It’s time to check in on Tammy Baldwin’s bid to win Herb Kohl’s seat in the U.S. Senate.
Given the way the polls have gone, I’m expecting to see Tommy vs. Tammy after the the August 14th GOP primary. Because Tommy Thompson is hiding his moderate politics and because it’s a presidential election year, Tammy does stand a chance. But only a chance. Tommy has consistently polled better than Tammy and despite all the D.C. Club for Growth chatter against him, the thing is, this is Wisconsin. Tommy sided with violent anti-spear fishing protesters in 1986 and he’s still the guy from the small town of Elroy. In other words, he has some old boy backwoods street cred. Tommy was also notoriously pay-to-play, especially with the road builders of Wisconsin, the same fellows Walker shows deference to. Will he butter their bread for 4 terms as governor and be so soon forgotten?
There also exists a possibility Republican Eric Hovde could overcome Thompson in the August primary with his looks, photogenic family, money, sass, and savvy advertising. He’s recycling some of Ron Johnson’s techniques like playing up a “citizen legislator”-coming-to-clean-up-D.C. spiel although it’s unclear how this works out when Hovde has lived in D.C. for 24 years straight.
Polls do suggest Hovde is somebody Tommy has to watch but the numbers don’t all correlate. A Tammy Baldwin campaign poll conducted June 19-21 puts Eric Hovde 1 point ahead of Thompson- at 27 to Tommy Thompson’s 26 while Mark Neumann is at 13, Jeff Fitzgerald at 9.
In a late-June survey from Hovde through OnMessage, Thompson was at 34 percent, Hovde at 29. Ex-Rep, Mark Neumann at 16 and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald at 7.
Hovde’s own poll better matches Marquette’s numbers from June 13-16. That poll indicates 62% of likely voters said they “haven’t heard enough” about Hovde to have an opinion when they were asked.
Wisconsin will start hearing a lot about him soon. According to National Journal Hovde just made a $1.5 million dollar TV ad buy to run now through the election in Wisconsin.
In that Marquette poll, 48% were favorable to Tommy and 36% were unfavorable. That’s an improvement for Thompson. Back in August 2011, a PPP poll had Tommy at 44% favorable, 42% unfavorable.
Is Wisconsin Officially Red?
You may hear from Walker fans that Wisconsin is now a “red state”. While it’s certainly true Dem. and left-wing activists sank temporarily into a post-recall malaise, we’re not dead yet and we’re not solid red yet. If we were solid red we wouldn’t see Obama ahead of Romney 49 to 43 among “likely voters in WI in a June 20 Marquette poll. [FYI Marquette's polls by Charles Franklin are widely presumed to lean conservative and some lefties say they're rigged]
Also, if Obama winds up doing well in Wisconsin, it means Tammy could get some “coattail effect” for her election.
It’s been a struggle for me to focus on Tammy’s race amidst all the recalling, and I think it’s been the same for the rest of Wisconsin.
The last time I really focused on the Wisco Senate scene, it was September and local right wingers were begging Demint of Club for Growth to quit promoting Mark Neumann.
Neumann has name recognition from previous bids for state office. But Neumann tends to do embarrassing things like drop into Tammy’s office unannounced to confront her or make a big playground stink about putting up his own campaign posters on the West Bend GOP office door .
Mark Neumann, sayeth his campaign, appears at Tammy Baldwin’s office to “confront her” about challenge over lowering student loan rates.
— Wisconsin Reporter (@wisconsinreport) June 14, 2012
The Committee to Own and Operate Wisconsin Remotely from D.C. otherwise known as “Club for Growth” also ran anti-Tommy Thompson ads before he even decided to run.
Tommy and Mark persisted undaunted [courage!] and they were joined by state Assemblyman Jeff Fitzgerald, and hedge fundie Eric Hovde. By creating a big cauldron of conservative conflict these Wisconsin Republicans are replicating the “clown car” effect we’ve seen play out in the presidential primaries. In the end they tend to create a clamor, not enough back out, and they split the hardliner vote between them both propping up and showcasing the moderate – in this case, Tommy Thompson.
Jeff Fitzgerald is the brother to Scott Fitzgerald – just as ruddy-cheeked but prone to blurting out awkward remarks (as opposed to Scott’s deliberately cruel ones). No use in me yakking much about him since he has no chance except I will note that he and Tommy seem chummy.**
Eric Hovde was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and he’s obviously kept it firmly lodged there, having collected the biggest pile of wealth amongst the candidates in this race.
