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Russ Feingold

Russ Feingold
United States Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes and the Congo-Kinshasa
In office
July 18, 2013 – March 6, 2015
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Barrie Walkley
Succeeded by Tom Perriello
United States Senator
from Wisconsin
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Bob Kasten
Succeeded by Ron Johnson
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 27th district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Everett Bidwell
Succeeded by Joseph Wineke
Personal details
Born Russell Dana Feingold
(1953-03-02) March 2, 1953
Janesville, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sue Levine (1977–1986)
Mary Speerschneider (1991–2005)
Christine Ferdinand (m. 2013)
Residence Middleton, Wisconsin, U.S.
Alma mater University of Wisconsin
Magdalen College, Oxford
Harvard Law School
Religion Judaism
Website Campaign website

Russell Dana "Russ" Feingold (; born March 2, 1953) is a lawyer and politician from the U.S. state of Wisconsin. He is a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2016, and previously served as a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate from January 3, 1993 to January 3, 2011. From 1983 to 1993, Feingold was a Wisconsin State Senator representing the 27th District.[1]

He is a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, and cosponsored the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain–Feingold Act), a major piece of campaign finance reform legislation. He was the only Senator to vote against the USA PATRIOT Act during the first vote on the legislation.

Feingold had been mentioned as a possible candidate in the 2008 Presidential election, but following the November midterm elections of 2006 he chose not to run.[2] In 2010, Feingold lost his campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate to Republican Ron Johnson.[3][4] On June 18, 2013, he was selected by Secretary of State John Kerry to replace R. Barrie Walkley as a special envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa.[5]

On May 14, 2015 he announced his candidacy for his old Senate seat in 2016. If selected as the Democratic nominee, he would, in all likelihood, again face Johnson.[6]


  • Early life, education, and career 1
  • Wisconsin Senate 2
  • U.S. Senate 3
    • Committee assignments 3.1
  • Political positions 4
    • Campaign finance reform 4.1
    • Wall Street reform 4.2
    • Government spending 4.3
    • USA PATRIOT Act 4.4
    • Proposed constitutional amendment 4.5
    • War in Iraq 4.6
    • Call for a vote of censure 4.7
    • Health care reform 4.8
    • Gun issues 4.9
    • Reproductive rights 4.10
    • Same-sex marriage 4.11
  • Political campaigns 5
    • 1992 U.S. Senate 5.1
    • 1998 U.S. Senate 5.2
    • 2004 U.S. Senate 5.3
    • 2008 possible Presidential bid 5.4
    • 2010 U.S. Senate 5.5
    • 2016 U.S. Senate 5.6
  • Post-Congressional career 6
  • Personal life 7
  • Electoral history 8
  • Biographies 9
  • Honors and Awards 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Early life, education, and career

Feingold was born in Aleph Zadik Aleph as a boy.

Feingold signs up as a member of Working America, August 4, 2008.

In 1972, Feingold volunteered for the presidential campaign of New York City mayor John Lindsay. Later he supported the presidential campaigns of Mo Udall and Ted Kennedy.[9]

After graduating from Joseph A. Craig High School, Feingold attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in 1975, a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He went to Magdalen College at the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, where he earned another Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977. Upon returning to the U.S., he attended Harvard Law School, receiving his J.D. with honors in 1979.[10]

Feingold worked as an attorney at the private law firms of Foley & Lardner and La Follette & Sinykin from 1979 until 1985.[11]

Wisconsin Senate

In 1982, he was elected to the Wisconsin Senate, where he served for ten years until his election to the United States Senate. In 1987, he joined the "Bowtie Brigade," a coalition of grassroots activists and local-level politicians who backed the presidential candidacy of bowtie-clad Senator Paul Simon of Illinois. After he was elected to the United States Senate, Feingold was succeeded in the State Senate by Joseph Wineke.[12]

U.S. Senate

Committee assignments

Political positions

Feingold with labor leaders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 1, 2008.

