• WisPolitics

Saturday, June 04, 2011

 1:04 PM 

WisPolitics.com: Straw poll: Dem activists back Feingold for Senate, governor

MILWAUKEE -- Activists attending the state Democratic Party convention June 3-4 favored former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold over other potential rivals whether he runs for an open Senate seat next year or for governor, according to the annual convention straw poll conducted by WisPolitics.com.

Feingold received 254 of the 573 votes cast in the straw poll question on who delegates, alternates and registered guests want to be the party’s next nominee for governor. GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s term is up in 2014, though there is a planned effort to try recalling him next year.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in 2010, placed a distant second with 99 votes.

In the Senate straw poll question, Feingold received 271 votes, while U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin was backed by 187 activists.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl is retiring at the end of his term next year, and Feingold has said he'll make a decision on a possible run by Labor Day. Baldwin, D-Madison, said she planned to decide by mid-July.

In all this year, 573 ballots were cast by the more than 2,200 delegates, alternates and guests who attended the convention.

At the recent state Republican convention in Wisconsin Dells, former state Sen. Ted Kanavas beat Tommy Thompson in the WisPolitics.com convention straw poll.

WisPolitics.com is an independent, non-partisan news service based in Madison. Go to http://demconvos.wispolitics.com/ to see the state Democratic convention blog for more news from the gathering.

Neither state party endorses the straw poll.

Here are results from the June 3-4 straw poll at the state Democratic convention in Milwaukee:

**Who should be the party’s next nominee for governor?

Peter Barca 47
Tom Barrett 99
Kevin Conroy 2
Jon Erpenbach 51
Kathleen Falk 23
Russ Feingold 254
Ron Kind 45
Barb Lawton 21
Mark Miller 9
Write-in 22

**If the primary for U.S. Senate were today, whom would you support?
Tammy Baldwin 187
Russ Feingold 271
Steve Kagen 28
Ron Kind 73
Tim Sullivan 3
Write-in 11

-- By Staff


 12:31 PM 

Candidates in potential 2nd CD Dem primary tout progressive records

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin hasn't declared her intentions to run for the U.S. Senate yet. But if she does, the field of Dems seeking to replace her will likely try to prove to primary voters who's the most progressive.

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach of Middleton, and state Reps. Mark Pocan and Kelda Roys of Madison have all indicated their interest in running for the seat if Baldwin vacates it, and the congresswoman said she has encouraged all of them to begin building the foundation for a bid just in case.

Others are also expected to consider a bid, including former Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk. But Erpenbach, Pocan and Roys have been the most active so far in making calls.

Erpenbach said he represents about one-fourth of the 2nd CD's voters in his Senate district and pointed out he did better in his district than Baldwin, Tom Barrett or Russ Feingold in last year's elections.

Erpenbach, who authored the state's Do Not Call registry, touted his work crafting a universal health plan the state Senate approved and working on campaign finance reform.

Erpenbach said he's also received encouragement to run for governor.

"The health care issue, campaign finance reform issues, I've been a leader in the state Senate on those issues," Erpenbach said.

Pocan, a former chair of the Joint Finance Committee, said he loves his current job. But the only other one he'd find attractive is a run for Congress.

Pocan, who is gay, said he has received enthusiastic support from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which provides fundraising support for gay and lesbian candidates. He also said he's helped personally raise $1.5 million to $2 million for other candidates and would be a strong fundraiser in the race.

Sources have indicates Pocan has already had meetings with a potential campaign team to devise strategy and craft messages for a potential run.

"My voting record will stand out from the others on progressive issues," Pocan said.

Roys, who won her Assembly seat in 2008, said the election would be an opportunity to contrast Dem values that support the working class and a GOP approach that does not.

A former executive director NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, Roys said she's received encouragement to consider a bid and has been in touch with national groups such as Emily's List and NARAL.

"If she decides to run, it's key that we have a strong, energized progressive voice to fill her shoes in the House," Roys said.

-- By JR Ross


 11:40 AM 

Party officers re-elected on voice vote

The state party's officers were re-elected to two-year terms on voice vote after no one challenged them.

Those unopposed include: Mike Tate, chair; Melissa Schroeder, 1st vice chair; Jef Hall, 2nd vice chair; Michael Childers, treasurer; Meg Andrietsch, secretary.

-- By Staff


 11:38 AM 

Zerban promises to be Wisconsin voice, not Washington voice

Rob Zerban, who is challenging GOP U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, closed the speaking portion of the convention by reminding delegates that no one thought a Dem could win a special House election in upstate New York for a traditionally Republican seat.