Hovde also tends to put a silver foot in his mouth.*** It pays off. He got caught dismissing food stamp “sob stories” in Brookfield but following that, his campaign used the episode to score more fund-raising dollars for Hovde. In his most recent callous statement he called Tammy Baldwin a “communist” to which any _actual_ communists listening the world over probably exclaimed, “Does he know what a communist is or is this a new code word for “lesbian”?”
But why run against “communists” when you can safely run against the more universally understood and maligned “congress” or against national debt? In this ad his kids do the talking, subtly establishing him as “a family man” who doesn’t care if he’s liked by D.C.:
Is There a Moderate Republican in the State?
Tommy has incredible name recognition in Wisconsin. The 70-year-old has served as governor from 1987-2001. In the Wisconsin of 2012 with radical Scott Walker at the helm, Tommy seems like a moderate guy.
Instead of proudly wearing any moderate mojo (false as it is) like a vintage jacket, Tommy does stunts to impress the fringe right. The most outlandish was this threat to beat recall activists black and blue:
I guess Tommy had to do SOMETHING to prove he HATED people like me. CFG was riding him with negative ads for at least 7 months before that rally.
More recently, on June 4th he also bragged at a Tea Party group that he got rid of the DNR’s public intervenor office and by extension Kathleen Falk and he blasted the UN’s “Agenda 21″ (the sustainability plan that tin foil hatters say is a plan for one world domination). He bragged that he finished off welfare (in truth back in the day he created an even more expensive welfare to work program). In May he told the same Oconomowoc group he would radically reform medicaid and medicare and he said the states should get their medicaid money in the form of block grants. [Federal $ delivered as a block grant to states allows states to shortchange poor people as states use the money for other things. States already practice this thievery with "TANF" funds which are supposed to be cash assistance to the poorest Americans].
Too bad for Tommy the Club for Growth remains unimpressed with his antics.
Just the other day (June 28) CFG reminded its base that “Tommy Thompson is a big-government Republican who worked with liberal Democrats to help pass ObamaCare and with the Obama administration to implement ObamaCare.” (CFG is referencing Thompson’s time as director of the federal division of Health and Human services.)
Word on the net is the attack ads against Tommy roll out hard starting Monday July 9th. No telling how much more CFG will sink into harassing Tommy but there may be a hint in Indiana’s sente race where CFG spent $1.5 million. -source
Rumor has it that a new wave of ads slamming Tammy will also come out this week.
The group “American Commitment” along with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce are bent out of shape over her vote in favor of the Boiler MACT rule A.K.A. HR 2250 which cleans up non-utility boiler emissions. Meanwhile the renewable biomass and combined heat and power people say this is a boon for their industries. Could it be these efficient boilers will not only bring us cleaner air but use less coal as well?
American Commitment’s YouTube ad uploaded July 5:
For the record, Tammy also worked on a bill to directly benefit Wisconsin paper companies. She did that with the aid of a stalwart Tea Party member from Fox Valley, Reid Ribble – earning some bi-partisan street cred. in the process.
As stated by Rob Metzer of Wausau Daily Herald, that bill was “designed to help American papermakers. Responding to widespread reports that China unfairly subsidizes its paper industry in order to undercut prices of international competitors, the China Hurts Economic Advancement Through Subsidies Act — yes, CHEATS — would allow the U.S. to impose import tariffs on Chinese paper if there is evidence of market manipulation.”
Tammy’s Paper Ad:
Just Where is Tammy Baldwin on Other Issues?
Tammy Baldwin has been an outspoken advocate of healthcare access for all from the beginning of her career in Madison. She voted for the original version of Obamacare in 2009 (which included a public option) as well as the final version in 2010.
She told NYTimes the story behind her commitment to healthcare:
“I had a serious childhood illness — sort of like spinal meningitis — that led to a three-month hospitalization. Afterward, I couldn’t be insured because of a pre-existing condition. Now no child can be denied coverage on that basis. Every single Republican who’s running for the Senate in Wisconsin, though, is committed to repealing that and all health care reforms.”
This February Tammy introduced the Paying a Fair Share Act which attempted to implement “The Buffett Rule” According to Tammy’s site, the new rule “would apply only to the 0.1% of taxpayers with income greater than $1 million (including capital gains and dividends) and ensure that the highest-earning Americans pay at least a 30% effective tax rate.”
