• WisPolitics

Friday, July 29, 2016

 1:14 PM 

Delegate Diary: Inspired and ready to head home

And, just as quickly as it started, it finished.

I’m sitting at the Philadelphia Airport right now waiting for my flight back to Milwaukee. The 2016 Democratic National Convention adjourned last night -- or was it technically this morning by the time we got out of there? I can’t remember.

Thursday started with the usual group breakfast with other delegations. I stopped by very briefly but then had a few phone interviews set up with radio stations back home to talk about the feelings of the convention so far.

That’s one piece a lot of people don’t know about. There are reporters everywhere at the convention, and they’ll stop and talk to people for, say, three minutes to get their opinions. Be it on the street or in your seat, you get stopped constantly and asked if you are a delegate and, if so, what you thought of X, Y or Z.

Before heading down to the Wells Fargo Arena for the major speeches, I stopped by a gathering of the Junior States of America and spoke to a group of more than 150 high school students about my experiences in politics and encouraged them to get involved. Those students are so brilliant and asked some tough questions. This is my third time talking to them at conventions, and I love seeing the future right there. I’m hoping some of them will run for DNC soon and join me in the Youth Council.

After that, in the pouring rain, we hustled over to the Arena. We were all told to get there early so we could get our seats. While they are assigned to the state, they aren’t assigned to specific people, so it’s first-come-first-served in the section. I found a great spot right near the aisle. Once seated, you could sneak out once or twice for food or the bathroom, but then we were locked into the hall.

The speeches really rocked the house last night. I’d recommend watching most of the evening ones if you missed any. From Rev. Barber to a group of generals, you don’t want to miss what was said. The highlight of the evening was, of course, Secretary Clinton accepting the nomination. The speech, the balloon drop, the atmosphere – inspiring.

No one hurried out of the hall after the speeches. We stayed and reveled in the moment and the history. After nearly losing our voices, we headed to the subway station and stopped at a party before making it back to the hotel, where the Wisconsin delegation was throwing an impromptu party in the hotel lobby. At about 3:30 a.m., we finally went upstairs and called it a night.

I had to be up and functioning at 9 a.m. for the first meeting of the 2016-2020 DNC membership, where Donna Brazile took the reigns as interim chair. We had a surprise visit by Sen. Tim Kaine and then got on with our business.

And here I am now, ready to get some sleep. I’m ready for my own bed, to see my dog again and to get to work on the fall elections.

Well, that's a wrap. Thanks for playing along at home.

-- By Jason Rae


Thursday, July 28, 2016

 6:10 PM 

Baldwin praises Clinton's work on expanding health coverage

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin this evening lauded Dem nominee Hillary Clinton’s work on expanding health care coverage.

Baldwin, speaking at the Democratic National Convention with other Dem women senators, spoke of her grandparents’ struggles to get her health coverage as a child. The Madison Dem had been hospitalized for three months when she was nine years old, and her grandparents had to pay for those bills out-of-pocket, she said.

“I was considered a child with a pre-existing condition, and they couldn’t find me coverage at any price,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin said she entered politics to ensure other children could get affordable health care. And Clinton, she said, “led that fight for decades” and was key in passing the Children's Health Insurance Program while her husband was president.

“As president, she’ll fight for healthier families and a fair shot for all,” she said.

-- By Polo Rocha

 4:46 PM 

Moore criticizes Trump for his attitude toward women

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore today slammed GOP nominee Donald Trump’s language toward women.

“Pigs, dogs, disgusting?” the Milwaukee Democrat said during her speech at the Democratic National Convention. “Too many women know where this toxic language leads. Too many women have experienced sexual violence, and I’m one of them.”

Moore, who in 2012 recounted her experience with sexual assault, said, “we are not victims.”

“We are survivors,” she said. “We have been bullied. We’ve been beaten. We’ve been berated. We’ve been told to sit down and to shut up. Well, my voice matters and I will not shut up. Our voices matter, and we will not shut up.”

Moore credited Dem presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her “battle scars” fighting for women, whether through pushing for family leave policies or expansions of health care.

Clinton, Moore said, has been “fighting for us each and every day.”

“I trust her because at each and every opportunity, she has been a voice for the underrepresented and the unprotected,” she said. “And as president, she will keep fighting for all of us.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin will speak later this evening along with other Dem women in the Senate.

-- By Polo Rocha


 2:27 PM 

Delegate Diary: Tired but ready for a big night

Exhausted but energized. Those are the best words to describe my feelings at the moment.

