Russ Feingold tonight called for returning to a Wisconsin that honors everyone’s work, criticizing U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson as someone who lectures his constituents and is happy to sacrifice state jobs “at the altar of his personal ideology and his corporate friends.”
Feingold, who has announced plans to run against Johnson next year, said instead, he would listen to the residents of Wisconsin, visiting all 72 counties by the end of this year and doing it again in 2016.
He slammed Johnson for calling job losses “creative destruction” and being willing to shut down the government “and outsource it like a manufacturing plant in Wisconsin” because he doesn’t like a health care law or immigration order.
Feingold also knocked Johnson for opposing government-assisted student loans and favors cutting Pell Grants because not every child needs to attend college.
“You know what that means?” he asked. “It means when he looks at your children he thinks ‘what opportunities do they need to be useful to me?’” Feingold said. “I look at your children and think ‘what opportunities do they need to be useful to themselves and their families?’”
The crowd responded with a change of “We want Russ.”
“It’s good to be back,” Feingold responded.
The former three-term senator was the final speaker on the opening night of the state convention, and most of the speakers who preceded Feingold sang his praises while urging the crowd to return him to the Senate.
The party also set up Friday night as an opportunity for Feingold to reintroduce himself after largely being out of the public eye since he lost to Johnson in 2010. He struck many of the populist themes that were his trademarks while in office and levied a series of digs at those who he said don’t respect the average Wisconsin worker.
He called for rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, which he said means prioritizing access to broadband. He compared it to the electrification of the country in the 1930s that helped America’s rural communities.
Feingold also criticized “secretive trade deals that are sold on the false promise of elusive global profits” and knocked what he said was “the relentless mocking and personal attacks” by some ultra-wealthy and powerful on the hard work Wisconsinites do. He compared it to a GOP attack on voting rights, saying it was an effort by the powerful to “make people feel defensive about their work” as part of a cynical political strategy.
“For too long Republicans have tossed aside Wisconsin’s tradition of respect,” Feingold said. “For too long they’ve talked down to so many of us from their perch of privilege. For too long, they’ve ignored people’s daily efforts to provide for themselves and create opportunities for their families.”
Feingold also laid out a six-year plan to return Dems to power. He said that begins with winning back his old Senate seat, keeping Wisconsin in the Dem column for the presidency next year, and making progress in the Assembly and Senate, where Dems are now in the minority.
He said 2018 will be about re-electing Tammy Baldwin to the Senate, electing a Dem guv and continuing to make gains in the state Legislature.
Then, by 2020, they will help elect Dem majorities in both houses of the Legislature and “return to the great Wisconsin traditions of cooperation and progress.”
-- By JR Ross
Labels: 2015 state convention