The irony was lost on no one. Senator Russ Feingold, a liberal with a fierce streak of independence who crusaded against the influence of money in politics, was toppled Tuesday in a campaign awash in the kind of unregulated cash he had struggled to keep out of the system.It's not the same kind of independence. Feingold's independence was to the left of the Democrats in Congress. The independents who determined the outcome were voters — including me — whose politics lie in between Republicans and Democrats. Feingold made no effort to get in that zone.
And in a poignant twist, the loss came, in part, because independents flocked to his opponent, despite Mr. Feingold’s record of one maverick vote after another.
He was the sole senator to oppose the Patriot Act after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He also broke with President Obama on several occasions, opposing the expansion of the war in Afghanistan, the bailing out of financial institutions in 2008 and the regulation of Wall Street this year, saying the restrictions did not go far enough.See? That's my point.
Most prominently, he battled his colleagues to overhaul the campaign finance system...A few paragraphs separate that from this:
...Mr. Feingold raised and spent more money than Mr. Johnson...Feingold's campaign finance law wasn't a limit on a candidate spending his own money. In any case, Feingold spent much more money than Johnson.
Mr. Feingold had raised $18.2 million and spent $16.2 million by the middle of last month, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Johnson raised $12.8 million, and spent $10.5 million, pumping in more than $8.2 million of his own money.
It is not clear what he will do next. In a brief speech Tuesday night, he told the 300 supporters gathered in a hotel here in his hometown, “It’s on to the next fight, it’s on to the next battle, it’s on to 2012 and it is on to our next adventure, forward.”"Forward" is the state motto and the informal name of the 15-foot sculpture on top of the state Capitol building and the official name of another statue at the east entrance to the Capitol. I've watched the video of Feingold's concession speech, and his hand is a little off-screen at this point, but I bet that's not a fist but an outreaching hand meant to invoke the "Forward" statues.
He then raised his fist in the air and left the stage.
ADDED: Here's a photo of the "Forward" gesture:
AND: Ron Johnson ran a pretty effective ad saying that Feingold is not the "maverick" he claims to be.