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Some are already speculating that former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) will opt to challenge Walker in a 2012 recall election rather than try to return to the Senate, leaving the Democratic Senate nomination to Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who would be the clear favorite in the primary absent Feingold.
Baldwin, who represents a south-central Wisconsin district that includes the very liberal city of Madison, is almost certain to run for Senate. Her record is liberal, though her understated style and message of “fighting for the middle class” should have some appeal throughout the state.
Last week’s recall elections in the state proved that Republicans were as energized to support Walker as Democrats were to fire him. All indications are that 2012 will be a close, hard-fought election in the Badger State. And that will make each party’s Senate nomination valuable.
Can Tommy Thompson win the GOP Senate nomination in Wisconsin next year?
One Wisconsin Republican observer put it this way: “It would be an ugly and difficult primary, but I think Thompson would still win it.”
Others are far more skeptical. They argue that he can be nominated only if everything were to break just right for him. The one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that Thompson faces a tough climb in a political environment that looks far from ideal for him.
Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.