Tag: Katrina Shankland

Wisconsin GOP state legislator Isthmuswashes Democratic state legislator

It’s another odd-numbered year, so there’s another state budget debate in Wisconsin. However, this time, the Republicans aren’t just pulling out the “Madison liberal!!!” card to attack Democratic legislators who are from the Madison area; they’re using Wisconsin’s second-largest city to attack Democrats who live far from Madison:

Wisconsin State Sen. Tom Tiffany, a Republican, accused Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland, a Democrat, of using “Madison math” in regards to her opposition to a University of Wisconsin budget measure. There’s two problems with that.

First, Shankland’s opposition to the measure is based on the fact that the GOP is trying to enact a budget measure that would leave Wisconsin’s public university system in a budget mess:

I might be a lifelong Illinoisan, but I know that Stevens Point is pretty far away from Madison. As a matter of fact, I’m going to coin a new word to describe what Tiffany did to Shankland: Isthmuswashing. Isthmuswashing is the act of claiming or implying that someone is from Madison, Wisconsin, when he or she is actually not from Madison, Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin Republicans pass awful state budget, and how legislators should handle criticism of their legislative proposals

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly passed the most awful state budget in American political history in a 52-46 vote, and the budget is currently on Republican Wisconsin Governor and presidential candidate Scott Walker’s desk.

When I say that the Wisconsin budget that the Republicans passed is the most awful state budget in American political history, it’s not hyperbole, it’s the cold hard truth. The Wisconsin budget, among many other things, demonizes the working poor in Wisconsin by replacing the words “living wage” with the words “minimum wage” in state statutes, fast-tracks an expansion of a tar sands oil pipeline in Wisconsin and Illinois that will be even bigger than the Keystone XL pipeline would be, cuts funding to public K-12 and higher education in Wisconsin, effectively prohibits Wisconsin wineries from hosting weddings, and gives Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele even more unchecked power to sell off public property in Wisconsin’s largest county to his political cronies. This budget does a lot to pander to far-right voters that Scott Walker is trying to win over in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and does virtually nothing to benefit the people of Wisconsin in any way. You can read press releases from Democratic Wisconsin State Representatives Melissa Sargent of Madison, Dianne Hesselbein of Middleton, Amanda Stuck of Appleton, LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee, and Andy Jorgensen of Milton, as well as from Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha, at the links in this sentence.

However, prior to the Republicans in the Assembly passing the state budget, Katrina Shankland, the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly from Stevens Point, tried to amend the state budget to require that future proposals of non-fiscal policy measures in future state budgets get their own separate public hearing before a standing legislative committee (the Republicans rejected Shankland’s amendment). I criticized Shankland’s proposal, because it would not outright prohibit Walker or whoever else is Wisconsin Governor once Walker leaves office from proposing public policy in state budgets. Shankland responded to my criticism of her proposal via Twitter:

Anyone who holds political office, is running for public office, or is thinking about running for public office should take note of Shankland’s response to my criticism of her. She didn’t talk down to me, she didn’t belittle me, she didn’t attack me, and she didn’t try to change the subject. Instead, she directly addressed my criticism of her proposal by saying that she thinks that policy measures don’t belong in state budgets, and she defended her proposal by saying that the Republicans voted against allowing public hearings on policy proposals.

Katrina Shankland has been very respectful to me, even when I’ve disagreed with her, which isn’t often.

Wisconsin Democrats’ bill regarding policy provisions in state budget doesn’t go far enough

Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), the assistant minority leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly, has proposed legislation that would change how policy provisions in Wisconsin state budgets are dealt with by the Wisconsin State Legislature, but the proposed legislation would not outright ban policy provisions in budgets.

Currently, all provisions in the Wisconsin budget, whether it be budget provisions or policy provisions that have little or nothing to do with the budget, are handled by the Wisconsin State Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC). If Shankland’s bill were to become law, policy provisions of the budget would be handled by standing committees of the Wisconsin State Legislature responsible for the area of policy in question.

