Major Garett at National Journal reports that Representative Paul Ryan has decided not to run for the Senate seat in Wisconsin that was left vacant by Democrat Herb Kohl’s retirement announcement last week. Ryan is said to be comfortable with remaining in the House, where he can “influence, if not drive, the debate on fiscal policy,” while training for his mixed martial arts cage match against Newt Gingrich.
Ryan is expected to formally announce his decision today. Garrett’s sources tell him this soon afterward, former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson will announce his own candidacy.
Thompson had previously announced he would not run for the Senate, but that was before Kohl announced his retirement. Thompson has a long history of arguing himself out of running for office, with varying degrees of success.
In an April 15 article, the Associated Press said Thompson “can’t describe how badly he wanted to run for the U.S. Senate, but his family convinced him not to do it.” He told a Tea Party crowd in Madison, Wisconsin that it was “time for new voices and new faces,” but says he almost changed his mind when the crowd began chanting “Run, Tommy, Run!”
If he does enter the race, Thompson would bring a long history as a popular governor to bear. He was in the governor’s mansion for 14 years, which is longer than anyone else has held the office. He left to become Health and Human Services Secretary for George W. Bush, then ran to replace him. Well, maybe “ran” is too strong of a word. It ended quickly and painlessly.
It will be interesting to see if Thompson’s entry into the race has any bearing on former Senator Russ Feingold’s decision to run from the Democrat side. Feingold is somehow both the great hope of the Wisconsin Democrats, and a long shot. He might not want to test his uncertain prospects against Thompson. If he does, it would turn an already interesting election into Mothra Versus Godzilla.