Referencing his own race against Ryan, a rising star in GOP circles, he told the crowd that some also don't think a Dem can win in Wisconsin's 1st CD.

"The voters turned out in New York, and you can bet after the underhanded dealings we have seen in Madison and now Washington, D.C., the voters are going to turn out, and these are the reason, my friends, that we’re going to defeat Paul Ryan in 2012," Zerban said.

Zerban recounted how he grew up in downstate Illinois, one of three kids with a single mom who worked very hard, but didn't make much.

"But we were lucky," he said. "I had free milk at school, and I ate government cheese at home."

After going to culinary school in New York, Zerban said he returned to Illinois and opened two food service companies. He said he offered his employees subsidized health care because it was the right thing to do. He said he was able to live the American Dream because of hard work, determination and a "safety net that kept me from going to bed hungry every night." But he said those values are "alarmingly absent" in today's Republican Party.

“If you elect me to Congress, I will be a voice for Wisconsin, someone who just happens to work in Washington, not a Washington voice who just happens to sometimes live in Wisconsin,” he said.

-- By JR Ross


 11:22 AM 

Kreitlow: 'Hello, thugs'

7th CD candidate Pat Kreitlow reminded delegates this morning that fans of an inferior football team to the south began using the term cheeseheads to refer to Wisconsinites as an insult. But state residents turned it around into a term of pride.

Likewise, he said it’s time Dems turn a new insult from those who adhere to an inferior political philosophy into another term of pride.

“And so it is that I say to you with great affection, 'Hello, thugs,’” Kreitlow said to a standing ovation.

Kreitlow used his speech to take a series of shots at GOP U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, who he plans to challenge next fall, and deride the Republican philosophy in general.

Kreitlow said Republicans want to go back to a system where for-profit health care companies make decisions for patients, where the market polices business and where the economy is based on a trickle-down approach.

“Do you feel trickled on in a good way right now?” Kreitlow asked.

Kreitlow recalled being the oldest of four children with a mother who waited tables to get off welfare, but said Duffy treats the working poor like deadbeats. He recalled his younger brother dying at 9 after struggling with health issues, giving him an appreciation that Medicaid is a lifeline, but said Duffy treats struggling families with health issues as freeloaders. He said he knows the benefits of financial aid, but Duffy treats it as fat to be cut from the budget.

“He can talk about the deficit and spending and restraint all he wants,” Kreitlow said. “But as long as his cuts are hurting people on Main Street or Elm Street or First Street or Oak Street in order to benefit a select few on Wall Street, we know his priorities are not Wisconsin priorities, and we can limit Duffy’s damage to one term next year.”

-- By JR Ross


 11:20 AM 

Kagen lays out what Wisconsin needs in next Senator

Former U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, who’s weighing a bid for U.S. Senate, used much of his time before delegates today to lay out what he believes Wisconsin needs to see in its next senator.

Kagen championed the federal health care reform, but said more needs to done, particularly in making health care costs transparent.

He said the next senator must “stop the bleeding” of U.S. jobs moving overseas, saying he supports legislation to boost manufacturing in the U.S.

The next senator, he said, must work to improve public education and support the environment.

He also called for an end to war, and deplored America’s involvement in Libya and the lack of Congressional consent for participation in the action.

“The next senator must stand up for the War Powers Act and rein in any president who goes to war without a vote from Congress,” Kagen said.

He also called for the next senator to ensure those who commit torture are prosecuted.

“If you committed torture you must be held accountable and prosecuted,” Kagen said.

Kagen spent some time reminiscing on his four years in the House, and says he remains committed to helping elect Democrats in the 8th CD.

In order to connect with voters, Kagen said Dems need to focus on pocketbook issues.

He said people have to be convinced that politics is not just for the rich, and that political decisions affect how much they take home.

He called for reaching out to the disaffected.

“Everything that we say from this point forward has to be aimed at people sitting on the sidelines and have given up,” Kagen said.

He characterized Republicans as frauds, saying they support one position with their words, but another with their actions.

He said House Republicans talk about supporting jobs but have not passed any bills to do so, and that they say they want to save Medicare, but have voted to kill it.

“If the only way to save a patient is to kill it, you need to get another doctor,” he quipped.

He also knocked Republicans for cutting funding for the SBA, for failing to prosecute bankers involved in the financial meltdown, and for saying they want to cut government but following a credo of borrow and spend.