From wikipedia, “On October 10, 2002, Baldwin was among the 133 members of the House who voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq.” and in 2005 she joined the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus.
Her House web site states she is a proponent of green energy and “Tammy’s legislation to create a National Greenhouse Gas Registry was largely incorporated into the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) when it was considered in Congress.”
Also, “Tammy Baldwin is a Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, she is leading efforts to advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and other civil rights initiatives.” If elected this November she would be the first openly gay U.S. Senator. Tammy’s already got a few firsts under her belt: first woman elected to Wisconsin’s Congress, first openly lesbian Representative, first openly gay non-incumbent elected to U.S. Congress.
Tammy is a confidant but soft spoken progressive politician who has served the 2nd congressional district of Wisconsin since 1999. Tammy’s district is on the southern edge of Wisconsin with Madison being it’s most populous city.
The 2nd district encompasses Dane, Green, and Columbia County along with bits of Jefferson County, Sauk County, Rock County, and Walworth County.
A Wildcard to Worry About?
The fact that WI doesn’t have straight ticket voting this November might play havoc with some percentage of ballots [this change is due to the voter ID bill of 2011]. In elections previous to November 2012, the voter in Wisconsin could with 1 fell swoop of his or her felt-tipped marker select all the Democratic candidates displayed on the ballot using something nicknamed “straight ticket voting”. As of November, voters will have to select each candidate on the ballot deliberately. As simple as a ballot is, any change in routine can cause confusion and that can lead to extra hassles for poll workers and that can slow things down.
A Few of Hovde’s Ads:
If Hovde makes it it will be because of his lavish spending on slick TV ads.
In this ad, Hovde establishes he’s a Wisconsin guy from a Wisconsin family who somehow can simply pull the whole country up by its boot straps.
He gets you to imagine his immigrant forebears are hard-working and full of “perseverance”. He says through “a lot of hard work” he made his company successful. The ad shows a debt counter going up rapidly and he says he’s worried that with this sense of “entitlement” and “dependence on government” we are “losing a bit of our soul”. “We have to get back to self responsibility”.
Hovde has the let’s-slam-the-do-nothings-in-Congress ad in which he says that we need to send a lot of new people to D.C. to balance the budget and he would like to be one of them (reminds me quite a bit of Ron Johnson): Eric Hovde on Balancing the Budget
He has a couple ads which include slick bar charts or graphs about the U.S. debt or corporate income tax: Hovde for Senate TV Ad: Debt Crisis
Hey-Who were those people polled by Marquette?
I much prefer to communicate online. I always wonder who are these people who actually answer their phones and have time to take Marquette U. polls?
The first thing I looked at is how they get information, their age, and their phone use. Because they prefer TV over online news sources, they use landlines, and they tend to be older I thought “they have to lean conservative”. Gosh and golly, it turns out they do.
Below you’ll see what politics they identify with:
Very conservative 10%
Very liberal 6%
The poll respondents say they are 27% Republican, 30% Democrat, 39% Independent.
64% of them went online ZERO days in the previous week to read about state and local news through email, facebook, etc. Only 14% go online every day to do those things.
They have land lines and they use them primarily: 46% of them get all or almost all of their phonecalls on a home landline. 27% of them get all or almost all of their calls on a cell phone.
They are more likely to watch evening news on TV: 41% of them watch the evening news a surprising 7 nights a week.
They tend to be non-union: 74% of them have nobody in the household in a union.
16% are 18-29 years old
17% are 30-44 years old
36% are 45-59 years old
29% are 60 years or older
Candidate Footnote: Ballotpedia lists John Schiess, retired delivery driver, as a candidate for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin as well as Nimrod Allen III and Joseph Kexel however they do not appear in polls nor in articles about the race.
*”Tommy Thompson was elected governor in 1986, and he ran on a platform of abrogating–or terminating–Ojibwe treaty rights…. The violence reached its peak in 1989, and Governor Thompson personally went to the federal court to plead for injunction to stop Ojibwe spearfishing and prevent further violence. Judge Barbara Crabb refused because the Ojibwe were doing nothing illegal. Crabb stated that it was non-Indian protesters, not the Indians, who were initiating the violence.”
**Jeff informed MJS he will not run negative ads about Tommy July 9th / Tommy told an Oconomowoc T.Party group he would endorse Jeff if he quit the race.
***”Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth” – Ann Richards speaking of George W. Bush at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Video