Posts Tagged ‘2010 senate race’

Tommy Thompson: It may happen

March 1, 2010

A weak Republican candidate and a weak Democratic year is looking more and more tempting to Tommy Thompson, according to Politico.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, who served four terms as Wisconsin governor, is securing financial pledges and ramping up his outreach to longtime political aides in preparation for a possible campaign against Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.

Another longtime Thompson ally said the governor already has $200,000 in potential donations for a campaign that doesn’t yet exist.

“If you talked to me two weeks ago, I would have put it at a 50-50 shot. Now it’s at 70,” said the Thompson aide, who requested anonymity to avoid offending his friend. “He’s asking serious questions like, ‘Who would run the campaign? Who would do the fundraising? When would we announce? How much could we raise?’”

Avoid offending his friend? Give me a break –– this is a first class “leak” intended to get Republicans excited about a potential run. Politico is the first stage –– it gets the elites (contributors, consultants etc.) and politicos excited. The next stage will be the Wisconsin press, which will give the masses an opportunity to evaluate a Thompson bid.

Democrats cannot dismiss this story. People love Russ Feingold, but there is also a fair bit of nostalgia for Tommy Thompson. Popular governors are generally better-liked than popular senators, if for no better reason than more people come into contact with what they do and senators are derided as “Washington insiders.” The most recent poll shows Thompson slightly ahead of Feingold, while one done in November showed a solid lead for Feingold.

The standards for a senate race are not anywhere near as high as the ones Tommy clearly didn’t live up to during his short-lived presidential bid, but Feingold is a great candidate and a great debater, so Tommy will not be able to win on name recognition a lone. He’d have to bring it. No excuses about hearing aids or diarrhea.

Bad year for Dems could mean Feingold loss

February 24, 2010

Russ Feingold has tons of respect from people who pay attention. I have countless anecdotes about conservatives who vote for Feingold because they respect his honesty, intelligence and commitment to principle. But that only means that history will look kindly on him. That does not mean the 2010 midterm elections will. Here are some polls I forgot to post last week:

In a new Rasmussen poll, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D) fails to garner 50 percent against two announced Republican challengers, while he trails former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who has yet to say whether he will run. Thompson led Feingold by a similar margin last month.

Thompson 48, Feingold 43

Feingold 47, Wall 39

Feingold 47, Westlake 37

For Feingold to lose against Wall or Westlake the Democrats will have to do really badly. If the economy is still in bad shape (and showing no signs of improvement) Obama and his party is going to get hammered. Feingold will not be immune to the damage.

What government “takeover”?

February 10, 2010

Terrence Wall’s latest campaign ad accuses Russ Feingold of voting in favor of a “government takeover of health care.”

Analysis of the ad from the Associated Press.

Will income taxes really hurt Terrence Wall?

January 25, 2010

At first the headline sounded dramatic. “Terrence Wall has not paid state income taxes.” I remember getting a call from a member of a Democratic campaign, who told me the news. It sounded so incredible. It sounded like tax evasion, which is how the Democrats want it to sound like.

But alas, one can avoid state income taxes and not be a tax evader. In Wall’s case, he simply had no income tax liability.

But the press releases keep coming and the blog posts keep publishing. The Democrats are going to try and take this meme as far as it goes. I don’t blame them for it – a tax dodger millionaire is the perfect punching bag for a candidate as squeaky clean as Russ Feingold. But the attack is nevertheless disingenuous, and if handled correctly by the Wall campaign, is liable to backfire on the Dems. The GOP has already responded by saying that Wall and his company pay the state millions of dollars in taxes, and that Wall makes up for the income taxes with other taxes, including charitable contributions.

I think the Democrats could take this talking point a lot further if they used it to criticize the system “in which a millionaire like Terrence Wall pays no income taxes,” rather than insinuating that he is a tax cheat. It wouldn’t look as dirty because it would give state-level Democrats the opportunity to propose policy, rather than simply to slime an opponent. The problem is that Russ Feingold is not a state-level candidate, and the issue is state taxes.

Any thoughts? Will Feingold go after Wall himself?

