It’s no secret former governor Tommy Thompson likes to see his name in print and hear it mentioned on the television, so it shouldn’t come as a great surprise to anyone from Wisconsin that Thompson’s name is being floated as a possible contender for Sen. Russ Feingold’s seat, which is up for election this year. While folks in Washington might think a run against Sen. Feingold by Tommy Thompson would be a great idea given how weak the Republican Senate field in Wisconsin is, it’s important to remember that Tommy Thompson certainly wouldn’t be able to assume the role of a populist candidate, given the fact that Thompson has collected millions of dollars representing Washington D.C. lobbying shops and corporate interests – including the health insurance, pharmaceutical and financial industries since leaving the Bush administration in 2005.
Addressing the possibility of a Thompson run for the U.S. Senate, Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate issued a statement:
“If Thompson thinks the message out of Massachusetts is that a partisan, well-connected, D.C. insider who has made millions of dollars representing corporate interests, should run for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, then he needs to listen to more people in Wisconsin – not Washington,”
On Tuesday, conservative radio host Vicki McKenna noted listeners to her program feel, by 2 to 1, that they don’t want to see Thompson enter the race against Terrance Wall and Dave Westlake. One caller to McKenna’s show, “Dave from Oconomowoc” said, “Tommy is the consummate politician, he is a Washington insider, he’s a lobbyist and to think we can influence his decision is a little naïve.”
While Vicki McKenna and her listeners aren’t bullish on the idea of a possible run by Thompson, Cory Liebmann notes WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes isn’t opposed to the idea of a run by Thompson:
Last week WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes offered a list of Republican names that he thought would be better choices to run for U.S. Senate this year. He felt the need to offer his suggestions because he had just blasted the current lead candidate Terrence Wall. After interviewing him Sykes said “not great reviews to the debut of Terrance Wall” and that he was “not impressive.” Given all of these happenings, it was no surprise that Sykes would start throwing out names of just about anyone else to replace the bumbling Wall. I must admit, however, that I was a little surprised when Charlie Sykes included former governor Tommy Thompson in his list.
But as Cory notes, it’s surprising to hear Charlie Sykes mention Tommy Thompson as someone who’d be a better U.S. Senate candidate than Terrence Wall, given the fact that as recently as 2006 Sykes wrote a piece targeted directly at Tommy Thompson entitled, “Know when to fold ’em.” The piece was none too subtly subtitled, “It’s time for Brett Farve and Tommy Thompson to face facts”. In the piece, Sykes went on to compare Brett Farve and Tommy Thompson, noting both were “waffling prima donnas:”
“…Thompson revels in the spotlight, clearly relishing the speculation that he might answer the call to return to the governorship, a call that apparently only Thompson is hearing.”
“But both these guys have a problem with the ego thing. They are so used to thinking the world revolves around them that they haven’t noticed it’s not the ’90s anymore.”
As I’ve said before, I don’t presume to be an expert on all things political in Wisocnsin, but I’m inclined to believe Tommy Thompson won’t run for the U.S. Senate in 2010. While there’s no doubt he loves the publicity he’s getting, Tommy Thompson doesn’t strike me as the sort who’d be happy as one backbench senator among 99 other senators, not to mention the fact that he doesn’t really hold the Senate in high regard, as he told the Associated Press in 1999, “Why would I want to go to Washington and be a part of a debating society.” What’s more, in 2000, the Wisconsin State Journal reportedThompson “said his ‘time has come and gone’ to run for the U.S. Senate.”
While Tommy Thompson’s not likely to run for the U.S. Senate in 2010, the mere thought of the possibility of his candidacy should worry Terrence Wall and Dave Westlake, because I’m willing to bet Wall and Westlake would stand about as much a chance of beating Thompson in a Republican primary as Thompson would stand of beating Sen. Feingold in the general election.
Xoff has more.