Russ Feingold Prepares for Africa, Doesn't Rule Out Elected Office
The former U.S. senator dishes a little straight talk with his hometown newspaper.
Russ Feingold looks awfully relaxed these days, even though he's about to become the U.S. State Department's special representative to the Great Lakes region of Africa, an area that includes the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, countries where horrific violence has sometimes elicited peculiar responses from the West.
The Journal Sentinel first reported in April that Feingold was being considered for the job by the Obama administration, while charting a post-Congress life that's so far included teaching law classes and writing a book, While America Sleeps: A Wake-up Call for the Post-9/11 Era, in between long walks beside a creek near his Middleton, Wis., home.
The Middleton Times-Tribune interviewed him there earlier this week, and the long-standing Wisconsin politician left a door or two open when asked if he would consider running for elected office again. "Maybe someday I'll try to come back," he says. "Maybe. I will say that it's incredibly gratifying when, after 28 years in public life, some people aren't sick of you yet and even want you to come back."
Many liberals, of course, hoped Feingold would run against Republican Gov. Scott Walker during the 2012 gubernatorial recall or in 2014, for either governor or against Republican Ron Johnson, who upset Feingold in 2010. But Feingold has largely been cagey on the latter two prospects, though less so now, perhaps, than Walker has been on the question of whether he'll run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.
The Citizens United decision that neutered what was set to be a major achievement of his 18 years in the U.S. Senate, the McCain-Feingold Act limiting election spending by corporations, continues to chafe.
He called the controversial ruling "dumb" in the interview. "We had this genie in the bottle," he says. "McCain-Feingold had a system in place to prevent unlimited political contributions from corporations and unions. It was only a dumb Supreme Court decision that changed it."
Read the complete story here. Feingold's plans for Africa include more work on attempting to stop the flow of arms to groups perpetuating violence in the Great Lakes region.