Tommy Thompson Mulls Senate Run (Updated)
Would seek to unseat incumbent Russ Feingold.
8:00 AM, Mar 24, 2010 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson is preparing to run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Russ Feingold, according to several sources familiar with Thompson's thinking. Thompson has spent the past several weeks taking the steps any candidate must take in order to run for office -- he's evaluating staff, he's talking to fundraisers, and he's separating himself from his business interests.
Late last week, Thompson resigned from the Board of Directors of CNS Response, Inc., a health care data company. Thompson said the resignation was for personal reasons. A statement from Thompson, who has agreed to become chairman of the CNS Response advisory board, read: "I have nothing but the highest respect for the management and Board of CNS Response, and look forward to helping them advance this important medical technology."
"He's 75 percent there," says one source close to Thompson. Two others who have been talking to Thompson about a potential bid agreed with that assessment. But another Thompson insider cautioned that while Thompson is doing all of the things expected of a candidate-to-be, he will not make a final decision until after he returns from a family vacation over Easter. And it remains possible that Thompson will decide against a run.
A Public Policy Poll released Tuesday shows the potential race tightening. Thompson stands within three points of Feingold in a head-to-head matchup -- 47 to 44, with 9 percent undecided. A poll taken the same Democratic firm last November showed Feingold leading 50 to 41 percent.
Those numbers are encouraging to Republicans, but so is their internal polling. One recent GOP survey shows Thompson leading Feingold by 5 points. Polling by Scott Rassmussen shows Thompson and Feingold in a virtual tie.
Update: The Wisconsin GOP is not letting Feingold define Thompson without a fight. This morning the state party put out a press release portraying Feingold as a hypocrite on special interests. The GOP claims that Feingold has accepted millions in "special interest" money over the years, including $1,703, 920 from lawyers and lobbyists, nearly $1 million from labor and another $1 million from what they call the "Finance, Insurance and Real Estate Sector."