By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com August 22 2012 9:01 AM ET
GOProud, the group representing gay conservatives and their allies, announced that its board of directors has voted to endorse Tommy Thompson, the Republican opponent of Tammy Baldwin, in the U.S. Senate contest, calling the former Wisconsin governor a “common-sense conservative” while charging that the congresswoman represents “the most liberal agenda in America.”
“Tommy Thompson is a common-sense conservative who will focus on creating jobs and growing the economy for all Wisconsin,” said GOProud executive director Jimmy LaSalvia in a statement. “Governor Thompson’s experience and leadership uniquely qualify him to serve in the U.S. Senate.”
Thompson, a former four-term governor and secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, won a hotly contested four-way primary last week. His win marked a break in this year’s trend of Tea Party upsets over establishment Republican figures, and arguably delivered the toughest general election challenger to Baldwin. GOProud backed a Tea Party favorite, former WWE chief executive Linda McMahon, who won the Connecticut Senate primary last week.
The GOProud statement largely focused on economic policy, but it devoted one sentence to “issues of particular importance to gay and lesbian voters in Wisconsin,” saying that Thompson opposes a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and has supported the state’s nondiscrimination law. However, the candidate is opposed to allowing same-sex couples to marry and he supports the Defense of Marriage Act.
Thompson said in a statement, “I appreciate the support of GOProud and look forward to the growing coalition of broad support joining me on the pathway to victory in November.”
Baldwin, a seven-term Democratic member of the House of Representatives, could become the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate and the first woman to serve her state in the upper chamber. She has been endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and LPAC, the new lesbian-led super PAC. The PAC plans to direct $100,000 for TV ads, including a current buy from EMILY’s List that portrays Thompson as a friend of “special interests.”
GOProud used the same rhetoric against Baldwin in its statement, where chief strategist and cofounder Christopher R. Barron said, “Tammy Baldwin will be a senator of the special interests, the D.C. insiders, and the most liberal activists. Tommy Thompson will be a senator for the people of Wisconsin.”
“The voters of Wisconsin need to ask themselves whether or not they want to send a woman to the Senate who has a voting record to the left of Nancy Pelosi,” he said. “Tammy Baldwin has been a rubber stamp for the disastrous big government policies of the far left.”