If you want to see the corrupting influence of big money on politics — especially when big money flows from outside of our state — look no further than the race for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin.
If you believed all the paid campaign blather, you would be convinced that two of the most evil creatures on earth are running to represent us.
Of course, the candidates haven’t exactly been shy about calling each other out, either.
Regardless, we think U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin and former Gov. Tommy Thompson are bright, honorable public servants who would represent this state with honor.
Clearly, there’s more that separates Tammy and Tommy than a vowel.
They are different people with different strengths.
One of them will be our U.S. senator — and there are reasons to have faith.
They are fighting to fill the seat of Herb Kohl, a fiscal conservative and social progressive who has long been a caring, generous leader for the people of Wisconsin.
Kohl couldn’t always be defined by labels or party — a good thing, actually.
We have been impressed over the years that Baldwin — who has served the Madison area in Congress since 1999 — has visited the La Crosse area a number of times as part of her congressional committee work.
Those visits happened long before she announced her bid for Senate, and she was able to get a good feel for the quality of health care and the importance of renewable energy to our region.
It is clear she’s passionate about serving others — a passion that serves her and her constituents well.
Thompson, the former 14-year governor from Elroy, certainly isn’t a stranger here, either.
He also isn’t bashful.
Our endorsement comes down to the simple idea of collaboration and compromise.
In Washington and throughout the country, we stick to ideology at the peril of accomplishment. Both candidates, we’re sad to say, would have voted against the Simpson-Bowles plan that blended federal budget cuts and revenue increases — an approach pushed last week by CEOs in this country.
That plan wasn’t perfect — but it was billions and billions of dollars better than gridlock for our debt and our economy.
While we value Baldwin’s passion for social justice and her pride at working across the aisle, Thompson runs on a rich record of accomplishment in leading our state during a period when the governor and Legislature were on different sides of the political fence for 12½ of those 14 years.
Thompson was able to be pragmatic in order to reach consensus for the good of the state. We think that ability is needed in Washington, too.
While we’ve long admired Baldwin and believed the negative labels didn’t do her justice, we endorse Thompson because of his record of achieving compromise and accomplishment at a time when those are sorely needed.
We challenge him to make good on one area that requires compromise — health care.
We’re tired of the shrill opponents of health care reform who offer nothing in the way of reforming Medicare reimbursement, reforming the quantity-instead-of-quality payment structure or providing more preventative care.
Thompson was about the only Republican we’ve heard from who talks about the good points of the Affordable Care Act that he would like to retain — covering people 26 and younger on their parents’ policy, insuring those with pre-existing conditions, paying for successful outcomes and investing in wellness and prevention.
His knowledge of the topic as former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services came through. If he can help make the Affordable Care Act even more affordable for small business and others, that’s a plus.