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Friday, June 13, 2008

 10:18 PM 

New progressive group Advancing Wisconsin begins

Dem strategist Mike Tate is now working on a new endeavor named Advancing Wisconsin that he says will work as a grassroots organization both in elections and lobbying the Legislature on progressive issues.

Meagan Mahaffey, who recently left her position as executive director at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, has joined the organization as its program and campaign director, handling the day to day operations. Katie Belanger, who worked for U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin's campaign and leadership PAC as finance director, will oversee fundraising and the finance operation as well as assist Mahaffey as deputy program and campaign director.

Others working for Advancing Wisconsin include Steve Schwartz, who worked for Wisconsin Citizen Action as its canvas director and will serve as the new group's field director. Awais Khaleel, a member of the DNC, is the group's operations director.

Tate said the group may do direct mail and could weigh in on elections. Tate said the group's organization will allow it to do independent expenditures. There are also no limits on the contributions it can accept, though the group will file disclosures.

The liberal-leaning One Wisconsin Now has become a media hub on progressive issues through blogs, press releases and other mediums. The Greater Wisconsin Committee has also been a heavy player in Dem elections through outside ads, mainly through TV.

Advancing Wisconsin seems set up to fill a third role for Dems as an organizing outfit to round out their election efforts. It also could be a player this fall in helping Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

"We're very much a door-to-door operation," Tate said.

See the Advancing Wisconsin Web site.

-- By JR Ross

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