The 2012 Wisconsin Senate race features a pair of relatively heavyweight competitors, vying to occupy the seat being vacated by retiring four-term Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl. The GOP’s hopes for a pick-up are vested in former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who emerged from a competitive four-way primary as the victor, and who is perhaps best known for his stint as the secretary of health and human services during the administration of President George W. Bush. Hoping to keep the seat will be Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who currently serves Wisconsin's 2nd House District. If elected, Baldwin will be the first openly gay woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.
Both candidates are running staggeringly well-funded campaigns, and each have enjoyed some heavyweight endorsements, with former President Bill Clinton making an appearance in a pro-Baldwin ad and former President George H.W. Bush backing Thompson.
Thompson courted controversy about a month ago when, during an appearance before a Tea Party group, he was caught on video promising to end Medicare and Medicaid, saying, “Who better than me, that’s already finished one of the entitlement programs, to come up with programs that do away with Medicaid and Medicare?” Thompson has characterized the video as a “lie,” claiming that it left out critical context. That context would presumably exculpate Thompson as someone who imagined himself to be the best possible candidate for “doing away with Medicaid and Medicare.”
More recently, Thompson has taken heat for his son’s love of “birther” jokes.
Nevertheless, the race remains very close. As of this writing, the HuffPost Pollster average had Baldwin clinging to a slim 47.9 percent to 47.1 percent lead.