Feingold in Vermont, New Hampshire
After his emergence in 2005 as a leading voice for the liberal wing of the Democratic party, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold is working to cement that reputation with a campaign swing for Rep. Bernie Sanders (I) in Vermont.
Feingold will be in Brattleboro Saturday afternoon to attend a rally with Sanders, who is running for the state's open Senate seat, as well as state Sen. Peter Welch (D), who is seeking the House seat that Sanders is vacating. Feingold will do two fundraisers for Sanders during the trip as well. He will also plans to make a stop in neighboring New Hampshire later in the day, speaking to the Hanover Democratic Party at 8 pm.
Sanders -- a Socialist who has caucused with Democrats since being elected to the House in 1990 -- is considered the frontrunner for the seat of retiring Sen. Jim Jeffords (I). No serious Democrat has emerged; wealthy software executive Richard Tarrant is the likely Republican nominee.
Jeff Weaver, a spokesman for Sanders, said his boss invited Feingold to Vermont because the two men have long been advocates for limits on the Patriot Act and leaders in the push for campaign finance reform. Given Feingold's high-profile fights on these two issues, Weaver said, "a lot of people have a familiarity with him."
"He is not as well known as someone like [Massachusetts Sen. John] Kerry or [New York Sen. Hillary Rodham] Clinton," Weaver added, "but among people who are more politically active he is certainly known."
In a statement released by his leadership political action committee -- the Progressive Patriots Fund -- Feingold said the decision to campaign in Vermont is part of his commitment "to help promote a progressive reform agenda in every state."
Feingold's trip to Vermont and New Hampshire may have several ancillary benefits for his 2008 ambitions. First and foremost, he continues to raise his profile in the Granite State, where media markets bleed across into Vermont and where the first-in-the-nation presidential primary will be held in early 2008. Also, by campaigning in the home state of Howard Dean, Feingold may draw a connection in liberals' minds as 2008's ideological incarnation of the former Vermont governor, whose grassroots movement jolted the 2004 presidential primary season.
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