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Democratic Insiders See Thompson as Baldwin's Toughest Opponent

In first Patch survey of influential Wisconsin Democrats, it's clear most would prefer Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin face someone other than the former governor in the November election.

When it comes to the Republican primary for Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat, the state's Democratic political insiders see the race as a two-man contest between former Gov. Tommy Thompson and businessman Eric Hovde.

But when asked whom Democrat Tammy Baldwin would have the best chance of defeating in the general election, these influential Democrats made it clear that Thompson would be her toughest opponent.

In Patch's first "Blue Wisconsin" Survey of Democratic influencers throughout the state, 47 percent of the respondents said they thought Hovde would win Tuesday's primary election, while 45 percent said Thompson had the best shot.

However, when surveyed on which Republican would give Baldwin the best chance to win in November, only 12 percent of those surveyed picked Thompson — a clear sign that Democratic insiders see him as the strongest GOP candidate.

Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said having Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald win the GOP nomination would give Baldwin the best shot at winning, and 27 percent said it would be former Congressman Mark Neumann.

Patch sent questionnaires to 62 key party activists, elected officials, bloggers, and others who agreed to anonymously give their opinions in a series of surveys between now and the November election. Patch received completed surveys from 49 people — or 78 percent of those surveyed.

Unlike a scientific poll of voters, which typically surveys hundreds of people, the "Blue Wisconsin" Survey takes the pulse of some of Wisconsin's most influential Democrats. Patch has already conducted two "Red Wisconsin" Surveys of Republican influencers.

Among the Democrats who agreed to be surveyed are: newly elected state Sen. John Lehman; Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin; the chairs of the Milwaukee, Ozaukee and Jefferson County Democrats; Thad Nation, a former aide to Gov. Jim Doyle; Larry Nelson, former Waukesha mayor; and nine candidates for state legislative and congressional seats. (See full list below)

The fact that Democratic insiders see Neumann and Fitzgerald as the weakest candidates against Baldwin isn't surprising because the two Republicans have been near the bottom of the polls — at least until recently.

Neumann had just 10 percentage points to former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson’s 35 and businessman Eric Hovde’s 23 in of GOP candidates. Fitzgerald garnered 6 percentage points. A new Marquette poll will be released Wednesday.

However, a poll released by brushed a different portrait: a close three-way race, with Neumann suddenly thrust into the mix.

The poll showed Hovde in the lead with 28 percent, followed by Thompson and Neumann, each with 25 percent.

Preparing for November

While the Republican candidates have been battling it out in a rutted path to the primary, Baldwin is the lone Democrat running for the seat — which was .

One insider said Baldwin is on the right track, defining herself and record while Republican candidates buck for the primary win.

"Tammy Baldwin is doing exactly what she should be doing, defining herself while the GOP candidates savagely tear each other apart," that respondent said.

Others believe Baldwin could do more.

“Congresswoman Baldwin is still a bit of an unknown to Democrats across the state," the insider said. "She needs to amp up her presence with Dems before the November race."

Another said: "She needs to start running ads about her record in the House. She is allowing the Republicans to define the race, putting her on the defensive. She must be far more proactive if she is going to win."

However, others said Democrats are already galvanized in the state and Baldwin needs to focus on garnering the independent vote.

"She should run as a strong progressive — emphasizing the need to maintain and improve...education, infrastructure, health and retirement programs, seeking support from the grassroots more than from the Democratic Party establishment, responding quickly and forcefully to attacks," one insider said.

Added another: "Democrats are already strongly behind Baldwin. They have been following her for years, and she is very popular."

Life after the recall

Democratic insiders also were asked to gauge the mood of the state party following in the June gubernatorial recall election.

When asked whether the failed recall effort against Republican Gov. Scott Walker "demoralized" Democrats, 71 percent strongly disagreed or somewhat disagreed. About 24 percent somewhat agreed or strongly agreed.

The notion that President Barack Obama should hit Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in campaign stops for his support of Walker is a move that didn't play over with insiders. About 50 percent either strongly or somewhat disagreed with the strategy; while another 22 percent were neutral.

Jobs, jobs, jobs

A slumping economy and stagnant job growth are arguably the top issues on the mind of many voters, and Wisconsin's Senate race is no exception, according to Democratic insiders.

