Former Democratic Wisconsin State Representative and YouTube legend Jeff Smith is the third person that I’m aware of to formally launch a campaign for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW). Smith sent out this email to his supporters outlining his vision for the DPW and what he’d do if elected DPW chair:
I’m writing to let all of you know that I’m running to be the next chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. I made this decision because our party is in trouble and we need someone with the grit, determination, resolve and experience required to get us back on track. I strongly believe I’m that person and I’ll tell you why.
I’m the only candidate for DPW Chair who has won a seat in the legislature against a long serving Republican in a republican leaning Assembly district. I did that in 2006 by running my own campaign, with my own local volunteers, raising my own money, developing my own messaging, and by talking with voters from dawn until dusk. I’ll bring that kind of work ethic to my job as DPW Chair.
I’ve also served as a Regional Political Director for the DPW. I’ve seen firsthand what does and doesn’t work. There are changes we need to make in how the party functions and I know how to implement those changes.
The 2012 election results showed us that there are more democrats who vote in Wisconsin than there are republicans, but not all of those voters go to the polls in the mid-term elections. This has turned our state government to a deep red. How do we begin to turn that around?
Messaging. Our platform and resolutions contain bold policy ideas that resonate deeply with a broad swath of voters, but our candidates tend to rely on highly paid consultants for their messaging. This has to change. We need strong county parties that can educate voters about the policy positions grassroots democrats embrace, and that can influence our candidates to promote those policies. Strengthening our county party infrastructure is of the utmost importance and priority.
The outgoing chair campaigned for the job in past years by stating that we need year round organizing and a 72 county strategy; great ideas that never came to realization. I will make that a greater focus. One of our biggest problems is not in raising money but rather in how we’re spending what money we have. I’ll start by breaking down the budget to find the money we need to staff multiple field coordinator positions in key areas around the state. I will put my money where my mouth is by cutting the salary of the state chair position and use the savings to fund full-time field coordinators. These field coordinators will work with county party officials, activists and allies to develop outreach strategies to find, educate and engage new and sporadic voters on a year round basis.
Pride in being a Democrat is essential. I want every progressive and liberal thinking person in Wisconsin to boast about being a Democrat. Just as I want laborers to be filled with pride in belonging to a union, I want the professionals in our classrooms to hold their head high and proclaim to be a teacher without having to feel that they should be ashamed. It is up to us as leaders of the Democratic Party to make that happen. First we restore trust, respect and fight, which will equate into pride in ourselves and in our party.
We all should be very grateful to our brothers and sisters in Dane and Milwaukee counties, but we can’t take this state back with only democratic majorities in Dane and Milwaukee. We need a leader who understands the concerns and challenges rural Wisconsin people and voters face. We also need a leader who will take a bold and creative approach to strengthening our party in rural Wisconsin.
I am that leader. I’ve lived in the Chippewa Valley my entire life. I owned a small business for 25 years in the Eau Claire area and raised a family there, and as a Regional Political Director I’ve traveled across all of western, northwestern and central Wisconsin to hear from rural people about the issues that matter to them. It was a good mix of urban and rural voters that sent me to the legislature.
These are just a few of the ideas, strategies and leadership qualities that I’ll bring to the job as your next Chair. As I travel the state in the next few months I look forward to hearing from all of you. Together we can start down the path that will return Wisconsin to its progressive roots. Let’s do it.
While I live in a neighboring state, Wisconsin is very important to the November 2016 elections on a national level, due to the fact that Wisconsin could decide which party controls the White House and the U.S. Senate. There are a few things I strongly liked about Smith’s vision for the DPW. First, Smith promises that, if elected DPW chair, the DPW would strongly emphasize progressive ideals and values, instead of consultant-driven campaigns, on his watch. Second, Smith promises that, if elected DPW chair, he’d cut the chair’s salary, which is currently in the low-six figures. Third, Smith promises to run an actual 72-county strategy in Wisconsin instead of running a 72-county lip service strategy like what the current chairman, Mike Tate, who is not running for re-election, has run for the last six years.
While, in my opinion, Joe Wineke and Jeff Smith are two good candidates for DPW chair, I’m not going to endorse a candidate for DPW chair yet, since there’s a certain individual who is believed to be considering running for DPW chair, and I think that certain individual would be a fantastic chairperson for the DPW if that certain individual were to run for DPW chair and win…