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Feingold says he will not seek office in 2012

U.S Senate candidate Russ Feingold and Ron Johnson debate at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
U.S Senate candidate Russ Feingold and Ron Johnson debate at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

By Brendan O'Brien

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Russ Feingold, the former Democratic senator from Wisconsin, said on Friday he will not be a candidate for political office next year, which takes him out of the running for senator, or governor if Democrats force a recall against Republican incumbent Scott Walker.

In a statement to supporters on the Progressives United website, Feingold said he wanted to devote himself full-time to teaching at Marquette University Law School.

He also has been writing a book about his view that the nation has lost its way in responding to the September 11 attacks.

Feingold called the decision "difficult" and said he knows progressives are eager to reverse "some of the outrageous policies being pursued by corporate interests at both the state and federal levels."

He said he was also aware that he had a "very strong standing" in the polls should he choose to run again for senate or in a recall election for governor.

Feingold said he might seek elective office again "someday."

Feingold was defeated in his bid for a fourth term in 2010, beaten by Republican Ron Johnson. Both parties next year will be hotly contesting the state's other seat, which will be vacated by the planned retirement of Senate Democrat Herb Kohl.

Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, said in a statement Friday that she is "seriously exploring" running for Kohl's seat. The four-term senator announced his retirement in May. Baldwin is expected to make an announcement in the next several weeks.

Democratic State Representative Peter Barca Friday said it was premature to say much about the recall.

Asked if he would consider running against Walker in a recall election, Barca said, "At this juncture, we are going back into session in just two weeks and my focus is how we start to unite this state."

Barca said a recall is up to the people. "It's probably premature at this point to say much of anything."

Barca became the face of the Democratic opposition to the Republican collective bargaining measure in February, making several impassioned speeches on the issue in the state assembly.

(Additional reporting by John Rondy; Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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