U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) speaks at a news conference Friday, May 13, 2011, in Milwaukee. Kohl said he has decided not to run for re-election after serving in the U.S. Senate since 1989
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be on everyone’s mind to replace Kohl, but many think he won’t run. After all, he passed up a chance in 2010 to run against Russ Feingold. Republicans also like the state attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, one of the few Republicans to win statewide in 2006. In 2010 he was reelected with 58 percent of the vote. Unlike other contenders, he could run without risking his current job. Duffy also mentions former congressman Mark Neumann but notes that he “made an unsuccessful bid against Feingold in 1998 and ran for the GOP gubernatorial nomination last year. He got 38 percent after running a dreadful campaign.” A GOP operative with whom I spoke also says “worth mentioning” is wealthy businessman Tim Michels, who ran in 2004.
For now, the betting on the Hill is that the Senate will flip to a Republican majority. I won’t say “control” because 60 is well out of reach. Nevertheless, with Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, West Virginia and Nebraska as potential pick-ups, the Republicans could wind up in the mid-50s. Much will defend, of course, on the nominees and whether the GOP has a strong candidate at the top of the ticket.
Wisconsin will also be in play for the Presidential race and will be a key battleground state. With a contested Senate contest, the spending and media attention will accelerate.
The GOP’s Senate prospects are only looking better.