NEWS BLOG (WSAU) -- Republicans should be both happy and concerned about a new Rasmussen poll.
In a head-to-head race, former Governor Tommy Thompson would beat Senator Russ Feingold, 47-43.
I interpret the poll a little differently. The memory of Tommy Thompson (he was Governor 9 years ago) is thought of more fondly than Russ Feingold and the Democratic congress of today.
Since leaving Madison, Thompson was known as a big-business Republican as George W. Bush’s Health and Human Services Secretary. He was a friend of big pharma, and proposed controversial changes to Medicare that would benefit large healthcare providers. Since leaving public life, he’s worked for Logistics Health Inc, a company that’s involved in electronic medical records including microchips that could be implanted under your skin for identification.
Does any of this make Thompson unelectable? No. But it makes him a weaker candidate than 1991.
And, of course, the very fact that Thompson’s name keeps coming up for statewide office shows that Republicans have not cultivated the next generation of viable candidates. Thompson’s omnipresence, and his habitual coyness about what he might run for, may even crowd out other candidates from coming forward.
I agree with Dick Morris’ assessment of the political landscape. As long as an unpopular healthcare bill is lingering on Capital Hill, all Democrat seats are in-play. But only if Republicans have strong, viable candidates. Scott Brown won in Massachusetts not only because of general voter anger, but also because of a weak opponent and because he was an exceptional campaigner.
A Thompson-Feingold race would be interesting, but the circumstances would be different than Massachusetts.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau