Russ Feingold vs. Ron Johnson: Nonpartisan Candidate Guide For 2016 Wisconsin Senate Race

Are you looking for a nonpartisan voter guide for the Russ Feingold vs. Ron Johnson Senate race? One that will give you an accurate, no-spin comparison of the candidates’ positions on key issues? Our Campus Election Engagement Project is a national nonpartisan initiative working to increase student electoral participation. At the request of the schools we work with, we’ve created concise nonpartisan candidate guides for the presidential race, for the importance of the 2016 election on future Supreme Court decisions, and for 20 Senate and Governor’s races, including this Senate race. Our lead researcher spent 19 years as a senior editor at Encyclopedia Britannica, and we invite readers to share this and our other guides as widely as possible

So here are the issue-by-issue stands for Russ Feingold and Ron Johnson. Visit our Nonpartisan Candidate Guides home page to find links to all our other guides, with most available in both online/mobile friendly and printable PDF formats.

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Abortion: Should abortion be highly restricted?

Feingold: No

Johnson: Yes. Believes Roe v Wade “was a tragedy.”[1]

Campaign Finance: Do you support the DISCLOSE Act, which requires key funders of political ads to put their names on those ads?

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No. Voted against it.

Campaign Finance: Support Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allows unlimited independent political expenditures by corporations and unions?

Feingold: No. Law overturned his key campaign finance reform law, McCain-Feingold.

Johnson: Likely yes from other statements, but no direct statement found.

Climate Change: Believe that human activity is the major factor driving climate change?

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No

Climate Change: Should government limit the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No

Contraception: Should employers be able to withhold contraceptive coverage from employees if they disagree with it morally?

Feingold: Likely no, implied from positions on women’s access to health care.

Johnson: Yes

Economy: Support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No

Financial Regulation: Support the Dodd-Frank Act, which established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and increases regulation of Wall Street corporations and financial institutions?

Feingold: Believes in strong regulation of corporate and banking practices but voted against bill as too weak to provide necessary protections.

Johnson: No. Voted to repeal.

Gay Marriage: Support gay marriage?

Feingold: Yes. Early supporter, voted against 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Johnson: Opposes personally, but will accept voter judgment on it.

Gay Rights: Should transgender individuals have the right to use public bathrooms of their choice?

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No direct statement, but voted against barring employers from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Gun Control: Support more restrictive gun control legislation?

Feingold: Mixed positions.[2]

Johnson: No

Healthcare: Repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?

Feingold: No

Johnson: Voted to repeal. Then later voted to repeal just specific sections.

Healthcare: Did you support shutting down the federal government in order to defund Obamacare in 2013?

Feingold: No

Johnson: Yes, on several votes. Later said he would have preferred to avoid.

Healthcare: Should Planned Parenthood be eligible to receive public funds for non-abortion health services?

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No

Immigration: Support the DREAM Act, which would allow children brought into the country illegally to achieve legal status if meet certain conditions? [3]

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No

Immigration: Should America’s 11 million undocumented residents have an earned path to citizenship?

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No. Opposed 2013 bipartisan bill. Said would consider addressing after border is secure.[4]

Iran: Support the US-Iran treaty that limits Iran’s nuclear capability in return for lifting economic sanctions?

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No

Iraq: Should the US recommit significant additional ground troops to Iraq to combat the success of ISIS?

Feingold: Use all resources except boots on the ground. Attack leaders, cut off funding sources, use targeted military action.[5]

Johnson: Organize global military coalition, including as many as 25,000 US combat troops.

Marijuana: Decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana?

Feingold: Voted earlier for lower drug sentences, but unclear position on legalization.

Johnson: Opposes recreational legalization, but open to seeing results in states that have approved it.

Minimum Wage: Raise the federal minimum wage?

Feingold: Yes, to $12 and eventually $15.

Johnson: No. Opposes any federal minimum wage.

Renewable Energy: Support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy?

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No

Social Security: Support full or partial Social Security privatization?

Feingold: No

Johnson: Yes

Student Debt: Refinance student loans at lower rates, paid for by increasing taxes on high earners?

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No

Student Financial Aid: Should federal student financial aid, like Pell Grants, be increased?

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No

Supreme Court: Support the Senate holding hearings to consider Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland?

Feingold: Yes

Johnson: No. Also blocked earlier Obama Appeals Court nominee.

Taxes: Increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services?

Feingold: Yes. Voted to increase for individuals earning $1 mil per year.

Johnson: No. Pledged to oppose any tax increases to generate revenue.

Voting Rights: Support stricter voting rules such as voter ID requirements or reduced registration times, even if they prevent some people from voting?

Feingold: No. Has opposed Voter ID laws & other measures he sees as disenfranchising people.[6]

Johnson: Yes. Supports WI Voter ID law that also includes restrictions on early voting and on absentee ballots.[7]

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Other senate candidates include Phil Anderson-L. Due to limited space, we can’t include his positions, but invite you to check out his website.

Created by the Campus Election Engagement Project, a non-partisan effort to help college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders engage their schools in the election. Key sites consulted included Votesmart.org, Countable.us, Ballotpedia.org, OntheIssues.org, FactCheck.org, Politifact.com, and public candidate statements. For a guide to all races, see Vote411.org, from the League of Women Voters, and Ballotready.org.

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[2] Supports expanding background checks and restricting high capacity gun magazines, but has voted on both sides of the issue.

[3] Need to have graduated from high school, have a clean legal record, and attend college or serve in the military.

[4] Strong focus on first increasing border security. Then open to considering “step by step” approach to reform legislation, including such steps as E-Verify and a guest worker program. Could then consider path to citizenship.

[7] Johnson and other Republicans have been accused of intentionally refusing to fill a federal court vacancy that could have broken an impasse on WI’s voter ID law.

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