Former Wisconsin Secretary of Commerce Dick Leinenkugel will join the race for United States Senate as a Republican candidate, he announced Monday in Janesville.
He will be running against Republican candidates Terrence Wall and Dave Westlake and Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold.
“I have learned to love this state, and I want to do more to help our state,” Leinenkugel said at the press conference.
As a fifth generation family member of Leinenkugel Brewing Co. in Chippewa Falls, Leinenkugel said his success as a U.S. senator will come from his experience as vice president of sales and marketing with the beer company and his 18-month tenure as secretary of commerce for the state.
“I will do what my family has done for over 100 years — helping Wisconsin,” he said. “I worked every day in that job to try to save jobs for the state.”
In addition to comparing their real-life experiences, Leinenkugel claimed that his Democratic opponent, Russ Feingold, has been “one of the most unproductive U.S. senators in our state’s history.”
Bob Kraus, senior strategist for the Feingold campaign, said in response to Leinenkugel’s announcement that Wisconsin voters are not looking for negative attacks, but are looking for what a candidate stands for, as well as someone who can deliver solutions.
“Leinenkugel doesn’t know where he stands, he speaks out of both sides of his mouth on many issues. For instance, in the past he supported the high-speed rail, and now he opposes [it]. He once was a major advocate for the Clean Energy Jobs Act, but today is against it,” Kraus said.
Bob Delaporte, spokesperson for the Wall campaign, said it will be hard for Leinenkugel to run and win as a Republican without the Republican support.
“Secretary Leinenkugel will face immediate challenges in a primary as he seeks to explain his record as Commerce Secretary,” Wall said in a statement. “[He] will also have to explain to Republican primary voters his involvement in developing and supporting Gov. Jim Doyle’s 2009-2010 state budget that raised taxes and fees by more than $3.5 billion.”
Despite the accusations, Leinenkugel said in his speech that he is a “conservative, Ronald Reagan Republican.”