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14 May 2005

A Letter to Senator Feingold

On the various Draft Russ Feingold sites, there's always a page to write a letter to him asking him to run. I've struggled with that task for some time, because there are so many reasons I want to explain to him. But I think I finally managed to get it close to right. Here's the first draft-- well, the first I'm willing to share. Please, make suggestions. I'll send it next week.

Dear Senator Feingold,

On November 3, 2004, I felt sick. I felt as if everything I had been working for had come crashing down, and the emotional investment I made was for nothing. There seemed to be no good that came out of the election.

Then, I heard that, despite Democratic losses in the Senate and House, you kept your seat. I nearly leapt for joy when I learned of this, because, while I appreciate the hard work of Michigan's senators, Sen. Levin and Sen. Stabenow, I have always been a fan of yours With very few exceptions you have always taken positions that I would take. But more than that, you're even willing to speak out in favor of these positions even when you're the only one who does. You aren't afraid to be the only voice speaking. I've always respected that.

In the weeks that followed the election, I began thinking about what went wrong. I think everyone did. The election seemed like ours to lose, and somehow we managed it. However, where some embraced conspiracy theories, I, along with many others active in the "netroots", chose instead to look toward 2006 and 2008. I've got a senator and a governor up for reelection next year, and have a Republican representative in Congress who may be vulnerable, and I plan to devote a lot of energy toward those causes. But, of course, my thoughts also went to the White House and 2008.

I am by no means a powerful figure in the Democratic Party, not even on a local level. But every once in a while it's fun to play kingmaker, to think and decide who I would pick to be the next "leader of the free world." I did a lot of reading, looking at Democratic leaders from Governor "Teddy K" in Oregon to Senator Evan Bayh in Indiana. It's incredible to see the talent and potential the party has in it-- perhaps no John F. Kennedys or Franklin Roosevelts or Thomas Jeffersons, but men and women who are intelligent, dedicated public servants. But, as you can probably guess, all of my reading led back to you.

This has been, of course, a very round about way of asking you to run for president in 2008. In Wisconsin, a state critical to electoral success, you've won election after election. The people who work on your campaigns are genuinely excited by you and what you represent. Somehow, despite many years in the Senate, you've remained, well, a real person. I think that it's time for the rest of the country to get to know you the same way.

Ever since I came to the conclusion that you were the right man for the job, you have done nothing but impress me more. The return trip to Alabama, for example. There you were, listening to real people, trying to understand their positions and their points of view, in a state you don't even represent. Or posting on MyDD and Daily Kos, where even though many, including Markos himself, disagreed with you, I think all were impressed by your presence there.

Indeed, I've even started blogging in support of your candidacy. I started a Feingold for Michigan blog, where I write regularly about various news items relating to your potential candidacy, and trying to find ways to gain support for you in the Michigan primary. And there are more people who have taken similar steps.

I apologize for the length and style of this letter, but more than anything I wanted to somehow convey the reasons why I would like you to run for president. You're an inspiring leader, and between now and the primaries you'll be getting a lot more letters like this.

A while back, you told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that you'd run if people asked you to run, and told you that you could win. Senator Feingold, please run for the presidency. You're the right person, and you could win. And if you do run, I and many others will be working to ensure victory.


Suggestions? Errors? Any thoughts at all? Leave them in the comments, please.

(Cross-posted in the Russ for President and Draft Russ forums, and on Fox for Feingold.)

Hillary, oh Hillary

I said I'd post about the Democratic primaries and that polling data later. Didn't quite think it would take this long...

If the 2008 Democratic presidential primary were held today, whom would you support if the candidates are:

May 2005

Feb. 2005

Hillary Rodham Clinton



John Kerry



John Edwards



Joseph Biden



Wesley Clark



Russ Feingold



Bill Richardson



Mark Warner



Evan Bayh



Tom Vilsack






- Angus Reid Consultants

(Sorry, all, for the inconvenient spacing of the above. I've tried tweaking it all I can, but can't get it any more condensed. Blame the source I copied it from, and it's disagreement with Blogger.)

