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View Diary: UPDATED: The Case for Russ Feingold (282 comments)

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  •  If nothing else (none)
    it's refreshing to see a candidate whose supporters talk more about issues than electability. Which is exactly why WI voters chose Feingold in the 1992 Senatorial primary in the first place.

    We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

    by badger on Sat Dec 03, 2005 at 12:27:28 PM PST

    •  Why Russ won in the '92 primary (none)
      was primarily because it was a three-way race, and the other two went negative.  And he didn't.  It's a classic case study in when and when not to go negative (yes, there is a time to do it -- and that time never, ever is in a three-way race. . . .).

      That's the main reason he won the '92 primary -- and he won the '92 election because the GOP incumbent was by then widely recognized as, well, a fool.

      Since then, Russ has won in part because incumbents win who aren't fools . . . and because the GOP has run fools -- but, yes, because he is respected as more principled, i.e., more focused on the issues than on the campaign, than most politicians.

      All this background needs to be out there for those who would back him in a national race.  We need to be truth-based about the past as well as in the future.  There is nothing wrong with saying that Russ was not only principled but campaign-savvy in '92 in refusing to get dragged into the much of that awful, negative mess!

      "Let all the dreamers wake the nation." -- Carly Simon

      by Cream City on Sat Dec 03, 2005 at 02:27:25 PM PST

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      •  But Feingold did go negative (none)
        There's no way the primary ad with cardboard cutouts of Moody and Checota getting splattered with mud wasn't a negative ad. It just didn't have the ominous music, carefully selected nasty pictures, wild,overblown claims and insinuating narrator that most negative advertising has.

        But Feingold also produced one of the worst pieces of campaign literature I've ever seen. Wish I'd saved it. It was a single sheet with (as I recall) 100 simple statements (both sides of paper) listing every major Feingold position. Many of them were fairly daring for 1992 (a strong position on balanced budgets, for example, which was far ahead of other Dems adoption of the issue). Without that, I still might have been uncomfortable voting for an unknown state legislator over a Congressman and a former state party chair.

        I can't speak for other people - maybe the ads were more significant, but Feingold as an unknown beat two strong Democrats (getting 2/3s of the vote in a 3-way race) and went on to unseat the incumbent Republican in the general.

        Most people I know from WI know pretty well where Feingold stands, and aren't that surprised when he does something like being the lone vote against the PARTIOT Act, or the vote confirming Ashcroft. Somehow he's managed to communicate his positions effectively.

        Kasten beat Nelson (who was an incumbent, but no fool) and Russ barely beat Neumann (who is a fool, but a pretty tough campaigner).

        We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

        by badger on Sat Dec 03, 2005 at 04:22:05 PM PST

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        •  Wait (none)
          It was the worst piece of campaign literature you've ever seen, but it is what got you to vote for him.

          So maybe it had its intended effect....

          lib-er-al: Open to new ideas for progress; tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; not limited to or by established, orthodox or authoritarian attitudes.

          by DCescapee on Sat Dec 03, 2005 at 04:37:21 PM PST

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          •  Yeah (none)
            It was truly ugly - something like a third generation Xerox of something typed on a manual typewriter. I don't know where I picked it up or how it got distributed, but I remember discussing it with a few other people who also had copies - the more liberal among those were seriously concerned about some of Feingold's positions.

            It was flat out honest and blunt, and written in a way that groups of statements on one issue kind of segued into the next issue.

            I don't know if was just something someone threw together a passed around to a few friends, or it was some faux grassroots piece of strategy, but in the end it was probably what convinced me to vote for an underdog I'd never heard of before.

            We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

            by badger on Sat Dec 03, 2005 at 05:17:34 PM PST

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        •  Now first (none)
          you say he was about issues, and then you say he went negative -- which is not about issues but about personalities.

          And past the primary, yes, I said he beat the incumbent -- but the incumbent was Kasten, who was the fool in deep trouble and was going to be beat by whichever Dem won the primary.  It was Kasten who beat Nelson, the late great Gaylord Nelson -- who, yes, was the incumbent but got smeared by Kasten.

          That was '80.  Now, back to '92, Feingold was hardly an unknown -- he was well-known as a legislator, having served for a decade, as I recall, or close to it.  He was well-known because he ws the maverick, even then -- and well-connected through his father, well-known and respected in Dem circles for decades before. . . .

          "Let all the dreamers wake the nation." -- Carly Simon

          by Cream City on Sat Dec 03, 2005 at 09:31:57 PM PST

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          •  Campaigns (none)
            have a lot of parts - Feingold ran ads which weren't issue oriented, particularly in the primary when he needed to differentiate himself and boost name recognition. 10 years in the Legislature doesn't do much in that direction, IMO, and Feingold certainly wasn't as well-known as some other legislators. In WI (back then anyway) it's rare to see legislators on TV or in the papers, and even the political programming I used to listen to on WHA every morning rarely (if ever) had legislators on.

            Beyond the "garage door" ads (which are marginally issue ads), most of his advertising wasn't that strongly issue-oriented, but even during the primary I recall him being quite strong on issues like deficits, taxes, health care and other things. I think the ads made Feingold visible, but his issue positions and things like integrity and independence have won him elections.

            It's basically the same here - when people discuss Feingold, it tends to be because they like what he stands for - with other Presidential candidates (Warner, Clinton, even Kerry, Clark somewhat), it tends to be electability, demographics, or something other than issues.

            We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

            by badger on Sat Dec 03, 2005 at 10:54:14 PM PST

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            •  Of course, his stand against gun control (none)
              is a principle that has played well in Wisconsin for him.  Whether it will do so with urban eastern progressives would be interesting.  

              As for the rest, we analyze his campaign strategies and tactics a bit differently.  Going nowhere on that, so -- so it goes.

              "Let all the dreamers wake the nation." -- Carly Simon

              by Cream City on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 05:45:10 AM PST

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