Former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, used to live up to his promises as a progressive independent who fought for Wisconsin.
Today, we see a different Feingold. We see a Feingold who has moved away from his famous 1992 garage door promises. One of the top promises of his past campaigns was to fund itself via in-state contributions. Running a kind of grass roots campaign, similar to Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, presidential run, Feingold didn’t take money or support from wealthy out-of-state donors or wealthy out-of-state super PACs.
In Feingold’s last run for Senate in 2010 he implemented the same strategy he had used in the past. Sadly, he lost, and apparently Wisconsin lost a Feingold that cared about campaign finance.
In his current campaign, Feingold has abandoned his past pledge and has stated, “It makes no sense now” to run a campaign like that. Clearly, Feingold hasn’t paid much attention to Sanders’ campaign, which mainly smaller individual contributions have been funding.
By funding his campaign this way, Sanders reflects his belief that he should represent the true will of the people. Feingold used to do that as well — only taking campaign contributions from Wisconsin residents, reflecting the people of Wisconsin more accurately.
Feingold wanted to represent the people he had been elected to represent at a national level. But now, non-Wisconsinites fund a huge portion of Feingold’s campaign. In the fourth quarter of this year, three-fourths of his campaign contributions were from out-of-state individuals.
While Feingold’s opponent in the senate race, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, is running a campaign that has huge out-of-state campaign contributions, Feingold used to stand for more. He used to stand for the everyday man. Even though he worked in the Senate for years, he was someone well-connected to the state he represented. It is both surprising and disheartening to see the amount of out-of-state money flooding into Feingold’s campaign.
It’s disheartening because Feingold used to be a better politician. It’s disheartening because Feingold used to stand for ethical campaign finance, like the McCain-Feingold act. It’s disheartening because Feingold used to stand against politics as usual. He used to stand for change.