"The economy is the most important issue, especially the continued GOP emphasis on having 98 percent of Americans subsidize the lifestyles of the wealthiest 2 percent," one insider said. "Most Americans just want people to pay their fair share. The current GOP strategy where the CEO's secretary pays a far higher percentage of income in taxes than the CEO is not sustainable."

"The number one issue in this Senate race will be jobs and the economy, and who can articulate how they will best set about helping to grow them in Wisconsin," another said.

Patch will be conducting Red Wisconsin and Blue Wisconsin surveys throughout 2012 in hopes of determining the true sentiment of active members of both parties in the Badger State.

If you are an activist, party leader or elected official, and would like to take part in a weekly survey that lasts just a few minutes, please email Regional Editor Mark Maley at mark.maley@patch.com.

Patch's Blue Wisconsin Survey participants are:

Kelley Albrecht, candidate for 63rd State Assembly District; Mandela Barnes, candidate for 11th State Assembly District; Ron Biendseil, vice chair for membership, Dane County Democratic Party; Tammy Bockhorst, membership secretary/membership chair, Milwaukee County Democratic Party; Randy Bryce, candidate for 62nd State Assembly District; Brian Carlson, liberal blogger; Sachin Chheda, chair, Milwaukee County Democratic Party; Jeff Christensen, chair, 5th Congressional District Democrats; Mark Conforti, chief negotiator for the Fox Point-Bayside Teachers Association; Rick Congdon, former judge and former chair, Democratic Party of Waukesha County; Deb Dassow, progressive and labor activist, and semi-retired educator; Victor Drover, liberal blogger; Dale Dulberger, party activist; Perry Duman, candidate for the 60th State Assembly District; Brett Eckstein, Democratic attorney; Waring R. Fincke, vice chair, Washington County Democratic Party; Stephanie Findley, chair, 4th Congressional District Democrats; Kelly Gallaher, founding member, Community for Change; Heather Geyer, liberal columnist; Ginny Goode, Grassroots North Shore; Darcy Gustavsson, party activist; Kristin Hansen, neighborhood team leader, Obama for America and co-host, Drinking Liberally Waukesha; Robert Hansen, co-chair of Progressive Democrats of America in Milwaukee County; John Heckenlively, secretary, 1st Congressional District Democrats; Kelly Herda, treasurer, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Women's Caucus and political consultant; Robert Heule, Region 5 Chair, Democratic Party of Milwaukee County; Peter Knudsen, legislative aide and longtime Democratic staffer; Marga Krumins, candidate for 97th State Assembly District and associate chair Democratic Party of Wisconsin Women’s Caucus; Bill Kurtz, candidate for 21st Assembly District; John Lehman, state senator, 21st District; Matthew Lowe, youth outreach director, Waukesha County Democratic Party; Fran Martin, election observer for the Democratic Party and appeared in Wangaard recall ads; Tom Michalski, Oak Creek alderman; Bridget Moen, chair, Democratic Party of Ozaukee County; Meg Moen, treasure, Democratic Party of Ozaukee County; Rick Moze, party activist; Lisa Mux liberal blogger, and co-founder and co-host of Drinking Liberally Waukesha; Thad Nation, political consultant and former aide to Gov. Jim Doyle; Larry Nelson, former Waukesha mayor, current County Board supervisor and delegate to Democratic National Convention; Jason Patzfahl, liberal blogger and founding member of the Progressive 28th Political Action Committee; Jeffrey Perzan , attorney and party activist; Colin Plese, Shorewood School Board member; John Pokrandt, candidate for 13th State Assembly District; Steven Potter, communications aide, state Democratic Party; Jason Rae, Democratic National Committee member; Aaron Robertson, party activist; Chris Rockwood, candidate for 14th State Assembly District; Kristopher Rowe, party activist; Keith Schmitz, member, State Democratic Platform Committee and founding member, Grassroots North Shore; Richard Schwalb, party activist; Erin Sievert, chairwoman, Jefferson County Democrats; Kathleen Slamka, party activist; Eilene Stevens, party activist; Mike Tate, chair , Democratic Party of Wisconsin; Melissa Ugland, business owner and party activist; Sarah Wagner, community activist for Wisconsin Jobs Now; Jamie Wall, candidate for 8th Congressional District; Jim Ward, candidate, 28th State Senate District; Jane Witt, chair of Racine County Democrats; and Graeme Zielinski, communications director, Wisconsin Democratic Party.

