Wis. GOP Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald Running For Senate

August 30, 2011 6:25 a.m.

Another Republican has thrown his hat into the ring for the Wisconsin Senate seat being opened up by the retirement of Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl. And the latest candidate has a big name: State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald — who along with his brother, state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Gov. Scott Walker, has been instrumental in passing the anti-public employee union legislation that sparked the wave of protests, recall elections, and other big controversies in Wisconsin.

Fitzgerald confirmed his candidacy to the Wausau Daily Herald on Monday:

He said he would apply his experience in the Wisconsin Legislature to the Senate.

“We have the same problems here (in Wisconsin) as we have in D.C.,” he said, citing excessive taxation as an example. He said the national debt must be brought under control and that “we need to start making stuff in this country.”

Fitzgerald’s entry into the race could create the potential for a split right-wing conservative vote, aiding the more moderate former Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Also on Monday, former Rep. Mark Neumann declared his candidacy, which follows an unsuccessful run for governor in the 2010 Republican primary, and his having earlier been the unsuccessful Republican nominee for Senate in 1998 against then-Sen. Russ Feingold.

Thompson has been gearing up to enter the race, and never lost an election in Wisconsin — but he has not been on a ballot since he was elected to a fourth term in 1998. Also, Thompson has already been attacked by the conservative Club For Growth group, which for its part includes staffers who used to work for Neumann.

On the other side of the ballot, Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin is likely to announce her campaign soon, with other Democrats such as Rep. Ron Kind and former Rep. Steve Kagen also reportedly eyeing the race. Last week, former Sen. Russ Feingold, who lost his seat in the 2010 Republican wave, announced that he would not be a candidate for public office in 2012, either for the Senate or in a potential gubernatorial recall.

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