Russ Won't Run

From Feingold's website:

Dear Friends and Supporters,

On Sunday, November 12th in Racine, I will hold my 1000th Listening Session with the people of Wisconsin. Before reaching that milestone, I want you to know that I've decided to continue my role as Wisconsin's Junior Senator in the U.S. Senate and not to seek the Democratic nomination for President in 2008.

Like many Americans, I am excited by the results of the November 7th election. My fourteen years in the Senate have been the greatest privilege of my life and I am extremely pleased with what we have accomplished. During so much of that time, however, we Democrats have not only been in the minority but have often been so deeply mired there that my role has often been to block bad ideas or to simply dissent. That is a very important role but I relish the thought that in this new Congress we can start, not only to undo much of the damage that one-party rule has done to America, we can actually advance progressive solutions to such major issues as guaranteed healthcare, dependence on oil, and our unbalanced trade policies. The Senate of the 110th Congress could also well be a place of greater bi-partisan opportunities for change; something I am very proud to have been effective at in both Republican and Democratic Senates.


Yet, while I've certainly enjoyed the repeated comments or buttons saying, "Run Russ Run", or "Russ in '08", I often felt that if a piece of Wisconsin swiss cheese had taken the same positions I've taken, it would have elicited the same standing ovations. This is because the hunger for progressive change we feel is obviously not about me but about the desire for a genuinely different Democratic Party that is ready to begin to reverse the 25 years of growing extremism we have endured.

I'm sure a campaign for President would have been a great adventure and helpful in advancing a progressive agenda. At this time, however, I believe I can best advance that progressive agenda as a Senator with significant seniority in the new Senate serving on the Foreign Relations, Intelligence, Judiciary and Budget Committees. Although I have given it a lot of thought, I cannot muster the same enthusiasm for a race for President while I am trying simultaneously to advance our agenda in the Senate. In other words, if I really wanted to run for President, regardless of the odds or other possible candidates, I would do so. However, to put my family and all of my friends and supporters through such a process without having a very strong desire to run, seems inappropriate to me. And, yes, while I would strongly prefer that our nominee in 2008 be someone who had the judgment to oppose the Iraq war from the beginning, I am prepared to work as hard as I can through the Progressive Patriots Fund, and consistent with my duties in the Senate, to maintain or increase our gains from November 7 in the Congress and, of course, to elect a Democrat as President in 2008.
Russ has been on my 'Candidates & Campaigners' list since it first appeared. Feingold's strong progressive drive and his willingness to speak truth to power have earned him my respect. He would have made a great President and his presence on the campaign trail, especially in the primaries, would have pushed the discussion left and also would have forced the conversation to address real issues.

I'm very sad that I as a Maryland resident, I won't be able to cast my vote for such a dedicated progressive.

That said, I respect Russ' decision. I believe that he probably is more effective as a Senator than he would be as a Presidential candidate. Feingold's constituency allows him the ability to pursue a very progressive agenda. I can't imagine Russ Feingold compromising on those principles - moving to the center - to appeal to more voters. I can't imagine Russ Feingold 'playing the game' in Iowa and New Hampshire. Russ Feingold is, perhaps, too good to run for President.

* * * * *

Less than one week has passed since the midterms, yet the news is rife with stories about who gained ground and who lost ground in their bids for their party's 2008 nomination. While I support a healthy and public campaign for the nominations, one would think that the focus, at least for a while, should be on solving the myriad of problems that one party rule has brought down on America.

I have closed (temporarily) the 'Candidates & Campaigners' section because I intend to avoid covering the horse race until at least sometime in mid 2007. This isn't a blackout - I will cover some aspects. Entries, exits, major gaffes and anything else that I think is important will be discussed here. The fact that a candidate is in Iowa talking about ethanol isn't the most important thing going on in the United States today.

In an effort to lead by example, this blog will focus on governing for the foreseeable future - not on elections. The Democratic Party would do well to follow this example, as would our government in general. Not that it's likely...

1 comment:

The Ripper said...

I am astonished about the lack of attention a potential Gore 2008 run is getting. Hello, the guy one a national election the last time he ran but was SHAFTED! In essence, he is the only person capable of derailing the Hillary Express. He was right on the war (she wasn't), and would have no problem fund raising or with name recognition. Plus he has won widespread acclaim recently for being a visionary and leader regarding the environment.