The Wisconsin State Journal, Madison's newspaper, endorsed Tommy Thompson.
Tommy Thompson has a long record of getting things done, often through compromise.Even the liberals in Madison think Tammy Baldwin is not the right choice to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate. They pick Tommy Thompson, too.
His likeable but very liberal opponent, Tammy Baldwin, does not.
That's the key difference in the race for Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat. The State Journal editorial board endorses Thompson in the Nov. 6 election.
Thompson served as a moderate and innovative governor of Wisconsin for 14 years. That was more than a decade ago, U.S. Rep. Baldwin, D-Madison, often reminds voters. Yet Thompson still shows promise as a leader who will demand action in Washington, rather than sticking to partisan games.
Thompson served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, prioritizing research and prevention. He hopes to team with other former governors elected to the U.S. Senate to pressure party leaders for a big fix to America's fiscal mess.
No, he's not offering lots of details. But neither is his opponent. If fact, both say they would vote against Bowles-Simpson — the most credible and comprehensive plan to stabilize the nation's debt — if it came to a vote. That's disappointing.
Yet Thompson sees Bowles-Simpson as a "very good" start toward a deal. And unlike most Republicans, he's willing to accept cuts to the giant defense budget.
Thompson hasn't run a great campaign. He's stumbled on some of his words and could use more humility. Baldwin is the sharper, more polished candidate.
Yet Baldwin can't escape her long voting record, which Politifact.com and other nonpartisan media outlets have confirmed is one of the most liberal in Congress. It may play well in Madison to oppose her own president's fair and job-creating trade deals, to vote against sanctions on Iran, to refuse to budge on domestic spending. But that's a tougher sell statewide.
Baldwin can point to only a few relatively minor bills on which she has teamed with Republicans.
Baldwin prides herself as a principled progressive. We respect that. But clinging to ideology isn't working in Congress — not for the progressives on the far left nor for the tea party on the far right. Washington is stuck and moving further apart just as it needs to find agreement in the middle.
Thompson seems to better understand this, having narrowly survived a hard-fought GOP primary in which he was blasted for not being conservative enough.
Thompson isn't our ideal candidate. We agree with Baldwin on many social issues.
But this election is about the need for jobs, cooperation and fiscal sanity. Thompson wins on those priorities.