Feingold's primary legislative focus has been on campaign finance reform; fair trade policies; healthcare reform; conservation and environmental protection; a multilateral foreign policy; Social Security; and the elimination of capital punishment and wasteful spending. He was also "a staunch supporter of civil liberties."[13]

Feingold was the only Democratic senator to vote against a motion to dismiss Congress's 1998–1999 impeachment case of President Bill Clinton. In a statement, Feingold said House prosecutors must have "every reasonable opportunity" to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Clinton should be removed from office on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Feingold ultimately voted against conviction on all charges.

Feingold opposed NAFTA and other free trade agreements – a popular position among many pro-fair trade Democrats – but at odds with the pro-free trade Democratic wing, including the Democratic Leadership Council.

In 2001, Feingold was the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act (H.R. 3162).[14] Also in 2001, Feingold voted for the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft. This decision was not popular with his party, but Feingold explained that he voted based on respect for the right for a President to choose his Cabinet, not because of his own personal opinions on Ashcroft.[15]

In May 2006, Feingold voted to support the Salazar Amendment, which would have declared English the "common language" of the country, but dissented in the vote for the Inhofe Amendment, which would have made English the "national language" of the United States.[16][17]

On December 21, 2004, Feingold wrote an article for popular webzine,, regarding his golfing trip to Greenville, Alabama.[18] After noting how friendly the people were, and that Wisconsin had many similar places, he expressed his sorrow that such a poverty-stricken area was "the reddest spot on the whole map," despite Republican policies that Feingold considered incredibly destructive to the lives of the poor and middle class. Alabama Governor Bob Riley and Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon, both Republicans, were perturbed at Feingold's description of "check-cashing stores and abject trailer parks, and some of the hardest-used cars for sale on a very rundown lot." McLendon invited Feingold back for a more complete tour of the city, and Feingold agreed. He visited the city on March 28, 2005, making amends and increasing speculation about his presidential plans for 2008.[19]

In May 2006, Feingold voted in favor of bill S.2611,[20] an immigration reform bill that, among other things, would almost double the number of H-1B visas.

As one of the strongest opponents of capital punishment in the Senate, Feingold co-sponsored, along with Jon Corzine (who would later, as Governor of New Jersey, sign an abolition bill in his state), the National Death Penalty Moratorium Act in 2002.[21] In the 111th Congress, Feingold introduced the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act of 2009.[22]

On January 26, 2009 Feingold, Tom Harkin and Robert Byrd were the sole Democrats to vote against confirmation of Timothy Geithner to be United States Secretary of the Treasury (Independent Bernie Sanders, who caucused with Democrats, also voted against Geithner's confirmation).[23]

Feingold has supported various measures to assist veterans. He cosponsored the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, which was enacted in October 2009. In 2010 he was named "Legislator of the Year" by the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers.[24]

Campaign finance reform

Feingold is perhaps best known for his work alongside Senator John McCain on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 – better-known as the McCain-Feingold Act – which took almost seven years to pass.

On July 14, 2005, Feingold introduced a bill in the Senate that would ban lobbyists from giving gifts to senators and impose a $50,000 fine for violating the ban; force lawmakers to sign statements saying that lobbyists did not pay their travel expenses; forbid lawmakers from traveling on corporate jets; bar congressmen, staffers, and executive branch officials from serving as lobbyists for two years after leaving office; and require that lobbying reports be disclosed on a quarterly, rather than semi-annual, basis.[25] The bill is the Senate version of a bill by Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA), who co-wrote the House version of McCain-Feingold, and Rahm Emanuel (D-IL). Neither version came to a vote. The Feingold-McCain bill was initially waiting completion of McCain hearings on the issue, but the Jack Abramoff scandal put it in the spotlight, along with several other more recent reform proposals.

Wall Street reform

On May 20, 2010, Feingold was one of only two Democratic Senators (the other being Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington) to vote against the Dodd–Frank Wall Street reform bill,[26] citing his belief that the measures did not go far enough.[27] On July 15, 2010, he became the only Democratic Senator to vote against the Wall Street reform bill when it was brought up again, which passed by a 60-39 vote.[28]

Government spending

Feingold is also a well-known advocate for reductions in

Wisconsin State Senate
Preceded by
Everett Bidwell
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
for the 27th district

Succeeded by
Joe Wineke
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ed Garvey
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Wisconsin
(Class 3)

