Why I’m pulling my endorsement of Jeff Smith and endorsing Martha Laning for Wisconsin Democratic chairperson

I’d never thought that I’d say this, given how I’ve criticized Martha Laning multiple times on this blog, but I’m actually pulling my endorsement of Jeff Smith and endorsing Martha Laning in the race for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW).

Obviously, you’re probably wondering why I would do something like that. It’s because of this letter from the Jeff Smith campaign, which was sent to at least one DPW member that I’m aware of, in which Smith offered Laning the post of DPW Executive Director if he were to be elected chair, and then criticized Laning in the same letter, which is something I’d never do if I was offering someone a job. After I notified Laning’s campaign of Smith’s letter via Facebook, the Laning campaign issued this statement, in which Laning strongly stated that she had refused Smith’s offer and criticized Smith for mentioning the offer in campaign literature. What Smith did was the single most asinine thing I’ve ever seen someone who I’ve sincerely endorsed ever do. I think that a candidate offering an opposing candidate a job if the candidate making the offer wins is, in my opinion, downright unethical. Do I think that Jeff Smith would make a good leader of the DPW? I think he would. However, I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support Jeff’s campaign after he sent out that letter.

Do I agree with everything Martha Laning has said or done in her life? No. Do I agree with every single political position Martha Laning has taken? No. Is Martha Laning the most electrifying person in all of politics? No. What I can say about her is that Martha Laning has promised a more inclusive Democratic Party of Wisconsin. If she is elected chair, I will hold her accountable to that promise. Laning also has some interesting ideas, including helping candidates send out literature in foreign languages to Wisconsin voters who don’t speak English as their first language and providing more funding to county-level Democratic organizations in Wisconsin.

Also, regarding the race for First Vice-Chairperson of the DPW, if Laning is elected chair, David Bowen, a Wisconsin State Representative representing a district containing Shorewood and part of Milwaukee in Milwaukee County, would automatically become first vice-chair, because the chair and first vice-chair of the DPW are required to be of the opposite gender, and no male candidate is running against Bowen that I know of. Consider my endorsement of Laning as, by extension, an endorsement of Bowen. If one of the male candidates is elected chair, I would encourage DPW delegates to vote for Dottie LeClair. This is an extremely rare example of a dual endorsement from me; the only reason I’m issuing a dual endorsement is because of the way DPW conducts elections for chair and first vice-chair, as well as the fact that both male and female candidates are running for DPW chair and first vice-chair.

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28 thoughts on “Why I’m pulling my endorsement of Jeff Smith and endorsing Martha Laning for Wisconsin Democratic chairperson

  1. Oh noez! Jeff Smith has lost the endorsement of random out-of-state blogger! Game over man! There’s no point in delegates bothering to vote now.

    Are you still considering moving to Wisconsin to run for Governor in 2018, despite having no qualifications for the job? Since there’s no risk of you beating a legit candidate for the nomination and throwing the race, I hope you do run. We all could use the entertainment.

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    1. The fact that you had to post here on Aaron’s blog means that you both are reading his stuff and he is having a big enough impact that you felt compelled to post what you did. For a blogger what you posted is actually a compliment. And I realize you probably won’t be able to understand that.

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  2. Rita Wittwer and the rest of you. I disagree with all of you. Martha showed no interest in forming any kind of partnership so Jeff made an appeal directly to the delegates to do what was best for the party, and his offer of the exec directors position was a way to keep Martha’s talents in the mix. Jeff thinks he should be chair and spelled out why in the letter, And Rita, as far as being blinded goes you’ve never said a word about the whole Stevens Point debacle even though if Mike Tate had done something similar you would have been screaming to the high heavens, so clean up your won backyard before you point to the mess you think is in mine.

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    1. if you are trying to make some sort of comparison between Stevens Point and the 17th campaign, you really are desperate to be on the right side of appropriate. And, for clarification, It was Chris Larson who was the ———–. You can use your own word.

      I may be naive at times, but rarely, if ever, am I unwilling to see truth when it’s in front of me, no matter who’s involved. In fact, I tend to be most critical of those I support because I’m a stickler for truth. I’m a fan of facts as well as intent.

      Also, they appealed to each other and neither one was willing to concede. Your subtle distortions suggest, again, that you are not able to view this clearly.

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      1. I’m not making a comparison between Stevens Point and the 17th campaign Rita. I’m talking about Laning and Vinehout using party infrastructure to give Laning an unfair advantage over other announced Chair candidates at the Stevens Point forum. And I’m saying that if Tate had pulled a Stevens Point with his preferred candidate, propping her/him up in front of everyone all day long and then abruptly announcing her/his candidacy two weeks later, you would have called for his head on a spike and you would have shouted down anyone who claimed it was all perfectly innocent. But you didn’t do that because the stunt was pulled by Vinehout. So come down off your high horse Rita. The altitude seems to be affecting your memory.

