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23 November 2006

Russ Feingold Will Not Run For President

Russ Feingold isn't running. This probably isn't news to anyone, and I ought to have written this sooner, but I've had a tough time deciding what to say. But today is Thanksgiving, and, believe it or not, I've still got a lot to be thankful for, and a lot of thank-you's to make.

Senator Feingold chose not to run because he didn't want to lose the opportunity he'll have to do good work in the newly-Democratic Senate, and, though disappointed, I can understand. He's still the most honest man in Washington, and if he wants to run in 2016 (or 2012, if a Democrat doesn't win in 2008), I'll be racing thousands of others to be the first person on the plane to Wisconsin to volunteer.

I've devoted time and energy to this cause, but I think we all owe thanks to the amazing folks that put together this movement, from the very first blog to Their hard work, with help from ordinary people like you and me, created a movement. It was people-powered politics at its finest, and in a matter of days there were over 3,500 members and over $92,000 pledged-- numbers that would have grown even further if Senator Feingold had made a different decision. We'll all go our separate ways, and get excited about different candidates (though, I suspect we'll be attracted to the same set of possibilities), but this accomplishment should not be forgotten.

And thank you, Senator Feingold, for giving us someone to be excited about. Finding the beginnings of a movement to draft you into the campaign helped me recover from John Kerry's loss, and helped restore my belief in progressive politics. I know that you had a similar affect on others as well.

Thank you to the readers of this blog, who have suffered through my poorly-written posts because they've hoped to help Senator Feingold in Michigan. And thank you to certain people who have encouraged me and my ideas through this movement.

This is all I can say, but there's so much more I wish I could say. Go read Dan's final post at his blog, and save a copy, because he's a masterful writer. Then, read Senator Feingold's thank you post on

In the meantime, let's keep going Forward. Let's go Forward with progressive politics in Michigan and around the country. Let's go Forward into 2008, winning seats in places where progressivism can make a difference, all across the country. And let's go Forward with Feingold, building a better future for ourselves with a Democratic Congress.

09 November 2006


While I've been blogging for the MI-07 race this fall, some very smart and dedicated Feingold fans have made the informal, scattered movement into something real: This is the next step in a people-powered pro-Feingold effort, and I'm proud to be a member, as Michigan's state administrator.

To the new Michigan members that have just joined, I welcome you to the movement and hope some of you are willing to blog for Feingold in our state. If you'd like to contribute content to this blog, e-mail me.

I can't tell you how excited I am. Over the coming week, I'll be clearing a lot of the clutter from the Feingold for Michigan blog to make it a little more streamlined, and I'll be adding plenty of new content. Until then, go and sign up with RunRussRun! Make a pledge for a future Feingold campaign today! Also, go read petercjack's excellent DailyKos diary.

Below, I've included haus' MyDD diary announcing the new site. He's the one who made this beautiful new website come together, along with hard work from other Feingold supporters around the country.

There have been a lot of posts in a lot of places mentioning vague developments for the "Draft Russ Feingold" movement in the near future. Well, it's November 9th, we own the Congress, and "Daffy" Donald Rumsfeld is an unpleasant memory. In other words the future is here.

Click here to beat the crowd and sign up at

We're very pleased to announce the launch of, which replaces as the national headquarters of the Draft Feingold for President movement.

Click here to sign up at

The new site was developed by Internet activists from 16 states and 5 national constituency groups. We looked very carefully at what worked and what didn't in our state-level organizations, our former national site, and previous presidential draft movements. Emerging technology helped us solve most of the problems we saw, emphasize what worked best, and open up what we think is a new kind of site for on-line activism.

Click here to sign up at gives members access to a wide array of services including: a customized activism road map, interaction with other members across the country, and direct access to free tools for building local and state-level groups and activities. It also features up-to-the-minute news from the Feingold for President state and community blogs, discussion forums, and an option to pledge donations to a future Feingold presidential campaign.

