Feingold survives bid by Republican Neumann
(AllPolitics, November 3) -- Showing that you can win an election on a budget, Democrat Russ Feingold has won a second term in the U.S. Senate, defeating two-term Congressman Mark Neumann.
Feingold, who, as a state legislator, upset two tough primary opponents and knocked off a sitting senator to win the seat six years ago, made his mark as a political outsider who wanted to reform Congress. He is a leading advocate of campaign finance reform, pushing his McCain-Feingold bill in the Senate.
Although the bill died on Capitol Hill this year, Feingold pledged to abide by the campaign finance regulations outlined in it.
Neumann, praised in conservative circles for his anti-tax and anti-abortion views, proved a tenacious campaigner, and both parties had expected a tough race.
The air war between Feingold and Neumann heated up late in the campaign. Neumann emphasized cutting government waste in his TV spots and complained that Feingold had voted for too many wasteful programs. Neumann voted against a Republican plan to cut taxes, which effectively prevented Feingold from portraying the Republican as not entirely committed to protecting Social Security.
Feingold complained that Neumann's charges about supporting government waste were simply untrue. The senator also complained that Neumann did not take steps to keep outside groups from spending heavily on his behalf, and suggested that Republicans were trying to "buy" the Senate seat.
But Feingold was also the beneficiary of outside, independent spending. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ran almost five days of an independent expenditure campaign against Neumann. But the DSCC abruptly pulled its ad before it had played for a planned seven days, when Feingold went to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and asked for his help in getting the independent expenditure stopped. Daschle went to DSCC Chairman Bob Kerrey, and the committee agreed to pull the ad.
Feingold and Neumann also clashed over abortion policy. Neumann hammered away against the late-term abortion procedure, which its opponents call "partial-birth abortion."
"If we allow this practice to continue -- ninth-month, healthy baby, partially delivered -- folks, that says something about us as a nation," Neumann told supporters at one banquet.
Neumann favors banning the procedure except to save the mother's life; Feingold would ban all late-term abortions except when the mother's life or health were at risk. On abortion in general, Feingold supports abortion rights.
Feingold also campaigned for guaranteed access to higher education for qualified young people, criticizing Neumann's record.
"He has voted to cut 280,000 Pell grants for needy students," Feingold told a crowd of students at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
CNN's Bruce Morton and political analyst Stuart Rothenberg contributed to this report.
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