A former Democratic U.S. senator wants his old seat back in Wisconsin and he's not above criticizing a successful inner-city jobs program to do it.
Russ Feingold lost his seat in 2010 to Republican Ron Johnson (pictured at left), and polls show Feingold with mostly single-digit leads over Johnson just days before voters head to the polls.
Now, on the eve of Election Day, a Milwaukee-based jobs program known as The Joseph Project has become the target of the three-term U.S. senator because the incumbent senator helped start it.
"It's not enough to pick people up in a van, and send them away a couple hours, and have them come back exhausted at the end of the day," Feingold complained to Wisconsin Public Radio. "That doesn't make a community."
It does, however, make inner-city minorities independent of government hand-outs.
"My bills are paid. I've got money in the bank. I haven't had that in a long time," a program graduate said in comments noticed by National Review Online.
"We have people that's standing with us," a second participant said, "that's helping us to better ourselves, to have a job."
The program was launched by Greater Praise Church of God in Christ and its pastor, Jerome Smith.
The program takes job seekers, gives them job-training skills such as resume writing and interview skills, then sets them up for real job interviews.
A newspaper story by The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, published in August, reported the project has a "shoestring budget" that depends on donations.
The newspaper story also described a city unable to climb out of hard economic times while Joseph job trainees are earning between $12.80 to $18.50 an hour.
"They don't need a hand-out. They just need somebody to help lift them up," a church member of Greater Praise explained in a campaign ad Johnson produced to defend the jobs program.
Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action tells OneNewsNow that Feingold believes government "should always be the one that steps in and runs the programs, gives the money, provides the opportunities."
In a city mired in poverty, Appling says, Feingold is just another Democratic politician promising to fix the problem. The mayor's office in Milwaukee hasn't seen a Republican since 1908, and the mayors elected since have included avowed Socialists.
Feingold, in fact, was praised in a story by left-wing website The Nation for promising to "fight for economic justice" if he's elected again as senator.
On the campaign trail, Feingold is pushing access to the Internet that is "guaranteed to everyone," the fawning story explained.
The Sentinel story, meanwhile, credited Sen. Johnson's staff for helping the Greater Praise pastor start the program, and the incumbent senator called the program "the best thing to happen to me" during his Senate term.
According to the poll numbers, however, Johnson's term is likely to end next week.