Tag: Martha Laning

Here we go again, Wisconsin Democrats

Looks like there will be a major fight over who will be the Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) come June of 2017:

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.

Republicans and corporate media launch racist attack against Wisconsin Democratic Chair Martha Laning for having occassionally interesting personality

Daniel Bice, a “watchdog” columnist for the far-right Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, wrote this racist hit piece attacking Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) Chairwoman Martha Laning, who is a white woman from near Sheboygan, for trying to emulate the accent of DPW First Vice-Chairman David Bowen, who is a black man from Milwaukee. Laning’s remarks were recorded by a right-wing tracker at a local Democratic Party meeting in Door County, Wisconsin earlier this year.

Laning was trying to do a half-ass impression of Bowen’s accent at a Door County (WI) Democratic Party meeting while talking about her attendance at a President Obama event in La Crosse earlier this year, and Bowen was not offended by it at all, saying that “there is nothing wrong about our Democratic Party embracing diversity.” If Bowen isn’t offended by Laning trying to do a half-ass emulation of his accent, then I’m not offended by it.

Apparently, having an occasionally quirky personality is a political crime in the eyes of Wisconsin Republicans. I don’t have a problem at all with politicians having interesting or occasionally interesting personalities, in fact, I’m more likely to personally like a politician whose personality is quirky or occasionally quirky than a politician with a very boring personality. Given that Tommy Thompson, a longtime Wisconsin Republican politician who was elected four times to the governor’s mansion, was notorious for having an unusual personality, I find it hypocritical that Wisconsin Republicans would bash Laning for having a quirky personality.

Although I endorsed Laning in the DPW Chair’s race earlier this year, let me make it clear that I’ve not been impressed by Laning’s performance as chair. Since Laning was elected to be the head of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, she’s tried to sabotage Russ Feingold’s U.S. Senate campaign with controversial remarks about his last name, and she’s a staunch supporter of Scott Walker’s corporate welfare giveaway to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. However, Laning has been somewhat better as chair than, for example, how Jason Rae, who got the second-most votes in the DPW Chair’s race earlier this year, would have been as chair had he been elected. As noted by an unnamed person who posts under the Data, Facts, and Logic moniker at Cognitive Dissidence, Rae once tried to claim that he understood the challenges that black people in Wisconsin face because he’s a gay white guy while speaking to a predominantly-black audience during his campaign.

The bottom line is that this attack by Republicans and the corporate media against Martha Laning for having an occasionally quirky personality is racist and absolutely disgusting. I believe that Daniel Bice, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and the Republican Party of Wisconsin owe Martha Laning, David Bowen, and the people of Wisconsin an apology.

Four state-level Democratic Party organizations caught coordinating with the Hillary Clinton campaign

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Just because a political party coordinates with a political candidate does not necessarily mean that said coordination is illegal. I am unsure of whether or not it is legally permissible for a political party to set up a political fund in coordination with a political candidate.


State-level Democratic Party organizations in Mississippi, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin are officially coordinating, in a manner which I’m not sure of the legality of, with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Specifically, they’re creating so-called “victory funds”, which are designed to funnel money to both the state party organizations and the Clinton campaign, in those four states:

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign has received commitments from four Democratic state parties, including in the crucial proving ground of New Hampshire, to enter joint fund-raising agreements with the campaign just as the nomination battle is beginning.

The four are a small fraction of the dozens of state parties that the Hillary for America campaign has asked to join such agreements. Many are still considering the request; some officials said they are working through how the arrangement would be put into effect while the nominating fight is underway.

Mississippi, Virginia and Wisconsin have also signed agreements with the Clinton team, according to two people briefed on the issue who were not authorized to speak publicly. Virginia, a critical general election battleground, is home to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of Mrs. Clinton’s and a former Democratic National Committee chairman.

If you want to know what the biggest problem affecting our nation’s political and electoral system is, look no further than those damn Clintons and the failed, out-of-touch, out-of-ideas Democratic establishment. Big money corrupting the political system in this country is a very serious problem, and the Clintons and the Democratic leadership at all levels is just as much of a personification of the problem as the right-wing Koch Brothers are.

