Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

Veteran Wisconsin Democrat Feingold Falls to Tea Party Conservative Ron Johnson

3 years ago
  0 Comments Say Something  »
Text Size
David Wood
Chief Military Correspondent
Wisconsin Democrat Russell Feingold, who often bucked his own party during an 18-year Senate career, was swept away nonetheless Tuesday by a wealthy plastics manufacturer, Ron Johnson, who called for replacing career politicians with "citizen legislators'' and vowed to "wipe off the Obama agenda and start over.''
Within hours of the polls closing, Johnson held a commanding lead of 54 percent to 44 percent.
In a refrain that echoed from Delaware to California this fall, Johnson often charged that his opponent "believes Washington can borrow, tax and spend our way to prosperity. I believe that's absolutely wrong and hurts our economy ... we need to bring common sense to Washington.''
Johnson had never before run for public office. But his ties to conservative politics reached back decades. A year ago he spoke at a tea party rally in Oshkosh, his home town, decrying the health care legislation then under debate in Congress.
"What we don't need is a bunch of politicians spending money they don't have, trying to figure out new ways to tax us and, in their spare time, arrogantly attempting to take over the finest health care system in the world," Johnson told the Oshkosh Tea Party on Oct. 10, 2009.
Almost from the time Johnson announced his candidacy last May, polls had shown Feingold was in trouble. Johnson threw $8 million of his own money into the race, in which the candidates' spending was about evenly matched, according to Federal Election Commission data.
As elsewhere, the economy dominated, with Johnson relentlessly attacking Feingold for being an avid Washington spender. Although Wisconsin's unemployment rate, at 7.8 percent, is well below the national average, Johnson's charges clearly resonated with voters fearful of the future and impatient for change.
Feingold tried to argue that his support for Obama's economic stimulus bill "was the right thing to do.'' But he conceded that "the full effects of these very good policies have not been fully felt." In an interview with Politics Daily, Feingold acknowledged that "until people see far more progress in the economy they're gonna have doubts. That's human nature.''
Those doubts were reflected in a stinging rebuke of Feingold by his hometown newspaper, the Janesville Gazette. It endorsed Johnson, saying that Feingold "claims to be a fiscal conservative, but we see no change in Washington's spending habits.''
Ironically, Feingold had built his 18-year Senate record as a maverick. He was the only Democrat to oppose President Obama's Wall Street reform legislation. He was the co-author, with Sen. John McCain, of a major campaign finance law bitterly opposed by many conservatives. That 2002 law, commonly called McCain-Feingold, was gutted by a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year allowing unfettered corporate campaign contributions.
Johnson, whose campaign was heavily underwritten by banking and insurance interests, said on Capitol Hill he will push for reduced taxes, reduced business regulation and for steps to produce a "jobs-friendly environment.''
He has called climate-change science "lunacy, saying "I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change." He has said extreme weather phenomena were better explained by sunspots than an overload of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Johnson has also opposed gay marriage, saying that man-woman marriage has been around "for thousands of years ... and I just don't see any reason to change that.''

Our New Approach to Comments

In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum Comment Moderation Enabled. Your comment will appear after it is cleared by an editor.

17 Comments

Filter by:
nblueb18

So Finegold is such a fine senator. Well, 18 years is enough; more than enough time to be a willing participant and beneficiary in screwing the nation and the economy. Give it a break, we need a sweep of new people and new ideas now.

November 03 2010 at 1:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
laury51131

What a sad embarassing day for Wisconsin. Loosing Senator Feingold. People from Illinois asked me this weekend "what is going on in your state....possibly loosing one of the best Senators in Congress....we donated to try to keep him where he is" Also a friend living in Oregon after decades of living in Wisconsin collected donations from people she knewin Oregon who were compelled to donate so that this "man with absolute integrity" could continue serving the country. This is a sad day.....

