A Look Inside The Wisconsin Senate Playbook
Former GOP Rep. Mark Neumann's entrance into Wisconsin Senate race has sparked the beginning of what's shaping up to be a testy GOP primary. Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, preparing to enter the race shortly, is already working behind-the-scenes to discredit his likely rival. And Neumann, as the first candidate to jump in, is pretending Thompson doesn't even exist.
Here's a brief look at the messages each candidate is trying to drive home with GOP voters in Wisconsin:
Reminding voters about Neumann's 2010 gubernatorial bid: Neumann spent millions against now-Gov. Scott Walker, now a conservative poster child, and that rubbed some Republicans the wrong way. What's more, Neumann lost -- by 20 points. The Thompson campaign sought to remind Wisconsinites of both points in a statement Monday, sarcastically welcoming Neumann to the race.
"Republican voters deserve a primary campaign based on the issues. What Republicans do not need are more of the smear tactics Mark Neumann used in his failed campaign against Governor Scott Walker," said Thompson consultant Darrin Schmitz.
In a case of convenient timing, Thompson's team announced two new co-chairs Monday who were former co-chairs of Neumann's gubernatorial campaign - former Wisconsin Treasurer Cate Zeuske and former state Assembly Speaker John Gard. Republican sources also point to their commitment as a sign that Thompson is dead serious about following through on his campaign.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Thompson's campaign team frequently cites his record on job creation, proudly proclaiming he created 740,000 jobs during his tenure as governor. Thompson allies say he's focused on the issue most Wisconsin voters care about, and isn't distracted by side issues.