Bren August 08, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Thanks for another intellect-stretching reactionary comment, Greg. How's about actually reading the article, ingesting/analyzing the information, and writing a thoughtful comment that reflects your understanding and take on the situation? ; )
morninmist August 08, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Not likely. We already have a hard core TeaGOP. We need balance and I think many Wisconsinites now recognize that.
Greg August 08, 2012 at 05:08 PM
After you my dear.
James R Hoffa August 08, 2012 at 05:36 PM
"She needs to start running ads about her record in the House." Please do - I'd love to see Tammy run ads about her record in the House: Consistently votes in favor of tax increases and against tax cuts for everyone. Voted against tornado disaster relief. Voted against bankruptcy reform. Consistently votes against emergency farm loans. Consistently Votes in favor of all types of abortions and having the government pay for abortions. Voted against displaying the 10 Commandments in public buildings. Voted in favor of giving herself a raise. Voted in favor of flag burning. Voted against Patients' Bill of Rights. Voted in favor of No Child Left Behind. Voted against compensating airlines for closing airports / US airspace after 9/11. Voted in favor of lawsuits against food companies / restaurants for obesity problems. Voted against a balanced budget amendment. Voted in favor of Obamacare. Voted against increasing minimum down payment for FHA mortgages. Voted for Obama stimulus and 'cash for clunkers.' Voted in favor of TARP. Voted in favor of ethanol subsidies. Voted against securing the border with Mexico. Voted in favor of DREAM Act.
morninmist August 08, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Ah but Hoffa. Smart Wisconsinites like her politics: Ashton Giese @Occupy6Nov Yay! GO Tammy livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entries/poll-t… #wipolitics about 4 hours ago Ashton Giese @Occupy6Nov Loving the new ad Tammy! Go Baldwin 2012 #wipolitics jsonline.com/blogs/news/164…
Bob McBride August 08, 2012 at 06:44 PM
There you go JRH. All that work you did, undone by a tweet. It's just that easy. The voting block that walks into traffic with its head down, ear buds in and hoody blocking its peripheral vision (and thus, ultimately, destined to become a declining demographic) has spoken, in 140 characters or less.
mau August 08, 2012 at 06:48 PM
The same John Heckenlively who got fired from the Labor Press? Has he ever held a job. He sure can't win an election.
Jay Sykes August 08, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Someone is advertising that Baldwin voted with Pelosi 93% of the time. You could have saved lots and lots of typing JRH.
skinnyDUDE August 08, 2012 at 07:10 PM
In the Senate race ....Baldwin doesnt want to face THOMPSON as his state wide name recognition and still favorable rating wins the seat fairly easily .That is the one feather in Thompson cap in this specific race.Baldwin simply wont beat him and she knows it .. It is that same recognition that seemingly might win him the Republican primary which now has him up by 5 to 8 points. Time will tell and While I have some reservations about Tommy Thompson .......I have no concerns in his ability to easily defeat Tammy Baldwin.
James R Hoffa August 08, 2012 at 07:18 PM
@morninmist - "Loving the new ad Tammy!" Therein lies your problem misty - the lemmings are basing their assessment off the partisan advertisements as opposed to the objective truth about Baldwin's voting record. You call that smart, Hoffa calls that low-information, uniformed, and easily influenced by propaganda - or in other words, STUPID! Everyone who is considering voting for Tammy should analyze Tammy's voting record for themselves. You can do so here: http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/3470/tammy-baldwin She voted over 30 times AGAINST tax breaks for small businesses and middle class families, and supported nearly every tax increase that was voted on during her tenure in the House. So, if you want to pay more taxes, and fund abortions, Tammy's your gal!
morninmist August 08, 2012 at 07:33 PM
@skinnyDUD Tammy and a whole lot of smart folks in WI disagree: .................. Tammy Baldwin ‏@TammyBaldwinWI No matter which GOP candidate emerges from their primary, we’re in a strong position heading to the general election fight! -TB #WIsen
morninmist August 08, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Good descriptors for the WI TeaGOP. "...Hoffa calls that low-information, uniformed, and easily influenced by propaganda - or in other words, STUPID!"
morninmist August 08, 2012 at 08:14 PM
