Connecticut, Wisconsin parties name Senate nominees
NEW BRITAIN (CONNECTICUT) THE Connecticut Democratic convention on Saturday endorsed Congressman Christopher Murphy for an open US Senate seat, but former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson failed to win the Republican party convention endorsement in that state.
With long-serving senators in Wisconsin and Connecticut retiring, those Senate seats more vulnerable to switching parties in November’s general elections that will determine whether Republicans take back control of the Senate from Democrats.
The straw votes at the party conventions on Saturday were not the final decisions, and both states will hold primary elections in August. But the endorsement of state party conventions can give a candidate momentum in the campaign.
Democrats now hold a 53 to 47 seats edge in the U.S
Senate. Republicans are hoping to take the majority because far more Democratheld seats are up for election than Republican in November.
The Wisconsin Republican party convention did not endorse any of four candidates for the US Senate despite three rounds of voting during their meeting in Green Bay.
Thompson, 70, governor of the state for 14 years and Health and Human Services secretary in the George W
Bush administration, has statewide name recognition and had been leading in polls.
But, with only 21 percent of the convention vote, he failed to make it into the final round of balloting.
In the last round, State Assembly speaker Jeff Fitzgerald outpaced former U.S. Representative Mark Neumann 51 to 49 percent, although neither received the required 60 percent for the party’s endorsement.
“I think this is a big shot in the arm for us right now,” said Fitzgerald, who has helped lead Republican Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to curb public sector union power in the state.
Asked about Thompson’s weak showing, Fitzgerald said: “Governor Thompson has not been elected in over a decade in this state so I think he has some work to do to reconnect with people.” A spokesman for Thompson, who would still be eligible to run in the primary, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Wisconsin Republicans, like other states across the country have moved in a conservative direction with the advent of the Tea Party movement against government spending.