It has been a tremendous week so far, and last night was one of the best convention experiences I’ve ever had.

The day started early with the Wisconsin delegation gathering for breakfast and credential distribution. We had a tremendous lineup of speakers to fire us up at the early hour, including Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Ron Kind, DNC Vice Chair R.T. Rybak and others. The crowd was especially enthralled with Booker, who had the entire room captivated.

I snuck out of breakfast before the last few speakers to make it to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the second and final Youth Council meeting of the convention that I had the privilege of chairing.

The Youth Council meeting was a packed house. When I got up on stage to call it to order, I was so inspired by all the young people who were getting involved in this convention and party for the first time. When people talk about an enthusiasm problem with millennials, they don’t know what they are saying. What I saw yesterday showed young people fired up and ready to go.

Our meeting had a panel on millennial topics in politics about how youth issues intersect with other communities and how to best advocate for progressive change. We had a few young candidates and elected officials stop by. And, to cap things off, Booker made a special appearance. Much like at the breakfast, he left that room spellbound. If you haven’t heard of him before, start paying attention. He is going places.

After the council meeting was done, I had just 20 minutes to grab lunch and then had to start making my way to the convention floor. Getting through security has been getting a bit faster each day, which is great. We made it in the arena just in time to vote to officially make Tim Kaine the vice presidential nominee.

Following that, the evening just kept getting better. We heard from some truly moving speakers, including the mother of one of the people killed in Orlando. We had Broadway singers perform. We had Lenny Kravitz on stage. It was a night I’m not sure can ever be beat.

The most interesting thing I think a lot of folks don’t know is that once you are in the hall, especially the later it gets, the chance of getting out is slim to none. What I mean is with so many people and so much energy for our speakers -- on top of all the security -- the fire marshals end up shutting the floor down and people can’t go in or out. That means you sip that bottle of water slowly so you don’t have to leave to use the restroom. If you do, the folks at the door say you likely won’t get back in. So after 7 p.m., I was glued to my seat.

The night went a lot later than I expected, but it was completely worth it. From Vice President Biden to Sen. Kaine, and then to President Obama, I was on my feet, waving the signs, cheering at the top of my lungs. My voice is starting to go this morning from so much screaming.

I won’t go into details on the speeches, because you can find that elsewhere. But between the three of them, I think it’ll be tough to top. But I’m sure Hillary Clinton will.

Once the activities adjourned for the evening, we headed out for some parties. We’ve learned the fastest way out is to take the subway back to City Center. It was a packed train, but it also saves about 45 minutes in travel time, so it’s worth a few minutes of discomfort.

We headed to two parties last night, one for the Truman National Security Project and another for the Economic Innovation Group & The Daily Beast. Even with several thousand people visiting Philadelphia, I ran into people at both parties I’ve met over the years.

We finally made it back to the hotel at about 2:30 a.m., only to start it all over again bright and early this morning. And let me tell you, I am exhausted. However, I’m also fired up and ready for tonight. I know conventions are a long, tiring affair, but they also are among the most motivating and inspiring things any political junkie can do.

I’m hurrying out the door this morning to get to the LGBT Caucus meeting and then to another event before the grand finale. More tomorrow.
-- By Jason Rae


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

 9:46 AM 

Delegate Diary: The excitement is growing

Day two of the DNC is in the books, and its hot in Philadelphia -- both in temperature and in terms of excitement. Last night was a moving and touching time for the country and for the party.

It’s a short update this morning before heading out to Wisconsin’s delegation breakfast and a full day of meetings, before heading to the convention floor.

Unfortunately, yesterday I had to miss out on Wisconsin’s delegation breakfast to do a few radio interviews with networks across the state. Not only are people fired up here, but they are back home too, and it’s been great to share some of the experiences with others.

Each day various DNC caucuses and councils meet to discuss relevant issues, hear from speakers and more. I wish there were more hours in the day because we had some tremendous speakers yesterday, such as Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Sen. Bernie Sanders and more.

I’m an active member of the DNC LGBT Caucus and the chair of the DNC Youth Council. I spent some time at the LGBT Caucus meeting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center over lunch. We packed more than 600 people in to the room.

According to figures from the secretary’s office, we have the most LGBT delegates ever at this convention. I had the honor of introducing Baldwin to the crowd. She received a standing ovation. When I introduced her at the caucus in 2012, she was then just a member of the House, and now the LGBT community has someone like them in the U.S. Senate. The room was electric with energy. She lit up the room. She is a rock star out here.

