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Leinenkugel to run against Feingold, source says

MADISON -- Outgoing state Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel intends to announce a run for U.S. Senate as a Republican, a source familiar with his plans said Wednesday.

MADISON -- Outgoing state Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel intends to announce a run for U.S. Senate as a Republican, a source familiar with his plans said Wednesday.

Leinenkugel, who has served for the last 18 months under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, said Tuesday he would step down from that post on Friday and then make an announcement in two to three weeks about his plans. He declined to say then whether he would run for public office and challenge Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold.

Middleton businessman Terrence Wall and Watertown businessman David Westlake are already running against Feingold as Republicans and former Gov. and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is also mulling over a run.

"(Leinenkugel is) tying down a couple of loose ends and he's in," said a source who asked not to be named because Leinenkugel has not yet made his announcement. "Tommy knows that Dick will be in regardless of what Tommy does."

Leinenkugel previously was vice president of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., which his family founded 140 years ago. News of his intended Senate run was first reported Thursday by the political news site Wispolitics.com.

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An announcement by Leinenkugel, whose family name is widely known in the state, would instantly make the Republican primary for U.S. Senate competitive. But Leinenkugel could also face the challenge of being linked to tax increases and other policies of Doyle that are unpopular with Republicans.

Thompson ally Bill McCoshen said as much Wednesday, saying Leinenkugel's decision won't affect Thompson's.

"It's going to be tough for Dick to convince people he is a Republican after working for Doyle for 18 months," he said.

-- Copyright (c) 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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