UNDATED (WSAU) Former Governor Tommy Thompson took another big step toward a return to politics yesterday, when he announced two co-chairs for a possible U-S Senate campaign. The appointments of State Attorney General J-B Van Hollen and former Thompson aide Jim Klauser are the biggest sign yet that Thompson is serious about replacing the retiring Herb Kohl after next year.
Klauser said a campaign committee would be formed after Labor Day.
Thompson remains one of the state’s most popular Republican figures. But he’s getting criticism in some conservative circles for state spending increases during his 14 years as governor ending in 2000 – and his support for a version of a federal health care reform package that he later opposed.
Thompson left public life in 2004 after serving four years as the nation’s health secretary. He’s held a number of business and lobbying posts ever since.
A survey released yesterday by the Public Policy Polling firm gives Thompson a 47-to-39 percent lead over another possible G-O-P candidate – former Congressman Mark Neumann. Thompson ran briefly for president in 2008, and he has flirted with running for office several times in recent years. Other possible G-O-P Senate candidates are stat Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, state Senate Republican Frank Lasee of De Pere, and former state Senator Ted Kanavas of Brookfield. Possible Democratic hopefuls include U-S House members Tammy Baldwin of Madison and Ron Kind of La Crosse, and former House Democrat Steve Kagen of Appleton.