With Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) Chairman Mike Tate leaving office later this year, there’s two candidates already running for the office of DPW chairperson.
One of them is Jason Rae, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) member from Milwaukee. There are several red flags that pop up in my head when I think about Rae’s candidacy. First off, the fact that he’s a DNC member means that he’s associated with a national party that lost complete control of Congress over the past four years under the failed leadership of Tim Kaine and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Secondly, Rae’s Wikipedia page states that Rae’s lifelong goal is to be President of the United States (this is sourced to a 2004 Boston Globe article that is behind a paywall), which tells me that Rae is more concerned about gaining more political power for himself than actually building the Democratic Party in Wisconsin, a critical swing state in modern American politics. Thirdly, Rae, unusually for a candidate for a state party office, has a full-fledged campaign website, and, while I like the use of online resources to campaign for party offices, Rae’s campaign platform is full of the typical Mike Tate-style talking points that Wisconsin progressives have had to put up with for the past six years, such few specifics about how he’d run the DPW and a ton of empty rhetoric about reenergizing the party and winning over rural and suburban voters, two things that the DPW has been terrible at under Tate’s failed leadership. Last, but certainly not least, the front page of Rae’s campaign website is a splash page that includes a link to donate money to his campaign for DPW chair, which tells me that Rae is trying to buy the DPW chair, and I fear that, if Rae is elected, he would run the party in a corrupt manner.
The other candidate in the race so far is Joe Wineke of Verona, who served two largely successful terms as DPW chair from 2005 to 2009 and is running for a third non-consecutive term. Not only does Wineke have an actual winning track record, he also has a detailed plan to rebuild the Democratic Party of Wisconsin from the bottom up, which is how a political party should be run:
First…let’s quit playing defense all the time.
The public agrees with us on the issues, but we are constantly letting Republicans define the message, and by definition, defining us. We do that by playing offense.
Second…we do that through messaging.
Message matters. We need to create an “Opportunity Agenda” based on putting people first. Our “Opportunity Agenda” will be based on economic, educational, and equal opportunity for all. In musical terms, we must create a symphonic message based on these themes. Variations to our symphonic theme will be based on:
- Economic Security: People know they are falling behind. We, as Democrats, have not given enough people the belief that we will help them succeed. Supporting the working class is paramount to their security. Better wages, reducing student loan debt, support for the right to collectively bargain, making housing more affordable and attainable need to be key to that effort.
- Educational Opportunity: Democrats need to stand behind public schools. Let the Republicans side with the rich and powerful on this issue. We need to remind people that public dollars should go to public schools…period. Rural schools in Wisconsin have reached a crisis point. If we quit playing on the edges and show the public whose side we are on, we can win this issue. We are currently losing it. I believe that the Democratic Party renaissance will begin in rural Wisconsin and the issue is education.
- Equal Opportunity: Political parties must stand powerfully behind core issues. Equal opportunity for all, whether one is straight, gay, black, white, Native American, or anything else must be defined by Democrats. Republicans have been allowed to pander to prejudice for too long. Let it define them and define us.
If handled properly, the core issues of the “Opportunity Agenda” will rise to a message crescendo that will help lead us to victory in 2016 and beyond. Of course, there will be other issues that will matter in our fight to reclaim Wisconsin, but it is far better to stick to a handful of powerful issues than to get bogged down in a hundred battles at once.
Third…we need to rebuild our Party from the bottom up.
Neither a “top down” Party, nor a “top down” message, resonates with average people. We need to create a better message, more effectively using modern communication mediums on social media, like Facebook and Twitter. I propose the creation of a Social Media Advisory Council within the Party to create a daily message based on our “Opportunity Agenda”.
Fourth…there is an old saying that states, “You can’t beat somebody, with nobody”.
When I was Chair, we fielded a variety of candidates in every legislative and local race we could, not just competing in the “so called” competitive seats. Not to mention, we were pretty darn successful in doing it, filling the vast majority of seats for the Assembly and Senate. In 2014, we left 31 of 60 Assembly Republicans off with “free rides”. If I am elected Chair, those days are over. We won’t win a lot of those seats, but we might just steal a few. In addition, it is a smart way to build a local party base that will likely increase our percentages in GOP counties enough to get a few more percentage points at the top of the ticket.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (MJS), a bastion of media bias in Wisconsin, published this piece about Wineke and Rae entering the race for DPW chair which featured Rae’s announcement prominently and only made a passing mention of Wineke’s announcement. Given that MJS has long been in the tank for Scott Walker and other Wisconsin Republicans, that’s a clear indication that they think that Rae will continue Tate’s legacy of being an asset for the Republicans.
While I don’t live in Wisconsin, it is indisputable that Wisconsin is one of the more important states to the Democratic Party, mainly due to Wisconsin being a swing state in recent years, which is why I’m writing about the DPW chair race.
While I do have a few qualms about Wineke, such as the fact that he was once a corporate lobbyist for AT&T, Wineke is, in my opinion, the best candidate for DPW chair among those currently in the race because of his winning track record and solid plan to build. Because there is the possibility that one or more other candidates could enter the race, I’m not going to publicly endorse a candidate for DPW chair yet.