Huffpost Politics

Wisconsin Senate Race Heats Up Amid Scott Walker Recall Effort

Posted: Updated:

For months the effort to recall of Gov. Scott Walker (R) has monopolized political headlines in Wisconsin. But another crucial election is taking shape in the state. The 2012 race for the seat being vacated by retiring longtime incumbent Democrat Herb Kohl will likely be a tossup -- and one of the handful of contests that will determine which party gains control of the U.S. Senate.

Two big-name candidates are vying for the open seat: Former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), who served a member of George W. Bush's cabinet, and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D), a progressive who, if elected, would be the first openly gay woman in the Senate.

Thompson, a moderate, is fending off candidates running to his right in the GOP primary. Ex-Rep. Mark Neumann is running as the "true conservative" and has been endorsed by Sens. Rand Paul and Jim DeMint, both Tea Party favorites. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald has made a name for himself through his connection to Walker.

Dane 101 reports:

How Walker fares in the recall could also determine which Republican candidate has the edge in the August primary -- already, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who endorsed Tea Party favorite Neumann, is trying to make Thompson look like the least "Walker-like" candidate, citing his past words in favor of collective bargaining and high-speed rail ... Meanwhile, on Thursday the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Neumann, an outspoken critic of the federal stimulus program, was actually the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars in stimulus money, which went to his solar energy company.

The Journal Sentinel took an in-depth look at the contrast between Walker and Thompson recently, calling Walker a "base" politician and Thompson an "outreach" politician who is less polarizing to voters:

In Walker's case, the gap between his popularity on the right and his popularity on the left is just about as big as it could possibly be: 92% of Republicans view him favorably compared to 16% of Democrats, a difference of 76 points.

In Thompson's case, the gap is much, much smaller: 70% of Republicans view him favorably, compared to 36% of Democrats, a difference of 34 points.

The winner of the GOP primary will go up against a formidable challenger. Baldwin raised more than $1 million in the fourth quarter of last year, compared with Thompson's $656,504.

10 more election stories from beyond the presidential field:

Bob Kerrey Announces He Won't Run For Congress [HuffPost]

Suzanne Bonamici Sworn In As Newest Member Of U.S. Congress [Oregonian]

Richard Carmona Staffs Up In Arizona Senate Race [The Hill]

NRCC Announces 'Contender' Candidates [Roll Call]

Elizabeth Warren Invokes JFK [@elizabethforma]

Emphasis On Local Money In U.S. Senate Race In Hawaii [Honolulu Civil Beat]

'ShePAC' Rallies For Conservative GOP Women [Reuters]

NYC Vendor Who Alerted Police To Times Square Bomb Is Running For Congress [HuffPost]

Challenger Calls Feinstein A One Percenter [Daily Caller]

Ohio Democratic Candidate Releases 'Halftime In Ohio' Ad [YouTube]

Around the Web

US election 2012: Barack Obama gives controversial 'Super PACs' his blessing

US Election 2012: Republicans attack Clint Eastwood Super Bowl ad

UP ELections 2012: Uttar Pradesh set to vote amid hung house prediction

The Anatomy of 2012 Low General Election Turnout

 
  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
Click for Full Results
Register To Vote