Washington (CNN) – For anyone hoping that outgoing Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin will mount a Democratic primary challenge to President Barack Obama in 2012, it appears Feingold's not interested.
"Senator Feingold is not running for President in 2012. Any suggestion he is thinking of running, planning to run, or interested in running is untrue. Senator Feingold is a strong supporter of President Barack Obama and wants to see him reelected in 2012," says Feingold Chief of Staff Mary Irvine.
Thursday Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham was the latest to stir the pot by telling conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham that "I like Russ, and he may run against Obama in 2012."
Feingold may be partially responsible for the speculation.
In his concession speech last month, Feingold told supporters "I hope and I intend to continue to work with all of you in the future as much as possible," adding that "it's on to the next fight. It's on to the next battle. It's on to 2012. And it is on to our next adventure – forward!"
Feingold was bidding for a fourth term in the Senate, but lost by five percentage points in the midterm elections to Republican challenger Ron Johnson, a favorite of many Tea Party activists.
The conventional wisdom is that if there were any primary challenge to the president in 2012, it would come from the left, where many progressives have voiced concern over Obama's compromises with congressional Republicans on some issues.
According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll conducted at the end of October, nearly three out of four Democrats and independents that lean toward the Democrats prefer Obama as their party's 2012 presidential nominee, with 22 percent preferring another Democrat.
But a McClatchy-Marist survey conducted in mid-November indicated that Democrats and independents that lean Democratic were divided on the issue.
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