Russ Feingold is telling Wisconsin Democrats to downplay his political career as the former senator eyes a return to Congress.
Feingold’s campaign has instructed supporters not to call him "Senator" in media interviews or refer to his "going back" to Washington, according to Martha Laning, the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.
"They want us to say ‘Russ,’" Laning said, "because the last campaign was all about ‘16 years, 16 years, 16 years, he’s there too long,’ and so they want to say ‘he’s just one of us. We want to go back to Russ being Russ.’"
The informal salutation "seems very disrespectful," she said, but the campaign has insisted on the personal touch as a way of downplaying Feingold’s political career, which spanned nearly three decades.
"The second one is we never want to say ‘go back to the Senate,’ we just want to say ‘electing him to the Senate.’ They want to totally get away from all that," Laning added.
Feingold was first elected to the Wisconsin state senate in 1982. He won his U.S. Senate seat a decade later. In 2010, Republican Ron Johnson defeated Feingold, who is now running to regain his old seat.
Laning’s remarks, made last week at a meeting of the Door County Democratic Committee, were captured in tracking footage uploaded to YouTube over the weekend.