Feingold won’t run for Senate or Governor in 2012

posted at 8:45 am on August 19, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Democrats in Wisconsin hoped to get Russ Feingold to challenge Governor Scott Walker as a means of vengeance for the public-employee union reforms enacted this year, or at least have him run for Herb Kohl’s open seat in the Senate as a means to assure they could hold it.  In a letter sent out to supporters this morning, Feingold disappointed them on both counts, saying that he’s enjoying life outside of electoral office:

The former three-term senator would have been a top candidate to replace retiring Sen. Herb Kohl, or to take on Gov. Scott Walker in a potential recall election. But Feingold will tell his fans he’s more interested in his teaching job at Marquette Law School.

“After twenty-eight continuous years as an elected official … I have found the past eight months to be an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective,” Feingold said in the email, first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert. Feingold said he is “thoroughly enjoying the life of a private citizen.”

In order to mount a realistic run for Kohl’s seat in 2012, Feingold would have to start fundraising very soon, if not immediately.  Democrats already have a candidate for that race in Rep. Tammy Baldwin, but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether Wisconsin will elect hard-core progressives from Madison to statewide office any longer. It doesn’t appear they will, not from the voting patterns of the recall races in the state Senate and the Prosser-Kloppenburg vote, and the unions are going to have a lot less money to blow in future elections after the PEU reform law’s passage.

The race for governor won’t take place until 2014, which means that Feingold has a couple of years in which to change his mind.  However, having been beaten in a statewide run by a political novice doesn’t exactly build confidence in Feingold as a man who can take on Walker, especially if four years of conservative leadership cuts spending and brings the public sector under control.  It’s safe to say, though, that this is good news for Walker and bad news for Wisconsin Democrats if Feingold stays retired.

Of course, this does leave Feingold available for other tasks than just teaching at Marquette.  Progressives are looking for someone to run against Obama in a primary, and Feingold might be the most prominent national progressive with enough reach to take seriously.  I think it’s highly unlikely that Feingold would attempt it, but at least one can’t say he’s unavailable.

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Duh.

I’ve been laughing at the “Draft Feingold” signs I’ve been seeing around town.

MadisonConservative on August 19, 2011 at 8:51 AM

“After twenty-eight continuous years as an elected official

Scary that we have people serving that long on the public dime, no matter what party they belong to.

Bishop on August 19, 2011 at 8:51 AM

And I thought the draft Jerry Brown movement was lame.

Disturb the Universe on August 19, 2011 at 8:52 AM

I’ve been laughing at the “Draft Feingold” signs I’ve been seeing around town.
MadisonConservative on August 19, 2011 at 8:51 AM

Including the 3 signs in your front yard?

Bishop on August 19, 2011 at 8:52 AM

…(B)ut it’s anyone’s guess as to whether Wisconsin will elect hard-core progressives from Madison to statewide office any longer.

Minor point of order – the only hard-core progressives who ran as such (which is the key qualifier) that has been elected to statewide office lately have been the aforementioned Feingold and Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson (and both benefited from weak candidates the last time both of them won).

Kevin Binversie was right – Feingold is enjoying being what he railed against for the 18 years he was Senator far too much.

Steve Eggleston on August 19, 2011 at 8:54 AM

He could be passing on 2012 because internal polling shows it’ll be a horrible year for Dems. Wisconsin is definitely in play for the GOP.

Doughboy on August 19, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Democrats in Wisconsin hoped to get Russ Feingold to challenge Governor Scott Walker as a means of vengeance for the public-employee union reforms enacted this year balancing the budget, preventing the firing of hundreds of teachers, and creating a better environment for job growth.

They hate that stuff so much they filed a law suit.

The complaint also alleges that Act 10 violated union members’ rights to free speech, association and to petition governmental employers for redress of grievances.

Judge McEnroe weighs in.

forest on August 19, 2011 at 8:56 AM

OT: For you plane lovers out there, the BING main page has a cool pic and of course their sweet linkage to more cool pics.

Canopfor, if you’re reading this, go check it out.