The effort to convince Senator Feingold to make a presidential run traces back to December, 2004 when the first Russ Feingold for President blog was started by current Washington University law student Daniel Kuehnert. Since then, the effort has grown to include 16 state blogs and numerous nationwide sites, including, which was founded in February 2005 by University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student Matthew Wallock. Steering Committee member, Minnesota resident and political activist Joel Clemmer, says "The movement has grown tremendously and needs a new face for the final push. Our goal over the next few months is to double our membership and bring at least five more states on line."

Add your voice to the movement: sign up at today.

08 November 2006

The First Day of the Next Campaign

Sharon Renier (D) lost to Tim Walberg (R) in the Michigan 7th Congressional District, but it was the closest House race in the state, and I'm glad that my small contributions seemed to have an impact with some voters.

But you know what? I'm tired of supporting candidates that look so promising, but then fall just short when it counts. I'm tired of losing in the most painful way. I'm tired of seeing someone I support falling to a far-right, radical conservative.

That's why I support Russ Feingold. I support Senator Feingold because he can win. I support him because he has a history of pulling out surprise victories when everything is acting against him. I support him because he reflects my values, and the values of most Americans-- that we are a country of laws, not kings, that we must be reasonable and thoughtful as we make decisions, and that we must be tolerant of those around us. I support Senator Feingold because he keeps the promises he makes to the people of Wisconsin.

And I want Senator Feingold to break one of those promises on January 20, 2009.
I will live in Middleton, Wisconsin. My children will go to school here and I will spend most of my time here in Wisconsin.
It'll be hard for him to keep that promise when he's living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But I think the people of Wisconsin will understand.

27 August 2006

November 8th, 2006

No doubt many readers of this blog have noticed that I haven't posted for about a month now. I'd like to apologize for that, as there's been quite a lot I could have been posting on-- what Ned Lamont means for Feingold in 2008, for example, or a whole host of polls or news articles about Feingold.

Unfortunately, something else has been the focus of my attention lately. While progressive netroots activists across the country were celebrating Ned Lamont's victory over Joe Lieberman, I was decidedly less happy. In my own Congressional District, MI-07, there was another closely-watched race with national implications.

Incumbent Republican Congressman Joe Schwarz is far from progressive, and I've had many days when I've wanted to write him angry letters. But he had intelligence and experience, and was a good man and fair representative of the district. On Tuesday, August 8th, he was defeated for renomination by Tim Walberg, a former state representative whose candidacy was sponsored by the Club for Growth.

Walberg is conservative in the worst way. He calls himself "100% pro-life," and routinely makes issues like abortion and gay marriage (when did gay marriage become a "pro-life" issue?) into "moral values" issues, with him taking the side of James Dobson and Jerry Falwell. He's never met a tax cut he didn't like, and was famous in the Michigan legislature for voting "no" on just about everything. In Congress, he'll try to cut taxes with no regard for fiscal responsibility, and opposes the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. On top of that, he's promised to follow President Bush blindly into the fire when it comes to Iraq, Iran, and a host of other world conflicts. Certainly no accountability from him.

With Michigan's gerrymandering, there's a good chance he could win in November. But I can't let myself believe the voters would really elect him, and between now and Election Day, I shall do everything I can to help defeat him and elect Democrat Sharon Renier.

As part of that, my blogging will take a different direction as well. Like everyone, my time is limited, and it's tough to maintain with any regularity even one blog. For the next couple months, that blog will be Walberg Watch-- dedicated to revealing just how radical Tim Walberg is, and helping to elect Sharon Renier.

I still support Russ Feingold whole-heartedly, and I'll be back here on November 8th, 2006. Until then, support your Democratic candidates for Congress, Governor Granholm and Senator Stabenow, and progressives on all levels of government.

If you're in a giving mood, stop by Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund and see who some good candidates are.

And maybe consider donating to Democrat Sharon Renier here in Michigan's 7th District too.