In regards to Wisconsin, this is an apparent violation of Article VIII of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Constitution, which requires “unusual circumstances” and a two-thirds supermajority vote of the party’s administrative committee for the party to endorse and support a candidate in a contested primary, neither of which have, to my knowledge, taken place in regards to the 2016 presidential election. I’m not sure if the constitutions and/or by-laws of Democratic Party organizations in the other three states (Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Virginia) have any clause requiring party neutrality in nomination contests in most or all circumstances and/or providing a formal process for an endorsement by the state party.

Martha Laning, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairwoman, reportedly told a Bernie Sanders supporter that “we (referring to the state party) have to be like Switzerland (i.e., neutral) until after the nomination” at a Democratic picnic somewhere in Wisconsin. At the same time Laning is telling Sanders supporters in Wisconsin that the state party is supposed to be neutral in regards to the presidential nomination contest, the party that she leads is coordinating with the Clinton campaign to give money to the Clinton campaign. That is some blatant hypocrisy right there.

As he launches his presidential campaign, Scott Walker compares Wisconsinites to special interests

Approximately 19 seconds into Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s presidential campaign announcement video, an unnamed narrator for the Walker campaign said that Walker “beat the special interests” over a video clip of progressive protesters supporting the unsuccessful recall attempt against Walker in 2012. At around the 39-second mark of the video, Walker himself spoke in front of the camera and talked about taking “power out of the hands of big government special interests”.

In reality, Walker compared the people of his state to special interests, while allowing special interests like big business interests and the school voucher lobby to benefit from the very big government that Walker rails against.

For Walker to compare Wisconsinites to special interests is not only false, it’s also offensive. More specifically, Walker compared Wisconsin progressives to special interests, and, having followed many of them on blogs and social media for the past few years, I can certainly say that they are not special interests. They’re people who want to make their state and their country a better place to live. They care about their communities, and they support workers’ rights, women’s rights, the middle class, open government, equality, and other progressive ideals. As Meghan Blake-Horst, a co-founder and the market manager of the MadCity Bazaar flea market in Madison, Wisconsin, put it, “Yes, we have special interests in feeding, educating and providing our kids a healthy place to grow up. And running our small businesses.” Comparing people like Blake-Horst to special interests dehumanizes people.

The truth about Walker’s record is that he and his political allies in Wisconsin have given special interests, such as big business interests and the school voucher lobby, effective control over Wisconsin’s state government. Those special interests have, in turn, helped Wisconsin’s state government, among other things, hand out tax breaks to the wealthy, give out tons of corporate welfare to businesses, privatize and cut funding from public K-12 education, cut funding from higher education, strip tenure away from college professors, make it harder for Wisconsinites to vote, make it harder for Wisconsin women to get the reproductive health care they want, bust unions, drive down wages, hurt Wisconsin’s economy, run up massive state budget deficits, and destroyed Wisconsin’s reputation. Martha Laning, the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), didn’t mince words one bit in her statement criticizing Walker as he launches his presidential campaign. Laning stated that Walker’s record “is one of unprecedented corruption, division, extremism and a failure to foster economic growth and opportunity”. Laning also took Walker to task over “stagnant” wages in Wisconsin, “job growth that’s dead last in the Midwest and trailing most of the nation”, a corporate welfare agency “that’s known more for scandal than economic development”, and a massive Wisconsin state budget deficit “created by his failed policies”.

While Scott Walker compares the people of his home state to special interests, the truth of the matter is that Walker is beholden to real special interests that own him and his political allies, and they’ve completely wrecked Wisconsin’s economy, reputation, and quality of life. If Walker is elected president, Walker, his political allies, and big-money special interests will turn America into a third-world country by enacting the same far-right political agenda they enacted in Wisconsin.

Martha Laning makes a huge impact in her first week as Wisconsin Democratic chairwoman

It’s only been a week since Martha Laning was elected Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), but she has already made a huge impact in Wisconsin politics by being, to my pleasant surprise, a critic of some forms of corporate welfare and a supporter of good government.

On Thursday, Laning sent this letter officially asking far-right Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel to do his job by helping to facilitate the release of official Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) records. As uncovered by audits, the WEDC, a state corporate welfare agency in Wisconsin created by Scott Walker and Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature in 2011, has repeatedly refused to comply with federal and state laws, as well as mismanaged Wisconsinites’ taxpayer money. While I’d never support the campaign of someone like Schimel for any public office, it would be the right thing for Schimel to help release records pertaining to the morbidly corrupt and incompetent WEDC, because Wisconsinites should have the right to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent.