Maybe it’s because I’m from Illinois, and I have zero tolerance for any kind of BS from politicians, but I think Shankland’s bill doesn’t go far enough. In fact, if I were a member of the Wisconsin State Legislature, I’d vote against Shankland’s bill for not going far enough to crack down on Scott Walker’s abuse of the Wisconsin state budget process.

Wisconsin Governors of recent times, most notably Jim Doyle and Scott Walker, have used the state budget to enact policy measures with little oversight. Shankland’s bill would give Walker, and any Wisconsin Governor who holds the office after Walker leaves it, explicit power to enact policy provisions that have no place in the state budget and should be considered by the Legislature as stand-alone legislation. Currently, Walker doesn’t have explicit power to propose policy in the state budget, but there’s no legal ban on the practice. The only way that the Wisconsin state budget process is going to be free of policy provisions that aren’t fiscal in nature is for the practice of the governor proposing policy provisions in the state budget to be explicitly banned. State governors shouldn’t be using the budget process to legislate from the governor’s mansion. In my home state of Illinois, the state government is currently shut down because a Republican governor is using the state budget to try to force a Democratic-controlled state legislature to support non-fiscal policy items that the governor supports. What Shankland’s bill in Wisconsin would do is effectively condone that practice in Wisconsin instead of prohibiting it there.

One can push for all of the accountability for bad ideas that one wants, but they’re still bad ideas.

Wisconsin Democratic convention provides first real sign of Berniementum

Although Hillary Clinton received the most votes among the 511 individuals who voted in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) Convention straw poll, Hillary received only a plurality of the vote in the straw poll, with progressives mostly united around Bernie Sanders, who came in a surprisingly close (even to a Sanders supporter like myself) second place.

Here are the results of the Wisconsin Democratic presidential straw poll:

  • 1st – Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of New York – 252 (49.32%)
  • 2nd – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont – 208 (40.70%)
  • T-3rd – Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware – 16 (3.13%)
  • T-3rd – Former Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland – 16 (3.13%)
  • 5th – Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia – 8 (1.57%)
  • 6th – Former Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island – 5 (0.98%)
  • 7th – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (write-in) – 4 (0.78%)
  • 8th – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack of Iowa (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)

Of the 511 straw poll voters, 1 voter, or 0.20% of the total straw poll electorate, did not cast a valid vote for any candidate or write-in candidate in the presidential portion of the straw poll. Of the candidates who received at least one vote, Clinton, Sanders, O’Malley, and Chafee are officially running for the Democratic presidential nomination. A total of 8 candidates received at least one vote. Percentages given for each candidate’s vote total are percentages of the total straw poll electorate.

To say the least, this is the first real sign of trouble for the Hillary Clinton campaign in regards to the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Despite being perceived as the heavy favorite to win the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary couldn’t even get a majority of the vote in the Wisconsin Democratic straw poll, whose electorate usually consists of Democratic diehards in Wisconsin. More importantly, the Wisconsin straw poll shows that Bernie’s campaign is gaining momentum in a huge way, as he received over 40% of the vote despite a near-blackout of Bernie’s campaign by the corporate media and the political establishment in this country.

The Wisconsin Democratic convention straw poll also featured a gubernatorial straw poll, in which no candidate came even close to a majority of the vote, although there is currently a very strong preference for a gubernatorial candidate from the western part of Wisconsin among many of the Wisconsin Democrats who participated in the straw poll. Here are the results of the gubernatorial straw poll, which also saw 511 ballots cast:

  • 1st – State Senator Kathleen Vinehout of Alma – 149 (29.16%)
  • 2nd – State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse – 89 (17.42%)
  • 3rd – U.S. Representative Ron Kind of La Crosse – 85 (16.63%)
  • 4th – State Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha – 64 (12.52%)
  • 5th – Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson of Kaukauna – 55 (10.76%)
  • 6th – Dane County Executive Joe Parisi of Madison – 11 (2.15%)
  • T-7th – Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk of Madison (write-in) – 3 (0.59%)
  • T-7th – Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold of Middleton (write-in) – 3 (0.59%)
  • T-7th – State Senator Chris Larson of Milwaukee (write-in) – 3 (0.59%)
  • T-7th – State Assembly Assistant Minority Leader Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point (write-in) – 3 (0.59%)
  • T-11th – Business executive Kevin Conroy of Madison (write-in) – 2 (0.39%)
  • T-11th – Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ of Jefferson (write-in) – 2 (0.39%)
  • T-11th – Former Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate of Milwaukee (write-in) – 2 (0.39%)
  • T-11th – State Representative Chris Taylor of Madison (write-in) – 2 (0.39%)
  • T-11th – State Senator Lena Taylor of Milwaukee (write-in) – 2 (0.39%)
  • T-16th – State Representative Mandela Barnes of Milwaukee (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – Madison Metropolitan School Board Member Mary Burke of Madison (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – Mayor John Dickert of Racine (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – State Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – Political activist Mike McCabe of Madison (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – U.S. Representative Gwen Moore of Milwaukee (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – Mayor Justin Nickels of Manitowoc (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – U.S. Representative Mark Pocan of Town of Vermont (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – Manufacturers’ sales representative Neal Plotkin of Milwaukee (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – State Representative Dana Wachs of Eau Claire (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)

Of the 511 straw poll voters, 25 voters, or 4.89% of the total electorate, did not cast a valid vote for any candidate or write-in candidate in the gubernatorial portion of the straw poll. I am unsure about which municipalities Joe Parisi and Mike Tate live in; as a result, I listed either the county seat of their home county (for Parisi) or their birthplace (for Tate). Some sources list Mark Pocan as living in either Madison or Black Earth; Pocan’s campaign website lists him as a resident of the Town of Vermont in Dane County. WisPolitics.com misspelled the name of Justin Nickels on their online results sheet; they listed Nickels as “Justin Nichols”, likely due to the individual who wrote-in Nickels misspelling his last name. The only information I could find about anyone from Wisconsin named Neal Plotkin is from a 2012 article in The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle that listed Plotkin as a manufacturers’ sales representative from Milwaukee, so this is presumably the Neal Plotkin that the individual cast a write-in vote for. A total of 26 candidates received at least one vote. Percentages given for each candidate’s vote total are percentages of the total straw poll electorate.

While the race for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Wisconsin hasn’t really begun to take shape three and a half years from the next gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, there is already a strong preference for a candidate from the western part of Wisconsin. While Kathleen Vinehout got a plurality of the straw poll vote, she didn’t even come close to a majority of the vote, and the top three candidates, which received a combined 63.21% of the vote, all come from the western part of Wisconsin.

If I had been a Wisconsin resident, a delegate to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention, and a participant in the straw poll, I would have voted for Bernie Sanders in the presidential portion of the straw poll and would have wrote-in Lori Compas in the gubernatorial portion of the straw poll (I would never write-in my own name in a straw poll, even though I would be open to the idea of running for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018 if I move to Wisconsin before 2018). Of the candidates who received at least one vote in the gubernatorial portion of the straw poll, I have a favorable opinion of Parisi, Feingold, Shankland, Chris Taylor, Barnes, Hansen, McCabe, Moore, and Pocan, with McCabe, the head of the progressive group Blue Jean Nation, being my favorite of those.

Who will emerge as the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s standard-bearer?

Currently, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) lacks a true standard bearer of any kind. This is because Democrats have virtually no power in Wisconsin state government: not counting federal offices like U.S. Senate and U.S. House seats (Democrats hold one of the two U.S. Senate seats and three of the eight U.S. House seats in Wisconsin) and officially non-partisan offices like state superintendent (which is held by a de facto Democrat who is ideologically center-left), Democrats are in the minority in both chambers of the Wisconsin State Legislature and, of the five officially partisan state executive offices, only the nearly powerless office of secretary of state is controlled by Democrats.