Bishop on August 19, 2011 at 8:56 AM

He can’t not run. There are too many cars being held together with Feingold bumper stickers in Madison.

Fallon on August 19, 2011 at 9:00 AM

As for what this means for the threatened recall against Walker, while it won’t stop the Dems from trying (after all, overplaying their hand is the DPW specialty), it is a strong datum point that it is doomed to failure. If the odds were anything approaching certainty, Feingold would not have ruled out 2012 entirely. Even on the Dem side, executive experience for Presidential candidates is valued (of course, that got us Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and FDR).

Steve Eggleston on August 19, 2011 at 9:01 AM

He could be passing on 2012 because internal polling shows it’ll be a horrible year for Dems. Wisconsin is definitely in play for the GOP.

Doughboy on August 19, 2011 at 8:55 AM

If you believe PPP, Feingold (and only Feingold) had a good chance of winning whatever race he wanted in 2012.

Steve Eggleston on August 19, 2011 at 9:02 AM

Steve Eggleston on August 19, 2011 at 8:54 AM

Regardless if they run as such, I think Wisconsin voters have begun to see them as they are, especially after the fleebagging episode.

Ed Morrissey on August 19, 2011 at 9:02 AM

Ed Morrissey on August 19, 2011 at 9:02 AM

That reminds me; I still owe the Greenroom a final post-mortem.

Steve Eggleston on August 19, 2011 at 9:06 AM

He can’t not run. There are too many cars being held together with Feingold bumper stickers in Madison.
Fallon on August 19, 2011 at 9:00 AM

They have cars in Wisconsin? Huh, I thought WI transportation technology hadn’t progressed past the chariot.

Bishop on August 19, 2011 at 9:06 AM

I can see the campaign slogan now – Truss Russ (pun intended)

They could get Jocky ads for free.

Don L on August 19, 2011 at 9:09 AM

Including the 3 signs in your front yard?
Bishop on August 19, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Stop, he’ll start with the f-bombs.

Akzed on August 19, 2011 at 9:12 AM

OT, before work:

Was cleaning up before out the door and was watching Chris Cillizia guest hosting on UpChuck Todd’s show on MSNBC:

“A lot of Obama critics are criticizing his vacation in these perilous economic times. But in the interest of fairness, Sarah Palin also quit her job half way through.”

If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’. Direct quote.

Marcus on August 19, 2011 at 9:14 AM

While I’ve probably never agreed with him on ANYTHING, Feingold has always struck me as a principled, although misguided advocate for his ideas. I don’t think that he has been corrupt and I don’t think that he has tried to hide what he believes. For that, at least, I can respect the man.

MJBrutus on August 19, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Marcus on August 19, 2011 at 9:14 AM

That truly is an eye-popping example of turd polishing.

MJBrutus on August 19, 2011 at 9:18 AM

Scary that we have people serving that long on the public dime, no matter what party they belong to.

Bishop on August 19, 2011 at 8:51 AM

The statement that will most overlooked…28 years of leeching off the public.
And that goes for either side of the aisle…

right2bright on August 19, 2011 at 9:25 AM

I’ve been laughing at the “Draft Feingold” signs I’ve been seeing around town.

MadisonConservative on August 19, 2011 at 8:51 AM

I don’t get it…the guy was a solid lock right up until the moment he lost. Must have been some sand under that foundation. Then I thought he was a real threat in the Governor or Senator races, as Ed is saying … but you don’t seem to agree.

Either way, I’m glad to hear this big name is staying out. Maybe that just confirms that the conservatives have control over the dialogue right now.

Jaibones on August 19, 2011 at 9:28 AM

Akzed on August 19, 2011 at 9:12 AM

I see you’ve started with the trolling.

MadisonConservative on August 19, 2011 at 9:35 AM

Including the 3 signs in your front yard?

Bishop on August 19, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Actually, my signs say “Yay, we got rid of Feingold!”

Planning to put up any signs that say “Yay, we got rid of Franken!”?

Oh, that’s right…

MadisonConservative on August 19, 2011 at 9:36 AM

Feingold is at least smart enough to know that if you enter a contest, you might lose. He lost to a first time Tea Party person last time and can you imagine how embarrassed he must have been?

