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Leinenkugel declares candidacy for U.S. Senate

Former state Commerce Secretary Richard Leinenkugel announced his Republican bid for the U.S. Senate April 26.And he tried to distance himself from his ties to Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, who appointed him to try and get the state out of its economic doldrums.

Leinenkugel became the third Republican to run against Senate Democrat Russ Feingold this fall. He announced his bid in an empty warehouse in Feingold's home town of Janesville.

When Feingold took office 18 years ago, Leinenkugel said he was busy improving the state's economy by expanding his family's beer-making business in Chippewa Falls. In Leinenkugel's words, "I did my part ... Russ has not done his."

As for his work in the Doyle administration, Leinenkugel said he was serving the state - not the governor or the Democratic Party. But he would not say whether was for or against the tax increases Doyle and legislative Democrats passed last year.

Leinenkugel said he had no influence on the state budget. Before he can run against Feingold, he must win a Republican primary in September. Madison developer Terrence Wall and Watertown businessman Dave Westlake are running. And Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson might get in the race as well.