That’s not the first time Laning has railed against some forms of corporate welfare and publicly supported good government policies.

In this interview on Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) stations across Wisconsin, Laning outlined the Democratic strategy in Wisconsin for the November 2016 elections and beyond, as well as gave some of her own opinions on various political issues in Wisconsin and nationally. Laning emphasized messaging heavily in the WPR interview; in fact, Laning pointed out a major flaw in the Democratic messaging that has been used in recent Wisconsin election cycles: many Wisconsinites don’t know what the Democratic Party stands for! Additionally, Laning publicly supported Move to Amend, an organized political movement that is pushing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution designed to remove the undue influence of money from our nation’s political system, and, to my pleasant surprise, sharply criticized a state tax break for Wisconsin manufacturers that all but eliminated taxes on Wisconsin manufacturers, even emphasizing how tax revenue funds things that are commonplace in society, such as roads, the judicial system, police departments, and fire departments. Regarding the 2018 gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, Laning strongly suggested that “several” potential candidates would at least consider running for Governor of Wisconsin as a Democrat, although she declined to name any potential candidates. Laning also strongly implied that she would prefer whoever Wisconsin Democrats nominate for governor in 2018 to emphasize “building strong communities”, “opportunity for all”, and “fairness”.

Needless to say, this is not what I expected from Martha Laning when she was elected to lead the Democratic Party in a critical swing state. I was expecting Laning to be a backbencher of sorts as DPW Chair, mostly working behind the scenes and rarely issuing public statements of her own about political issues. Instead, Laning has, to my pleasant surprise, publicly railed against preferential tax breaks for large businesses and has strongly supported restoring Wisconsin’s once-proud tradition of good government. Will I agree with every single thing Martha Laning does as DPW Chair? Likely not, as I’ve never agreed with anyone 100% of the time. Do I think that Martha Laning will be a wonderful DPW Chair? She’s certainly off to a great start!

BREAKING NEWS: Martha Laning elected Wisconsin Democratic chairwoman

It’s official…former Wisconsin State Senate candidate Martha Laning is the new chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. According to Shawn Johnson of Wisconsin Public Radio, here are the official results:

  1. Martha Laning – 721 (53.45%)
  2. Jason Rae – 428 (31.73%)
  3. Joe Wineke – 191 (14.16%)
  4. Stephen Smith – 6 (0.44%)
  5. Jeff Smith – 3 (0.22%)

A total of 1,349 valid votes were cast for a chair candidate by delegates and alternates who were elevated to delegate status prior to the vote. Of the five chair candidates, Jeff Smith dropped out of the race right before the DPW Convention and officially nominated Laning, however his name remained on the ballot.

Laning ran on, among other things, identifying the cause of lower turnout in midterm elections, promising a more inclusive Democratic Party of Wisconsin, providing more financial and technical support to county-level Democratic organizations in Wisconsin, encouraging Democratic candidates in Wisconsin to use values-based messaging based at least loosely on George Lakoff-style messaging (more on that here), and helping candidates use foreign-language materials to reach out to Wisconsin voters who don’t speak English as their first language. In short, Laning has promised a stronger, more inclusive Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and I will hold her accountable to her promises.

For a while, it appeared for quite a while that Jason Rae was going to win the chair’s race easily. However, many of Rae’s staunchest supporters attacked Laning, me, and everyone else that opposed Rae in any way, shape, or form, and Rae himself had a royalist mindset throughout his campaign. Another problem that gave Rae nothing but trouble during his campaign was his affiliation with Nation Consulting, a Milwaukee-based political consulting firm. As I wrote about a month ago, Thad Nation, the head of Nation Consulting and Rae’s employer, used a political front group to give tens of thousands of dollars to right-wing political organizations that have strongly opposed Democratic and progressive causes. I’m not sure how many delegates I managed to persuade to vote for a non-Rae candidate with that blog post, if any, but I can say that it certainly didn’t help Rae’s campaign at all.

