative leader and he’s running against Tommy Thompson, a Republican who helped President Obama pass his healthcare takeover,” begins the endorsement.
The primary race pits Neumann’s “strongest conservative record in the field” against “Tommy Thompson’s liberal record,” DeMint said. He attacked Thompson for increasing spending in the state during his tenure as governor, and for his support of Presidnet Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul law.
“The choice in this race could not be more clear,” the endorsement continued. “On one hand, we have Mark Neumann, a rock-solid conservative who has demonstrated the courage to stand up to the big spenders in both political parties. On the other hand, we have Tommy Thompson, an establishment Republican with a record of helping liberals to pass budget-busting policies that take away our freedoms.”
The latest polling in Wisconsin showed Neumann giving Thompson, the logical front-runner as a popular former governor, a serious run for his money. Among voters familiar with any of Thompson’s rivals, however, Neumann leads the former governor by a 33‒29 margin.
This is only the fourth endorsement that DeMint’s Political Action Committee, Senate Conservatives Fund, has made in the 2012 election cycle, but it is likely to prove an important one for Neumann.
Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is running for Senate in the Buckeye State, saw a huge outpouring of support following DeMint’s endorsement, earning him $123,069 between that June 27 endorsement and the close of the third fundraising quarter on September 30, according to data crunched by The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.