The weekend selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as the GOP vice presidential candidate and Wisconsin’s June gubernatorial recall election have taken voters’ attention away from Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary in the state.
The race for retiring Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl’s seat is a crucial one, as it will help determine whether the GOP gains control of the Senate. The primary is a close contest between former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, businessman Eric Hovde, and tea partying former Rep. Mark Neumann, with former state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald lagging behind.
“Those poor guys in the Senate race must just be apoplectic. Couldn’t Romney just have waited until Wednesday [to choose Ryan]?” University of Wisconsin professor Charles Franklin told The Hill
“These guys got stepped on by the recall, stepped on by the Olympics, and when they finally think it’s their weekend, the Ryan pick happens. They weren’t just pushed off the front page, they went deep into the local section.”
Thompson, who polls best against Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic candidate, was the early favorite in the race, after serving more than 10 years as governor and then as secretary of Health and Human Services for President George W. Bush.
But Thompson has suffered from lackluster fundraising results and his moderate stance on healthcare, including early support for the individual mandate requiring people to buy insurance. Neumann has garnered the support of the Club for Growth, the Tea Party Express, and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund.
It’s an open question as to which candidate will benefit most from the Ryan distraction.
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