Feingold faces challenge in Senate primary

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Frank Schultz
Thursday, August 4, 2016

Russ Feingold, the former U.S. senator who seeks to wrest his seat back from Sen. Ron Johnson, faces a challenger in Tuesday's primary election.

Scott Harbach said God told him to run against Feingold, but he says he has nothing bad to say about the former senator.

Janesville native Feingold has raised nearly $15.7 million, compared to none for Harbach, according to the Federal Elections Commission website.

The winner of the primary will face Johnson on Nov. 8.

These answers are from a Gazette interview with Harbach and a written response from the Feingold campaign.

Q: What's your stand on abortion?

Feingold: I fully support women's reproductive rights and access to quality, affordable health care. We need to do more to ensure all of Wisconsin's women can receive the care they deserve. This shouldn't be a partisan issue, but unfortunately my opponent has made it one with his extreme approach.

We not only must protect reproductive rights, but we also need pay-equity legislation, an increase in the federal minimum wage and guaranteed paid family leave.

Harbach: Abortion is Harbach's top issue. He favors a 48-hour “cooling-off period” for women seeking abortions.

Harbach acknowledges the Supreme Court decision guaranteeing the right to an abortion. He said women should get ultrasounds and be counseled on the consequences of their actions so abortion providers can't rush them through the process.

Abortion providers can't be trusted to fully inform women of their options because the providers depend on abortions for their livelihood, Harbach said.

Q: What solutions do you see to police discrimination leading to the deaths of black people and police being targeted and killed?

Feingold: Nothing justifies the killing of police officers, and nothing justifies the killing of unarmed citizens. We cannot live in a society where distrust and divisiveness continue to build, making our communities less safe and destroying the relationships we need to get through these tough times.

It's on all of us to come together, open our hearts, and create the types of communities and neighborhoods that allow everyone to feel safe, loved and valued. That starts with making sure we take on the very real problem of institutional racism. We have to address disparities in education, housing, health care and economic opportunity.

Harbach: What you're seeing in the black community is frustration about feeling that they're not getting a fair shake.

Our police are our backbone. Our police protect us from chaos, but police need different training.

Harbach supports body cameras for all officers and says more nonlethal weapons should be developed for police work.

Police should not shoot to kill in every situation, he said, adding that refusing to follow police orders should not be a death sentence.

Harbach said he has talked to black protesters in Milwaukee and says the city is a “powder keg.”

Q: What should the federal government do, if anything, to change the education system?

Feingold: One of the biggest barriers facing middle-class and working families is the increasing cost of higher education. That's why I support letting young people refinance their student loan debt. If the young people in our communities are saddled with debt, they can't buy a car, take out a mortgage or contribute to our economy.

I'll fight for student loan reform and protect Pell Grants.

Harbach: The education system is failing us as we pour money into it and yet are ranked low when compared with other countries.

The public education system could be improved if faced with competition, perhaps by the private sector.

Teaching is not an easy job, and fear of violent students is one thing teachers must face.

Harbach opposes the Common Core curriculum, which he says lowers standards. He calls for more emphasis on vocational curriculum and increasing parental support for teachers.

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