Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold is another progressive champion in the Senate who’s finding his seat in danger this election season as he takes a dip in the polls.
But Feingold has long been popular in Wisconsin—so why the sudden change of fortune? On the October 1 episode of The Breakdown, John Nichols explains that it all boils down to Republican challenger Ron Johnson’s populist appeal: even though Feingold’s opponent is in cahoots with Wall Street, on the campaign trail he’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs. He’s also made nice with the Tea Party, and says all the right buzzwords.
It’ll be a great loss for the conscience of the Democratic party if Feingold goes—he was the only Senator with the guts to oppose the Patriot Act, and he has a consistently strong voting record on civil rights, gay rights and reproductive rights issues.
Throughout the race, Johnson has successfully painted Feingold as too cozy with Obama and Pelosi. Feingold has “always done very well when he’s separate from the Republicans…but also separate from the Dems,” John Nichols argues in his October 11 Nation cover story. Recently, however, Feingold has started fighting back with strong campaign ads emphasizing his independence.
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