Ending months of speculation, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson officially filed his paperwork to incorporate for a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Herb Kohl at the end of his term, Politico reports. An official announcement will come soon.
“I’m building support,” Thompson told radio station WTMJ when he announced. “I’m building an organization, even bigger than when I ran for President. I am ecstatic about the kind of support and overwhelming endorsements I’m receiving and will be receiving when I go forward.”
The conservative Club For Growth has been preemptively running ads attacking Thompson as a moderate who increased spending in Wisconsin as governor, and later bucked his party’s leadership in calling for compromises with Democrats during the health care debate early in President Obama’s term.
Former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann was the first Republican to officially jump in the primary. The winner of that primary will likely face off against lesbian U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin for the seat. Last week, Ron Kind — thought to be Baldwin’s most formidable opposition for the Democratic nomination after Russ Feingold said he would not be running — announced he would not be entering the race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, strengthening Baldwin’s position. So far no other Democrats have filed, though some well-known party figures have hinted at running.
“We believe Tammy Baldwin can win no matter who emerges as her general election opponent,” said Denis Dison of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund upon news of Thompson’s joining the race.
Baldwin was the first woman to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. House when she was elected in 1998, and was the first openly gay non-incumbent representative in Congress. She would become the first openly gay Senator if she wins.