September 15, 2004

Tim Michels vs. Russ Feingold.

After yesterday's primary, we now know it will be Tim Michels challenging Senator Russ Feingold. So no more "the wrong Russ" commercials from Russ Darrow, who came in second. I saw my first Russ Feingold TV ad yesterday, a very charming ad featuring his daughter saying he runs a tight budget within his family and therefore can be trusted on matters financial in the Senate. Actually, it sounds corny described in writing. But it appears that the big issues will be the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, both of which Feingold voted against. Feingold has the additional distinction of being the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act. Michels is described as "a relative unknown who ran largely on his experience as an Army Ranger and who, in his acceptance speech, vowed to renew the Patriot Act."

I heard on the radio this morning that there is a proposal for five debates between the two candidates. It will be interesting to see how much effort is made by the Republicans on behalf of Michels. My sense is that many people in Wisconsin think Feingold is a good man, who deserves to be re-elected, even if they disagree with some or even many of his votes. So maybe Feingold will be so far ahead in the polls that no huge efforts will be made on behalf of Michels. But since the Bush campaign is forced to concentrate on Wisconsin, it seems likely that Michels, who has already been making appearances with Bush, will get some solid assistance.

By contrast, Feingold will not be appearing alongside Kerry as Kerry makes a major appearance in Madison today. The official word from Feingold is that he has business in the Senate to attend to. Feingold is probably the politician whose assertions I am most willing to take at face value, but I cannot help thinking that Feingold perceives no political advantage to be gained by appearing with Kerry. And perhaps Feingold is in no position to help Kerry either, because the two disagreed on what are Feingold's two key issues: Iraq and the Patriot Act. It will be very interesting to see the effect the debates between Feingold and Michels about these two issues will have on the Presidential candidates here in Wisconsin, but people should notice that Feingold will be put in a position of arguing to Wisconsinites that the positions Kerry took were wrong.

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