Steven Walters of WisconsinEye (basically a Wisconsin version of C-SPAN) named a long list of Democrats in this column for Milwaukee-area webgazine Urban Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago, some of which could emerge as a standard-bearer of the DPW:

  • State Senate Minority Leader-designate Jennifer Shilling: Shilling, who is from La Crosse in the western part of the state, was recently elected to be the new Democratic floor leader in the Wisconsin State Senate after the previous Democratic floor leader, Chris Larson, meddled in a Democratic primary in a state senate race in the southwestern part of the state, which pissed off progressives and led to an ultra-conservative Republican winning the general election. Shilling has represented the La Crosse area and rural areas to the south of La Crosse in the state senate since winning a 2011 recall election. I don’t expect Shilling to have a ton of influence on the state party beyond the Democratic state senate caucus, although she could emerge as a regional standard-bearer in the western part of Wisconsin.
  • U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin: Baldwin, who is from Madison, is the highest-ranking Democratic elected official in Wisconsin. However, Baldwin hasn’t shown any interest in building the state Democratic Party organization, and she has mostly been a backbencher in the U.S. Senate in her first two years in office. Walters implied that Baldwin could have a considerable amount of influence over the state party, including having influence over whether or DPW Chairman Mike Tate runs for another term, in the coming years.
  • Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate: Tate has been the DPW Chairman since 2009. However, Tate is absolutely hated by the progressive base of the party, and he’s built up a losing track record in the six years he’s been on the job. Additionally, Tate could decide not to run for another term as DPW Chairman, in fact, there have been high-grade rumors that Tate will step down at the end of his current term in June of next year, but Tate has been trying to deny those rumors in recent weeks. Tate is too tainted to be a standard-bearer of the state party.
  • Former Governor Jim Doyle: Doyle, who is from Madison, was Governor of Wisconsin for two terms from 2003 to 2011, and is now a partner at the law firm Foley & Lardner, which is now represented in Wisconsin state-level politics by a Republican lobbyist. Doyle has played a mostly behind-the-scenes role in the state party since leaving electoral politics, and Doyle remains unpopular in Wisconsin, even with many in his own party, so he’s not going to re-emerge as any kind of standard-bearer of the party.
  • U.S. Representative Ron Kind: Kind, who is from La Crosse, has represented much of the western part of Wisconsin in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997. Kind is one of two Democrats (the other being former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold) who are believed to be considering running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Ron Johnson in 2016, in fact, Walters indicated there is a gentlemen’s agreement (or a de facto one) that Kind runs against Johnson if and only if Feingold doesn’t run against Johnson. Kind is already the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party in his region of the state (he’s built up a ton of institutional loyalty that has allowed him to win re-election by larger than normal margins despite having a centrist voting record that would normally result in Kind drawing progressive primary challengers, something that Kind has been able to avoid). However, Kind has repeatedly turned down opportunities to run statewide in recent years, so I doubt that he’d actually run against Johnson.
  • Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold: Feingold, who is from Middleton in the south-central part of the state, served three terms in the U.S. Senate from 1993 to 2011 and is now a U.S. State Department envoy. Feingold reportedly plans to return to Wisconsin sometime early next year, and he could run for his old U.S. Senate seat. Feingold is still very well-liked by the progressive base of the party, although Feingold is not a party-building type of person that could become a standard-bearer of the state party.
  • U.S. Representative Gwen Moore: Moore, who is from Milwaukee, has represented Milwaukee and nearby suburbs in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2005. Moore has never shown any interest in building the state party outside of the Milwaukee area, where she’s been a standard-bearer of the Democratic Party in that part of the state for years.
  • U.S. Representative Mark Pocan: Pocan, who is from Madison, has represented much of south-central Wisconsin in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013. As Walters noted, Pocan is more interested in building the Democratic Party at the national level than the state level. While Pocan is one of several individuals who may run for U.S. Senate in the event that neither Russ Feingold nor Ron Kind run, he’s not going to emerge as a standard-bearer of the DPW.
  • Madison School Board Member Mary Burke: Burke, who is from Madison, has been a member of the school board in Wisconsin’s second-largest school district since 2012 and was the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor this year, losing to Republican incumbent Scott Walker. Burke has publicly stated that she’s done with statewide politics, so her influence over the state party will be minimal, probably limited to donating money to Democrats.
  • Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ: Happ, who is from Jefferson in the south central part of the state, was the Democratic Party’s nominee for attorney general this year, losing to Republican candidate Brad Schimel. Happ has kept a very low profile since the November elections, but, if Happ were to run for re-election to the Jefferson County DA’s post, she would probably be the #1 Republican target in the entire state in 2016. It’s not clear as to exactly how much of a role Happ wants in building the state party, although she’s never struck me as a party-building type of person.
  • State Senator Bob Jauch: Jauch, who is from Poplar in the northwestern part of the state, is retiring from the Wisconsin State Senate after having served seven terms from 1987 onward. Jauch may have some limited influence over the Democratic Party in the northern part of the state, but that would be it.
  • State Assembly Assistant Minority Leader-designate Katrina Shankland: Shankland, who is from Stevens Point in the central part of the state, has represented much of Portage County in the state assembly since 2013 and is only 27 years old. Shankland has indicated that, despite representing a very progressive district, she intends to develop a centrist style of leadership that could alienate progressives, possibly hindering any effort by her to become a standard-bearer of the DPW.
  • State Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca: Barca, who is from Kenosha in the southeastern part of the state, has represented parts of Kenosha area in the state assembly since 2008 and is the Democratic floor leader in the state assembly. Prior to that, Barca was the U.S. Representative for the Janesville/Racine/Kenosha region of the state for less than a full term from 1993 to 1995. Barca has quite a bit of influence over the state assembly Democrats’ campaign efforts, but his influence over the state party doesn’t extend beyond that.
  • State Representative Evan Goyke: Goyke, who is from Milwaukee, has represented part of Milwaukee in the state assembly since 2013. Goyke unsuccessfully challenged Peter Barca for state assembly minority leader after this year’s elections. Goyke is probably on the outs in the eyes of the party establishment, so he’s, more than likely, not going to have any role in building the state party.
  • Dane County Executive Joe Parisi: Parisi, who is from Madison, has been the county executive of Wisconsin’s second largest county since 2011. Walters indicated that Parisi wants to play a bigger role in the state party’s future, but it’s not clear what role Parisi wants to play.
  • Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson: Nelson, who is from Kaukauna in the northeastern part of the state, has been the county executive of Outagamie County since 2011. Prior to that, Nelson was the Democratic Party’s unsuccessful nominee for lieutenant governor in 2010 and served in the state assembly from 2005 to 2011. Walters indicated that Nelson wants to play a bigger role in the state party’s future, but it’s not clear what role Nelson wants to play.