I had to sneak out of that meeting a bit early to get over to the Youth Council meeting. It's a true honor to get to chair that body, a role I’ve had since 2008. We filled the house with hundreds of young Americans concerned about the direction of our country and who wanted to get involved with the Democratic Party.

We had some great speakers, including Amy Dacey, the DNC CEO; Congressman Swalwell, one of the youngest members of the House; and Illyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Each touched on how important the millennial vote is in this year’s election and talked about additional ways people can get involved in this campaign and this party.

I remember my first convention years ago in Boston and getting to talk to so many young people after the meeting who were first time delegates. It left me inspired about the future of our party.

After the Youth Council meeting, I hustled down to the Wells Fargo arena where the convention proceedings were already under way. I made it in time for the nominating speeches. And just let me say: I was moved to tears by Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. John Lewis as they made the case for Hillary Clinton.

Once the speeches were done, the roll call vote got under way. This was the work everyone came here to do. State by state, delegation chair by delegation chair, each extolled the great strengths and triumphs of what they do and who they are.

After about 90 minutes, we got to Wisconsin. Baldwin took the microphone and talked about how we are a people who still make things -- from boats, to tools, to paper and, of course, beer – and she announced 49 votes from Wisconsin went to Bernie Sanders and 47 to Hillary Clinton. I was honored to cast my vote for Clinton, our next president.

When the roll call was done, it was officially announced that Hillary Clinton had the votes needed to become our party’s nominee. The hall erupted into cheers, applause and true joy. Tears rolled down faces. I heard from a delegate who was at the 1984 convention when Geraldine Ferraro was the first female to be a vice presidential nominee. Thirty-two years later, we’ve nominated the first female presidential candidate on any major party’s ticket.

Following the roll call and celebration, the proceedings continued until Bill Clinton took the stage. I won’t rehash his speech, but what an amazing narrative. We were all so focused on every word he said. He is truly one of our party’s best storytellers and messengers, and he did exactly what we needed to do to show who Hillary Clinton is.

When the convention adjourned for the night, we headed out to the People for the American Way post-convention party, where I connected with old friends and met some new ones. Before I knew it, it was 1:30 a.m. and time to get back to the hotel.

And now, it’s early in the morning, and I’m heading out for another full day. Thanks for reading so far. We’ll have lots more during these final few days of the convention.

-- By Jason Rae


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

 8:21 AM 

Delegate Diary: Day one in the books

Just waking up here in Philadelphia after a good three hours of sleep. I could certainly use more, but it’s convention week so I’ll make it up on the backend.

Monday was the first official day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention – and what a day it was!

Each morning, the delegation gathers to pick up credentials and hear updates on the day. Wisconsin is doing a joint breakfast with the Montana and Alaska Democratic parties, which has been really fun getting to know Democrats from other parts of the country.

We were joined by Governor Terry McAuliffe, former DNC Chair, at breakfast to provide some welcoming remarks. Governor McAuliffe spoke about his decision to help reinstate the voting rights of ex-felons and the importance of Wisconsin, not only in 2016 but also of the need to defeat Scott Walker and win back the governor’s office in 2018.

The second elected official to join us was Wisconsin’s very own Congresswoman Gwen Moore, who was greeted with a standing ovation. She complimented the Bernie Sanders delegates on a great campaign, and in particular on all the work they did to help get the most progressive platform drafted in our party history. She went on to stress the importance of party unity going forward to ensure that Donald Trump is never president.

Following those remarks, we heard a number of updates on which shuttles to use to get in to the hall, how security was expected to work, what people could bring or not bring into the hall, etc. The real highlight of each breakfast though isn’t hearing the slog of logistical items, while very important. The real highlight is the raffle! I was lucky enough to have been drawn to receive a limited edition Tammy Baldwin 2012 hat. Not the top prize of the day, but still a good one to win!

I had a bit of down time between breakfast and the gaveling in of convention to do a little prep for my meetings that I have today. I then hustled down in the blistering sun and humid air to the Wells Fargo Arena. It was an excruciating walk outside for a bit, where everyone was covered in sweat. But once you passed through security and entered the arena, you were overcome with awe.

I’ve been really blessed with some unique opportunities in politics. This marked my fourth National Convention and no matter how many you attend, walking onto the floor always takes my breath away. I found a seat in the Wisconsin delegation’s area just off the floor and waited for DNC Secretary Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to gavel us in, which only happened about 11 minutes later. After that, we were on time the entire rest of the night.