GAB just updated their we page about requirements for photo ID. Past time but better later than never: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1gZ0xgU8fbeUkk4Tld5dU1kNk0/edit?pli=1 Also, more good news: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/06/1117473/-Online-voter-registration-comes-to-WI-But-shhh-Don-t-tell-anyone#c25 Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:15 PM PDT Online voter registration comes to WI! (But, shhh! Don’t tell anyone…)+
Steve ® August 08, 2012 at 08:18 PM
You're voting for Baldwin
DICK STEINBERG August 08, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Gov. Thompson will win.
morninmist August 08, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Yeah sure. He will have a change of heart from trying to prove how Conservative he is and follow in Mitt's camp and do the rah rah for ObamaCare!! .................... Gabe Ortíz ‏@TUSK81 Hilarious: @MittRomney is now touting RomneyCare, which he desperately tried to disown during GOP debates. http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/08/andrea-saul-romney-massachusetts-health-care.php?m=1 #p2 #tcot
jukap29 August 09, 2012 at 02:09 AM
and when misty is confronted with facts that can't be countered, the equivalent of "I know you are but what am I" is bandied about... *facepalm*
jukap29 August 09, 2012 at 02:11 AM
misty, you do realize the difference between a state-run program and a federally run program right? or is all government the same to you, your God?
oak creek resident August 09, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Bob go easy on Keith, we all know he's not all that bright
oak creek resident August 09, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Having seen morninmist's posting history, my initial feelings of disgust and reprehension towards her/it have turned to apathy. How can anyone get mad or upset at such a stupid animal?
James R Hoffa August 09, 2012 at 03:38 AM
@morninmist - While Andrea Saul may be incompentent, at least she's not an outright LIAR like Obama's main gal, Stephanie Cutter: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/hannity/index.html#/v/1777328300001/coulter-this-is-a-repulsive-despicable-ad/?playlist_id=86924 How can you support such a lying, deceptive campaign?
James R Hoffa August 09, 2012 at 03:47 AM
@Randy1949 - Regardless of who gets the GOP nomination, the November numbers from this senate seat race will pretty much mirror those of the gubernatorial race in the recent recall election. Hoffa's predicting the GOP nomination will garner 54% of the popular vote vs 46% for Baldwin. Anyone think that Schmitzy will be up for another friendly wager with Hoffa ;-)
skinnyDUDE August 09, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Yes.....and that was the same group that backed Kathleen Falk. She was overwhlemingly rejected. I have zero doubts with Thompson state wide name recognition he beats Baldwin . That might even be his greatest selling point .
Steve ® August 09, 2012 at 04:39 AM
There comes a decision in life to put it down and out of it's misery
Bob McBride August 09, 2012 at 10:31 AM
Doubt he could cover it, JRH. I think he's got everything riding on a long shot shipper in the first race.
Keith Best August 09, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Once the public in Wisconsin comes to understand Baldwin is an extremist farther left than Nancy Pelosi, even a potted plant would be able to beat her.
morninmist August 09, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Hoffa from your link. The ONLY repulsive is Coulter (double with Hannity, they are nauseating!!) August 8, 2012 Coulter: ‘This is a repulsive, despicable ad’
morninmist August 09, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Best to Tammy. Tammy Baldwin ‏@TammyBaldwinWI We had a great time at Sheboygan Brat Days, and our pictures prove it: http://bit.ly/TBfair #WISen
James R Hoffa August 09, 2012 at 08:33 PM
@morninmist - And therein lies the difference between conservatives and liberals folks: Despite her being on the conservative side, Hoffa admits that Andrea Saul is incompetent because she effectively demonstrated that she is by making idiotic comments to the press on behalf of the Romney campaign. Ann Coulter did the same. When morninmist is faced with a liberal who's been caught red handed in a BIG LIE, Stephanie Cutter and the Obama campaign, instead of admitting to it, misty instead shifts the subject and continues to blast away at conservatives. There's never any accountability or even expectation of responsibility from the supporters of liberal candidates, such as morninmist. The only thing that's important to them is blasting the other side of the aisle while sticking their heads in the proverbial sand as to their side's own shortcomings. It's quite sad in all reality, isn't it?
morninmist August 10, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Come and join in democracy at its best: Tammy Baldwin ‏@TammyBaldwinWI The work starts now! Meet Tammy, @MahlonMitchell & others in Milwaukee this Sunday to kick off the general election: http://bit.ly/TB4MKE

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