Tag: committee

Do Wisconsin Democrats have a potential savior from a gubernatorial campaign trainwreck?

Yesterday, it was reported that former Wisconsin State Senator Tim Cullen of Janesville is going to seek the Democratic nomination for Governor of Wisconsin, with Cullen set to launch his gubernatorial bid sometime next month. If Cullen does enter the race, he will likely be the second candidate to run for governor as a Democrat; a former state legislative aide by the name of Bob Harlow is currently running for governor as a Democrat.

However, I strongly believe that neither Cullen nor Harlow can defeat one of the worst of the worst in the Republican Party, incumbent Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is likely to run for a third four-year term.

Regarding Cullen, he is probably best known for briefly leaving the Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Caucus in 2012 for not getting a committee assignment that he wanted. That sounds like something that Donald Trump would do, and it tells me that Cullen has very poor leadership skills and is very self-centered. There’s also that part of the now-infamous “David Koch” prank call where Walker bragged to a guy who he incorrectly believed to be right-wing billionaire David Koch that Cullen was a “pragmatist” and praised Cullen. Any Democratic primary television advertisement attacking Cullen from the left practically writes itself.

Regarding Harlow, I have been notified by a California-based political source that Harlow ran for a U.S. House seat in California in 2016, and, during that campaign (which he failed to advance to the general election), Harlow and canvassers working for Harlow’s campaign openly hurled insults at voters by calling them “corporatists” because they told the Harlow campaign that they were going to vote for the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo. While Harlow was once an intern for former Republican Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz, Harlow is a lot more progressive than Schultz. The only Wisconsin-based political figure that I’m aware of who has praised Harlow since the launch of his gubernatorial campaign is Monona Grove School Board member and political blogger Jeff Simpson, who is known for saying what he thinks about the Democratic establishment in Wisconsin and telling it like it is (example here). However, Harlow has a proven track record of being incompetent at political campaigning, and it’s not like Wisconsin has any affinity for people from California moving to their state to run for public office. I fear and suspect that the Trump White House and/or foreign influencers (such as the Russian government, Wikileaks, and/or other foreign-based entities) may try to aid Harlow in his gubernatorial bid.

It’s important to note that, judging by the Twitter pages of some of the Democratic elected officials in Wisconsin, they do not appear to be circling the wagons around Cullen, in contrast to their reaction to Mary Burke’s entrance to the 2014 gubernatorial race in Wisconsin, where Burke had near-total support from Democratic state legislators from the outset of the campaign. This pretty much guarantees that at least one other candidate with considerable Democratic Party political connections in Wisconsin, political experience, and/or personal wealth is going to enter the gubernatorial race, which would mean a competitive primary between Cullen, Harlow, and at least one other candidate. If Mary Jo Walters could get somewhere around 45% or so of the vote against John Lehman in a primary for lieutenant governor, then it would not be out of the realm of possibility for Harlow to win the gubernatorial primary with a plurality. Harlow is completely unelectable in a general election, because the GOP would paint him as a carpetbagger from California if, by some chance, he won the Democratic nomination.

It has become increasingly clear to me that Wisconsin Democrats need a savior to step up to the plate to save the party from a potential trainwreck in the gubernatorial race next year. We know from past experience that Hillary Clinton/Jim Doyle-style neoliberalism is not going to win elections for Democrats in Wisconsin, and the Democratic primary electorate in Wisconsin is very left wing and absolutely distrusts the current Democratic establishment. Ron Kind is not a progressive by anyone’s imagination, so he’s no savior. Susan Happ is a proven loser, so she’s no savior. Kathleen Vinehout couldn’t win the Democratic nomination in the gubernatorial recall election, so yet another proven loser. I don’t know enough about Dana Wachs or Joe Parisi to tell you anything about either of those two.

The ideal political savior for Democrats in Wisconsin would be someone who is strongly progressive, and, therefore, ideologically similar to Harlow, but is considerably more politically skilled than Harlow. One might point to State Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) as a potential savior for Wisconsin Democrats, given her fearless, no-holds-barred style of progressive politics. However, if she runs statewide, it would probably be for attorney general, not for governor, although she’d be an absolutely awesome candidate for either office. Late last year, Wisconsin-based political blogger Chris Walker mentioned State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) as a potential gubernatorial candidate, and, if she were to run for governor, I would endorse her campaign without hesitation. She is one of the most progressive state legislators in the entire country, and, having read some of her op-eds, she seems like someone who genuinely cares about…no pun intended…making her state great again. However, Sargent could probably get elected to the state assembly for two-year terms for the rest of her life if she wanted to, so I highly doubt that she’d run for statewide office, but she’s never publicly ruled out a gubernatorial bid to my knowledge. If, by some chance, she were to seek the Democratic nomination for Wisconsin’s highest office, Sargent would probably win over nearly all of the voters who would be open to voting for someone like Harlow, and she’d have a good chance of winning the nomination, provided that she were to run a true statewide campaign. I don’t know enough about people like Dave Hansen or JoCasta Zamarripa to tell you about whether or not they’re interested in a gubernatorial bid or give you an opinion about them.

