(CNN) - Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson has decided against mounting a Senate bid, dealing a blow to Republicans who viewed him as the party's best chance to topple incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold.
"My family didn't want me to run," Thompson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Thursday about his decision not run. The onetime presidential candidate announced his decision at a Tea Party rally outside the Wisconsin State Capitol.
"It's time for new voices and new faces," Thompson told the crowd, according to local television station WBAY.
Thompson, who was governor of Wisconsin for 14 years and served as health and human services secretary under former President George W. Bush, remains popular in his home state. Recent polls showed that Thompson was running neck and neck with Feingold in a hypothetical matchup.
Thompson's decision leaves the race for the GOP Senate nomination to businessman Terrence Wall and former State Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel - neither of whom have high name recognition throughout the state.
Feingold, who is seeking his fourth term as senator, is sitting on $4 million in campaign cash as he awaits an opponent, according to his campaign.
UPDATE 4:48 p.m.:
The Feingold campaign put out a statement Thursday afternoon with Sen. Feingold's reaction:
"I'm disappointed that Secretary Thompson decided not to get in the ring. I'm sure there will now be talk about other candidates getting in this race, but it's my hope that the election can now be focused where it should be – on the issues important to the people of Wisconsin and who will be an independent voice for them in Washington, working hard to move our state forward."
Aw, gee, teabaggers. What you gonna do? Go cry in your tea? By the way, how many Bostonians did Sarah Palin attract yesterday on the Boston Common? I heard it was only 5,000. Wow, she couldn't do better than that? Goes to show you, Massachusetts isn't totally crazy just because they elected Scott Brown for Senator. Oh, and Mitt Romney for Governor a few years back. They are independent thinkers, and evidently couldn't stand to hear Sarah's voice so they stayed away. Imagine that voice over a loudspeaker no less!!! Ugh.
I'm always happy when the republicans are dealt a serious blow. What a day for rejoicement it is today!
Announcing this before the Teabaggers is equitable to you-guys-aren't-helping-me-out-much-so-give-it-a-rest.
Nice try, CNN – but any conservative will topple Fiengold; it's all changing in NOV.
I wish Thompson well. He was not your typical potty-mouthed lying GOP pol.
Way to go Republicans (you got dealt a blow)! Russ Feingold is one of the best Democrat Senators we have. I was astounded this morning when a Tea Party lady was interviewed on American Morning and she stated that the Republican Party is a party of the people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Republicans obviously favor the rich and could care less about the average guy. Who do you think created Social Security, Medicare, etc.–certainly not the Republicans.
Americans, wise up, only the Democratic Party is for the average guy!
That is the best thing i heard all day, thompson is a loser with a capitol L.
Probably a good decision on his part. Outside of family concerns, Thompson risked tarnishing his legacy either through a loss or finding that life as a Member of Congress, and having to play well with hundreds of other members, wouldn't be the same as being governor.
As a long-time Wisconsin resident, all I can say is: thank God. He is a buffoon.
Hopefully, another candidate steps forward to DEFEAT FEINGOLD.
FEINGOLD HAS BEEN IN DC TOO LONG!!!!
Thompson is no match for Feingold. Tommy Boy just doesn't have the political skills to make it. Richard Leinenkugel has a better chance, as long as he promises a free case of Honey Weiss beer for every vote.
A classic case of someone bowing out before they get kicked out. He probably knew he didn't stand a chance to bet Feingold so he went home before Feingold had a chance to send him home.
I'm not sure using the word BLOW in a story about Republicans is a good idea. I mean, I agree they all BLOW but CNN should probably be a little kinder toward them.....
"Leinenkugel... have high name recognition throughout the state."
Apparently, you've never been to Wisconsin, buddy. The only other names with more recognition are Miller and Lombardi.
Anyway, WI swings Democrat for our major elections, except for that blowhard Sensenbrenner, who will win as long as he's in the region's Overly Wealthy District. Gore in 2000, Kerry in 2004, and Obama in 2008, not to mention the perennially-elected other senator, Herb Kohl. When Feingold was one of a handful of senators to man up and oppose Dubya's Patriot Act, he got my vote for life.
This surely is a blow to Wisconsin. The present Senator, Govenor and Congressman we have now, are not for helping the people of Wisconsin, but are for taxing them to death.
He probably got turned off by the rabid teabaggers, anybody that can stand to listen to the sound of Sarah Palins voice for more than 1 minute has some serious issues.
Can one blame his family for NOT wanting to be involved in politics anymore?
To hang out with Republicanknuckleheads CONSTANTLY.
Give a butter knife to cut my arm off now instead.
LOL. Even the Republicans are tired of the Republicans!
So is this where we get to claim that it wasn't because of his family but because of all the GOPer screwups, negativity and lying over the past year? You know, like the Tealiban claimed it was all their doing when Stupak's family decided they were sick of him being in politics too...after suffering threats and harassment from the Tealiban, who think such things qualify as legitimate political strategery.
Thank God, Russ Feingold will continue to remain one of America's best senators.
You know, one who works for the "little guy", unlike the Koch brothers, Massey/Don Blankenships and the hedge fund traders who suck on the Republican teet.
Hey you party of NO out there. What goes around comes around. Finally it is starting to come around and no one deserves it better than the party of NO.
When I saw the headline that the Republicans had been "dealt a blow" I was expecting an article looking back to when McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate.
"It's time for new voices and new faces," Thompson told the crowd. No kidding. Let's get rid of the conservative old cronies and the whack job conservatives that got us into this mess in the first place. We need to have leaders that acknowledge living in the 21st century, and not pining for the days of the Salem Witch Trials.
His family wouldn't let him run? Blame the family. Be honest. You didn't want to run. Or at least say it. Don't make your family out to be the ones putting a damper on your future.
I wish more politicians, Democratic and Republicans, would do the same. The Supreme Court Justice appointees should do the same also. There should be a set term for all of them as it is for being the president. This is one of the major problems for this country now. There are too many politicians that are in office that should have retired or tried something else years ago. Instead, they just hold up space, time, and progress. A 90 years old politician is the same as a 90 years old driver, they keep on doing it because it's their right (selfish behavior) instead of what's good for every one in this country or for the drivers on the road with them.
There need to be laws for age limits and term limits for politicians and seniors citizens as there is for underage minors. It's seems that no one in this country knows when to tell themselves that enough is enough or that we are too old. There is such thing as being to old as there is such thing for being too young.
Know your limit!!!