PEWAUKEE -- It had been almost 14 years since Tommy Thompson last tasted the sweetness of an election victory, and it was clear he relished it Tuesday night.
The former Governor got 34 percent of the vote in the GOP Senate primary to score a narrow victory over Madison businessman Eric Hovde, who finished with 31 percent of the vote. Former Congressman Mark Neumann and State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald finished third and fourth respectively.
Thompson gave a rousing acceptance speech, saying several times he was running to help take America back, and that he was going to be the 51st Republican Senator.
Thompson won despite being targeted and attacked by Tea Party groups, going all the way back to last year.
He made a point to mention just what a tough campaign it was, but he made it through, and will next face Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin in November.
"No more delays that are going to bankrupt this country," Thompson told his supporters. "We are, ladies and gentlemen, proud Americans. =Every single one of you are here tonight, because you believe in America, you believe in the process, you believe in Wisconsin. We're taking our country back and we are going to win in November ladies and gentlemen."
Thompson won the election by roughly 18,000 votes over Hovde.
A quarter of that margin came in Dane County, which gave the former governor one of his highest vote totals of any county.
MADISON (WKOW) -- Former Wisconsin governor and Cabinet secretary Tommy Thompson has won the Republican U.S. Senate primary.
It marked Thompson's first time on the ballot since 1998. He defeated businessman Eric Hovde, U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann and state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.
Thompson will face Democrat Tammy Baldwin in the November 6 general election. That seat became open following the retirement of Democrat Herb Kohl.
For complete election results, click here.
MADISON (WKOW) – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson went to the polls early Tuesday morning in Madison and will be in Pewaukee at the Country Springs Hotel at night.
Thompson is trying to capture the same magic that Governor Scott Walker had in 2010 when he held his victory party at this same hotel. The former governor says he's "cautiously optimistic" about his chances Tuesday night.
"It's quite obvious to me that they want change and I'm the one person, I sincerely believe this, that can help Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan carry the state of Wisconsin and really bring the changes necessary," Thompson said.
If elected, Thompson says he will work to make tough decisions that will get people back to work and reduce the nation's debt, saying it's immoral to leave it to our children and grand-children to pay off in the future. Thompson has been at the top of some polls and slightly behind Eric Hovde in others.
Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will have live reports from Pewaukee on 27 news at 10, where Thompson will take the stage at his election party.