Rove outspending Thompson in Senate race against Baldwin

Tammy Baldwin

Karl Rove’s conservative super PAC Crossroads has poured more than $7 million into opposing U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s bid to become the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate. That’s as much as Republican Senate candidate Tommy Thompson’s own campaign has spent trying to win the seat. The dollar figures are high, but Rove notoriously orchestrated then President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election by setting up ballot measures opposing same-sex marriage in key states to attract conservatives.

As of the latest reports filed with and available from the Federal Elections Commission, Baldwin had raised $11 million to Thompson’s $7 million. And much of that money is apparently going into negative advertising by both candidates and their supporters and opponents. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sunday that the Baldwin-Thompson race seems “destined to go down as one of the most negative U.S. Senate races in recent political history.”

In one ad, Thompson accuses Baldwin of having voted against honoring the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States. Baldwin responded that the bill in question, formulated in 2006, was not just a bill to honor the victims of 9-11. It was, as many pundits have pointed out, a Republican partisan construct to seek votes endorsing a number of then President George W. Bush’s policies. The 9-11 provision was inserted to put Democrats in the awkward position of either endorsing Bush policies or appearing to disrespect the victims of 9-11.

Baldwin has also been taking heat late in the campaign for having voted “present” in 2007 on a resolution calling on the United Nations to condemn Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” Baldwin told the Milwaukee paper that she agreed with the sentiments of the resolution but voted present because she was afraid President Bush would use the passage of the resolution as a reason to go to war against Iran.

The polls in the past week have been roller-coastering. Thompson was up one point on October 14, then Baldwin was up four points October 17. As of October 25, Thompson was back up by one point.

Of the nine Senate races that are considered close contests, the Baldwin-Thompson race is the tightest. Democrats need the seat to maintain their grip on the Senate, and the LGBT community would like to have the first openly gay person win a seat to the U.S. Senate and provide a face and a voice for the community in such important proceedings as the confirmation of Supreme Court justices.

An early October survey of 979 likely voters in Wisconsin found that 44 percent had a “favorable opinion” of Baldwin, but 47 percent had an “unfavorable opinion.” But Thompson fared worse: 50 percent had an unfavorable opinion and 43 percent favorable.

A mid-October poll of 870 likely voters by Marquette University found Thompson with a one-point lead over Baldwin, a loss of a four-point lead Baldwin held just two weeks earlier. Poll director Charles Franklin told the Milwaukee Journal that the negative advertising appeared to be responsible for the trend.

As of October 28, realclearpolitics’ average of the most recent polls on the race in Wisconsin shows Baldwin with a one-point lead.


Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s openly gay State Rep. Mark Pocan is given good odds at winning the U.S. House seat left behind by Baldwin in her race for the Senate. The district has been considered solidly Democratic for the past five of Baldwin’s seven terms, a factor that bolsters Pocan’s prospects.

The owner of a print shop, married for six years to spouse Philip Frank, Pocan, 48, has served in the state Assembly for the past 13 years. In the state’s recent high-profile showdown between incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker and state union employees, Pocan sided with the unions. He was recognized by Planned Parenthood for his effort in writing and pushing for passage of a “Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Act,” to require Wisconsin hospital emergency rooms to inform and, if requested, provide to rape victims emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy following an assault.

If elected, Pocan will likely join re-elected openly gay Democratic members of the U.S. House Jared Polis of Colorado, David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

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