Tommy Thompson, who was elected to an unprecedented four terms as Head Wisconsin Cheesehead and Cheerleader, is giving off strong signs that he’s really interested in running against Russ Feingold for U-S Senate. One of his best pals, his former Chief of Staff, Bill McCoshen, has been making the rounds of the TV and radio talk shows whipping up speculation.
Feingold has had his seat in the Senate since 1992, and hasn’t really had a serious challenge. He ran on a shoestring against a couple of very wealthy men back then, and he painted five campaign promises on his garage door in Middleton. His grass-roots trip to Washington caught the attention of the national media.
McCoshen was on “UpFront With Mike Gousha” on Milwaukee TV Sunday, a show carried by several other TV stations in markets around Wisconsin, including Madison, and he said this is the most serious he’s seen Thompson about running in a long time. Tommy has said for a couple years he’s got “one more good race in him”. Yesterday morning McCoshen was on Mitch Henck’s talk show on WIBA-AM in Madison, saying that Tommy’s surrounded himself with the best Republican campaign operatives in the state.
Another of Madison’s political pundits, Sly, speculated a few weeks ago on his radio show that Tommy was making too much money and was too entrenched with his private-sector businesses to make a run….but, yesterday, Sly said on his WTDY-AM show that it looks like Tommy will run against Feingold. McCoshen told Henck Tommy was making strategic moves right now to re-align his other irons in the fire to get ready for a run.
McCoshen said if Tommy decides definitely not to run, he’ll probably say so next month, to give Terrence Wall adequate time to raise more money for his run against Feingold. But if Tommy’s running, we’ll probably hear about that in late May, around the time of the state Republican convention.
The next step, which would be an official step toward running, would be for Tommy to form an exploratory committee to start raising money, and McCoshen thinks that could come in the next couple of weeks.
If it does turn out to be a race between Tommy and Russ, it will likely focus on the issues and not on personalities. There are clear ideological differences between the two, and neither has been prone to run mud-slinging negative attack ads.
McCoshen calls a race between Tommy and Russ “a heavyweight championship battle”. Eagles may soar and Harleys may roar, but a contest between these two titans is bound to generate a lot of heat…and maybe even some light. The noise factor is taken for granted.
The surest sign Tommy is going to run? Last night, Russ Feingold talked about Tommy’s “business” connections on Feingold’s Facebook page. The race is on.