Hagen backs Thompson for senateWashington D.C. has become a place where the most pressing issues the nation faces aren’t being solved, according to Wisconsin’s 42nd governor, Tommy Thompson.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Washington D.C. has become a place where the most pressing issues the nation faces aren’t being solved, according to Wisconsin’s 42nd governor, Tommy Thompson.
That perception lead the 38-year veteran of government — and 14-year Wisconsin governor — to throw his hat in the ring one more time at age 70 for a chance to serve the public interest.
Thompson is one of six Republicans vying for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by retiring U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat.
On Aug. 14 — a month earlier than usual — Thompson faces off against Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, businessman and former U.S. congressman, Mark Neumann, a retired driver and courier who made an unsuccessful bid for Wisconsin Assembly in 1999, John Schiess, and Madison-area businessman Eric Hovde.
“What I saw was Democrats and Republicans not being able to solve any of our problems,” Thompson said of his decision to run for public office again. “We have Social Security that they haven’t done anything to address, Medicare has not been done; the doctor fix has not been done. Obamacare is an abomination and needs to be fixed. No one is doing anything on natural gas and energy — huge problems and all they do is fight amongst themselves. Nothing gets done. Government is not working. You need someone like me in the next government to sit down and listen and come up with compromise to get things done.”
Mayor Bruce Hagen, who hosted a reception at the Elks Club for the former governor — and who worked for him for 14 years, including a stint as Thompson’s chief of staff, said he knows first-hand that Thompson is a consensus builder, irrespective of party affiliations.
Hagen endorsed the former governor in his bid for the U.S. Senate.
“We can talk about the things that happened in Superior under his administration,” Hagen said, citing projects like the expansion of U.S. Highway 53 to a four-lane highway and the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center.
The state contributed $1 million to the $5 million project just prior to Thompson stepping down as governor to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human services under President George W. Bush’s administration in 2001.
Hagen said right now the right has moved too far to the right and the left has moved too far to the left, and he believes Thompson can change that.
“He can be and will be the voice in Washington that is commonsense, consensus building and won’t be running off to the end of the spectrum,” Hagen said. “He has proven that in Wisconsin and Washington, he is a consensus builder.”
Hagen said Thompson was the first governor to bring state government to northern Wisconsin, and knows the people — and “every inch of Wisconsin” — well.
Thompson was in Superior on Friday to tour Kestrel Aircraft Co., Exodus Machines and Calumet Specialty Products LP refinery in Superior. The tours were followed by a reception at the Elks, during which Hagen announced his support for Thompson’s candidacy.
“He is the best candidate to represent us in Washington D.C.,” Hagen said. “He has the deepest and most qualified experience of any candidate — Republican or Democrat … He’s always been a supporter of ours in this part of the world.”
Thompson said when he first ran for governor, he was told he would never get the support of largely Democratic Douglas County voters. And that first term, he didn’t garner the county’s support. But that didn’t stop him from coming to northern Wisconsin or supporting causes important to this part of the state.
“I believe in building,” Thompson said. “I believe in northern Wisconsin. I believe in all of Wisconsin. I love this state. I love what we stand for, and I figure the way to do it is that we grow together.”