Former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold announced Thursday that he will mount a 2016 challenge against Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, setting up a rematch between the progressive campaign finance reform crusader and the conservative who unseated him during the tea party wave of 2010.
"People tell me all the time that our politics in Washington are broken and that multi-millionaires, billionaires and big corporations are calling all the shots," Feingold says in a video announcing his candidacy. "They especially say this about the U.S. Senate, and it's hard not to agree."
Although Johnson defeated Feingold by 5 percentage points in the 2010 GOP wave election, Feingold has been considered a strong potential challenger to retake the senate seat in Wisconsin, a state that went for President Obama in both 2008 and 2012.
In a statement, the National Republican Senatorial Committee called Feingold's run "desperate."
"After decades in politics, Feingold's ego still can't grasp that he was soundly defeated by Oshkosh job creator Ron Johnson in 2010," said communications director Andrea Bozek. "Wisconsin families rejected Feingold's broken promises and his liberal record once and they are going to do it again. Wisconsin voters know a desperate career politician when they see one and that is why they will re-elect their independent leader, Ron Johnson."
Democracy for America PAC announced its endorsement for Feingold shortly after the announcement, calling the former senator the "truth-teller" the country needs.
"Over the next nineteen months, Democracy for America members in the Badger State and across the country will knock on every door, make every phone call, and raise every cent we can to return Russ to the U.S. Senate where he can continue his courageous fight for Wisconsin working families," Chair Jim Dean said in a statement.