Wisconsin Republicans should be careful what they wish for. For some in the party, a couple of eccentric GOP Senate candidates make the prospect of a Republican majority in the Upper Chamber almost as frustrating as another session of Democratic control.
Take Tommy Thompson's little brother, Ed. A die-hard libertarian, whose 2002 gubernatorial bid (with Tommy's endorsement) as a third party candidate ruined Republican Scott McCallum's chances at retaining the governorship, Thompson is the presumed candidate to challenge incumbent Democrat Kathleen Vinehout in the 31st Senate district, which comprises a wide stretch of land south of Eau Claire.
Thompson's switch to the GOP has not tempered his political ideology. On his website, his second issue, "Live and Let Live," describes the epiphany he had when state agents raided his supper club and confiscated his illegal poker machines. He explains his realization that all government power implies the threat of force a concept that is entirely true but nonetheless traditionally reserved for political theory courses and late-night college bull sessions (at least in my experience).
A libertarian might not be as pesky for the GOP at the state level as at the national level, however, Thompson could still prove a headache for the caucus on crime policy, and I can already imagine the embarrassment he could cause during budget deliberations. Republicans spend too and he won't shy away from saying it.
However, as one Republican recently put it, if the Republicans hold the Senate by one seat, Thompson could become the de facto majority leader. The party will have to court his vote on every bill, and he can stop its agenda at the wag of a finger.
And yet, a GOP majority is unlikely without a Thompson victory. The GOP only has a few places to look for pick-ups. The race against Jim Sullivan in Wauwatosa will be close, as will the race in Door County which may feature former Rep. Frank Lasee, the other problem child of the GOP who will be the topic of a future post on the Senate.