Wisconsin US Senate Seat Race 2012 – The Republicans

By YeOldeScribe ~ May 18th, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

Herb Kohl recently announced that he would not be seeking a fifth term as the senior Wisconsin US Senator. This scares us, but not in the way you’d think. We’re not worried about the upcoming election to fill his vacant Senate seat – we’re worried about the fact that for at least two years, Ron Johnson will be referred to as the senior Senator from Wisconsin. The mere thought sends shivers down our writer’s spine.

Mr. Kohl will have served as a US Senator for 24 years when all is said and done. It’s a long time from our perspective (Our writer was two years old when Kohl was first sworn in). To put that in a different perspective (and since Kohl owns the Milwaukee Bucks), the day Kohl took his oath of office, the Bucks’ logo looked like this:


I guess our post today is filled with scary moments.

For serving for 24 years, Kohl hasn’t made a lot of headlines, and he’s not known for creating his own legislation. For the most part, he was a party line voter – he believes in traditional liberal views such as pro-abortion, pro health care reform and Kohl usually supports legal and economic reform. Kohl’s biggest advocacy was for increased restrictions on guns, a victory he won several times, most notably when an amendment was attached to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act requiring handguns to have child safety locks and the Gun Free Schools Act (even though that one was later deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court).

So now that Kohl is on his way out, Republicans are pouncing on the chance to claim both US Senate seats in Wisconsin as their own for the first time since Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare days. With growing pressure mounting against the President and his policies, this is a perfect opportunity for Republicans to take the seat. The only question is who are they going to get to challenge the Democrats?

To be honest, as of yesterday we had the answer for you. We thought that current US Representative Paul Ryan would aspire to the higher congressional branch and leave his congressional seat. However, Ryan does have a good job in the House as Chairman of the House Budget Committee (You might remember him from such productions as the Roadmap for America’s Future: The Path to Prosperity). Ryan has elected to stay in the House – where he’s won his last six elections by 25 points or more – rather than wage war for the vacant Senate seat.

So if it’s not going to be Ryan, who else could go? Former Governor Tommy Thompson has been making headlines as a possible candidate. What’s interesting about that is that he has previously mulled a return to politics, only to later withdraw. His proposed run for Senate just last year gave hope to Republicans who felt he could have beaten Russ Feingold. Thompson backing out left the field wide open, and eventually a political nobody – Ron Johnson – rode public anger and stupidity to victory anyway. The significance here is that if Johnson won, it was almost a given that Thompson could have run, and yet he didn’t – because his family didn’t want him to. His entire family urged him not to run in 2012, but his daughter was especially vocal, saying that politics had become too vicious and that a race would be difficult for the family. Well, Kelly (and Mr. Thompson), politics has only gotten more vicious in the last two years – especially in Wisconsin. If you weren’t ready to be thrown into the lion’s den of politics in 2010, how will you be ready to be thrown into the saber-tooth tiger’s den of Wisconsin politics in 2012? Our best guess is that Thompson will not run because of his age, health and family.

With the star power already gone from the GOP, there’s three other candidates left who have a legitimate shot (if they run). The first is  former US Rep. Mark Neumann. Neumann ran unsuccessfully for governor against Scott Walker, who eventually won the election and the power to do whatever the hell he wants. Now he’s considering a run for the vacant senate seat in 2012. We actually wouldn’t mind Neumann as a Senator – he did a good job in the House while he was there, and we voted for him in the primaries for governor in 2010 – even before we knew how crazy Walker was. Yet Neumann lost that election, and he doesn’t seem to have the ability to captivate voters in the way a politician should, which in our opinion is a crying shame. We think Neumann will run, but he’ll lose in the primaries.

Next on the list is current State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. His brother is also considering running, but we’re guessing that in the end, the more notable son will run and the other will stay in state politics. For those of you who don’t remember who Sen. Fitzgerald is, here’s a clip of him in action. And by “him in action” what we mean is him blatantly violating the state’s constitution so he could get done what his master commanded. As we’re mentioned before, Fitzgerald is Walker’s lap dog, and is at least equally (if not more) evil than our esteemed governor. Fitzgerald is also the one who got the Legislative Reference Bureau to violate a judge’s order and post the Budget Repair Bill containing the provisions to destroy unions without the consent of the Secretary of State. To say that this man represents all that is wrong with politics and the Republican party is an understatement – Fitzgerald thinks that just because he’s in a powerful position, he, like the governor, can do whatever he wants. He doesn’t have to abide by laws or even do what his constituents want. He is a power-hungry jackal with an insatiable appetite, so we predict he will run for the vacant Senate seat – but thankfully, he;ll lose.

He’ll lose to current State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who is widely expected to run regardless of who else is running. (Many other candidates have hedged their candidacy, saying if Ryan or Thompson are running they will not.) Van Hollen can also run safely because he’s not up for election like many other politicians would be. We supported Van Hollen when he ran in 2006, and he’s done a solid job so far. One of his campaign promises was to eliminate the backlog at the state’s crime lab by the end of 2010. In 2007 when he assumed office, the backlog was over 1,000 cases long. This didn’t deter Van Hollen, and he was able to deliver on that promise in April of ’10. Van Hollen has a great record that he can campaign on – and even though we disagree with him, Van Hollen can appeal to the GOP base by saying that he argued in favor of the Budget Repair Bill being law once the LRB published it. In the state, Van Hollen and Fitzgerald have about the same name recognition, the only difference being Van Hollen is generally considered one of the good guys while Fitzgerald is most certainly not. The primary election will probably be close, but we’re predicting J.B. Van Hollen will win it, assuming Thompson does not run.

Check back later today to see who we think will win the Democratic primary, and tune in tomorrow as we predict who Wisconsin’s new junior Senator will be after 2012!

PS – Quote of the day goes to Matt Canter of Wisconsin’s Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: “Republicans would be better off with Jay Cutler as their candidate in Wisconsin. Cutler has at least helped the Green Bay Packers win a Super Bowl, while Tommy G. Thompson has spent the last decade doing the bidding of the Bush administration and his special-interest clients at his lobbying firm.”


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