28 July 2006

Strategic Vision Poll for Michigan

Strategic Vision released a poll yesterday for the state of Michigan:
23. For the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination whom would you support? (Democrats Only)
Hillary Clinton 35%
Al Gore 15%
John Edwards 14%
Russ Feingold 7%
John Kerry 6%
Mark Warner 2%
Wesley Clark 2%
Joseph Biden 1%
Evan Bayh 1%
Tom Vilsak 1%
Bill Richardson 1%
Ed Rendell 1%
Christopher Dodd 1%
Undecided 13%
(emphasis added)

Senator Feingold's 7 percent is down from their last poll in May, when he had 9 percent. That said, I think it's important to note that the margin of error is 3 percent, so I'm not too worried yet. Instead, I think it would be helpful to look at how Feingold compares to other potential candidates.

To start with, I'm beginning to wonder why they include names like Christopher Dodd and Ed Rendell. Dodd has at least mentioned his potential interest in the race, but he's done nothing about it except campaign for Joe Lieberman against Ned Lamont. (While I don't want to tempt fate, I have a sneaky suspicion that Dodd backed the wrong horse on that one.) As for Rendell, his potentially close battle for reelection got him dropped off most lists a while back, and I'm surprised to see him. For all intents and purposes, I think we could probably add the 1 percent they get to the Undecideds.

With the remaining choices, we have those with national name recognition (either ran for president before or was married to someone that did) and those that aren't really well-known outside their home states. We'll look at the second group first.

  • Former Governor Mark Warner is getting a lot of media attention lately, and it's clear he's positioning himself to be Bill Clinton II-- the moderate, southern governor that everyone likes. I have no doubt that when the primaries start, he'll be a major force. But he gets an unimpressive 2 percent.
  • Senator Joe Biden is a regular on the Sunday shows like Meet the Press and, although he ran in 1988, that was long enough ago that it doesn't count. Despite all he says about being the anti-Hillary and despite his foreign policy knowledge, he's not done a lot to get noticed as a presidential prospect. He got an unsurprising 1 percent.
  • Senator Evan Bayh was once seen as a rising star of the Democratic Party, and he's been fairly decent in the Senate, I think. He's supposed to be Mr. Electability, as an ex-governor of Indiana and good-looking, well-spoken guy. But despite his proximity to Michigan, Bayh got only 1 percent.
  • Governor Tom Vilsack was a big name in 2004, with the Iowa caucus being the first step to John Kerry's nomination. He was on the short list for Kerry's VP, and his position in Iowa is helpful in that swing state and the region in general. Unfortunately for him, Michigan Democrats don't seem to remember 2004's media buzz, or don't care. Just 1 percent for him.
  • Governor Bill Richardson's description reads almost exactly like Vilsack's-- potential 2004 VP, governor of a swing state, in an important region. Add in that he's hispanic, and he really might surprise some people. But apparently not in Michigan, where he got 1 percent.
  • Finally, Senator Russ Feingold. You already know all about him, and he got 7 percent. For those that have been adding as we went along, that 7 percent, small as it is, is more than all the others in this group combined. It's not his proximity to Michigan that did it; only the UP gets Wisconsin media, and it doesn't have enough of a population to make that big an impact in the poll. Even if that were the case, you'd think Evan Bayh would perform better. No, I suspect it's because Feingold has inspired us with his courage and his wisdom and his willingness to stand up for what's right.
But what about the potential candidates that have run before?
  • General Wesley Clark just barely makes this list because most people seem to have forgotten he ran in 2004. He's got the national security credentials, to be sure, but he lacks in experience elsewhere. Made lots of noise in 2004, but apparently Michigan voters have forgotten that. Well, all but the 2 percent he got.
  • Senator John Kerry has an advantage that's also a disadvantage. He's got almost 100 percent name recognition, but he's remembered as the guy that lost in 2004. Whether that's fair or not, he doesn't perform too well in these polls because there's a feeling that he's already had his turn. Personally, I don't see him rising much beyond his 6 percent.
  • Former Senator John Edwards also has the high name recognition, but without the problem Kerry has. People don't blame the VP nominee for losing an election, just as people didn't credit Al Gore for Bill Clinton's victory. Edwards has shown a lot of strength lately, and some say the primary schedule will help him. This early, his 14 percent is a respectable showing.
  • Former Vice President Al Gore shouldn't be in this poll. He says he has no plans to run, and so far, the Draft Gore campaigns have been unimpressive. I loved his movie, but his political career, at least with the presidency, is over for now. I could be completely wrong, but for now I'm not going to worry too much about his 15 percent.
  • Finally, we come to Senator Hillary Clinton. Just saying the name brings back fond memories of peace, prosperity, and general happiness. No wonder she got 33 percent in the poll-- the 1990s have never seemed so good. But saying her name also brings back memories of scandals and baggage that could be a big problem for her. Plus, she hasn't done much lately to excite the base, has she?
The fact that Senator Feingold is performing better than both Wesley Clark and John Kerry is incredible, considering how early it is and how unknown Feingold is. As for Clinton, Gore, and Edwards, their high percentages are the result of name recognition, not concrete support.