1992, 1998, 2004, 2010
Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
Bob Kasten
United States Senator (Class 3) from Wisconsin
Served alongside: Herb Kohl
Succeeded by
Ron Johnson
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Don Nickles
Baby of the Senate
Succeeded by
Rick Santorum
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Barrie Walkley
United States Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes and the Congo-Kinshasa
Succeeded by
Tom Perriello
  • Progressives United
  • Russ Feingold at DMOZ

External links

  1. ^ "Standing up for Wisconsin". Russ Feingold. Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Feingold rules out 2008 run for president".  
  3. ^ Pelofsky, Jeremy (November 3, 2010). "Wisconsin's Feingold loses Senate re-election bid, NBC projects".  
  4. ^ Katz, Neil (November 3, 2010). "Feingold Falls in Wisconsin, CBS News Projects".  
  5. ^ Lee Myers, Steven (June 18, 2013). "Ex-Senator Feingold Chosen as Special Envoy to African Region".  
  6. ^ Kevin Robillard (14 May 2015). "Feingold running for Wisconsin Senate". POLITICO. 
  7. ^ U.S. Census, January 1, 1920, Wisconsin, Rock County, Janesville, enumeration district 112, p. 22-B, family 556. U.S. Census, January 1, 1920, Tennessee, Shelby County, Memphis, enumeration district 109, p. 2-A, family 29. Rachel Binstock entry; SS Nieuw Amsterdam Passenger Manifest, 17 February 1913, p. 932, line 8.
  8. ^ a b "Biography of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold". Archived from the original on January 2, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  9. ^ Opin, Ken (August 27, 1996). "Dole Rip, Gore Fire Up Crowd".  
  10. ^ "Progressive Patriots Fund - Russ Feingold, Honorary Chair - About Senator Feingold". 
  11. ^ "Biography of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold". Retrieved July 15, 2006. 
  12. ^ "The State: The state of Wisconsin 1985-1986 blue book: Biographies and pictures". 
  13. ^ a b Good, Chris (February 15, 2011). "Rand Paul vs. the PATRIOT Act".  
  14. ^ U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress - 1st Session 
  15. ^ Conniff, Ruth (2001). "Et Tu, Feingold? - Senator Russ Feingold supports confirmation of John Ashcroft as Attorney General". The Progressive. 
  16. ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 109th Congress - 2nd Session". Retrieved August 27, 2007. 
  17. ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 109th Congress - 2nd Session". Retrieved August 27, 2007. 
  18. ^ Feingold, Russ (December 21, 2004). "Goin' South".  
  19. ^ Gilbert, Craig (March 29, 2005). "Feingold in Dixie on mission of diplomacy".  
  20. ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 109th Congress — 2nd Session".  
  21. ^ "New Voices - Political Leaders". 
  22. ^ "Feingold Reintroduces Bill To Abolish Federal Death Penalty". March 19, 2009. Archived from the original on January 2, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2009.  Feingold's Longtime Effort Comes as New Mexico Repeals Death Penalty
  23. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote".  
  24. ^ "Feingold named Legislator of Year by Veterans group".  
  25. ^ "Feingold Introduces Lobbying and Ethics Reform Bill". July 14, 2005. Archived from the original on January 2, 2011. Retrieved August 27, 2007. 
  26. ^ "U.S. Senate: Roll Call Vote", United States Senate, May 20, 2010
  27. ^ Dennis, Brady (2010-07-16). "Congress passes financial reform bill". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-06-24. 
  28. ^ "U.S. Senate: Roll Call Vote", United States Senate, July 15, 2010
  29. ^ Russ Feingold for United States Senate - Issues
  30. ^ Russell Feingold on Principles & Values
  31. ^ Marlin, Adam S. "Russ Feingold: Mr. Good Government". Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  32. ^ "A Record of Deficit Reduction, a Commitment to Fiscal Responsibility". Archived from the original on January 2, 2011. 
  33. ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress — 1st Session".  
  34. ^ Feingold, Russ (October 12, 2001). "Russell Feingold — On Opposing The U.S.A. Patriot Act". Archipelago. Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  35. ^ "S. 1686". Retrieved October 8, 2009. 
  36. ^ Bankston, Kevin. "Obama Sides with Republicans; PATRIOT Act Renewal Bill Passes Senate Judiciary Committee Minus Critical Civil Liberties Reforms". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved October 8, 2009. 
  37. ^ Feingold, Russ. "It's Not the Prosecutors' Committee, it's the Judiciary Committee". Daily Kos. Retrieved October 8, 2009. 
  38. ^ Feingold Wants to End Senate Appointments at the Wayback Machine (archived January 29, 2009) PoliticalWire.Com
  39. ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress — 2nd Session".  
  40. ^ a b Baker, Peter (August 18, 2005). "Feingold Urges Troop Withdrawal By End of '06". Washington Post. Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  41. ^ Hulse, Carl (April 27, 2007). "Tough road ahead on Iraq funding".  
