Sen. Kohl discusses 2012 race for his seat - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Sen. Kohl discusses 2012 race for his seat


Wisconsin has not had two Republicans serving in the US Senate at the same time since 1957.

But, that could soon change.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson defeated Democrat incumbent Russ Feingold in 2010 and the GOP feels they now have a shot to take both seats with Democrat Herb Kohl stepping down in 2012.

Senator Kohl joked about his decision after an introduction by Exact Sciences CEO Kevin Conroy in Madison on Monday afternoon.

"Maybe I ought to change my mind, that was such a good re-election introduction," laughed Sen. Kohl.

Its a joke leaders at the Democratic National Committee probably wouldn't find very funny.
"They would have liked that I would have run for office again," said Kohl.  "I wasn't pressured, but it was clear to me they wanted me to do that."

Kohl's decision not seek a fifth term leaves the Democrats very vulnerable in Wisconsin, which shifted heavily to the right in 2010.

"Its very intense as you know, very polarized and very partisan, which is unfortunate," said Kohl.

The race for Kohl's seat is now wide open.

Democrats who may make a run for it include Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, though neither have announced.

Possible big names in the GOP field could be former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson and former Congressman Mark Neumann.

Neumann has run for the senate before, losing to Feingold in 1998.

Kohl thinks any of them might have a chance.
"We're still a 50/50 state. It's more polarized in that Democrats are more strongly democratic and Republicans are more strongly republican," said Kohl. 

But, Senator Kohl believes that strategy to win a statewide race remains the same: Get the independents on your side.

"You have to make a good presentation and you have to be effective and I think people need to be convinced that you're sincere, you're knowledgeable, that you're balanced and that you will represent all the many diverse interests in our state, regardless of their political direction or how they're perceived," said Kohl.

Senator Kohl says a moderate approach in Washington is also needed to counter the growing ranks of loud extremists.

"Its important for those of us who serve well, to do it in a discerning way and to pick and choose and make good judgements," said Sen. Kohl. "To just say, lets cut everything, five percent, I don't think that's very smart."

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