“You can’t trust Republicans with your life and you can’t trust them with our money,” Kagen said.

-- By David Wise


 11:19 AM 

Schakowsky: Wisconsin Dems started prairie fire in the heartland

U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky called Wisconsin “ground zero for Democrats” and thanked Wisconsin Dems for “changing the narrative” for Democrats.

“We are finally playing offense,” Schakowsky said.

Schakowsky, who represents the 9th CD Illinois, which includes the north side of Chicago and the northern suburbs, called the 14 Dem senators who fled to her state to delay action on Walker’s budget repair bill hero’s.

“What you did is start a prairie fire in the heartland that is spreading across this country,” Schakowsky said. “The prairie fire can’t be stopped. Of course it can’t, the firefighters are with us.”

Schakowsky said they didn’t wait for polls or permission to take actions, which shifted public opinion in their favor and helped put a human face on public workers.

She highlighted a number of controversial provisions in Ryan’s budget plan, saying it ends Medicare, “putting seniors at the mercy” of private health insurers, cuts grants for college students, and slashes investments in green energy and infrastructure.

“The Ryan budget is a gift that keeps on giving,” Schakowsky said, noting negative response to the plan, which she attributed for increased support for Democrats.

“They’re on record to kill Medicare and we’re going to make them own that vote,” she said of those who voted for the Ryan plan. “They can run but they can’t hide.”

She deplored the concentration of wealth in America, saying the country is “seeing a hallowing out of the middle class,” that she tied to the decline of unions.

She called for support of a bill to increase manufacturing in the U.S. and for a program similar to the WPA to create jobs.

“There are 15-million unemployed Americans who would much rather be paying taxes than collecting unemployment,” she said. “If the private sector can’t or won’t do it, it’s time for the government to step in.”

Schakowsky also highlighted her plan to increase taxes on millionaires and billionaires, saying it is the best way to cut the deficit.

Schakowsky was introduced by U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, whose notes were written on the back of a “Recall Scott Walker” bumper sticker.

Moore said she and Schakowsky are neighbors in the same apartment building.

“We not only share a wall, we share a worldview,” Moore said.

-- By David Wise


 10:11 AM 


Conventioneers anticipating a video highlighting the work of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore were met instead by audio of a credit card relief commercial.

“Apparently there was a pay-day loan conference here before us,” quipped DPW Chairman Mike Tate after the problem was fixed.

-- By David Wise

 9:55 AM 

Attendance at 1169

Just announced: counting delegates, alternates and guests, attendance today is 1169.

UPDATE: For the full convention, party officials say the attendance was 2,200 people, including 1,600 delegates.

-- By Staff

 12:56 AM 

Feingold says most convention goers want him to run for guv

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold says he will make a decision by Labor Day whether to run for the Senate next year. But he noted about 75 percent to 80 percent of the dozens who encouraged him to run for office again wanted him to seek the guv’s office.

“The request I run for something was pretty intense,” Feingold said in a brief interview with WisPolitics.com.

Feingold put on his tradition hospitality suite for a state Dem convention, serving Sloppy Joe’s. Backers lined up to speak with him in the suite, and multiple convention attendees stopped Feingold on his way out the door to offer him encouragement to run, praise him for his work or just greet him.

Feingold, who lost his Senate seat in November, said he enjoyed returning to the convention.

"I love seeing all my friends and supporters from over the years," Feingold said.

-- By JR Ross


 12:44 AM 

Kreitlow says voters happy to have alternative to Duffy

Former state Sen. Pat Kreitlow said GOP U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy has already broken his 2010 campaign pledges with the residents of the 7th CD and people are thrilled he's already gotten into the race so they have an alternative candidate to support next year.

"In part because people have been so frustrated with what Duffy, (Paul) Ryan and (Scott) Walker have done, people want to know there’s an alternative," Kreitlow told WisPolitics.com.

Kreitlow, who announced earlier this spring, said he got into the race in part to begin raising money, saying he expected Duffy to pull in $2 million for the campaign.

Kreitlow lives in the southwestern corner of the 7th CD, and the new lines that will be drawn in redistricting could leave him outside the district. Kreitlow says he doubts Republicans want to send a message that they're so afraid of him facing Duffy that they'd draw him out of the district. But if they do, he will move into the 7th CD ahead of the election, even though he would not legally be required to do so to run for the seat.

