Hilariously, it seems the desperate strategy from (mo)Ron Johnson and the GOP is to paint Russ as someone from the past and some kind of Washington insider. Yes, because the guy who had listening sessions in all 72 counties for 18 straight years (with a whole lot fewer Green Room appearances on Sunday shows)- that guy is the tainted "insider". But the guy who heads to the Koch Retreat in California is not?
On the final full day of the seminar, I noticed Senator Johnson schmoozing two donors at a poolside cabana. I’d heard someone who attended these seminars describe Johnson as the Kochs’ “model legislator.” Figuring I had to make my last few moments count, I walked over and sat down nearby. It was just me, the Kochs’ model senator and the two wealthy backers he was talking to, identified by their name tags as Ned Diefenthal and Rob Ryan. Diefenthal, it turns out, is a Louisiana metal titan, and he was complaining to Johnson about the incompetence of the Republican National Committee. Johnson did not reject Diefenthal’s complaint, and he implied that the Kochs might be a viable alternative to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus—at least for the issue in question. “That’s what they’re trying to do here and that’s what Reince is trying to do,” Johnson said. But Diefenthal, whose family over the years had donated more than $280,000 to the RNC, was riled up. Priebus “keeps sending me letters asking for money. I’m not giving him any money. He doesn’t know what to do with it,” said Diefenthal, suggesting that he considered the Koch political network a better investment. By this point I was subtly trying to interrupt the conversation to introduce myself. But Diefenthal was on a rant and wasn’t leaving any gaps where I could interject. When he finally paused for a breath, I jumped in. I explained that I was a reporter—a declaration that journalistic standards required me to make before conducting an interview—and then led with a blunt question: Do big donors and outside groups like those at the seminar have too much influence in politics?I look forward to the day that my Senator spends more time meeting with people in Wisconsin than billionaires and other oligarchs. Oh, and I'd also want a Senator that doesn't protect pedophiles and other sexual assaulters, or want to send ground troops into another costly quagmire in the Middle East, or make most decent people in the state do a #headdesk every time he speaks.
Before I finished my question, Johnson rose from the cabana couch and stepped around me. “It’s—it’s—it’s pretty hot,” he stammered, marching toward the nearby doors to the hotel lobby, donors in tow.
If that's wanting to live in the past, to a time when Wisconsin's politics were envied as upstanding and intelligent instead of a corrupt joke, then call me old-fashioned. You go get 'em Russ- there's a whole lot of us waiting to land some payback on (mo)Ron and all of the Koch-suckers that have hurt and embarrassed this state for the last 4 1/2 years.
EDIT: Apparently I'm far from the only guy glad to see Russ back on the stage. This is from an email from Russ's campaign manager.
The outpouring of grassroots support behind Russ has been really impressive. In fact, I'm proud to report that more than 18,000 people have already stood up to tell Russ they're with him in this campaign -- in just the first 10 hours!Combine that with Bernie Sanders raising $1.5 million from 35,000 donors within 24 hours of announcing his run for president, and maybe it means there's a whole lot of us looking for someone who'll level the playing field against the Kochs and the free-traders and the other oligarchs.