  42. ^ "Relating to the censure of George W. Bush. (Introduced in Senate)".  
  43. ^ "Sen. Feingold Proposes Censuring Bush". Washington Post. July 22, 2007. Retrieved March 3, 2015. 
  44. ^ Russ Feingold for United States Senate - Issues
  45. ^ Schmid, John (July 24, 2006). "Feingold would give states sway over health care".  
  46. ^ "S. 1805, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act". Archived from the original on July 26, 2007. Retrieved August 27, 2007. 
  47. ^ "Senate votes to let pilots carry firearms".  
  48. ^ "Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold on the Gun Manufacturers Liability Bill". March 2, 2004. Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  49. ^ Russell Feingold on Abortion
  50. ^ "Milwaukee - By Category". April 19, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  51. ^ "Russ Feingold: Legalize Gay Marriage".  
  52. ^ "Senate committee approves gay marriage ban".  
  53. ^ "Sen. Russ Feingold to Speak" (Press release).  
  54. ^ "Promises Made, Promises Kept". Archived from the original on December 29, 2006. Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  55. ^ a b "Russ Feingold for United States Senate Multimedia". Archived from the original on December 29, 2006. Retrieved June 5, 2007. 
  56. ^ "Wisconsin Senate: The Candidates". Washington Post. September 9, 1998. Retrieved June 5, 2007. 
  57. ^ Marcus, Greil (January 17, 1993). "The Elvis Test".  
  58. ^ Odegard, Sue (1999). "Feingold tackles health care, capital punishment, COPS grants at River Falls Listening Session". River Falls Journal. Archived from the original on November 27, 2003. Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  59. ^ a b Sykes, Charles J. (November 2, 1992). "The next Bill Proxmire? — US Senate race between Democrat Russ Feingold and Republican Robert W. Kasten in Wisconsin".  
  60. ^ a b Wagner, Jeff (September 17, 2004). "A Republican Senator from Wisconsin in 2004?".  
  61. ^ Nichols, John (September 22, 2002). "Rockin' in the Real World".  
  62. ^ Hendrie, Paul (December 1998). "Sneak Attacks: Issue Ads Evade Limits". Capital Eye ( Archived from the original on November 11, 2006. Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  63. ^ a b "Feingold captures tight Wis. Senate race". November 4, 1998. Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  64. ^ a b "Political Wrap: October 30, 1998".  
  65. ^ "1998 Senatorial General Election Results — Wisconsin". US Election Atlas. Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  66. ^ "Russell D. Feingold: Campaign Finance/Money — Contributions — Senate 2004". Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  67. ^ "Wisconsin State Elections Board Canvass Summary: Fall General Election — 11/02/2004: US Senate" (PDF). Wisconsin State Elections Board. December 1, 2004. Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  68. ^ "Feingold's New Role".  
  69. ^ Gilbert, Craig (February 4, 2005). "Feingold sizes up presidential race".  
  70. ^ Conklin, Melanie (March 16, 2005). "Feingold For Virtual President 2008".  
  71. ^ "Draft Russ Feingold for President". Archived from the original on April 3, 2007. 
  72. ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 109th Congress — 2nd Session".  
  73. ^ Feingold: I voted for Obama. February 22, 2008. Archived February 25, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  74. ^ Johnson, Dirk (November 2, 2010). "What Feingold's Loss Means for Progressives".  
  75. ^ Kevin Robillard (14 May 2015). "Feingold running for Wisconsin Senate". POLITICO. 
  76. ^ Marquette University Office of Marketing and Communication. Feingold joins Marquette Law School as visiting professor of law
  77. ^ "Former Sen. Feingold will be a professor at Marquette Law School".  
  78. ^ Hamby, Peter (January 5, 2011). "Feingold plans book and teaching stint".  
  79. ^ Byron Tau. "Obama campaign announces co-chairs". POLITICO. 
  80. ^ "Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold Named Lawrence University Scarff Professor". Lawrence University News. July 10, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2015. 
  81. ^ Haas Center for Public Service. "Russ Feingold."
  82. ^ "Progressives United". Archived from the original on February 17, 2011. Retrieved February 17, 2011. 
  83. ^ "Press Briefing Announcement Regarding Great Lakes Special Representative". U.S. Department of State. 
  84. ^ "Senator Feingold: Final Speech as U.S. Special Envoy to the DRC".  
  85. ^ "Watch the Announcement Video (Russ for Wisconsin)". YouTube. May 14, 2015. Retrieved May 14, 2015. 
  86. ^ Skiba, Katherine M. (April 12, 2005). "Feingold, wife announce plans to end marriage".  
  87. ^ Holloway, Nigel (August 27, 2015). "Democrat Oxonian Russ Feingold on his fight to win back Wisconsin". Oxford Today. Retrieved September 1, 2015. 
  88. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved August 8, 2007. 
  89. ^ Four Freedoms Award#Freedom Medal


In 2011 he received the Freedom medal[89]

Honors and Awards

  • Horwitt, Sanford D. (2007). Feingold: A New Democratic Party. Simon & Schuster.  


*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1992, Robert L. Kundert received 2,747 votes, Joseph Selliken received 2,733 votes, and other write-ins received 459 votes. In 1998, write-ins received 706 votes. In 2004, write-ins received 834 votes.

Wisconsin Senator (Class III) results: 1992–2004[88]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1992 Russell D. Feingold 1,290,662 53% Robert W. Kasten, Jr. 1,129,599 46% Patrick W. Johnson Independent 16,513 1% William Bittner Libertarian 9,147 <1% Mervin A. Hanson, Sr. Independent 3,264 <1% *
1998 Russell D. Feingold 890,059 51% Mark W. Neumann 852,272 48% Robert R. Raymond U.S. Taxpayers 7,942 <1% Tom Ender Libertarian 5,591 <1% Eugene A. Hem Independent 4,266 <1% *
2004 Russell D. Feingold 1,632,697 55% Tim Michels 1,301,183 44% Arif Khan Libertarian 8,367 <1% Eugene A. Hem Independent 6,662 <1% *
2010 Russell D. Feingold 1,020,958 47% Ron Johnson 1,125,999 52% Rob Taylor Constitution 23,349 1%
1992 U.S. Senate Race — Democratic Primary
Candidate Pct Candidate Pct Candidate Pct
Russell D. Feingold 69% Jim Moody 14% Joe Checota 14%

Electoral history

Feingold was married to Sue Levine from 1977 until 1986. They had two children. He married Mary Speerschneider in 1991; in 2005, the couple announced that they would be seeking a divorce.[86] In 2013, Feingold married Dr. Christine Ferdinand.[87]

Feingold resides in Middleton, Wisconsin. He is a member of Beth Hillel Temple in Kenosha, Wisconsin.[8]

Personal life

On May 14, 2015, Feingold announced his intention to face Ron Johnson in a U.S. Senate electoral rematch in 2016 via social media.[85]

On June 18, 2013, Feingold was appointed United States Special Representative for the African Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo by United States Secretary of State John Kerry.[83] He announced his departure from the position on February 24, 2015.[84]

In February 2011, Feingold formed Progressives United, a [82]

Following his defeat, Feingold was appointed a visiting professor at Marquette University Law School.[76][77] He wrote a book entitled While America Sleeps: A Wake-Up Call to the Post-9/11 World, and supported President Barack Obama in his reelection bid in the 2012 presidential election.[78] In February 2012, it was announced that Feingold would be a co-chair for President Obama's re-election campaign.[79] In 2012-13, he was the Stephen Edward Scarff Distinguished Visiting Professor at Lawrence University.[80] In 2012, he was the Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor at Stanford Law School.[81]

