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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, June 14, 2024
Delaying candidacy will hurt Thompson's chances


Delaying candidacy will hurt Thompson's chances

Will he or won't he? This question usually indicates one of two things around these parts: Either it is the NFL offseason or we are approaching an election of some sort. Brett Favre and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson could easily be cousins. Both have been transplanted only to become Wisconsin golden boys. Both have retired, but both have had to consider whether they are happy with that status several times. Both can ""still play."" Perhaps most significantly at this point, both are holding their respective organizations in suspense while they ponder their futures.

Tommy Thompson has reportedly been considering a run against Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, in the upcoming midterm elections for some time now and is apparently getting more serious about it, even as he takes actions that would indicate otherwise. Thompson has been in contact with some of his former political associates and claims he has already raised $200,000 for his hypothetical campaign. But on the other hand, he joined Peak Ridge Capital Group as an adviser only about a month ago. What is he going to do? At this point it is unclear. It is even more unclear considering the fact that he has dipped his toes in the waters of politics multiple times recently, only to decide against proceeding further. Similar to his football-playing counterpart, the deadline for his decision remains quite a distance away.

The reason Republicans are entertaining the prospect of a Thompson campaign is clear. He is their best shot at taking Feingold's seat. According to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll, Thompson leads Feingold by 5 percent while neither of the alternative Republican candidates are serious contenders. Even if he runs and loses, Thompson would force the Democrats to back a candidate in a contentious race that would probably require very little from them otherwise. That is an attractive worst case scenario for the Republican Party— much like another Brett Favre season would be for the Vikings whose next quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson and who have little prospect of acquiring a replacement.

However, like Favre, Thompson's waffling is preventing his organization from doing what it can to look for a suitable replacement in case of his absence. As long as the possibility of a Thompson campaign exists, the Republican Party is powerless to get behind either Terrence Wall or Dave Westlake. So if Thompson decides not to run, he has effectively crippled the party's chances at building up either lesser-known candidate and thus gaining, or even competing for, Feingold's seat.

The kicker in all of this is that even if he runs, Thompson himself is not a sure thing. His stint as secretary of health and human services was marked by the implementation of more regulations. He was in favor of a one-dollar increase on cigarettes. Thompson spoke out in favor of health-care reform, which almost no one opposes in any form, but shockingly he chose to endorse the monstrosity of a Senate health-care bill that came very close to passing before Scott Brown's election officially killed it. These actions have not endeared Thompson to conservatives. In a primary, they may choose him as their most electable candidate, or they may choose a candidate who holds more closely to their principles.

Thompson may give Republicans their best chance at beating Feingold, but there are still many questions. Will he actually decide to run or will all of this amount to just more talk about him returning to politics, like his unfulfilled musings about taking back his position as Governor? If he does not run how much damage will the possibility of a Thompson campaign do to those of the two Republican candidates who have already announced their intentions to run? If he does run, will he be able to maintain his small lead over Feingold once he is back under the intense public scrutiny that comes along with any campaign for an office at the federal level and once Feingold goes into serious campaign mode? Finally, after his actions and comments since leaving Wisconsin, will the state's conservatives welcome him back with open arms?

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The sooner these questions are answered, the better things will be for the Republican Party. The longer Thompson deliberates, the bigger and more pointed the questions will get. Much like the former green-and-gold superhero, Thompson would help himself and others immensely if he could expedite his decision-making process, whatever that may entail.

Ben Turpin is a junior majoring in history and political science. We welcome all feedback. Please send responses to


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