Additionally, Laning benefited from the implosion of the Jeff Smith campaign for chair. About a week or so before the convention, Jeff Smith sent a letter to delegates, which was received by at least one DPW official that I know of, in which Jeff Smith offered Laning a job if he had been elected. Laning responded by criticizing Jeff Smith for using campaign literature to tout a job offer without her permission. That ended any chance of Jeff Smith being elected chair, so he bowed out right before the convention, and, in a move that helped solidify Laning’s “party unity” credentials, Laning allowed Jeff Smith to officially nominate her for chair.

Initially, I despised Laning and her candidacy. When I first heard that Laning was going to run for DPW Chair, I thought that she’d be a terrible candidate for DPW Chair, as I initially viewed her as a candidate of appeasement towards Republicans. However, when Jeff Smith dropped out of the race, I reviewed Laning’s plans for the DPW, and I quickly realized that Laning would be the best candidate to lead the Democratic Party in the state that could be the most critical to a national Democratic victory next year. I sincerely apologize to Martha Laning and her supporters for my criticisms of her campaign prior to Jeff Smith exiting the race for DPW Chair.

One person I will credit for Laning’s victory (other than Laning herself, who obviously deserves most of the credit), is Lori Compas, a professional photographer and the organizer of the unsuccessful, but valiant, recall attempt against Republican Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald in 2012. While the endorsement of Wisconsin State Senator Kathleen Vinehout was the first noteworthy endorsement that Laning received, Compas endorsed Laning early on in her campaign, and, when Compas endorsed Laning, that was the first time I viewed Laning as a serious candidate for DPW chair. Laning’s coalition of support represented a cross-section of the DPW, ranging from ultra-progressives like former Madison Common Council member Satya Rhodes-Conway to centrists like Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris. For all the talk about Vinehout’s political instincts, nobody in Wisconsin has better political instincts than Lori Compas, and Laning’s victory is an example of that.

Martha Laning is going to have a lot of pressure to lead the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to victory next year, because Wisconsin is probably the one state that is going to decide control of the White House and the U.S. Senate in the 2016 elections.

My final thoughts about the race for Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairperson and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Convention

Just a couple of days before the opening of the 2015 Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) convention in Milwaukee, I’ll share my final thoughts about the race, which, despite the fact I live in Illinois, I’ve actually had a major role in.

First off, I’m going to raise an issue with the scheduled convention speeches. Tim Kaine, a former DNC chairman who absolutely failed at that job and later got elected to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker of the DPW convention. This is despite the fact that Kaine represents Virginia, not Wisconsin, in the U.S. Senate. The DPW apparently can’t find a Wisconsinite to give the keynote speech at their own convention, despite the fact that Democratic statewide candidates in Wisconsin regularly get more than a million votes nowadays! While I’m an Illinoisan, I believe that state-level Democratic Party organizations should pick someone who is a resident of state where the convention is being held and a supporter of Democratic/progressive causes to give the keynote speech. Additionally, U.S. Representative Ron Kind and Secretary of State Doug La Follette were not listed as speakers on the list of speakers that I’ve seen. While I disagree with Kind over his support for President Obama’s free-trade deals, Kind is a Democrat and a federal elected official from Wisconsin, so he should be given a speaking slot, just like Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore, and Tammy Baldwin. Additionally, La Follette is the only state executive in Wisconsin who has been elected in a partisan race as a Democrat, so he should be given a speaking slot. Hopefully, all candidates for DPW Chair and other party offices elected by convention delegates are allowed equal speaking time before the vote for the office they are running for, and the winners are allowed to give victory speeches.

Now, I’m going to talk about all five of the candidates in the race for DPW Chair.

The candidate who I think should be the next chairperson of the DPW is Martha Laning. Laning, who is from the Town of Sheboygan in Sheboygan County, ran unsuccessfully for a Wisconsin State Senate seat last year. Prior to joining the DPW and entering electoral politics, Laning was a finance executive for Target and a key player in helping raise money to get Generations Intergenerational Center, a community center for both young and old people in Plymouth, Wisconsin, built and operating. Laning’s supporters include, but are not limited to:

  • Lori Compas, a professional photographer, the organizer of the unsuccessful, but valiant recall attempt against Republican State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and the Democratic nominee in the recall election against Fitzgerald
  • Elisa Miller, who was Compas’s assistant campaign manager during her state senate campaign
  • State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, the legendary prairie populist from Alma who unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic recall primary for governor in the 2012
  • State Senator Mark Miller, who was briefly Majority Leader of the Wisconsin State Senate for several months after the 2012 recall elections
  • Former State Representative Sandy Pasch, who was the Assistant Minority Leader in the Wisconsin State Assembly prior to her leaving electoral politics last year
  • Pierce County Supervisor Mike Kahlow
  • Mary Lang Sollinger, a Democratic fundraiser who was briefly a DPW Chair candidate before dropping out of the race
  • Kelly Westlund, the chair of the Chequamegon Democrats (the joint Democratic Party organization for Ashland and Bayfield Counties along the Lake Superior shore) and a former congressional candidate
  • Progressive blogger Chris “Capper” Liebenthal
  • Progressive blogger Zach Wisniewski

If elected, Laning has promised to make the DPW more inclusive, and she has also promised to provide more financial support to county-level Democratic organizations in Wisconsin. Laning has been the most heavily criticized candidate in the race for DPW Chair, with most of the criticism being over her ties to Target (she did not have a direct role in any anti-union efforts at Target), false allegations that she’s opposed to reproductive rights (she actually supports reproductive rights), her being relatively new to the DPW (she only joined the party a year and a half ago, and this is something I don’t have a problem with), and her infrequent voting record (not everybody was born into a civic-minded family, and 2010 was a political wake-up call for many Wisconsinites who don’t support Scott Walker’s far-right agenda).

Up until a few days ago, I was supporting Jeff Smith, a former Wisconsin State Representative from the Eau Claire area, for DPW Chair. Jeff Smith’s campaign, which had focused heavily on bringing progressive messaging to the DPW, had energized many anti-establishment progressives in Wisconsin, most notably 1998 Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Ed Garvey and Mike McCabe, the founder of the progressive group Blue Jean Nation, both of whom are staunch supporters of progressive ideals. However, I pulled my endorsement of Jeff Smith after he sent a letter to DPW delegates promising to appoint Laning to the DPW Executive Director’s post if elected, which sounded to me like an attempt by Jeff Smith to set up a political patronage system within the DPW. Also, Jeff Smith bashed Laning while offering her a job at the same time, flagrantly violating the first rule of job offering, which is don’t criticize the person you’re offering the job while offering him or her the job. Jeff Smith has since dropped out of the race and is supporting Laning.

Another candidate running for DPW Chair is Joe Wineke, who is from the Verona area in Dane County. Wineke is a known quantity to those who knew him as DPW Chair, as he had a very successful record (albeit one aided greatly by a wildly unpopular George W. Bush being in the White House at the time and two elections featuring national Democratic landslides) in the four years he was DPW Chair. Wineke has, among other people and groups, the support of the United Steelworkers (USW) union, progressive talk radio host John “Sly” Sylvester, and progressive bloggers Jud Loundsbury, Michael Leon, and Jeff Simpson. However, the last time Wineke was DPW Chair, he was also a lobbyist for AT&T, which has fought for laws making it easier for them to jack up telephone service rates in Wisconsin, other states, and at the federal level, which rightfully outraged many Wisconsin progressives.

Yet another candidate running for DPW Chair is Stephen Smith, a former Wisconsin State Representative from Washburn County in the northern part of the state. Although Stephen Smith and Jeff Smith share the same last name, I’m almost certain they’re not related, but I’m not 100% sure of that. Stephen Smith is the most obscure of the five candidates for DPW Chair, and I predict that he’ll get the least amount of votes from convention delegates.

In my opinion, the worst candidate for DPW Chair is Jason Rae, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) member from Milwaukee who also works at the Milwaukee-based consulting firm Nation Consulting. To put it mildly, Rae represents the destruction of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Rae represents a desperate attempt by former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle’s cronies, the DNC, and Nation Consulting to keep their death grip on the DPW, which has caused Democrats to lose a lot of offices in the six years that Mike Tate has been DPW Chair. In fact, I strongly suspect that Rae wants to use the DPW as a cash cow for Nation Consulting and other political consultants and insiders connected to him. Rae himself has a very vindictive attitude (in fact, he thinks that people shouldn’t question him or candidates that the Democratic establishment supports, which is a textbook example of a royalist mindset), and many of his supporters have used blogs and social media to attack me, other progressives, others who don’t strongly agree with Rae and/or the current Democratic leadership, and those who are running against Rae for DPW Chair, often in downright vicious ways (examples here). In fact, the attacks I’ve had to deal with from Rae’s supporters have been the nastiest attacks I’ve ever had to deal with. Rae’s supporters include, among others:

  • Jon Richards, a former Wisconsin State Pepresentative who got only one-third or so of the vote in the 2014 attorney general primary in Wisconsin (losing the primary to Susan Happ, who ran a terrible general election campaign, losing to far-right Republican Brad Schimel)
  • Tanya Lohr, the head of the DPW County Chairs Association (DPW CCA), the Washington County Democratic Party chairwoman, and a former state senate candidate
  • Sachin Chheda, a former Jim Doyle aide, former Milwaukee County Democratic Party chairman, and Nation Consulting employee
  • Marlene Ott, the Milwaukee County Democratic Party chairwoman who has tried to fill her county’s delegate slate with as many Rae supporters as possible
  • Graeme Zielinski, the disgraced former DPW communications director who has been busted for drunk driving multiple times
  • Melissa Schroeder, the current First Vice-Chairwoman of the DPW
  • Michael Basford, the Dane County Democratic Party chairman who ran Scott Resnick’s unsuccessful campaign for Mayor of Madison earlier this year (Resnick lost badly to incumbent Paul Soglin)
  • Brandon Savage, the guy who ran Chris Moews’s unsuccessful campaign against far-right gun nut David Clarke in last year’s race for Milwaukee County Sheriff and the most hateful person I’ve ever interacted with online
  • Andy Suchorski, the corresponding secretary of the Milwaukee County Democratic Party and Nation Consulting employee (although he tries to hide his role at Nation Consulting on the Milwaukee County Democratic Party website, and he tries to hide his role at the Milwaukee County Democratic Party on the Nation Consulting website).

The main problems that many Democrats and progressives who follow Wisconsin politics have with Rae is that he’s not significantly different than Mike Tate and, most importantly, he’s an employee at Nation Consulting, a firm that is led by Thad Nation, who has indirectly given tens of thousands of dollars to right-wing front groups that have opposed Democratic and progressive causes. Additionally, Rae is too closely tied to the national Democratic establishment and that he either is or was an associate director for Wired Wisconsin, a Thad Nation-led, AT&T-backed political front group that has fought to make it easier for landline telephone companies in Wisconsin to jack up the rates they charge customers. My blog post exposing the ties between Nation Consulting and right-wing groups that have opposed Democratic and progressive causes has caused Rae’s supporters to go completely nuts since I wrote that blog post, and it’s drawn the attention of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Wisconsin’s largest newspaper, and the Milwaukee-area webgazine Urban Milwaukee.

While these include some ideas that none of the five candidates for DPW Chair support, here’s my own recommendations for what the next DPW chair should do:

  • Operate the party as independently of the DNC as reasonably possible
  • Run the party in as much of an inclusive manner as reasonable possible
  • Use progressive messaging on the DPW’s social media accounts, and make promoting progressive values a key part of the DPW’s operation
  • Encourage various Democratic organizations to use progressive messaging, although allow them to use their own messaging if they wish to do so
  • Provide a template for various Democratic organizations in Wisconsin to use so they can build easy-to-use websites, if they wish to use the template
  • Design a new DPW website to put progressive values, voter registration info, membership registration info, etc. on the front page, not pictures of Scott Walker
  • Allow for the creation of a DPW Progressive Caucus
  • Push for reforms to the DPW’s election process for state party officers to prevent county-level party officials from filling their delegate slates for favored individuals and allow multiple rounds of voting if one candidate doesn’t get a majority on the first ballot…if it takes amending DNC rules to do so, push for the necessary changes to the DNC rules
  • Eliminate the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee (ADCC) and the State Senate Democratic Committee (SSDC), two slush funds used by Democratic state legislators in Wisconsin to funnel money to political candidates
  • Prohibit county-level Democratic organizations in Wisconsin from covering multiple counties, as is currently the case in Ashland and Bayfield Counties…One county, one county-level Democratic organization
  • End all payments by the DPW to political consultants and consulting firms, including, but not limited to, Nation Consulting
  • Fire everyone in the current DPW leadership who can be fired by the chair and hire progressive-minded people to fill positions in the DPW
  • Invest more in county-level Democratic organizations
  • Quit praising Republicans in official DPW messaging
  • Emphasize workers’ rights, marijuana legalization, restoring public education, and other progressive ideals that the DPW hasn’t been as forceful in advocating in recent years in party messaging

I also provided some suggestions for the next DPW Chair in this blog post.

Regarding who I think will win the DPW Chair’s race, I think that Jason Rae, Joe Wineke, or Martha Laning all have realistic chances of winning, and it appears to me like it’s a three-way race between the two. Unfortunately, I think Rae is a very slight favorite. However, Wineke may have more support than I think he does, and Laning may be able to win over enough undecided delegates, which there’s probably quite a few of, to win. I think that Jeff Smith will get several percent of the convention vote, and Stephen Smith will probably get around one to two percent of the convention vote. I’m predicting that the delegate count will be in the mid-to-high 1,000’s, probably around 1600-1700 total delegates voting for DPW chair and other DPW officers.

This will be my final blog post in regards to this year’s race for the leadership of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. I thank everyone who has viewed my blog and supported my work exposing the inner workings of the current DPW leadership and Nation Consulting. The DPW Convention will be held June 5 & 6 at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, located at 1721 West Canal Street in Milwaukee. Given how important Wisconsin will be on a national scale in the 2016 elections, ensuring that someone other than Jason Rae is elected DPW Chair is an absolute must for Democrats to have any chance of winning Wisconsin next year. I recommend that DPW delegates vote for Martha Laning for DPW Chair.

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.

Wisconsin’s largest newspaper takes note of my work exposing Nation Consulting’s ties to right-wing political groups

Daniel Bice, a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, wrote this piece, which is mostly about Jason Rae and Martha Laning, two of the five candidates for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW).

Bice mentioned two of my blog posts about Thad Nation, the founder of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based consulting firm Nation Consulting, and tens of thousands of dollars that Nation indirectly gave to right-wing political groups through a front group called Coalition for the New Economy. The right-wing groups that received funding from Coalition for the New Economy have opposed Democratic candidates and progressive causes, and some of those groups have received funding either directly or indirectly from the far-right Koch Brothers. Nation employs Jason Rae, one of the candidates for DPW Chair, although Rae, to my knowledge, hasn’t been directly involved with Coalition for the New Economy. However, Bice forgot to mention that Rae either is or was an associate director of Wired Wisconsin, a Thad Nation-led political front group that has advocated for legislation that would make it easier for landline telephone companies to either eliminate or increase the price of landline telephone service in Wisconsin. Rae joined Wired Wisconsin in mid-2010; it’s not known to me whether or not Rae is still directly involved with Wired Wisconsin. Obviously, nobody who works for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is going to mention anything about Rae’s ties to Wired Wisconsin, since that organization has paid for advertisements in that newspaper.

Bice also mentioned the fact that Martha Laning, one of Rae’s four opponents, is a relative newcomer to the DPW, having only joined the DPW in early 2014, and that Laning didn’t even know that one had to join the party and pay party dues in order to become an official Democratic Party member in Wisconsin until right before she became a party member. To be fair, I don’t know exactly how to join the Democratic Party in my home state of Illinois (I’m not an official Democratic Party member here in Illinois), and I’m guessing that very few people outside of political insiders know how to officially join their home state’s Democratic Party organization. Additionally, Bice brought up the fact that Laning hasn’t voted in every election in Wisconsin that she’s been eligible to vote in. While I’ve always been a civic-minded person since long before I was eligible to vote (in fact, the only election I’ve missed since turning 18 years of age was the 2008 Illinois primary for president and other partisan offices, and that was because I forgot to register to vote in time for that election), not everyone grew up with an interest in politics. However, Bice made absolutely no mention of either of the two main reasons why I’ve been critical of Laning. First, Laning claimed that Scott Walker and his Republican allies “have good ideas” in a 2014 television ad for her failed state senate campaign, despite the fact that Walker has driven down wages, busted unions, stripped rights from Wisconsinites, and has led the fight to destroy Wisconsin’s middle class since being elected governor. That is clearly an example of appeasement of Republicans by Laning. Second, Laning had to be pressured by DPW officials into supporting an increase in Wisconsin’s minimum wage. That tells me that Laning isn’t a sincere progressive and doesn’t appear to have any real political values.

I’ve received numerous Facebook friend requests and admiration from many Wisconsin progressives for my work in exposing Thad Nation’s ties to right-wing political groups that have waged a political war on Wisconsin’s middle class and progressive traditions. I thank everyone who has supported my work!

Supporter of Martha Laning campaign for Wisconsin Democratic chairperson attacks supporters of American sovereignty

While it’s 100% clear to me that Democratic National Committee (DNC) member Jason Rae would continue the failed, out-of-touch, insider-oriented, consultant-driven leadership of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) that Mike Tate has become infamous for, at least Rae opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). However, Rae refused to publicly criticize President Barack Obama and Wisconsin’s own U.S. Representative Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) for waging a war on american sovereignty by supporting the TPP. The TPP, if fully implemented, would cost America thousands of jobs and allow unconstitutional courts to dictate what economic policy our country can implement.

For merely opposing the TPP, Rae has alienated some of his would-be corporate allies, who are supporting the candidacy of former Wisconsin State Senate candidate Martha Laning for DPW Chair instead. Paul Geenen, a Laning supporter who was identified as an organizer for the Laning campaign by Blogging Blue’s Zach Wisniewski, went onto the page of a Facebook group associated with the DemTEAM candidate recruitment/support organization that is associated with Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) and publicly attacked Rae and other opponents of the TPP for criticizing the proposed free trade deal. Geenen stated that Laning intends to run a “big-tent” approach to running the DPW, focusing on issues that have near-universal support among Democrats, such as raising the minimum wage, implementing universal background checks on gun sales, and addressing the growing climate change problem. While I agree with Laning on those three issues, Geenen’s description of her strategy reminds me a lot of the failed Mary Burke strategy from the last year’s gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, which proved itself to be an unmitigated disaster that resulted in Republican right-wing extremist Scott Walker winning re-election in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race.

While Laning’s supporters are accusing progressives of being divisive, there’s two people among the five who are running for DPW chair who are either acting in a divisive manner themselves or have Wisconsin-based supporters who are acting in a divisive manner. One of those candidates is Jason Rae, who blocked me on Twitter after I questioned him over fundraising for a campaign for state party chairperson, which is not regulated by state election authorities in Wisconsin. The other candidate is…you’ve guessed it…Martha Laning, who has a very vocal supporter, Paul Geenen, who is publicly attacking those who oppose the president’s efforts to destroy much of what little American sovereignty remains and ship thousands of American jobs to foreign countries. In fact, Laning is trying to somewhat distance herself from Geenen’s divisive, unpatriotic remarks by…get this…praising both prominent supporters and prominent opponents of the TPP while opposing the fast-track authority for the TPP at the same time:

I am supportive of Senator Elizabeth Warren and our own Senator Tammy Baldwin’s stance to stop the fast track of TPP and I have signed that petition. I did this because the pieces that have leaked, if true, are deeply concerning. I like most Americans, want to be sure that thoughtful consideration is being given to each and every part of the agreement and I feel we should have more transparency. I have heard concerns about the lack of financial oversight by our government on big corporate deals that could result in another financial crisis like we had in 2008, which is unacceptable. I have heard this bill would hurt jobs here in the US like NAFTA did, and that too is unacceptable. On the other hand, I respect President Obama and understand his desire to help shape the rules for world trade to prevent China from shaping them without us. Bottom line is that for me to have an opinion on TPP, I need the details of the bill. TPP has not been completed and submitted for a vote yet and therefore, most legislators and the public do not have access to the details of the bill, only leaks, and we don’t know the credibility of the leaks. Many legislators that I respect, like Senator Tammy Baldwin and Senator Elizabeth Warren, have expressed their deep concerns, but stop short of saying they would vote no, likely because the details are not available. Out of respect for the President of the United States, I express deep concerns about what I am hearing about TPP, but will reserve final judgment for when the document is made public and we clearly understand what is included.

Wisconsin Democrats and progressives cannot afford the continuation of Mike Tate’s Chicago-style machine politics, which is what would happen if Jason Rae is elected DPW chair, nor can they afford the corporate, Mary Burke-style “leadership” that Martha Laning would bring to the DPW if elected chair.