Terrence Wall has avoided state income taxes

January 15, 2010

According to Wispolitics, U.S. Senate candidate Terrence Wall has not paid his state income taxes in four out of the last five years.

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Terrence Wall paid no personal state income taxes in four of the past five years, according to figures obtained from the state Department of Revenue.

From 2004 to 2008, Wall, a real estate developer who lives in the Madison enclave of Maple Bluff, only had a state personal income tax liability in 2005, when he paid $43,520, according to DOR records. That one-year amount was more than Wall’s GOP primary opponent David Westlake of Watertown and Dem U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold of Middleton each personally paid in total state personal income taxes over the five-year period.

It’s always hard to tell how important a story like this will turn out to be in a campaign, but I will say that this attack would be more effective than usual coming from Feingold, who has not only made a name for himself as a champion of ethics, but is the poorest member of the U.S. Senate.

Granted, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some explanation from Wall. He’s an incredibly rich dude –– there’s little reason for him to deliberately avoid income taxes, especially if he’s been politically ambitious for a while. I would also watch out for the fact that he apparently has paid them in one of the past five years, which indicates that the failure to pay in the other years was likely more of a mistake than a deliberate abuse of the system.

Tommy Thompson: I can do anything I want

November 2, 2009

David Blaska must be regretting all the stupid things he’s said over the years that (you’d hope) will keep him from holding an official position in politics again. His savior, Gov. Tommy Thompson, is openly considering runs for U.S. Senate and governor.

Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson (left) says he’s still weighing his political options and hasn’t ruled out a possible run for governor or U.S. Senate.

“I’ve always said I’ve got one more good campaign in me, whether it be for the United States Senate, whether it be for governor or mayor of Elroy,” Thompson said on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha.”

“I would still like to run … one more time.”

Thompson said he’s “very concerned” about the direction of federal and state government and feels he could be helpful “in either one of those arenas.”

“I haven’t decided truly that I’m going to run, but I haven’t said no,” Thompson said.

Frankly, I’d be surprised if Thompson opted for the Senate bid over the governor’s race. If he does, it would likely be because of the novelty of the job and the excitement of running against a candidate as popular as Feingold. Or, he might think it would be a fun way to ride out into the sunset in Washington.

If he actually seeks power and influence, he knows better than anyone that the governor of Wisconsin has more of it than a freshman member of the U.S. Senate, especially with Republicans in the minority. That can and will change of course, but not in 2010. Granted, a lot of things have changed since Tommy was running the show. Not only can he not veto letters, but now he can’t even veto words!

New challenger for Feingold?

September 24, 2009

Although it’s highly unlikely that Russ Feingold’s re-election campaign next year will be particularly competitive, the race nevertheless gained a certain level of political respectability with the announcement of a new Republican candidate today. John Nichols from the Cap Times reports:

Madison developer Terrence Wall, an economic conservative who has resources and a penchant for political infighting honed on the tough turf of heavily Democratic Dane County, has made a number of moves that position him as a possible Republican contender.

Wall is not talking publicly about a Senate run yet.

But the buzz in the state’s political community is that he has conducted at least one poll and making calls that indicate an interest in making a Republican bid.

It’s not that Wall is any less radical than Dave Westlake, self-described social conservative who has already declared. However, he has a lot of money, and with that money comes the opportunity to run a real campaign that is not based on outlandish publicity stunts to get attention, which is often the case in lopsided Congressional races, such as Tammy Baldwin’s races against Dave Magnum and Peter Theron.

According to some selective quotes provided to me by a contact in the Feingold campaign, Wall is an unabashed reactionary. He has publicly stated that “health care for all is really rationed health care,” and that Wall has advanced the “death panels” conspiracy theory.

As a columnist for “In Business” magazine and the author of political commentaries on the website of his firm, T. Wall Properties, Wall has positioned himself as a sharp critic of the Obama administration’s economic strategies.

“(We) would have been seeing a recovery around this time if the government would have stayed out of this mess, but now the country is in a terrible catch-22; massive government spending falsely marketed as stimulus is going to come back and require similarly massive taxation (or monetizing the debt by printing money) that in turn would sink any recovery.