It’s official: Martha Laning, who we last saw running unsuccessfully for a seat in the Wisconsin State Senate and running television ads claiming that far-right Republicans, who have, over the past few years, implemented a destructive agenda that has hurt Wisconsin’s economy and reputation, have “good ideas”, is running for state party chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW). Additionally, political fundraiser Mary Lang Sollinger officially dropped out of the race for DPW Chair on the same day Laning entered the race.
Since not long after current DPW Chairman Mike Tate decided not to run for re-election after leaving the DPW in shambles after six years of his failed leadership, Jason Rae, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) member, has been the insider candidate for DPW Chair. Now, Martha Laning is the corporate candidate for DPW Chair.
Laning has only recently entered the race for DPW Chair, but she’s already made a noticeable campaign blunder. Laning unveiled a campaign website that includes a “Why I’m Running” page riddled with grammar errors, such as failing to properly capitalize the first letters in the words “Democratic Party” more than once, referring to northern Wisconsin as “the north woods” instead of “the Northwoods”, and using the past tense verb “needed” to refer to elections that are scheduled to take place in the future. Additionally, the “Values” page of her campaign website also includes grammar errors, including using the grammatically incorrect phrase “equality opportunity” when either “equality and opportunity” or “equal opportunity” would be grammatically correct. I find it shocking that someone who was a business executive prior to entering politics would make repeated grammar errors on a campaign website for a state Democratic Party leadership post.
Regarding some of the promises that Laning has already made as a DPW Chair candidate, I do like a couple of ideas that Laning has, including expanding the geographical distribution of DPW staffers across the state, instead of having most or all of the party’s staffers in one city, and supporting year-round DPW offices, something that at least one other DPW Chair candidate, Jeff Smith, also supports. However, there are some terrible ideas that Laning has. One of Laning’s terrible ideas is to deepen the DPW’s relationships with partner organizations, and Laning cited Wisconsin Progress and Fair Wisconsin as two organizations that she wants the DPW to work more closely with. While I know very little about Wisconsin Progress, outside of the fact that they’re an organization that trains Democratic candidates to run for public office in Wisconsin, the fact that Laning wants the DPW to be more closely tied to Fair Wisconsin sets off alarm bells to any progressive who has followed Wisconsin politics for the past few years. While Fair Wisconsin is a pro-LGBT rights organization, and LGBT rights are supported by nearly all Wisconsin Democrats, Fair Wisconsin has received a lot of its funding from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who has implemented a right-wing corporate agenda as the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county. Among the things that Abele has done as Milwaukee County Executive include vetoing nearly every item of progressive legislation that the progressive-controlled Milwaukee County Board has passed, strongly opposing worker’s rights, publicly opposing efforts to put a non-binding referendum on the Milwaukee County ballot calling for a federal constitutional amendment to get rid of the undue influence of money in politics, and attempting to convince the Republicans who control the Wisconsin State Legislature to prevent counties from passing living wage ordinances. The fact that Laning wants the DPW to partner with an organization that is funded heavily by someone like Chris Abele indicates to me that Laning is not one bit serious about moving the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in a more progressive direction.