Long story short, Wisconsin Democrats can do a lot better than Tim Cullen or Bob Harlow.

Advertisements

Wisconsin GOP pulls cruelest April Fool’s joke ever

Republicans in the Wisconsin State Assembly have pulled a cruel April Fool’s joke on the people of Wisconsin by scheduling a closed-to-the-public committee hearing on redistricting.

Normally, closed-to-the-public legislative committee sessions are done at the federal level of this country, and done by a Congressional committee to discuss classified national security-related information. In no way should closed-door committee hearings be conducted by a federal, state, or local legislature in regards to something that doesn’t involve classified national security information, and a state or local legislature would rarely, if ever, have to deal with something like that. Redistricting of congressional and state legislative districts is something that is not of a national security interest, so the idea a closed-door committee hearing on redistricting is absolutely asinine.

State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly, sent out a multi-tweet response criticizing the closed-door redistricting hearing in Wisconsin:

I love it when politicians go on multi-tweet rants, especially if they’re standing up for progressive values while tweeting!

Anyways, Shankland repeatedly referred to State Rep. Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie), who chairs the Wisconsin State Assembly’s Campaigns and Elections Committee. Bernier issued a press release implying that the hearing was open to the general public; however, the hearing was not actually open to the public. Bernier has a “don’t question me” attitude about politics, and politicians having a “don’t question me” attitude about politics is one of my biggest pet peeves.

Michigan State Senator Marty Knollenberg (R) thinks that public schools fail because black kids attend them

A few days ago, Michigan State Senator Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy) made overtly racist remarks about public education in Michigan. To paraphrase Knollenberg, he basically said that he thinks that public schools are failing in Michigan because black children attend them.

You can view a video of Knollenburg’s actual remarks here:

Marty Knollenberg, by opening his racist mouth, single-handedly exposed the fact that the right-wing movement to gut public education in this country by way of charter schools, school vouchers, and other neoliberal/right-wing education policies is entirely motivated by racism against people of color.

Only 6.4% of members of a pro-wage theft business group in Wisconsin support wage theft legislation

Scott Manley, an official with the right-wing, pro-wage theft business group Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, claimed in a public hearing held by a Wisconsin State Senate committee that 300 of the WMC’s 3,800 members responded to some sort of inquiry by the group as to whether or not they support right-to-work-for-less legislation, also known as wage theft legislation, and that 81% of them support the legislation.

81% of 300 members in a group that has 3,800 total members is, rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent, only 6.4% of the total membership of the group. Yes, you’re reading that correctly…only 6.4% of the total membership of the main right-wing business organization in Wisconsin support the Wisconsin Republicans’ wage theft bill.

In case you’re wondering how I came up with that figure, I didn’t pull it out of my rear end. Instead, I made two calculations with Windows Calculator:

  • 0.81*300 = 243, meaning that 81% of 300 is 243.
  • 243/3800 = 0.0639473684210526, meaning that 243 of 3,800 is 6.4%, when converted to a percentage and rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent.

To put that another way, one of the largest organizations that is pushing the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Legislature to allow non-union workers to effectively steal wages and other benefits negotiated by a labor union without paying for those benefits in the form of union dues or fair-share fees with support from only 6.4% of its members. This is not lost on many Wisconsinites, in fact, Lori Compas, the executive director of the Wisconsin Business Alliance (WBA), the main progressive business organization in Wisconsin, called local chambers of commerce in seven Wisconsin State Senate districts that are represented by Republican state senators, the 1st (Frank Lasee), 2nd (Robert Cowles), 10th (Sheila Harsdorf), 11th (Stephen Nass, who ended the public hearing early over rumors that an Hispanic group in Wisconsin was going to exercise the group’s First Amendment right to free speech in a public place), 13th (Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald), 23rd (Terry Moulton), and 29th (Jerry Petrowski, currently the only Republican state senator who intends to vote against the wage theft bill), and Compas could not find a single local chamber of commerce in those seven Wisconsin State Senate districts that was publicly willing to support the Wisconsin wage theft bill. Compas’s piece on her findings, which she published to the WBA’s website, is a fine example of investigative journalism. In fact, Compas’s piece has been republished in full by Steve Hanson of the progressive blog Uppity Wisconsin and featured in an online article published by the Milwaukee-area alternative newspaper Shepherd Express.

Let me make this point 100% clear: Very few people and groups in the Wisconsin business community are advocating for wages to be driven down and unions to be busted, in fact, it appears to me that the only individuals and groups in the Wisconsin business community that are advocating for wages to be driven down and unions to be busted are those individuals and groups who have a considerable amount of political influence over the Republicans that control Wisconsin’s state government.