That doesn't mean Feingold is the leader. But in Michigan, he's certainly a strong contender.

19 July 2006

Russ Feingold's Patriot Corps

In a previous post, I made reference to an initiative by Senator Feingold and the Progressive Patriots Fund to send volunteers to important races around the country this fall. That initiative, as many of you are no doubt aware, has been given a name-- the Patriot Corps.

What will this involve?
We're looking for 15 energetic, personable activists from across the country. Once chosen, Corps members will participate in an extensive, multi-day training program, before being placed on targeted races in Wisconsin and around the country. Training will focus on volunteer recruitment, organizing a canvas, running a phone bank, advanced GOTV training, and staffing a candidate. Prior campaign experience is appreciated, but not required.
It's an effort to help provide the kind of resources that win campaigns. Sure, a television ad reaches a wide audience, but only for 30 seconds at a time. Real progress is made when a campaign has a strong team to support it, ready to go into communities and make the case for a candidate. Senator Feingold's PAC isn't donating the big money to other Democrats, but it's donating something far more powerful.

For a much better explanation of it's purpose, hear it from Russ Feingold himself. From his Iowa trip, the latest podcast is available here or on the Progressive Patriots Fund website.

If you want to help both Russ Feingold and Democrats in general in 2006, apply for the Patriot Corps!

17 July 2006

Moving Michigan Forward - MI-14

Continuing our look at Michigan Democrats in 2006...

One of the many reasons why Russ Feingold is so attractive as a presidential candidate and as a Senate leader is his willingness to stand up to President Bush, particularly when other Senate Democrats are nowhere to be found. He voted no on the USA PATRIOT Act, opposed the Iraq War, and has proposed to censure President Bush over the illegal wiretapping program. And remember, those are just the big issues that get the headlines. There are plenty more areas where we can depend on Senator Feingold to stand up for us.

But he's certainly not the only Democrat with a backbone. One of the most prominent advocates for accountability proudly represents Michigan's 14th district-- Congressman John Conyers.

Conyers is a favorite of the netroots because he never gives up trying to uncover the truth. When everyone else was silent, he was calling for investigations into the Downing Street Minutes and Iraq. Recognizing what many Democrats are afraid to see, he's a leader in the fight for election reform, making sure every vote counts. And, of course, he's a blogger, which is always something I can admire.

If he wins this fall, Congressman Conyers will begin his twenty-first term, with (hopefully) many more to follow. There's no doubt that the people of the district appreciate his hard work, standing up for progressive ideals. Oh, and he was #13 on Richard Nixon's enemies list, so he must have been doing something right.

Congressman John Conyers - US House of Representatives
MI-14 on Michigan Liberal
Wikipedia Biography
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