If he ran again and lost again, he would be nothing, including as a lobbyist.

By not running or more to the point, not losing again, he has SOME clout left.

barnone on August 19, 2011 at 9:40 AM

I don’t get it…the guy was a solid lock right up until the moment he lost. Must have been some sand under that foundation. Then I thought he was a real threat in the Governor or Senator races, as Ed is saying … but you don’t seem to agree.

Either way, I’m glad to hear this big name is staying out. Maybe that just confirms that the conservatives have control over the dialogue right now.

Jaibones on August 19, 2011 at 9:28 AM

If Feingold were such a lock, Walker and then Prosser wouldn’t have won.

MadisonConservative on August 19, 2011 at 9:41 AM

That used to be the dream for everyone, 30 years on a job then retirement. The only place you can find that now is in the public sector.

My brother is retiring next year, after 30 years of employment, at age 55 with a pension of $70,000. He worked his way up to Fire Chief in our Township after starting as a volunteer firefighter.

Vince on August 19, 2011 at 9:54 AM

Scary that we have people serving that long on the public dime, no matter what party they belong to.

Bishop on August 19, 2011 at 8:51 AM
The statement that will most overlooked…28 years of leeching off the public.
And that goes for either side of the aisle…

right2bright on August 19, 2011 at 9:25 AM

The above quote should be with my post at 9:54 AM

Vince on August 19, 2011 at 9:55 AM

I like him. He’s far left but doesn’t hide who he is. I can respect that even if I disagree with most of his views.

angryed on August 19, 2011 at 10:00 AM

I like him. He’s far left but doesn’t hide who he is. I can respect that even if I disagree with most of his views.

angryed on August 19, 2011 at 10:00 AM

I agree. I respect him for, at the very least, being one of the most consistent and honest lefties in the Senate. Unfortunately, that’s not saying much, because he still employs talking points that are less than honest when attacking us.

MadisonConservative on August 19, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Sarah Palin also quit her job half way through.”
If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’. Direct quote.

Marcus on August 19, 2011 at 9:14 AM

Heh. Operative word here being also.

a capella on August 19, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Maybe The One has him tapped as a running mate, for when Joe “Gaffe-tastic!” Biden retires later this year, to spend more time with his family after a lifetime of unparalleled public service. Or personal family reasons. Or something.

av8tr on August 19, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Russ couldn’t get elected dog catcher.

GarandFan on August 19, 2011 at 10:23 AM

I think Feinghold is damaged goods and he knows it. Feingold cultivated an image in Wisconsin as an “aw, shucks” nice honest salt-of-the-Earth Wisconite and it carried him to several election wins despite his far-Left voting record.

In the race against Johnson, he had to go strongly negative because he was so far down in the polls. Not only didn’t that strategy work, it exposed him as just another hard-core leftist.

Now Russ wants to stay at school where he can mold the next generation of liberal drones and where he won’t be challenged when he voices his leftist imbecilities.

PackerBronco on August 19, 2011 at 11:25 AM

I like him. He’s far left but doesn’t hide who he is. I can respect that even if I disagree with most of his views.

angryed on August 19, 2011 at 10:00 AM

I disagree. Every 6 years he ran as a fiscal conservative, which he wasn’t. And he ran as a maverick, but he only was a maverick when his vote would not be deciding on one side or the issue or the other. He was great for symbolic but not substantative protests against the establishment.

PackerBronco on August 19, 2011 at 11:28 AM

My brother is retiring next year, after 30 years of employment, at age 55 with a pension of $70,000. He worked his way up to Fire Chief in our Township after starting as a volunteer firefighter.

There are some, not many, but some government employees that I don’t begrudge a healthy retirement. The guy who risks his life by rushing in to my burning house to save my child or even my pet cat has actually provided a tangible service to me and to the rest of my community and isn’t a leech or parasite, he’s earned his pension, at least IMHO. The person with the permanent scowl and ill temper in the DMV? Not so much. And no, I’m not a government employee or a firefighter or cop.

Big John on August 20, 2011 at 2:35 AM