- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
- Tea Party Patriots call key GOP firing a declaration of war
- 68,000 more file for unemployment — in one week
- Michigan bans in-state insurers from covering abortion
- Nancy Pelosi tells Democrats to pass budget: ‘Embrace the suck’
Feingold finding maverick role of scant help against GOP tide
Question of the Day
Russ Feingold seemed as well-positioned as any Senate Democratic incumbent to fend off a Republican challenge this year. The Wisconsinite is pro-gun in a hunting-happy state, has a history of voting against his party - including rejecting the unpopular TARP Wall Street bailout - and has avoided even a hint of personal scandal.
Yet the three-term senator who portrays himself as a principled maverick in a state where neither major party dominates trails political newcomer Ron Johnson, an Oshkosh businessman, by a significant margin in the polls. And with just over three weeks to go before the Nov. 2 midterm elections, many political analysts say the race now is the challenger’s to lose.
“The problem that [Mr. Feingold] is facing this year is that voting against [the Wall Street bailout] and voting for guns is not going to be something that wins conservative voters for him,” said Charles H. Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
“Guns and TARP really aren’t very effective appeals to mute Johnson’s appeal to the same set of conservative Republican and moderate voters.”
The vote against the bailout might help, but Mr. Feingold also supported two key pillars of the Obama agenda the health care overhaul and the $814 billion economic stimulus plan that have not proved to be popular this campaign season.
“In spite of an occasional token vote against the Democratic Party consensus, he is quite clearly a liberal Democrat,” said John C. McAdams, a political science professor at Milwaukee’s Marquette University.
The senator also doesn’t have a major “signature” legislative achievement this year like he did in 2004, when he campaigned on what was then the generally popular “McCain-Feingold” campaign-finance reform bill.
The candidates faced off Friday in Milwaukee in their first debate, an event with few surprises as both candidates largely stuck to their campaign scripts.
“The big thing is, we finally get control of the insurance companies,” he told reporters after the debate.
Mr. Johnson, who has said the main reason he entered the race was to help repeal the law, countered that the nation’s health care system was already the finest in the world and needed only minor improvements.
“If the Republicans take over one of the houses of Congress, they start writing the replacement bills from Day One so we can show the American people, ‘This is what we intend to do,’ ” he said.
Polls reflect a clear edge for the challenger. An average of recent surveys compiled by RealClearPolitics.com give Mr. Johnson a 9-percentage-point lead. A Rasmussen Reports poll taken Sept. 29 had Mr. Feingold trailing 54 percent to 42 percent, the biggest margin of the campaign.
Even the Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling showed an 11-point disadvantage for the incumbent in a mid-September survey for the liberal website Daily Kos.
Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson, 55, who owns a successful plastics company and who never before has run for office, is being given credit for orchestrating an aggressive and confident campaign.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- GOP tests Democrats on college loan issue
- Lawmakers outside intelligence loop get miffed about briefing structure in Congress
- John Boehner: Time is right to bring latest farm bill to House floor
- Supreme Court nears rulings on key voting rights cases
- John Boehner demands answers on NSA, phone records
Latest Blog Entries
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- MALCOLM/REIMER: Over-criminalization undermines respect for legal system
- Selfie at heart of Obama fiasco to stay secret
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- Fake interpreter at Mandela service: 'Sorry,' I have schizophrenia
- DIVEST! Oil is the new apartheid on college campuses
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The Career Doctor Cassi Fields prescribes valuable advice for anyone looking to find a career, nail an interview or earn a promotion.
The Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. And how to get from here to there.
Film Reviews and Articles by Kevin Williams
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow