August 13, 2015

Desperate Feingold Ditches Signature Pledge In Quest For Campaign Cash

As a longtime U.S. Senator (a fact he’d like you to forget) Russ Feingold built his brand on his commitment to campaign finance reform – starting with his famous pledge that a majority of his campaign donations would come from within Wisconsin.

Fast forward to his 2016 campaign, where Feingold’s desperation to get back in the senate has him jettisoning his principles along with his persona as a longtime politician. The National Journal reports that more than 56 percent of his campaign cash came from outside Wisconsin:

According to a National Journal analysis of Feingold’s Federal Election Commission report and data provided by Feingold’s campaign, just over 43 percent of Feingold’s money came from Wisconsin donors. That’s not unusual in increasingly expensive Senate races. But it does fall short of Feingold’s long-held pledge to always raise a majority of his funds from Wisconsinites.

While many major Senate campaigns would brag about that ratio, it’s a reversal from the iconic in-state fundraising pledge that Feingold painted on his garage in a 1992 campaign ad.

FeingoldPledge

But that was back in the ‘90s, right? Campaign finance pledges went out with hair gel and Saved By The Bell, right? Except that Feingold went out of his way to commit himself to keeping his pledge in future campaigns:

“… I’m promising it for the future. I’m saying that’s a pledge that I’m going to keep,” Feingold said then. “I’m not going to get in there and say, OK, where are the PACs and where are the out-of-state contributions? I’m making a pledge for the future.”

Feingold appears to be caving to pressure from national Democrats:

Democrats have implored him to reconsider his approach, equating it to fighting with “one hand tied behind his back.” Asked earlier this spring whether Feingold would run a different type of race, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jon Tester said, “It’s a different world now, and he knows that.”

Apparently it hasn’t occurred to Sen. Feingold that prioritizing the Washington, D.C. liberal establishment over the people of Wisconsin may be why they showed him the door in the last election.