Two U.S. Senate hopefuls with plastics ties are getting close to wrapping up their Republican party nominations: Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Bill Binnie of New Hampshire. Here's an update on their progress:
Johnson took a big step toward his goal May 23, when he was endorsed by the state Republican Party at its convention in Milwaukee. Johnson's path to the nomination — and a shot at opposing Democrat incumbent Russ Feingold in the general election — now appears clear.
That definitely wasn't the case a few months ago, when Johnson first showed up on the GOP radar in Wisconsin. But that was before former Gov. Tommy Thompson announced that he would not run for the Senate seat, and then another outsider with a better-known name — Dick Leinenkugel of the brewing company family — threw his support to Johnson.
Johnson, president of Oshkosh, Wis.-based PET sheet extruder Pacur LLC, has been generating some excitement by appearing at tea party rallies.
But before plastics industry pals start sending Johnson requests for good seats at the Redskins games, keep in mind that he's still considered a long-shot. Well-known political analyst Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia says Feingold “probably only had a contest” if Thompson had decided to run.
“We'll keep our eye on it, and it's a very late primary (Sept. 14), but for now [Wisconsin] leans Democratic hold,” Sabato wrote on his Crystal Ball Web site.
Meanwhile, Bill Binnie keeps plugging away in New Hampshire. Binnie, the founder of Carlisle Plastics Inc. — once a major film extruder, blow molder and injection molder — is one of two leading candidates seeking the GOP nomination.
Sabato gives Binnie a shot to win the nomination — his main rival is former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte.
If Binnie can get by Ayotte, Sabato says the GOP winner will have a better than 50-50 chance of beating the Democratic candidate, Congressman Paul Hodes.
Binnie is seeking the seat currently held by Sen. Judd Gregg, who is retiring — and who has endorsed Ayotte.
As of now, I'll say the chance of the Senate having two new members with plastics industry ties next year is less than 25 percent.
But if there's a sudden push by anti-incumbent, anti-establishment voters, Johnson and Binnie are both very well positioned to ride the wave.
Loepp is managing editor of Plastics News and author of “The Plastics Blog.”