After weeks of speculation, it’s official: former Doyle administration commerce secretary Dick Leinenkugel is joining the Republican U.S. Senate primary, with hopes of unseating incumbent U.S. Senator Russ Feingold.
To say the reaction to Leinenkugel’s announcement unenthusiastic would be a gross understatement; reaction to Leinenkugel’s announcement was about as flat as a three-day old Leinie’s Honey Weiss (I just had to get one gratuitous beer joke in there).
Jack Craver of Isthmus had the least harsh take (at least of those I read) to Leinenkugel’s announcement, offering his opinion that Dick Leinenkugel will not win the Republican primary, as Leinenkugel would represent too great a compromise this fall for conservative voters who seem to be looking for an ideologically pure Republican candidate.
Over at Letters in Bottles, Mike H says conservative voters are bound to ask the question, “Why should we trust you now?” in regards to Leinenkugel, in reference to the roughly 18 months Leinenkugel spent as commerce secretary in the Doyle administration. It’s a question Leinenkugel’s going to be forced to answer over and over again to conservative voters who largely despise anything associated with Gov. Doyle.
Jason Haas of Haas 414 isn’t impressed at all with Leinenkugel’s campaign website, noting that Leinenkugel’s claim that Sen. Feingold isn’t listening is a bunch of hot air. I’ve lived in Wisconsin all my life, and as Jason notes, Sen. Feingold has done an excellent job of listening to his constituents during his tenure in the U.S. Senate, having held listening sessions with his constituents in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties during every year he’s been in office. Whether you agree with Sen. Feingold’s politics or not, there aren’t many elected officials anywhere in the nation who do a better job of listening to their constituents than Sen. Feingold.
And over at Playground Politics, the Recess Supervisor, Dick Leinenkugel’s entry into the U.S. Senate race may ultimately benefit dark horse candidate Dave Westlake the most, as Westlake could try to catch lightning in a bottle (Sen. Feingold did in 1992) by capitalizing on a race between two millionaires that’s bound to get nasty in a hurry.
An editorial posted on CapTimes.com isn’t too kind to Leinenkugel, calling him an “uninspired bureaucrat of fluid partisanship, unclear ideology and ill-defined principles” and noting “we’d have to drink an awful lot of it to think that there is anything in Dick Leinenkugel’s record or agenda that recommends him for serious consideration as a senator.”
Shortly after officially announcing his candidate for the U.S. Senate, Leinenkugel appeared on Charlie Sykes’ Show, and Leinenkugel wasted no time in asserting he’s a “Ronald Reagan conservative.” However, what’s interesting is that while Leinenkugel touted his conservative credentials as a “Reagan conservative,” he admitted he supported combined reporting (after trying really hard to avoid answering the question), he admitted he supports a high-speed rail network around the upper mid-west, and he also called Rep. Dave Obey a “terrific friend of Wisconsin.” Having listened to Leinenkugel’s appearance on Sykes’ show, I got the sense things were definitely tense and more than a bit adversarial at times, and Charlie Sykes certainly didn’t seem too impressed by Dick Leinenkugel.