Post-Congressional career

On May 14, 2015 he announced his candidacy for a 2016 U.S. Senate run against the incumbent Senator, Ron Johnson.[75]

2016 U.S. Senate

Feingold was defeated for re-election on November 2, 2010 by Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson by a margin of 52% - 47%.[74]

2010 U.S. Senate

On February 22, 2008, he stated that he voted for Barack Obama as the Democratic Party nominee for the 2008 presidential election.[73]

Following Democratic victories in the November 2006 mid-term elections, Feingold announced that he would not run for president in 2008. He said that running for president would detract from his focus on the Senate, and the resulting scrutiny "would dismantle both my professional life (in the Senate) and my personal life."[2] In his parting comments, he warned his supporters against supporting anyone for the presidency who voted for the Iraq War, whether they later regretted it or not, saying his first choice for president in 2008 was someone who voted against the war, and his second choice is someone who wasn't in Congress but spoke out against the war at the time.[2]

Although Feingold usually received support in the single digits in opinion polls featuring various potential Democratic presidential candidates, he was highly popular among Democratic grassroots activists.

On September 22, 2005, during the hearing on Judge John Roberts's nomination for Chief Justice of the United States, Feingold was one of three Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote in favor of sending Roberts's nomination to the floor for a full vote. He also announced that he would vote to confirm Roberts. (Feingold graduated in the same Harvard Law School class (1979) as Roberts, as did Spencer Abraham, former U.S. senator from Michigan and former United States Secretary of Energy.) Many members of the Democratic blogosphere predicted that this vote would have a negative impact on his presidential aspirations, but Feingold's supporters pointed out that this was not the first time Feingold voted in favor of Bush's judicial nominees. However, Feingold voted against Samuel Alito in committee and voted against cloture of debate regarding Alito's nomination on the Senate floor.[72]

On August 17, 2005, Feingold became the first U.S. Senator of either party to suggest a firm date for American withdrawal from the Iraq war, saying that he favored a complete withdrawal by no later than December 31, 2006.[40]

[71] (PAC), the Progressive Patriots Fund; launching a PAC is seen as an important step in running for President. A "draft Feingold" movement was established, independent of the senator's campaign.political action committee On June 1, 2005, Feingold launched a [70] In late January 2005, Feingold told the

Feingold on the campaign trail, stumping for Maria Cantwell (D-WA), October 2006.

2008 possible Presidential bid

In late December 2004, Feingold was appointed to be one of four deputy whips for the Senate Democrats. Feingold pledged that the new role would not sway his "maverick stance" within the party or the chamber.[68]

[67] In the

2004 U.S. Senate

During his 1998 re-election campaign, Feingold once again eschewed big-money campaigning, despite the fact that the National Republican Senatorial Committee had targeted him for defeat.[61][62] Feingold placed a cap on his own fundraising, refusing to raise or spend more than $3.8 million (one dollar for every citizen of Wisconsin) during the campaign.[63] In addition, he placed the same limits on his fundraising that he would have faced under the McCain-Feingold bill. He refused to allow his party to raise any soft money to air ads favoring him, and he requested that several lobby groups, including the AFL-CIO and the League of Conservation Voters, refrain from airing pro-Feingold "issue ads."[64] His Republican opponent, Representative Mark Neumann, also limited himself to $3.8 million in spending, but allowed soft money to be used in his favor by a variety of pro-Republican groups.[63] Other Democrats and supporters were angry at Feingold for "putting his career at risk" with these self-imposed limits.[64] On election day, a strong showing in the Democratic strongholds of Milwaukee and Madison allowed Feingold to win by around two percent.[65]

1998 U.S. Senate

Feingold won by positioning himself as a quirky underdog who offered voters an alternative to what was seen by many as negative campaigning of opponents Ross Perot split the Wisconsin presidential vote 41%-37%-21%, Feingold beat Kasten by a margin of 53 percent to 46 percent.[60]

During the primary campaign, Feingold unveiled an 82-point plan that aimed to eliminate the deficit by the end of his first term.[58] The plan, which called for, among other things, a raise in taxes and cuts in the defense budget, was derided as "extremist" by Republicans and "too liberal" by his Democratic opponents. Feingold also announced his support for strict campaign finance reform and a national health care system and voiced his opposition to term limits and new tax cuts.[59]

The ads also contained a significant amount of humor. One featured Feingold meeting with an Elvis Presley impersonator, who offered Feingold his endorsement.[56] (Bob Kasten responded to the Elvis endorsement with an advertisement featuring an Elvis impersonator attacking Feingold's record.[57]) Another showed Feingold standing next to a pair of half-sized cardboard cut-outs of his opponents, refusing to "stoop to their level" as the two were shown literally slinging mud at one another.[55]

Also noted was Feingold's advertising campaign, which was widely compared to that used by progressive candidate Paul Wellstone in his victorious Senate campaign in Minnesota. Shot in the form of home movies, the ads attempted to portray Feingold, who always referred to himself as "the underdog running for U.S. senate," as a down-to-earth, Capra-esque figure, taking the audience on a guided tour of the candidate's home and introducing them to his children, all of whom were enrolled in public school.[55]

  1. I will rely on Wisconsin citizens for most of my contributions.
  2. I will live in Middleton, Wisconsin. My children will go to school here and I will spend most of my time here in Wisconsin.
  3. I will accept no pay raise during my six-year term in office.
  4. I will hold a "Listening Session" in each of Wisconsin's 72 counties each year of my six-year term in office.
  5. I will hire the majority of my Senate staff from individuals who are from Wisconsin or have Wisconsin backgrounds.

Feingold's senatorial career began in 1992, with a victory over incumbent Republican Senator Bob Kasten. Feingold, who had little name recognition in the state and was campaigning in a primary against a pair of millionaire opponents – Congressman Jim Moody and businessman Joe Checota – adopted several proposals to gain the electorate's attention. The most memorable of these was a series of five promises written on Feingold's garage door in the form of a contract.[54] These were:

1992 U.S. Senate

Political campaigns

On July 29, 2006, Feingold was the keynote speaker at the Human Rights Campaign's annual gala at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.[53]

On May 18, 2006, Feingold again made news with his stance on marriage when he walked out of a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee shortly before a vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. After Feingold objected to both the amendment and decision of Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA at the time) to move the meeting to an area of the Capitol Building not open to the public, Specter told Feingold, "I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I. If you want to leave, good riddance." Feingold then replied, "I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman. See ya." He then left the room and did not return. Later that day, the committee voted to send the amendment to the full Senate.[52]

On April 4, 2006, Feingold told constituents at a listening session in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that he supported the legalization of same-sex marriage. Though Feingold had once voted against passage of the Defense of Marriage Act, this was the first time that he publicly announced his support for marriage rights for same-sex couples. Feingold's comments were in response to a question about whether he supported a ballot initiative that Wisconsinites voted on in November 2006 that incorporated a ban on same-sex marriage and all civil unions (same-sex or not) into the state constitution.[50] He joined then-Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Democrats Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Mark Dayton of Minnesota as one of only five senators to publicly announce their support for same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage

Feingold co-sponsored a bill protecting the fetus during another crime, against banning partial birth abortions except for maternal life, and against banning human cloning. He voted for $100 million to reduce teen pregnancy by education and contraceptives. He supports federal funding of abortions.[49]

Reproductive rights

In March 2004, he explained his position in a speech on the Senate floor:

On the other hand, he consistently voted in favor of bills to require background checks for firearms purchases at gun shows, and to require that handguns be sold with trigger locks.

Feingold had a mixed record on gun rights and gun control issues, voting in favor of certain gun-control legislation, while also voting to expand certain gun rights. On February 24, 2004, he voted against S.1805, a bill that would have extended the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.[46] In 2002, he voted for allowing airline pilots to carry firearms in cockpits.[47] He has spoken in support of the interpretation that the Second Amendment pertains to an individual right to own firearms, and in opposition to proposals for handgun bans and mandatory firearms registration. Feingold took this position when he sided with the conservative majority of the Senate and signed the Congressional amicus in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Gun issues

Feingold voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which passed the Senate on December 24, 2009.

