Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin, has declared that he is out of the Senate race against 3-term incumbent Russ Feingold, and is all but exiting the political arena entirely.
There are three other candidates definately in against Feingold:
*Terrence Wall (R), real-estate developer from Middleton (which, coincidentally, is also Feingold's hometown)
*Dave Westlake (R), small-business owner from Watertown
*Rob Taylor (Constitution), city alderman from Cumberland
There are four other names potentially in, all Republican:
*Ron Johnson, small-business owner and founding member of Oshkosh's local tea party
*Ted Kanavas, outgoing state senator from Brookfield
*Dick Leinenkugel, Wisconsin Commerce Secretary from Chippewa Falls, and if you've ever drank a Leinenkugel beer, the name isn't a coincidence
*Tim Michels from Oconomowoc, Feingold's opponent in 2004
If you aren't from Wisconsin, take it from a lifelong cheesehead: none of these people have a chance in hell. Michels got pasted last time out. Leinenkugel only has the beer to give him any name recognition at all, and nobody else has anything going whatsoever. Wall has the money to run the occasional ad, but he's making all the impact of a pebble on a block of concrete. I live in Watertown and I had never heard of Westlake before he made himself a candidate. I've SPOKEN to him, his kids go to my old elementary school, and the only thing I can tell about him is that he decried the tone of rhetoric currently pervasive in politics but stopped short of saying he'd break a filibuster even if he did get in.
We still like Thompson. We liked him as governor, wept and gnashed teeth when George W. Bush tapped him for Secretary of Health and Human Services, and have more or less ignored his ensuing slow slide into where the rest of the Republican Party currently is. He's been downright sepia-toned. 'Oh, Thompson, why did you have to go and leave us with Scott McCallum and Jim Doyle? Come back! We'll give you candy!' He was showing as beating Feingold in several polls despite not really doing much of anything beyond sitting there and letting us be all nostalgic about him.
Now that he's gone- now that the only Republican in the state of Wisconsin that could have given Feingold a game is gone- Russ has a free run to November.
Which leaves us to focus on the governor's race, which right now is showing as Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett (D) vs. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker of Wauwatosa (R), with Walker holding probably about 5 points on Barrett but unable to create significant daylight. Barrett has a more-or-less free run to the Democratic nomination, but Mark Neumann, former Congressman from Nashotah and part of the 1994 Republican Revolution, is waiting in the wings should Walker falter.
Wisconsin primaries take place in September; the filing deadline is in July. There's a long way to go.