Progressives Begin To Pressure Feingold On Public Option


Last week, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee asked its members if it was time to pressure left-leaning Senators to fight for a public option during the conference negotiations for a final health care reform package.

The answer from PCCC’s 300,000-plus members? Heck yes.

In Wisconsin, home to Sen. Russ Feingold, the group has already begun its efforts to push Feingold, with some local progressives threatening the pull their support from the three-term Senator if he supports a final bill that doesn’t include a government-run insurance plan.A ground-level view of the campaign, from Green Bay, WI Fox affiliate WLUK:

“I’m looking forward to Senator Feingold standing strong on the public option,” said Shawano County resident Bruce Eggum. The self-described independent has sent several emails to Senator Feingold. They urge Feingold to make sure the public health insurance option is part of the final health care bill. Feingold does support the public option, not enough for some. … Eggum wants Feingold make a stronger stance, or else.

“If a man’s fighting and loses the fight, I give him credit for fighting for me,” Eggum said. “If he doesn’t fight for the public option, then I would say no. I’d be looking for somebody else.”

PCCC co-founder Adam Green told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel exactly what he and his supporters want from Feingold:

“The question for Russ Feingold is will he represent the will of the American people and be a hero for the public option,” [He said.] “That would mean making very clear that if a bill comes back from the House and Senate negotiations without a public option, he will not vote yes on a critical cloture vote.”

The J-S also reports on the possible effects of the PCCC campaign on Democrats gearing up for Feingold’s reelection campaign next year:

Donna Miller, a Democrat from Loganville, Wis., volunteers as a team leader in the region with Organizing for America and serves on a local steering committee for Feingold’s Senate campaign. After working feverishly for Obama’s election in 2008, the volunteers she worked with are less enthused about their ability to influence national politics, she said.

“They don’t feel energized to do things on the national level,” she said. “I’m going to have to do a lot to persuade them that we cannot afford to not have (Feingold) there,” she said. “It’s going to be a little bit tougher to get people energized.”

For his part, Feingold told Gannett he welcomes the PCCC pressure and “hopes” a public option will make its way into the final bill:

Feingold applauded the activism of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, saying its effort “is extremely helpful” and that it raises a “very serious and legitimate argument.”

PCCC is targeting other senators besides Feingold as part of its campaign to influence the conference negotiations. Other targets include Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).

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