In a post yesterday, I noted that, even though he had a sizable polling advantage, Tommy Thompson could soon face a problem due to his support of ObamaCare thanks to renewed focus on the law. Unfortunately, I hit “publish” before I saw the results of the latest survey out of Wisconsin from Public Policy Polling. According the results, that polling advantage isn’t just gone, Thompson now trails Eric Hovde, a businessman from Madison:
Businessman Eric Hovde (R) has surged past former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) in the state’s crowded Republican Senate primary, according to a new poll from the Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling.
Hovde leads Thompson by 31 to 29 percent, with former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wis.) pulling 15 percent support and Wisconsin state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald at 9 percent.
Recent polling has shown Hovde gaining traction, but this is the first poll, including Hovde’s own, that shows him with a lead over the well-known former governor. Hovde’s numbers have been boosted in large part by the more than $3 million he’s spent on television advertising — Thompson hasn’t been on the air nearly that much, and Neumann’s first ad debuted Tuesday.
Republicans were already thought to have a decent chance of taking over the Senate in the 2012 election, but they were given another opportunity to take a seat when Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) announced his retirement at the end of last week:
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) will announce Friday that he won’t seek reelection in 2012, a Democratic source confirmed.
Kohl, the quiet Wisconsin senator and owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, will depart from the Senate after four terms, setting up what could be a tough battle for his seat.
Kohl becomes the sixth senator in the Democrats’ corner to decline reelection next year; Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Kent Conrad (N.D.) and Jim Webb (Va.) have said they’ll retire at the end of this term, as will Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), an Independent who caucuses with Democrats.
Although former Sen. Russ Feingold, who was defeated by Ron Johnson last year, would be an ideal candidate to run for the seat, Democrats are rumored to be recruiting Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who would be the first openly gay member fo the Senate if elected.
As you might expect, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is being mentioned as a potential Republican candidate, but he isn’t rushing to a decision. Ryan has faced criticism over his budget proposal, which would almost certainly be demagogued by his Democratic opponent and the DSCC, and also holds important positions where currently sits, including serving as Chairman of the House Budget Committee.