Politics

Thompson on top in Senate polls as Wisconsin goes to the ballot

Thompson on top in Senate polls as Wisconsin goes to the ballot

With all eyes on Wisconsin as of late, it seems like four-term Gov. Tommy Thompson will win a crowded Republican primary on Tuesday, putting more attention on the Badger State and ultimately, which party will control the Senate after November.

In the most recent Marquette University Law School poll, Thompson is leading millionaire businessman Eric Hovde by a margin of 28 to 20 percent among likely voters. Running third with 18 percent is former two-term Rep. Mark Neumann, who has lost bids for senator and governor before, and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald 13 per cent.

At 71, with eight buildings in the state named for him, and now primarily engaged in consulting in Washington and on boards of directors nationwide, Thompson at first seemed incongruous running for office at a time and age when most of his contemporaries contemplate retirement. But, as one longtime Thompson staffer told Human Events, “if you know Tommy, you know how much he loves public service.”

A conservative role model for his efforts as a pioneer in welfare reform and school vouchers, Thompson still maintains a strong conservative stance. But Hovde and others have hit him hard for serving on boards of companies that lobbied for Obamacare and for appearing at a White House forum with fellow past secretaries of health and human services (Thompson served under George W. Bush) calling for health care reform—suggesting strongly that he is an Obamacare supporter. Thompson denies this and vows he will vote to repeal the controversial measure.

Hovde has spent an estimated $7 million—most of it his own—on a media-oriented campaign. At one point, polls showed him leading the pack, but revelations of a spotty record of voting for himself and repeated reminders that he lived in the Washington D.C. area until last year before returning to his native Wisconsin have slowed Hovde’s momentum.

Neumann, meanwhile, has national backing from such noted conservatives as Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (SC) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) as well as the Club for Growth and much of the state’s tea party movement. Fitzgerald is known from his tireless campaigning for fellow Republicans running for the legislature. But neither had the resources of Hovde or the name recognition of Thompson, so the crowded contest has boiled down to a two-candidate race.

However, as some political observers told Human Events, with the Marquette poll showing a full 21 percent of likely primary voters undecided, the outcome could surprise. But, whoever wins Tuesday, they face a stern test against liberal Rep. Tammy Baldwin. In the most recent  Quinnipiac poll of the general election, Thompson is in a virtual tie with Baldwin, while the other three candidates all trail the Madison-based representative.

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