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Russ Feingold Not Running In 2012

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RUSS FEINGOLD
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WASHINGTON -- Dashing the hopes of many Wisconsin progressives, former Democratic senator Russ Feingold announced on Friday that he will not be running for the state's open U.S. Senate seat or governorship in 2012.

The news went out in an email message sent to Wisconsin supporters of Progressives United, his political action committee (PAC), and was first reported by Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"While I may seek elective office again someday, I have decided not to run for public office during 2012," said Feingold.

"This was a difficult decision, as I thoroughly enjoyed my tenure in both the State Senate and the U.S. Senate, and I know that progressives are eager to reverse some of the outrageous policies being pursued by corporate interests at both the state and federal levels. I am also well aware that I have a very strong standing in the polls should I choose to run again for the U.S. Senate or in a recall election for governor. After twenty-eight continuous years as an elected official, however, I have found the past eight months to be an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective."

Feingold's announcement paves the way for Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to become the frontrunner in the race for retiring Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl's seat in 2012. She is expected to announce her candidacy soon.

Although Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) will not yet be up for reelection in 2012, Democrats are paving the way to try to recall him when he's eligible next year.

Feingold taught this spring at Marquette University Law School, and he will be returning full-time in the fall. In addition, he is working on a book called While America Sleeps, set to be published in January, about how the nation has lost its way in responding to the 9/11 attacks. He said he intends to travel around the country in 2012 to discuss national security issues.

Feingold will also be devoting his time to Progressives United, which has been raising money for progressive candidates. It recently launched an affiliated nonprofit to focus more on issue advocacy efforts, aimed at combating the influence of corporate money in politics.

"When I said on election night last year that it 'was on to 2012,' I meant it," he wrote in his email message. "As I said those words I was especially thinking of the need to reelect President Obama. I will be working to reelect him and hope to play a significant role in that effort. But since the aggressive tactics of Governor Walker and the legislature ensued, those words now also mean retaking the state government from these corporate-backed operatives is a special priority."

Feingold added that now, more than at any time in America's history, the political climate is "infected by the domination of wealthy individual and corporate interests," which is why the work of Progressives United is more important than ever.

"This practice should be strongly opposed regardless of party and regardless of whether I otherwise support these candidates," he said. "In many ways, this is the overriding political struggle of our time. It is more important than whether or when one person runs for office again. That is why, at this time, I am devoting my primary political energy to this cause and this organization."

Feingold's Message:

I am grateful for the friendship and support of so many fellow Wisconsinites who suggested I consider running for statewide office in the coming months. While I may seek elective office again someday, I have decided not to run for public office during 2012.

This was a difficult decision, as I thoroughly enjoyed my tenure in both the State Senate and the U.S. Senate, and I know that progressives are eager to reverse some of the outrageous policies being pursued by corporate interests at both the state and federal levels. I am also well aware that I have a very strong standing in the polls should I choose to run again for the U.S. Senate or in a recall election for governor. After twenty-eight continuous years as an elected official, however, I have found the past eight months to be an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective.

Teaching law during the spring semester at Marquette University Law School was a joy. The Marquette Law School is a thriving academic institution situated in a beautiful new building, Eckstein Hall. I found my time with the dean, staff, faculty, and especially the students at Marquette to be a terrific first experience in teaching law. I am pleased that I have been asked to return to teach full-time this fall and look forward to doing so.

Another different experience for me has been writing a book to be published by Crown Publishing/Random House next February. I am working hard to finish it. It's about how we have too often lost our way as a nation in responding to the 9/11 attacks and related issues. Entitled "While America Sleeps," writing it has given me a chance to put down in a sustained way some of my concerns at a time when too many political operatives in the nation try to shift the political discourse away from the fundamental national security and international issues that will determine our futures and those of our children and grandchildren. I intend to make appearances in 2012 in Wisconsin and around the country to discuss this topic.

The one thing many of us did not anticipate at the outset of this year was the extreme assault on the working families of Wisconsin in particular and the nation as a whole. I was happy with some of the results of this year's Wisconsin State Senate recall elections, and was glad to be able to play a small role in supporting all of the Democratic candidates.

When I said on election night last year that it "was on to 2012," I meant it. As I said those words I was especially thinking of the need to reelect President Obama. I will be working to reelect him and hope to play a significant role in that effort. But since the aggressive tactics of Governor Walker and the legislature ensued, those words now also mean retaking the state government from these corporate-backed operatives is a special priority. The entire political climate is more infected by the domination of very wealthy individual and corporate interests than perhaps at any time in our nation's history. That is why I founded Progressives United, an organization devoted not only to overturning the Citizens United decision but to challenging those involved in the political process who, for short-term political gain, are willing to seek and accept unlimited corporate contributions. This practice should be strongly opposed regardless of party and regardless of whether I otherwise support these candidates. In many ways, this is the overriding political struggle of our time. It is more important than whether or when one person runs for office again. That is why, at this time, I am devoting my primary political energy to this cause and this organization.

Political figures often cite wanting to spend time with their loved ones as a reason for not seeking public office when they haven't a prayer of winning anyway. In my case, I don't need an excuse and will simply say that the time with family, friends, and loved ones in the past few months have been among the best in my life, and I am not eager to give that up. Let me say again, however, that being your representative was the greatest honor of my life, a fulfillment of a dream. You never let me down. But for now I am thoroughly enjoying the life of a private citizen in this great state of Wisconsin.

Around the Web

Russ Feingold - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Progressives United

Russ Feingold Speaks Out | The Nation

Feingold says he won't run again

Feingold says he won't run for office in 2012