In Wisconsin, Democrats are quietly predicting that the party chair will face a challenger who will hold incumbent chairwoman Martha Laning to account for why Clinton lost the state. Laning cast her vote as a superdelegate for Clinton — in a state where Sanders won the primary by a wide margin.
Unlike Maine, where allies of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) already have their candidate for state Democratic Party chair in Maine State Sen. Diane Russell, the Wisconsin left does not have a challenger to Laning…yet. However, that is expected to change, and it’s not clear if Laning will run for a second two-year term as head of the DPW political apparatus. The left’s main point of criticism against Laning is, aside from Donald Trump winning Wisconsin, that she had originally pledged to cast her superdelegate vote at the Democratic National Convention for the winner of the Wisconsin Democratic primary (which was Bernie Sanders), yet flip-flopped after Bernie won the primary and announced that she would vote for the presumptive presidential nominee instead (which was Hillary Clinton).
Assuming that Laning runs for a second term (which is no certainty at this point), one potential challenger to Laning is Sarah Lloyd, who lost to Republican incumbent Glenn Grothman in the 6th Congressional District of Wisconsin race this year. Lloyd was one of the more prominent Bernie supporters in Wisconsin, however, she has her own issues with the left. Specifically, she, in a response to a Reddit AMA question that I asked her, was not supportive of the idea to replace the electoral college with a national popular vote system for presidential elections. There’s not much of a bench of Bernie supporters who have any real experience with politics or political activism in Wisconsin: nearly all of the Democratic elected officials in Wisconsin were Hillary supporters in the Democratic primary, and many, but not all, of the 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin recall organizers were Hillary supporters as well. Some other potential candidates include DPW first-vice chair David Bowen and State Representative Jonathan Brostoff, both of which were Bernie backers either during (in Brostoff’s case) or after (in Bowen’s case) the presidential primary.
If Laning decides not to run for re-election, political consultant Katie Belanger may run for DPW chair. Belanger was a Laning backer during the 2015 DPW chair race, which Laning won, and Belanger was also the campaign treasurer for Jimmy Anderson’s successful Wisconsin State Assembly campaign this year. Some potential candidates from the Mike Tate/Jason Rae faction of the party (which was ousted as a result the 2015 DPW chair race) include Emerge Wisconsin executive director Erin Forrest and former Madison Alderwoman Bridget Maniaci.
Let me emphasize that I’m completely unaware of what level of interest in the DPW chair’s race any of the individuals that I named have, and me mentioning names of potential candidates for DPW chair is purely speculation on my part.
For those of you who read my blog during the 2015 DPW chair’s race, you are familiar with how competitive campaigns for the right to run Wisconsin’s state-level Democratic Party apparatus can be, and they can be very competitive. I’m probably not going to endorse a candidate for DPW chair this time around, although I may write blog posts about the chair’s race.