Our delegation had a great view to see some of the amazing speeches, from First Lady Michelle Obama, to Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, and of course the final keynote from Senator Sanders. I won’t go in to detail on each of the speeches today, because well, you can find that in a number of other news sites. What I can tell you though is that the Wisconsin delegation all rallied behind Senator Sanders to thank him for his campaign and for what he did to help grow the party. The evening ended with chants of “He’s with Her!”

By about 11:30 p.m., we were finally able to make our way out of the hall and on to some parties for the evening. Being it the first day of convention, there were a few logistical hiccups along the way and delegates did not know which bus to get on or where to go, but what do you expect when you have more than 5,000 of your closest friends all gathered in one little space?

We hurried out and joined the rest of the Wisconsin delegation at the National Constitution Center for some delicious Philly Cheesesteaks and other local favorites. Senator Baldwin and Mayor Barrett were there and greeted the delegates.

Finally, at about 2 a.m., I made the journey back to the hotel only to do a bit of work before turning in. You are tired at the end of each day, but your adrenaline is running high so it’s hard to fall asleep.

I’d best get going now. I'm already a bit late for breakfast and don’t want to miss out on too many speeches and updates for the day, but of course, I don’t want to miss out on the raffle!

-- By Jason Rae

Editor's note: Rae is a superdelegate who has endorsed Hillary Clinton and is attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. He is doing a diary of the trip for WisPolitics.com, which featured similar coverage of the GOP convention.

Monday, July 25, 2016

 6:32 AM 

Delegate Diary: Settling in

After a sudden severe thunderstorm threatened to delay my flight out of Milwaukee Saturday afternoon, but luckily didn’t, I safely made it into the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection (aka Philadelphia) to get things started for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

This convention will make the 4th National Convention I’ve had the honor of attending – beginning with the one in 2004 shortly after I was elected as a member of the Democratic National Committee. Each convention – primarily because of the candidate and the host city – has its own unique style and flair.

We got dropped off at the Home2 Suites by Hilton, which is where the Wisconsin delegation is staying. Despite it being nearly 11 p.m., the area around the hotel was buzzing with people and activity. Our hotel is right across from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where most of the daytime activities take place. Even on a Saturday night, well before most delegates arrive, the police were out in force. As we turned down the one way streets, nearly every corner had at least two officers about.

I quickly checked in, unpacked my suitcase and settled in to the room. I made sure Saturday night was a low key affair, trying to get a few extra hours of sleep before the craziness of the week would get underway.

Sunday morning started and focused on preparing for the DNC Youth Council meetings taking place later this week. Each of the DNC’s constituency caucuses and councils -- for example the LGBT Caucus, the Women’s Caucus, Seniors Council – meets twice during the convention. The meetings are a mix of policy discussions, appearances by political candidates and surrogates, and electoral planning. Since 2008, I’ve served as chair of the DNC Youth Council. As such, I’m responsible for developing our agenda for the two meetings and presiding over them.

I spent the late morning and early afternoon getting a tour of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, walking through the agenda and making sure things were set for Tuesday’s meeting.

Once that was done, I headed back to the Wisconsin delegation hotel and ran in to several members who had just arrived in town. While there, news broke about DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepping down from the DNC at the end of convention.

While not everyone agrees with her, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz has been leading the party for five years. Sunday, she made the decision to do what's best to keep the party unified and ensure that we have a great convention free of any distractions to defeat Donald Trump. There will certainly be an underlying current of this throughout the week, but I know she did what was right to make sure we had a convention that focused on how Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine will do for working people.

After getting just a few minutes to digest the news of the day, it was already time to head out to the Delegation Welcome Parties. Wisconsin joined a number of other states at the Kimmel Center, a beautiful venue in Central City. Delicious food and amazing drinks were abundant as delegates from various states mingled with each other. I ran in to several friends from various states that I had not seen since the last convention.

I snuck out of the Welcome Party a bit early to head back to the hotel. Monday starts an early day with our delegation breakfast at 8 a.m., followed by a full session of meetings and floor proceedings.

I cannot wait to get things officially started. Here’s to a great week in Philly with many updates to come!

-- By Jason Rae

Editor's note: Rae is a superdelegate who has endorsed Hillary Clinton and is attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. He is doing a diary of the trip for WisPolitics.com, which featured similar coverage of the GOP convention.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

 2:14 PM 

Baldwin joins Moore in addressing Dem convention

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, is joining U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, as the only announced Wisconsin officials who will address this week's national convention.

The convention previously announced Moore will address the delegates. It announced today U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and the Democratic women of the Senate will speak Thursday. A Baldwin spokesman confirmed she will be part of that address.

-- By Staff



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