Sen Feingold Accepts 23,000 Thank You Cards From DFA

cross-posted from Sum of Change

I was honored today to join folks from DC for Democracy, the local Democracy for America affiliate, to personally deliver over 23,000 thank you notes to Senator Russ Feingold. Shortly after the the 2010 election, Jim Dean asked DFA members from all across the country to send the Senator messages of appreciation. In an email to all members, he wrote:

We lost a lot of bold leaders on Tuesday, but Senator Russ Feingold is in a class all his own. He is one of the great heroes of the progressive movement -- standing up and fighting for the people of his state and Americans across the country time and again -- often when no one else had the courage to lead. When other Democrats in Washington capitulated to President Bush and supported the war in Iraq, Senator Feingold stood up and voted against war. Two years later, he became the first Senator to call a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. When the Bush administration pushed the Patriot Act on Congress, Senator Feingold was the only person is the Senate to recognize the bill as an attack on American civil liberties and vote "No." And when unlimited and unregulated "soft money" threatened to overwhelm our political system, Senator Feingold authored and passed into law the most powerful campaign finance reform in history. Senator Feingold has always been there for us. Please, join me in writing Senator Feingold a short thank you message for all the work he's done for us over the years.

We met up at Senator Feingold's campaign office, a short walk from Union Station, and waited patiently for the Senator to get back from voting on the START Treaty. The staff asked me not to film the meeting so they could have a casual conversation, but I did get the opportunity to catch the DC4D folks at Senator Feingold's office getting their first look at the tens of thousands of thank messages:

Sumofchange - DFA Thanks Sen Feingold


In our meeting, the Senator told us he is looking forward to the coming fights and while his role will change we should expect him to continue to lead on any number of issues. Thank you, Senator, for your years of service, courage, and integrity. To everyone who wrote a thank you message, I wish you could have seen the look on his face when we presented them to him. Know that he appreciate

There's more...

NY-Sen B: Nothing to see here

Former Governor George Pataki has decided not to run for Senate against Kirsten Gillibrand this year, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

Instead, he said in an interview Tuesday that he would create a new national organization aimed at building support to repeal the recently enacted health-care overhaul.

Mr. Pataki's decision to bypass the Senate race marks another major coup for Ms. Gillibrand, who has been enormously successful in knocking out competition on both sides of the aisle despite appearing to be vulnerable politically.

I agree with Phillip Anderson of The Albany Project blog; it sounds like Pataki wants to run for president. He must be delusional if he thinks he has a chance in a GOP primary with his relatively moderate record as governor.

A year ago, Gillibrand seemed less than secure for the 2010 election, but various potential high-profile challengers have declined to take on this race. (New York's other U.S. Senate race has always been in the safe D category with Chuck Schumer.) Taniel of the Campaign Diaries blog noted yesterday that with Gillibrand no longer threatened, the last Senate seats that could still become competitive are Washington and Wisconsin. I think three-term incumbent Patty Murray would prevail even if the GOP's best candidate, Dino Rossi, got in the race. Ditto for Senator Russ Feingold against the GOP's dream recruit, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson.

UPDATE: Unintentional comedy alert as new Republican enters race against Gillibrand. He is David Malpass, who was chief economist for Bear Stearns from 2001 until the company collapsed in 2008.

WI-Sen: Thompson Lead Evaporates

Today's Rasmussen poll of the Wisconsin Senate race provides a bit of a surprise: former Republican governor Tommy Thompson no longer holds a statistically relevant lead against incumbent Russ Feingold:

...matched against Thompson, Feingold now trails by a statistically insignificant 47% to 45%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided.

Thompson, who is reportedly interested in the race but has not yet made a final decision whether to run, led Feingold 48% to 43% in February and held a similar lead in January.

Feingold easily beats his other two potential Republican opponents, but the real story is the Thompson matchup. In the last few months, the former governor has attracted a boatload of press about his potential decision to run - yet all the attention has only weakened his position. 

So even though Thompson's cohorts are hinting about a run, I'm still skeptical. His lobbyist connections being what they are, I bet Thompson was hoping for a much better number than he got today. 


WI-Sen: Tommy Thompson's Just Not That Into It

When asked specifically whether he'll challenge Russ Feingold, former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson has usually been Captain Indecisive.

And that's fine - he can enjoy the publicity that comes with his hedging. But something tells me this race isn't up Tommy's alley, given that our former governor doesn't exactly seem ready to re-immerse himself in state-specific issues:

 “This election… it’s going to be decided on things, you know, that really are not that particular to Wisconsin.”  

There's two possible takes on Tommy's comment. I mentioned the first above - that Tommy's not keen on returning to the sort of comprehensive policy work that running for statewide office requires.

But there's a second possible take.

One of Feingold's declared Republican opponents, millionaire developer Terrence Wall, launched his campaign with an off-key TV ad attacking Feingold on two fronts: for supporting health care reform, and for not "listening anymore," despite the fact that Feingold goes to great lengths to visit all 72 counties in Wisconsin every year.

And Tommy Thompson knows's no secret that Feingold consistently wins support from statewide independents who, while they may not agree with the Feingold on everything, know Senator Feingold well and trust his consistency.

So in a cycle when every Republican in America is running against Washington, how much room is there for a former Republican Cabinet Secretary who actually supported one of the Senate's versions of health care reform?

Probably not much. And Tommy's no fool.

WI-Sen: Feingold Opponent Paid No State Income Tax In 4 Of Last 5 Years

I think Terrance Wall's goose is likely cooked (via WisPolitics):

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Terrence Wall paid no personal state income taxes in four of the past five years, according to figures obtained from the state Department of Revenue. 

From 2004 to 2008, Wall, a real estate developer who lives in the Madison enclave of Maple Bluff, only had a state personal income tax liability in 2005, when he paid $43,520, according to DOR records. That one-year amount was more than Wall’s GOP primary opponent David Westlake of Watertown and Dem U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold of Middleton each personally paid in total state personal income taxes over the five-year period.

This isn't the first tax issue for Wall - he's had others.

So who would the Republicans have left in Wisconsin? This guy (the orange uniforms are not a joke, sadly).


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