Club for Growth running TV ad against Tommy Thompson

The fiscally conservative Club for Growth will run television ads hitting former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) on his tax record ahead of Thompson's likely Senate bid.

The group has been highly critical of Thompson, who also served in President George W. Bush's Cabinet as secretary of Health and Human Services, because of his early support of President Obama's health insurance reform law and of the individual mandate. Thompson has since disavowed the law.

The group's ad hits Thompson for this, playing a clip of Obama saying Thompson supported the legislation, and for tax increases he supported as governor.

"Tommy Thompson's record of support for more spending, higher taxes and ObamaCare will tank this ill-advised comeback attempt," said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. "In 2010, the people of Wisconsin said no to ObamaCare, and no to the tax-and-spend Obama agenda. That hasn't changed, and neither has career politician Tommy Thompson’s record of bigger and more expensive government."

The former governor is likely to face a primary challenge from former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wis.), who lost a 2010 gubernatorial primary to now-Gov. Scott Walker. Some of Neumann's former staffers, including his former chief of staff, now work for the Club for Growth, although it is likely Thompson will be a target because of his breaks with Republican orthodoxy whether Neumann runs or not.

Thompson's former chief of staff pushed back against the Club's criticism and accused them of being shills for Neumann.

"It's no coincidence the national Club for Growth ran a push poll against Governor Thompson last week, or that they are now running television ads distorting his record.  Federal tax records clearly show Mark Neumann’s former chief of staff Chuck Pike, and Neumann’s chief political fundraiser Erika Sather are key staffers at the Club for Growth," said former Thompson Chief of Staff Bill McCoshen. "These attacks are clearly designed to help Mark Neumann’s potential candidacy."

The group did not disclose the size of the ad buy but called it "substantial" and promised that this was just the opening salvo.

Watch the ad here: