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November 12, 2006
The Cheese Stays Put

Russ Feingold has announced that he will stick with his current office of Senator from Wisconsin and forego a run for President in 2008. He told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he didn't have the fire in the belly necessary for a grueling national campaign:

Sen. Russ Feingold will not seek his party's presidential nomination in 2008, the Wisconsin Democrat told the Journal Sentinel on Saturday.

"I never got to that point where I'd rather be running around the country, running for president, than being a senator from Wisconsin," Feingold said in a phone interview from Madison.

Feingold, 53, conceded that he faced long odds of winning the nomination.

"It would have required the craziest combination of things in the history of American politics to make it work," he said.

But Feingold said waging an underdog campaign appealed to him. What didn't appeal to him, he said, was "the way in which this effort would dismantle both my professional life (in the Senate) and my personal life. I'm very happy right now."

This gives the Left/Progressives a bit of a blow coming into the 2008 cycle. Feingold said that he'd be glad to see Al Gore or Barack Obama run instead, and would support any anti-war candidate, but in all likelihood Iraq will not be the issue in 2008 that it is now. Gore is a tired entity who threw away his credibility by openly succumbing to Bush Derangement Syndrome. Obama is a comer -- but he's only going to have served four years in any national office by 2008, and has no real track record except for the anti-earmark effort with Tom Coburn. Feingold at least has a long track record in national politics and some legislative successes to garner appeal from the Left.

He spent the last year traveling and campaigning for other Democrats hoping to discover a burning passion for the office, but it never materialized. He certainly got his share of attention from activists who attempted to inspire it. In the end, neither he nor his family felt like putting themselves through the meatgrinder, probably because of the long odds of even becoming competitive for the nomination.

That sounds ominous for the MoveOn wing of the Democratic Party that had hoped to get Feingold as their banner-carrier. His withdrawal bookends that of Mark Warner's on the Democratic political spectrium, and it leaves the field to Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Obama, Gore, John Kerry, and Tom Vilsack, the Iowa governor that just announced his candidacy. The only attractive candidates among this bunch for the Left would be Edwards, Gore, and Kerry. Two of them have already lost Presidential elections, and the other served served a single term in any public office and wouldn't have won re-election if he had tried.

It seems as though the Democrats have begun to slowly weed themselves out of the way of the Hillary juggernaut. Feingold was a dark horse, but not insignificant. His withdrawal may well influence other potential candidates to reconsider their entry into the campaign.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 12, 2006 10:03 AM

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