So, looking at this, it doesn't look too hot for Senator Feingold. Obviously, Senator Clinton is the favorite, because she's well-known and has a strong following. This far out, that's all that really matters in polling, because if you're excited about Russ Feingold this early like I am, let's face it, you're a political geek. It's something to be proud of, don't worry.

So these numbers really don't mean anything, do they? Before the 2004 primaries, as close as September 2003, Joe Lieberman was leading in the polls, albeit by a small margin. The voters haven't had a chance to even hear most of these names, and so no one has an opinion on them yet, good or bad. The only reason Senator Clinton is doing well is because she reminds people of the good old days of a Democratic White House.

Except, here's the thing: I like all these people. I think Senator Feingold is the best, most exciting, most representative of my and most peoples beliefs, and even in some ways the most electable. However, the names just listed in that poll show that we, as Democrats, have an enormous number of truly good people, who are all qualified to be the leader of the United States of America. Add in the so-called "rising stars", like Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Sen. Barack Obama, and many more, and you've got a strong, vibrant party. You may not agree with them all of the time, but all of these people prove that we are the party that believes good can come out of government. That compassion is at the root of public work.

Today and every day, I'm proud to be a Democrat.

08 May 2005

"McCain: 'absolutely' want to be president" and polling

In an article found in the Tuscon Citizen and several other newspapers, especially in Arizona, there seems to be growing evidence that Senator John McCain will be running for president again in 2008.

Highlights from the article:
WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain said that he "absolutely" wants to be president and that he is qualified for the job but that he is focused on his Senate duties and will "wait a couple of years" to decide about a White House bid in 2008.

"I have the luxury of being able to wait because I don't have to lay any of the groundwork. I don't have to go meet all of the state party chairmen - I've done that before," McCain said in the June issue of Men's Journal magazine, due Tuesday on newsstands.

He also declared that the right wing of the GOP has become "more accepting of me than they used to be - not accepting but more accepting - because of the fact that I worked hard for Bush's re-election."
Plus, for those worried about his health,

The 68-year-old Arizona Republican also discussed his battle with melanoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer, and described his health as fine.

"I just came from my dermatologist yesterday with a clean bill of health, McCain said.

Reading this, you'd think that McCain has the advantage over all other potential GOP candidates. And, in a way, he does: everyone knows his name, he's respected by the American people, and he has at least some support for turning down Kerry and backing Bush. Especially among independents, he has support not because people agree with him, but because he's willing to break with the party when he feels the need.

In fact, during the 2000 primaries, when it was clear that Vice President Gore had things wrapped up before they began, I supported McCain in the Michigan GOP primary (which was open to independents as well as Republicans). In part, it was because I disliked (and still dislike) then-Governor Engler, who promised then-Governor Bush that Michigan would go to him (it didn't, by the way). But more than that, when compared with Bush, McCain was far more qualified to be president. I rather suspect he thinks that too, though he won't come out directly and say it. The closest he's come in this article is:
McCain, who was defeated by George W. Bush in the 2000 GOP presidential primary, explained that he continues to want to be president "because I think I'm qualified to help make the world a better place; I'm qualified for the job."
While I certainly don't like a lot of his positions, I'd take McCain over other Republicans any day.

Of course, we're still a long way away from a Feingold vs. McCain race anyway, according to a recent poll.

On the GOP side, Rudy Giuliani is leading, getting 27 percent of nationwide Republican support, where McCain only receives 20 percent. However, the party machinery will likely start working against him, as fewer and fewer moderates seem to be in the party. Once the Rove wing of the GOP decides to support someone (my money is on Senator Frist), expect both these candidates to lose support.

On the Democratic side, Senator Feingold faces a bigger problem, with Senator Hillary Clinton receiving 40 percent in the poll, compared to his single digits. There's still a lot of work to be done.

I'll have more on Feingold, Clinton, and other Democrats later, but right now I'm going to go see my mother. Happy Mother's Day, everyone!