On July 24, 2006, at a press conference at the Martin Luther King Heritage Health Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Feingold announced that he had authored the State-Based Health Care Reform Act, a bill to create a pilot program for a system of universal healthcare under which each U.S. state would create a program to provide its citizenry with universal health insurance, and the federal government would provide the funding. The bill would create a non-partisan "Health Care Reform Task Force," which would provide five-year federal grants to two or three states. The program is expected to cost $32 billion over 10 years.[45]

Feingold has long been an advocate for creating a system of Bush administration, he opposed the enactment of Medicare Part D and authored a bill to require the Senate leadership to submit health care reform bills.[44]

Feingold in 2005.

Health care reform

Feingold again called for Bush's censure in July 2007 for his management of the Iraq war, accusing him of mounting an "assault" against the United States Constitution.[43]

On March 14, 2006, Feingold introduced a resolution in the Senate to censure President Bush.[42] This was a result of allegations of illegal wiretapping, as reported in The New York Times, that Bush did not follow the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which mandates use of a surveillance court for approval of wiretaps on Americans. Feingold made a 25-minute speech on the Senate Floor, declaring that Congress must "hold the president accountable for his actions". It received support from Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Barbara Boxer of California, although most Democratic senators avoided expressing an opinion on it. Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Patrick Leahy of Vermont expressed support for the bill, but Feingold was able to find only three co-sponsors.

Call for a vote of censure

On April 27, 2006, Feingold announced that he would move to amend an appropriations bill granting $106.5 billion in emergency spending measure for Iraq and Hurricane Katrina relief to require that troops withdraw completely from Iraq.[41]

On August 17, 2005, he became the first senator to call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and urge that a timetable for that withdrawal be set. He called other Democrats "timid" for refusing to take action sooner, and suggested December 31, 2006, as the date for total withdrawal of troops. On the subject of Bush's assertion that a deadline would be helpful to Iraqi insurgents, Feingold said, "I think he's wrong. I think not talking about endgames is playing into our enemies' hand."[40]

Feingold was one of 23 US senators to vote against Iraq in 2002.[39]

War in Iraq

Feingold announced in January 2009 that he was planning to introduce a constitutional amendment which would prohibit governors from making temporary Senate appointments instead of holding special elections. Feingold referred to recent controversies, most notably the Rod Blagojevich corruption charges and also called appointments an anachronism, which doesn't reflect the will of voters.[38]

Proposed constitutional amendment

In 2009, when the Act was again up for re-authorization, Feingold introduced the JUSTICE Act (S. 1686) "To place reasonable safeguards on the use of surveillance and other authorities under the USA PATRIOT Act."[35] Senator Patrick Leahy then introduced an alternative bill, about which Feingold later said "...while narrower than the JUSTICE Act that Senator Durbin and I have championed, [it] did contain several important and necessary protections for the privacy of innocent Americans." After what Feingold saw as the further watering down of civil liberty protections in the bill, it passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 8 on a vote of 11-8[36] with Feingold voting against it.[37]

When the bill was up for renewal in late December 2005, Feingold led a bipartisan coalition of senators – including Lisa Murkowski, Ken Salazar, Larry Craig, Dick Durbin, and John Sununu – to remove some of the Act's more controversial provisions. He led a successful filibuster against renewal of the act. This ultimately led to a compromise on some of its provisions. This compromise bill passed the Senate on March 2, 2006, by a vote of 89-10. Feingold was among the ten senators who voted nay, stating that the bill still lacked necessary protections for some civil liberties.

Feingold was the only senator to vote against the USA PATRIOT Act when first voted on in 2001.[13][33] At the time, Feingold stated that provisions in the act infringed upon citizens' civil liberties.[34]

Feingold speaking on the Senate floor about his opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act, October 25, 2001.


Feingold was elected to Congress on a promise not to accept pay raises while in office, and has so far returned over $70,000 in such raises to the U.S. Treasury.[30] In addition, he is notoriously frugal in his office's spending, and sends back the money that he does not use. In one six-month period in 1999, for example, his office received $1.787 million in appropriations and returned $145,000, a higher percentage than any other senator's office.[31] Since becoming a Senator in 1993, Feingold has returned to the U.S. Treasury $3.2 million from his office budget.[32]


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