Wisconsin public education takeover public hearing turns into total farce, Republicans in full damage control mode

The Wisconsin State Assembly education committee, chaired by Republican State Representative Jeremy Theisfeldt of Fond du Lac, held a public hearing today on 2015 Wisconsin Assembly Bill 1 (AB1), a proposed “school accountability” bill that isn’t actually a school accountability bill, but rather a bill to shame, takeover, and privatize public schools in Wisconsin.

The original bill that was brought to the public hearing was so atrocious, the public hearing turned into a total farce and the Republicans that control the committee have gone into full damage control mode. I’ll let the tweets from The Progressive magazine columnist and Madison Common Council candidate Rebecca Kemble and the author of the progressive blog Wisconsin Soapbox, who have been livetweeting today’s public hearing, speak for themselves:

…and that was just the first hour or so of the 11 1/2 hour public hearing.

To summarize all of that, Jeremy Theisfeldt and his fellow Republicans brought the bill to the public hearing and was quickly criticized by Democrats over horrible provisions in the bill and the bill not having a fiscal note despite the bill having a significant fiscal impact on local school districts in Wisconsin. That forced the Theisfeldt to remove a provision from the bill that would have authorized a state panel that would have had the power to take over public schools in Wisconsin and give them to millionaire charter school operators, as well as some of the other more atrocious provisions of the bill, without scheduling a second public hearing for the modified bill. That forced Theisfeldt to go into total damage control mode as he was attacked by both Republican (Dean Knudson of Hudson) and Democratic (Sondy Pope of Verona and Christine Sinicki of Milwaukee) state representatives, with Sinicki pointing out that the modified bill would still allow for public schools in Wisconsin to be taken over by the state and given to millionaire charter school operators. Theisfeldt comes across as a guy who is way over his head and is making a total fool of himself.

In my nearly four years as a political blogger, this public hearing on Wisconsin AB1 has been the single biggest farce I’ve read about.

Wisconsin State Senate Democratic leader Jennifer Shilling appoints pro-school voucher Democrat to state legislative finance committee

It’s been only a couple of weeks since Jennifer Shilling, a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Senate from La Crosse, was unanimously selected by the Democratic state senate caucus to be the new minority leader of the state senate, yet she’s already pissing off Wisconsin progressives and rural voters in a big way.

Shilling assigned 2 state senators to the Wisconsin State Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (which consists of 16 total members; since Republicans control both chambers of the legislature, 12 are Republicans (six from each chamber) and 4 are Democrats (two from each chamber)). One of Shilling’s picks for the joint finance committee is Jon Erpenbach of Middleton, who has built up a progressive record on most issues as a longtime member of the state senate. However, Shilling’s other pick is Lena Taylor of Milwaukee, who, despite representing a district that has a large black population and votes overwhelmingly for Democrats, is a conservative Democrat who has supported, among other things, the gun lobby’s agenda, giving corrupt Milwaukee County Executive Chris “Boss” Abele more political power, and school vouchers.

For Jennifer Shilling to assign a staunch supporter of privatizing public education like Lena Taylor (the only time she voted against the charter school/school voucher lobby that I know of was when a statewide school voucher program was tied into the Wisconsin state budget) to a committee that is responsible for reviewing legislation on all bills that affect state revenue and expenditures (including education funding, proves that Shilling doesn’t give a rip about public education in Wisconsin. The Republicans that control Wisconsin’s state government are planning on enacting more legislation to privatize and destroy Wisconsin’s public school system, so for Shilling to pick Taylor for a committee that oversees, among other things, state education funding in Wisconsin is downright asinine.

Most of Shilling’s own constituents (Shilling represents a district that includes the La Crosse metro area and mostly rural areas to the south of La Crosse) are strongly opposed to taxpayer money being diverted from public schools to fund private schools, but Taylor wants to divert money from public schools all across Wisconsin into school voucher programs, which could force the closure of many rural school districts in Wisconsin, possibly including some school districts in Shilling’s own state senate district. To put this another way, Shilling is effectively aiding and abetting the Republicans’ push to destroy public education in Wisconsin.

Jennifer Shilling, the new Wisconsin State Senate Minority Leader, has done more to piss off progressives and rural voters in a little over two weeks than the previous Wisconsin State Senate Minority Leader, Chris Larson, did to piss off progressives and rural voters in nearly two years. The current Democratic leadership in Wisconsin has driven the Democratic Party of Wisconsin into political irrelevancy by giving political cover to the Republicans at every opportunity, and the new Democratic leaders in Wisconsin are even worse in this regard by actively helping Republicans implement their far-right agenda. It’s time for a large-scale push by Wisconsin progressives to divide and conquer the Democratic Party of Wisconsin by railing against the out-of-touch Democratic leadership and getting actual progressives elected to public offices and state and local party positions in Wisconsin.