Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson is considering running for retiring Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl’s Senate seat, according to several Republican officials who have been involved in initial conversations with Thompson. However, he is waiting to see whether Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., runs for the seat, one official said.
If he gets in the race, Thompson would give Republicans a top-tier contender who has won statewide in a historically Democratic state four times.
But Thompson has not run for election in Wisconsin since 1998, when he won with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Thompson would become the Republican front-runner, but there’s no guarantee he would have the primary to himself. Former Republican Rep. Mark Neumann had held conversations with top GOP officials even before Kohl dropped out, and most observers believe he is likely to run. Other Republicans contemplating bids are Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and former Rep. Mark Green.
Democratic officials pointed to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Kind as potential contenders. When Kohl announced Friday he would not seek another term, former Sen. Russ Feingold did not indicate whether he would contemplate the race.
This article appears in the May 17, 2011, edition of NJ Daily.