Thompson faces Baldwin for U.S. Senate seat

Candidates seek Kohl's seat
Thompson faces Baldwin for U.S. Senate seat

It’s Tammy versus Tommy in the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race.

Tommy Thompson survived a four-person Republican primary on Tuesday and will take on Democrat Tammy Baldwin.

The former 14-year governor who spent a lifetime in the public eye hasn’t been on the ballot since 1998. That’s the same year Baldwin, a Madison liberal, was first elected to Congress.

The Senate seat is open due to the retirement of Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl. Republicans see it as an opportunity to push them closer to the Senate majority. Republicans need a net gain of four seats to take control.

Thompson’s victory in Wisconsin’s Republican U.S. Senate primary runs contrary to recent elections won by new-wave conservatives with closer ties to the tea party.

On Tuesday, Thompson beat not only the tea party favorite, but also a better-funded businessman running his first campaign and a young, conservative lawmaker with close ties to the GOP’s beloved Gov. Scott Walker.

Thompson’s win could signal a move toward the middle for Republicans in Wisconsin, a state that traditionally has never been too far blue or too far red for long.


Milwaukee area tea party leader Tim Dake said, “Wisconsin’s always known for zigging when everybody expects them to zag.”

Thompson toured auto manufacturer Husco International in the Milwaukee area Wednesday afternoon. He laid out his immediate plans for if he wins in November.

“First off, we’re going to lower the corporation income taxes to 25 percent. Secondly, we’re going to balance the budget, and I’m going to introduce a resolution asking for every department in the federal government to take a 5 percent reduction in their spending,” Thompson said.

Baldwin spent Wednesday morning touring the solar energy manufacturer Helios Solar Works. Baldwin said she has a record of fighting for the middle class, while Thompson wants to give more benefits to the wealthy.

Baldwin said there’s a lot to do between now and November, but she’s confident she can beat Thompson in the fall.

She told reporters afterward that she has a history of fighting to preserve manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin, while Thompson has spent the last few years working for special interests.

“We have a Romney-Ryan-Thompson agenda I think now clarifies who’s fighting for the middle class, myself, and who’s fighting to give more benefits to the wealthiest 2 percent and the rich and powerful interests that really have way too much power in Washington, D.C., right now,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin has served seven straight terms in Congress, representing the Madison area. She gave up her House seat to run for the Senate.

The Senate seat has been in Democratic hands since 1957 following the death of Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy.