Tag: WI-2

Former Wisconsin politician Kelda Roys finds success in the real estate business

AUTHOR’S NOTE: An aunt on my dad’s side of my family is a real estate agent in the Westville, Illinois area, and my aunt’s real estate business would be a competitor to Kelda Roys’s business, if Kelda’s Wisconsin-based business expands into Illinois as planned.


Remember Kelda Roys? If not, I will tell you that she was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly who represented parts of Dane County until she lost her bid for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District of Wisconsin in 2012 to fellow Democrat Mark Pocan.

I will also tell you that Kelda is a very successful businesswoman nowadays. Kelda founded OpenHomes, a real estate business in Wisconsin, not long after losing her congressional bid, and her business has been very successful. A couple of weeks ago, the Madison Club, an elite social club in Madison, Wisconsin, held a startup business pitch competition based on the ABC (first-run) and CNBC (reruns) reality television show Shark Tank, which was won by Kelda and OpenHomes:

OpenHomes won the Shark Tank-style pitch contest at the Madison Club on (October 15), and with that, a year’s membership to the 106-year-old, private social club that looks out on Lake Monona.

[…]

The young company, at 30 W. Mifflin St., offers a new way to sell homes that it says is faster and more efficient and involves only a 1 percent commission.

“The average agent closes nine deals a year. With OpenHomes, one agent using our platform can close about 45 deals a year,” Roys said.

Kelda’s real estate business has been successful enough that Kelda is considering expanding her business outside of Wisconsin:

Roys is starting a fundraising round and hopes to get $500,000 from investors to expand into Illinois and Minnesota in 2016. “Our company is growing. Now, we want to scale and that’s going to take additional capital,” she said.

In an era where many former politicians get caught doing ridiculous things, Kelda Roys is one of the few former congressional candidates in this country who can claim that she has actually been successful at something outside of politics and hasn’t embarrassed her community in any way.

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Bernie Sanders gives apparent response to Mark Pocan attacks without mentioning Pocan by name

Earlier today, Bernie Sanders sent out an email, in which he stated that his campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination isn’t about Bernie Sanders himself:

As you know, we launched our campaign almost five months ago and we’re doing very well so far. We’ve seen leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, and continue to gain ground in states across the country.

And while we will never raise as much money as our opponents who receive huge donations from wealthy individuals and super PACs, I have been amazed by the outpouring of grassroots financial support that we have secured. In just a few months, we have received almost 1 million individual contributions online. Incredibly, these donations average less than $30 per contribution. In other words, while my opponents hold fundraising events in which a handful of millionaires make huge contributions, we are gaining extraordinary support with modest contributions coming from the working families and middle class of our country.

That’s what my politics is all about. That’s what I want to do throughout this campaign. And I want to thank all of you for your support.

Let me be very clear. As I have mentioned before and will mention again and again, this campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It’s about putting together a grassroots movement of Americans who stand up and say: “Enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.”

(emphasis mine)

The rest of Sanders’s email lists key parts of his campaign platform, such as making higher education truly affordable, rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, reducing wealth inequality, making America less dependent on dirty fossil fuels, and ending systemic racism in the law enforcement and criminal justice systems.

Although Sanders didn’t mention U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) by name anywhere in the email, the email appears to be a response to recent attacks by Pocan, in which Pocan publicly dissed Sanders by referring to him as a “75-year-old socialist” (Sanders is actually 74 years old, although Sanders will be 75 on the date of the general election for president next year) and proceeded to bash progressives in the Democratic Party for supporting Sanders based on his “populist message”.

While Democratic insiders don’t seem to understand this, Bernie Sanders has spent his entire political career fighting to make America a better place to live. Every political campaign that Bernie has taken on has been about the people, not about himself.

Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan attacks vast majority of constituents for being progressive and supporting Bernie Sanders

Despite having, by some standards, the single most progressive voting record in either house of Congress, U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI-2) has done everything possible to sound like a moderate DINO while in office, especially when it comes to backing corporate Democrats, which Pocan has done repeatedly.

Now, Pocan, who hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate that I’m aware of, has tried to claim that supporters of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign don’t exist at all and openly attacked the vast majority of his own constituents:

…In the case of Sanders, nobody is saying, “What I really want is a 75-year-old socialist.” Right? But it’s that message that they kind of like. It’s that populist message on the left.

First off, Pocan gave an incorrect age for Sanders: Sanders is actually 74 years old, but will be 75 years old on the date of the 2016 general election. Pocan attacking Sanders for being old is clearly an ageist attack by Pocan. Secondly, Pocan implied that Sanders supporters don’t exist at all, which is clearly not the case, as Sanders drew 10,000+ people to a rally in Madison, Wisconsin a few months ago. It’s quite clear to me that there’s a statistically-significant amount of support for Sanders in Pocan’s district. Finally, the kind of “populist message on the left” that Pocan is attacking is the kind of message that resonates with a very large segment of voters in this country, especially in Pocan’s home district. That’s because a very large percentage of Americans agree the progressive values of restoring the American middle class, making higher education truly affordable, and making America a more equal country that people like Sanders espouse.

Mark Pocan is just the latest establishment Democrat to join the War on Progressives within the Democratic Party. Pocan attacked the vast majority of his own constituents, who are fiercely progressive and are of a more-than-a-century-old progressive tradition in Wisconsin that dates back to the days of Robert Marion “Fighting Bob” La Follette. It’s clear to me that Pocan regards progressives, who are the vast majority of people and voters in the 2nd Congressional District of Wisconsin, as a political enemy.

If Democratic members of Congress won’t support Bernie Sanders, than that, in and of itself, is justification for Sanders supporters to run for public office and use the primary process to defeat corporate and establishment Democrats within their own party, which there are a ton of at all levels of government in this country.

16 elected officials and soon-to-be elected officials I’d like to meet in person

Since this will be my last blog post of 2014, I’d like to take the opportunity and list 16 elected officials and soon-to-be elected officials that I’d like to meet in person someday.

16. Minnesota State Representative Carly Melin (D-Hibbing) – Melin, a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from the Iron Range region of the state, is like me in many ways: Progressive on a wide range of issues, millennial, not from a large city, loves to use Twitter, and not afraid to criticize Republicans and corporate Democrats.

15. U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston, Illinois) – Schakowsky is one of the most progressive members of my home state’s delegation to Congress, especially on economic issues like the minimum wage and worker’s rights. We don’t have too many politicians who are willing to stand up for worker’s rights here in Illinois, but she’s one of them.

14. Montana State Representative Amanda Curtis (D-Butte) – Curtis won’t be an elected official for much longer after losing her bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Montana, but Curtis is surprisingly progressive for a Montana Democrat. She’s a supporter of background checks on gun sales and she’s progressive on many other issues. Also, she also seems like a wonderful person to be around.

13. Michigan State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) – Whitmer won’t be an elected official for much longer, but, during her two terms as a Michigan State Senator, she was a fearless advocate for progressive ideas and a vocal critic of the far-right Republicans that run Michigan’s state government.

12. Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette (D-Kenosha) – The only member of the La Follette political family (which produced legendary progressive Robert M. “Fighting Bob” La Follette) that is still in public office, Doug La Follette has served as Wisconsin’s Secretary of State for decades (although his office has very little power nowadays); prior to that, he was a Wisconsin state legislator who was known for championing environmental protection.

11. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Hennepin County, Minnesota) – Klobuchar is perhaps the nicest elected official in the entire country, and she’s built up a solid track record of serving her constituents in Minnesota as a U.S. Senator. I’m not exactly sure what Klobuchar’s hometown is, so I’ve listed her by her home county instead.

10. U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-Atlanta, Georgia) – Lewis, one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, is an important person in American history, as he fought to end the Jim Crow laws that discriminated against Black Americans for over a century after slavery was abolished.

9. U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison, Wisconsin) – Pocan, by some measures, has the single most progressive voting record of any member of either house of Congress, and he’s also a cool guy.

8. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Burlington, Vermont) – Sanders, who is considering running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, is a strong progressive, especially when it comes to his opposition to rampant income inequality.

7. Dane County, Wisconsin Supervisor Jenni Dye (D-Fitchburg) – Most of you probably don’t know who Jenni Dye is, since she’s a local elected official in Dane County, Wisconsin (specifically, a county legislator), but she is a Twitter master, an all-around cool person, and a strong supporter of women’s rights. Dye is elected to an officially non-partisan office, although she is a known Democrat, so I’ve listed her as such.

6. U.S. Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-Tuscon, Arizona) – Grijalva is a strong progressive from a congressional district that includes much of southern Arizona. Grijalva understands better than anyone else the issues that Hispanics face in this country.

5. U.S. Representative Alan Grayson (D-Orlando, Florida) – Billed as a “Congressman with Guts”, Grayson is a notorious progressive firebrand who is often willing to speak his mind in support of progressive values and ideals on a wide variety of issues. More importantly, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get progressive ideals enacted into law, even against conservative opposition.

4. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Cambridge, Massachusetts) – No, she’s not running for president, but, make no mistake about it, Elizabeth Warren is the elected official that scares Wall Street fat cats more than any other. She is a fearless advocate for protecting consumers from Wall Street greed and is progressive on many other issues as well.

3. Illinois State Representative-elect Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) – The only person who is not currently an elected official (although, in just a couple of weeks, he’ll be sworn in as one), Guzzardi ran as a progressive for a state house seat in Chicago’s North Side, took on the corrupt Chicago Machine in the Democratic primary, and won.

2. Wisconsin State Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) – One of the most progressive members of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Taylor is a fearless advocate for progressive ideals on a wide range of issues. Prior to entering electoral politics, Taylor ran Planned Parenthood’s Wisconsin political operation.

1. Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) – If I could only meet one elected official that I like in my entire lifetime, it would be Melissa Sargent, the Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from the East Side of Madison. Sargent is a fearless advocate for collective bargaining rights, raising the minimum wage, reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, internet privacy, legalization of recreational marijuana, and many other progressive ideals. More importantly, Sargent is a down-to-earth person who cares about people.

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.