Additionally, some other individuals who Walters did not name could emerge as the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. I’ll go ahead and name some of them:

  • State Representative Chris Taylor: Taylor, who is from Madison, has represented parts of the Madison area in the state assembly since 2011. Taylor has a very large following among progressives in Wisconsin, although she declined to run for statewide office this year and has, in recent months, kept a somewhat lower profile than early on in her career in the state assembly. However, Taylor is rumored to be considering a run for governor in 2018. It’s not exactly clear as to how much of a role Taylor wants in the future of the DPW, although she seems to be very ambitious.
  • State Representative Melissa Sargent: Sargent, who is from Madison, has represented parts of the Madison area in the state assembly since 2013. Sargent is very well-respected among Wisconsin progressives, and she has been very vocal on a number of issues in recent months. More importantly, Sargent is very ambitious and appears to be interested in playing some sort of party-building role in Wisconsin.
  • Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele: Abele, who is from Milwaukee, has been the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county since 2011. Abele is rumored to be considering a run for U.S. Senate in 2016 and is a large DPW donor, however, he’s absolutely hated by progressives for a large number of reasons, and he’s seen as a divisive figure within the party, which will hinder any attempt by Abele to put his stamp on the DPW.

Additionally, there’s the possibility that some little-known political figure could come from total or near-total obscurity and emerge as a powerful force in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

It will be interesting to see who, if anybody, emerges as the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s standard-bearer in the coming months and years.