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        1. Since I never thought of it in the same framework that you did, I doubt seriously if Tate had done something similar I would have gone through the roof. Remind me again, why we’re “discussing” Stevens Point as it relates to Jeff’s letter.

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    2. Steve I really don’t understand this whole Steven’s Point issue at all. It just seems like there are a lot of sour grapes coming from Jeff Smith supporters like yourself who are mad that one of their progressive state icons, Kathleen Vinehout, would dare endorse Martha Laning and not Jeff Smith. Do you no longer trust Kathleen’s political instincts? It’s a big endorsement and the main reason why Martha is the current frontrunner.

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      1. John. With all due respect you don’t know what you’re talking about. Vinehout went on WisEye and made a completely unwarranted attack on Jeff and everyone who worked on his campaign, and, in my view and the view of a lot of people, she orchestrated a behind the scenes launch of Laning’s campaign using the party infrastructure in a way prohibited by party rules. So there’s your progressive icon for you.

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          1. As it happens it was beyond the pale. Whatever bullshit story ” Kathleen ” told you isn’t supported by the numbers which show that Jeff outperformed every other targeted Dem assembly candidate in the state. And John Smith, Wisconsin’s true progressive icon, Ed Garvey, has endorsed Jeff.

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          2. What I was referring to has nothing to do with numbers or endorsements. You may not be aware of it, which was why I suggested you ask Kathleen. Sometimes the truth is a bitter pill. But, you need to ratchet yourself down before you have a heart attack.

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            1. Rita. Kathleen made the claim in public so I expect her to back it up in public. My Doctor says my heart is fine but thanks for the concern. BTW, when you use clichĂ©’s like ” the truth is a bitter pill ” it diminishes the impact of your prose. The distinctive writer always searches for original language. You’re welcome.

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              1. I’m not writing a frickin op-ed piece and the only reason why you’re writing is distinctive on these threads is because it’s snarky and sanctimonious. Take your own advice. To the issue: I’m not talking about what she said on the video or anywhere else in public. I guess I have to repeat myself that I doubt that many people know about it.

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  3. Sorry Steve but Jeff made this very calculated offer from a position of weakness. He is not the frontrunner. He is not even predicted to do better than Martha. So in my book it was a sleezy and a badly executed attempt to confuse some of Martha’s supporters into believing she signed off on this plan and that this is the best she could do … get an Executive Director offer from Jeff Smith.

    I had secretly hoped before that as the convention date got closer Jeff and Stephen would realize they couldn’t win and would graciously bow out and endorse Martha so that she could beat Jsson. I hadn’t guessed that Jeff would have essentially created the same outcome with a huge gaffe and miscalculation like this.

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    1. No need to apologize to me John. No need for Jeff to apologize either. Also, no need to secretly hope for anything. Jeff has made a perfectly legitimate proposal in a perfectly legitimate fashion. The outrage here is a bunch of manufactured bullshit as far as I’m concerned.

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  4. You think a candidate offering another candidate a job if the first candidate wins is unethical? How so? Did you know Hillary Clinton was our Secretary of State after she lost to Obama? How are you not aware of this phenomenon?

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    1. Sarah, Barack Obama waited until after the election before offering Hillary Clinton a position in his cabinet. The blog post mentions an instance of someone offering a job in his administration of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin before the election and if he wins for purely political reasons. There’s a night-and-day difference between the two, from an ethical standpoint. The former is ethical, the latter reeks of spoils system-type political patronage.

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      1. I’m sure Obama never planned on it in advance. Because planning ahead is never a good idea. And obviously voters never ever want to know what their candidates plan to do.

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  5. I disagree with all of you. It’s the DPW’s fate that is sealed, the DPW’s Waterloo. Laning supporters and their faux outrage over imagined slights has all but ensured a victory for Jason Rae and Nation Consulting. Jesus Christ.

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    1. You are an extremely astute individual. I’m very surprised that you are blinded by your support for Jeff and fail to see what others see, even those who don’t support Martha. Jeff’s letter was a huge mistake.

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  6. Steve, I know this must be hard to admit but Aaron is right about this. This offer has become Jeff’s Waterloo. It was made in a position of weakness and as soon as Laning rejected it publicly his fate was sealed. This critical miscalculation has all but vindicated all of those who have said Jeff can not win and that a vote for him is a vote for Jason. It’s checkmate for Jeff.

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  7. Even though I support Martha, I like Jeff a great deal. That is, until I read this letter. I’m sorry to say that, at the end, my only thought was that that took some brass. If it was intended to extend a hand, it did the opposite. Any discussions between Jeff and Martha should have remained in confidence.

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  8. You’ve got this all wrong Aaron. Jeff’s letter was an honest appeal to delegates who’ve expressed a desire to see Jeff and Martha form a team. A job offer as exec director does just that, and given how the DPW works there is nothing unethical about that. A number of positions in past years were filled without any open hiring process which is, apparently, the Chairs prerogative. So when you’re right you’re right, Aaron, but this time you’re flat out wrong.

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