This election cycle, we are witnessing history being made and the stakes are higher than ever. With all of the attention focused on the presidential election, it is easy to forget about down-ballot elections that can have an equally consequential impact on our nation’s future.

The race between Democratic Senate nominee Russ Feingold and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is pivotal to break the gridlock in Congress.

A Feingold victory would give the Democrats a real chance for a Senate majority and the ability to put forth and pass the progressive agenda that people like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and so many others have fought for their  entire lives.

Feingold would not just be a vote in favor of the Democrats on the Senate floor, he is a fighter. Feingold spent three terms in the Senate fighting for Wisconsin families, women, students and our environment. He has vowed to continue his efforts if he is elected in November, and this is far from an empty claim. Major figures like Sanders and Warren have attested to Feingold’s progressive credentials, but his record speaks for itself.

Russ Feingold calls on students to vote earlyKicking off early voting in Madison, U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold encouraged students to get out and vote at a Read…

When Feingold visited campus last fall he didn’t just come for Ian’s Pizza or to talk Badger football, he listened to student concerns, most notably, those about the massive debt that many will face upon graduation. Feingold has made it clear that students, not corporations and billionaires, are his priority in solving the crisis of college affordability. He has shown unwavering support for Warren’s bill that would allow students to refinance their loans and Clinton’s plan for debt free college.

Johnson, Feingold’s opponent, does not even believe the federal student loan program should exist, stating that students view their loans as “free money” and that we “don’t really understand finance.” Wisconsin students need to elect a Senator who advocates for us, not who condescends to us. Our current senator is out of touch with today’s students, he cites his own experience of working through college but fails to mention is that tuition at the University of Minnesota was only $600 when he attended, and has since increased by 470 percent.

Currently, Wisconsinites have a senator that has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding for issues facing women in the state. Johnson has voted five times against the Paycheck Fairness Act. To make matters worse, Johnson brushes off  the gender pay gap as a “myth.” During his time in office, Feingold has been an advocate for issues facing women. He supports legislation that would ensure a woman can get paid the same as a man in the same position. Feingold’s stellar record of advocating for women’s rights has earned him the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood, just to name a couple.

Feingold talks debt, loans with students over pizzaDemocratic U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold met with University of Wisconsin students Friday at Ian’s Pizza to discuss student debt, the Read…

Johnson doesn’t seem to have any spare time in between critiquing the financial know-how of students and trying to take away access to basic reproductive healthcare. He can’t even find a minute to listen to 97 percent of scientists who say that climate change is real. Johnson doesn’t even believe the planet is getting warmer, and says any temperature fluctuations are caused by sunspots.

We need a senator who will fight for the health of our planet, not just side with big corporations. Feingold has proved that he will be a champion for environmental legislation. The League of Conservation Voters has made it a top priority of their organization to get Feingold back to Washington.

Whether you are a student, a parent, a union worker or a young professional entering the workforce, Feingold is the right choice if you want an advocate for your interests in Congress.

While Johnson has been fighting for people like Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Feingold has proven that he puts Wisconsin first.

Eliana Locke ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science.