November 03 2010 at 12:59 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to laury51131's comment
haledav

A VERY sad day ... Russ Feingold was the conscience of the Senate. He spoke his mind and never backed down around principle. The guy who won sounds like a gold plated right wing nutjob. Too bad for Wisconsin and too bad for the USA; we didn't need another "tea party" candidate who doesn't understand what 95% of all scientists understand and still thinks homosexuality is a "choice" ... another intellect the size of a pea.

November 03 2010 at 9:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
writewing76

Feingold's removal from office is very telling. America's rejection of Obama's far left agenda has been crushing and Feingold is closely attached to Obama's approach, so this is not surprising. Congrats to the state of Wisconsin and their strong move to the right this election. The tired, old misrepresentation of conservatives by liberals has finally been exposed for the fallacy it is. Conservative fiscal policies are what made America the strongest country in history and the return to sanity has begun!

November 03 2010 at 12:22 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jmeehan102

I always vote third party, and I'm not from Wisconsin, so I have no personal involvement in this race. The thought of voting for a Republican or a Democrat is almost unthinkable to me. Russ Feingold is by far the best Senator the US has had in the last decade. It is sad that the people of Wisconsin didn't realize what they had. All of America will miss him. "This message has been approved by the AOL censor."

November 03 2010 at 12:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
liberalsrstoopid

Waa waa waa. Obama and Democrats had majorities but no sense of reality. Don't cry about it being anyones fault but your own. That whole constant blame mantra got old, but I see it's like a security blanket to liberals. It's always someone else's fault. Next time you con someone into voting for you just remember that people expect REAL results and not constant excuses as to why you cannot perform.

November 03 2010 at 12:05 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to liberalsrstoopid's comment
cazz

mark my words...you will not see anything better, and things being worse...then who will you blame? We lost the best we had, without a doubt.

November 05 2010 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tkobran

Of all the Democrat senate defeats, this was the hardest for me. Russ Feingold was an unusual, honest to his beliefs, politician, a rare breed. However, being a rather new Republican after 40 years a Democrat, I would have voted against him because old Democrat friends of mine told me the candidate doesn't matter...only the party does. But, I would have felt very bad about voting against a true gentleman. However, as a Democrat I did it all the time!

November 03 2010 at 12:00 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
edeebee5

My family settled in Wisconsin before it was made a state. My father was always so proud of its progressive politics. He would be so sad as I am. I really wonder about the intelligence of the American people. Will they really like being owned by big business?

November 02 2010 at 11:53 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to edeebee5's comment
liberalsrstoopid

I would say that it is your intelligence you should be worried about. The American people are just fine, it's arrogant liberals who needed a reality check. The whole "liberals are smarter than everyone else" attitude is getting old. If liberals are so smart, why are so many broke and on welfare? Just lazy?

November 03 2010 at 12:02 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tkobran

Hey! It was your fellow Wisconsins that kicked Feingold out! Don't blame the rest of the country! You make it sound that a bunch of people from the red states gathered in your state to beat Feingold. I like Feingold, but to suggest he was an untouchable is just plain dumb! And, let's face it, only big business, and businesses in general, will create jobs...NOT THE GOVERNMENT!

November 03 2010 at 12:05 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
manmi1

It's a very, very sad day for Wisconsin. Feingold was a great worker for the people and had no scandals behind him... unusual for a politician. I'm sure this is going to be the downfall of the middle-class in my home state. How sad that the people can't see it.

November 02 2010 at 11:34 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to manmi1's comment
thunderboltsf

It's a sad day for the nation. The paid liars have done a great job of stirring up people, convincing them that the President is a Muslim, a Socialist, a terrorist....and after all the damage that Bush did up until just 2 years ago, people are willing to turn the reins back over to the people who ran up all the deficits and let the Bernie Madoffs run wild. Good thing the "liberal" media is misleading people, eh?

November 02 2010 at 11:51 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply

FEATURED VIDEO

View All »

Discover inspiring videos on TEDWomen where people are reshaping our future with ideas.

View the Video »

Follow Politics Daily


Politics Home Page : Roll Call