Conservative divide could help Tommy Thompson
It’s about to get ugly in Wisconsin, folks. With a little under two weeks to go until Republicans head to the polls to cast their ballots for the United States Senate nomination, outside groups with an interesting knocking off former Gov. Tommy Thompson are about to make a hard push in the state. The only problem is that they disagree on the alternative.
As noted yesterday, the Club for Growth and Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund have lined up behind fromer Rep. Mark Neumann, while FreedomWorks is backing Eric Hovde. This obviously presents a problem.
The last time there was a divide in a primary between influential groups and conservative figures, Nebraska Republicans wound up taking an economic statist in Deb Fischer, who was backed by Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum. The Club for Growth and FreedomWorks had firmly gotten behind Don Stenberg.
While Thompson has seen his numbers fall in Wisconsin, we could see a repeat of Nebraska. There is already some contention between these normally allied conservative groups. Matt Lewis of The Daily Caller notes an exchange between Ryan Ellis of Americans for Tax Reform and Dean Clancy of FreedomWorks. Ellis wondered outloud why Hovde was good pick if he hadn’t signed ATR’s famous anti-tax pledge, prompting Clancy to defend his group’s pick in the race.
Coming off a big win in Texas on Tuesday — where Ted Cruz knocked off David Dewhurst, the Club for Growth launched a new ad campaign in Wisconsin, slamming both Thompson and Hovde for shortcomings on fiscal issues:
The most recent poll in the race shows what is essentially three-way tie. Hovde, at 28%, holds a small lead, though in the margin of error, with Thompson and Neumann at 25% each. Past polls have showed that Hovde and Thompson do better in a general election than Neumann.
I’m a big fan of both the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, but I’m concerned that them each backing different candidates is going to tip the election to Thompson. As I’ve explained before, whoever wins this race could be the vote needed to repeal ObamaCare and another voice to join Sens. DeMint, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul in calling for restraint on spending and taxes.
While Thompson has been trying to appeal to conservatives on the campaign trail, his record shows support for ObamaCare and higher taxes. He’s clearly the wrong choice, but the failure to come to a consensus on the alternative may well give him the GOP nomination.