Ryan won't run for Senate, Thompson likely
May 17th, 2011
10:04 AM ET
11 years ago

Ryan won't run for Senate, Thompson likely

(CNN) - Rep. Paul Ryan said Tuesday he won't run for the open Senate seat in Wisconsin, saying his efforts are best directed to tackling the country's fiscal issues in his post as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

“For my family and me, the most important factor in making this decision was determining where I could make the biggest difference," Ryan said in a statement. "Our nation is quickly approaching a debt crisis that will do serious damage to Wisconsinites and all Americans if it is not properly addressed. I believe continuing to serve as Chairman of the House Budget Committee allows me to have a greater impact in averting this debt-fueled economic crisis than if I were to run for the United States Senate."

That should open the door for former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson. Two separate GOP sources confirm to CNN that Thompson is expected to make a bid for the seat now held by Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl. The sources say Thompson told GOP officials he intended to run if Ryan decided against a campaign for the Senate.

Thompson also served as Health and Human Services Secretary under President George W. Bush and ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

Kohl announced Friday that he will retire after serving four terms in the Senate. Kohl became the sixth senator in the Democrat's coalition in the chamber to announce their retirement in 2012 rather than run for re-election. Two Republican senators have also announced they won't run for re-election next year.

Democrats currently hold a 53-47 advantage in the Senate, but are defending 23 (21 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party)

seats next year, compare to just 10 GOP seats up for grabs.'

During the 2010 midterm elections Republicans won two Democratic-held seats in Wisconsin as well as the governorship. Then-incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold was also unseated after serving three terms in the Senate.

Ryan Sunday told CNN's Candy Crowley on State of the Union that he would make an announcement this week on his political intentions.

The expected bid by Thompson was first reported by Politico. Other possible Republican candidates include state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, former Rep. Mark Neumann, former Rep. Mark Green, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and businessman Tim Michels.

Democratic Representatives Tammy Baldwin and Ron Kind are considering bids for the Senate seat.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee quickly reacted to word that Thompson may be jumping into the race.

"Tommy G. Thompson has spent the last decade doing the bidding of the Bush Administration and his special interest clients at his lobbying firm," said DSCC communications director Matt Canter, in a statement.

"The fact is that Tommy's Republican Party has changed dramatically in the decade he has been making money in Washington DC. Now his fellow Republicans want to end Medicare, take away the rights of working people and eliminate prescription drug coverage for seniors. Is Tommy ready for a makeover?" added Cantor.

The rival National Republican Senatorial Committee, which says it stays neutral in all party primaries for Senate, responded as well.

"Given that they were already facing a difficult political landscape and just saw another once-safe seat move into the toss-up column, it's not hard to see why national Democrats are engaging in desperate attacks," said NRSC Communications Director Brian Walsh. Perhaps they should focus less on the partisan rhetoric, and more on stopping any additional Democratic retirements."

Filed under: Herb Kohl • Paul Ryan • Tommy Thompson • Wisconsin
soundoff (18 Responses)

    Ryan would never have won (or even come close) to winning a statewide contest. With his extreme views now known he probably won't even win his district again, if he decides to run again. I'm sure he can read the polls and the winds of tide in his state and across the conutry. Even his own party has backed away from his extreme views.

    May 17, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  2. gt

    anybody will be better than do nothing kohl....this guy was a joke....

    May 17, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. diridi

    Paul Ryan, and Eric Cantor are both idiots, they should quit....or people need to vote them out of office....period...they both are idiots....i mean "Idiots". period....

    May 17, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. NVa Native

    I wonder why Ryan the Repub wonder kid isn't reaching for the stars since he is "so smart and good looking"? With his "dreamy eyes and full shock of hair" he's the eye-candy Repubs lust for – that's how Palin got her 15 minutes.
    Is it possible Ryan was exposed for being the shallow corpri-fascist that he and 98% of all Repubs have always been?
    Survey says ......YES ... we have a winner!

    May 17, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. Tony

    Republicans are going to have a tougher time due to the lack of results and broken promises.
    My lord their defense of the oil industry getting our tax dollars and outrageous profits.
    What away to bring the budget under control fellas.

    May 17, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. fayse

    Aw heck ! I thought that we would be rid of him in the Congress. Oh well, I doubt that he will be re-elected to the Congress.

    May 17, 2011 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  7. Chas in Iowa

    We'll see if the chair position stays with the GOP after the election. I'm not so sure the GOP will hold a majority the way they are going.

    May 17, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    Things in Wisconsin just aren't going to plan, are they GOPers? First Walker bombs, then Ryan bombs. What's a GOPer to do, but bring out Tommy (big-gun) Thompson, spruce him up, and let him run as Senator, ex-Governor hoopla be damned. Too funny.

    May 17, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  9. Dot

    I live in Wisconsin . . . trust me Ryan's going to have a hard enough time hanging onto his current job let alone thinking about a new one! And Thompson will NEVER win Herb Kohl's seat. We sure would like to get Russ back though . . . what a travesty that was!

    May 17, 2011 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  10. Tony Z

    Can we say SCARED? He would not have been a serious contender at all.

    May 17, 2011 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  11. Voiceinthewind

    How can we get rid of this scourge of society all together. The man is a Greedy self serving hypocrit.

    May 17, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Ryan is what is sometimes called a young fool not throughly thinking things through before he reacts because what sounds good to him isn't good for the country. Ryan should let his budget serve as a learned failure not to be repeated.

    May 17, 2011 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Of course he's not running. I told you that last time.. He might have some radical and crazy ideas at times, but he is not ever stupid. He knows that there's nothing but slim pickins for Republican chances at statewide offices in Wisconsin.

    May 17, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  14. j

    When & if the Repubs take the Senate, you can finally kiss the middle class goodby. ---You can call today`s political climate whatever term you want,however, one can no longer ignore the elephant in the room. It`s class warfare any way you look at it, rich vs. poor. Winner takes all.--– My money`s on the rich,-- for awhile, then we`ll eventually be back in the streets like the 60`s only far worse. ----- And I may be one of them.

    May 17, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. Marie MD

    Yeah, right frown man. After seeing that the people of Wisconsin went up against (and you agreed with the governor) I would be surprised if you get reelected for anything.
    Times are hard and the middle class is not going to take it anymore. Nothing says love than trying to screwteachers, firefighters, policemen who do so much for so little. Czn't evdn xtart omparing them the to the filthy richwho don't care one bit.

    May 17, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. deb

    No difference? Big deal? wow???? People still "Lose"!! Everything to "Corporate" Not

    May 17, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. Republican Robber Baron

    That is a pity...I would LOVE to put Rep. Ryan up for a statewide referendum on his radical right-wing voucher plan to replace Medicare. 80% of Americans on national polls oppose Ryan's plan. Go for it GOP.

    May 17, 2011 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. Bill

    Ryan will lose his re-election bid iin 2012.

    May 17, 2011 11:55 am at 11:55 am |