Kreitlow lost his state Senate seat last fall after being swept into office in the 2006 Dem wave. He said the environment next year will be significantly better for Dems than the one in which he lost just last fall. He said part of that is because of the policies Republicans have implemented in th state and the U.S. House.

"The lack of any focus on the American worker is what’s leading the American worker and the American voter to embrace Democrats in the next cycle," Kreitlow said.

-- By JR Ross


 12:25 AM 

Baldwin plans to make decison on Senate run by mid-July

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin said she will decide whether to run for the Senate by mid-July after conducting her own poll to gauge her strength as a statewide candidate.

Baldwin, D-Madison, said she is not worried whether she can win statewide office and said she was encouraged by a recent survey from a Dem firm that showed her running ahead of several possible GOP contenders. Still, she said she wants to see her own poll and said it would help answer questions others may have.

“I’m not worried, but you have the natural questions people ask you if you can win statewide,” Baldwin told WisPolitics.com. “You want to be confident that our Democratic nominee can win, whoever that Democratic nominee is, and I want to show our supporters there’s a clear path to victory.”

Baldwin said she has been speaking with activists and others across the state as she considers a run and said she also spoke earlier this week with former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, who is considering a bid for the seat as well.

Baldwin said she shared with Feingold, who has said he will make a decision on his own bid by Labor Day, what she’s been doing to get ready for a run and said he advised her to get started if she’s serious about running for statewide office.

“Russ Feingold is sophisticated about politics,” Baldwin said. “He understands that Democratic candidates who don’t enjoy statewide name recognition and a statewide base have to get started right away.”

Baldwin said she’s also had conversations with state Reps. Mark Pocan and Kelda Roys and state Sen. Jon Erpenbach about running for her seat next year if she runs for Senate. She also said she’s heard of several others thinking about a run.

Listen to the interview.

-- By JR Ross


Friday, June 03, 2011

 10:58 PM 

Wasserman uses Wisconsin 2010 as warning of what can happen in 2012

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz used the GOP takeover in Wisconsin last year as a warning of what could happen next year if Dems fail to fight back against Republican efforts to take over the White House, win back the Senate and hold the House.

She told delegates there are three keys to winning 2012, starting with spending 2011 trumpeting news of the Obama agenda so they can spend next year focusing their attention on Republican failures.

The next step is to hold Republicans accountable, much like what she said is happening in Wisconsin, and the final key is to invest in the strongest campaign possible.

She also warned it would be the toughest campaign in American history and that Dems cannot rest on their laurels, thinking the GOP field for president is a bunch of jokers who can’t bean Obama.

“We can take nothing for granted,” she said. “We know they’re going to throw everything they have at us. Now, fortunately, our everything is better.”

-- By JR Ross


 10:31 PM 

Obey says Ryan trying to repeal the 20th Century

Former U.S. Rep. Dave Obey accused Ryan and Walker of leading an assault on the working class by attempting to turn back a nearly a century of social and economic justice reforms.

“Ryan is leading the effort to repeal the 20th Century,” Obey said. “At the state level we see Walker doing the same thing.”

Obey said Ryan’s plan reduces opportunities for families to get an education by reducing Pell Grants, repeals health care reforms, and “shreds” Medicare and Medicaid.

Obey said Wisconsin is seeing a “thuggish parallel performance by Scott Walker.”

He said Walker’s moves to curtail bargaining rights for public workers and to institute voter ID, is an assault on workers and democracy.

He said the voter ID law is “spectacularly more fraudulent” then the conduct it intends to stop, and is rooted in partisan gain.

“It’s a thuggish, disgraceful and shameful act that we are witnessing,” Obey said.

He said the nation is now in a moral struggle over social and economic justice.
“We are engaged in a moral struggle the outcome of which will have profound consequences for real living people,” Obey said. “This is a time of choosing.”

Obey likened the current power balance in the state to 1956, when Republicans ran the state. But two years later, Wisconsin elected William Proxmire to the U.S. Senate and Gaylord Nelson as governor.

“With hard work and tenacity we can turn things around just as Democrats did in 1958,” Obey said.

“We can send a message to Gov. Walker that we are mad as hell and we are not going to swallow it anymore.”

Listen to the speech.

-- By David Wise


 9:27 PM 

Barrett calls GOP drunk with power, says it's time to sober them up

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett accused Republicans of waging an ideological war against working people, the elderly and the poor and said they “cannot seem to take their foot off the accelerator.”

“These are not our Wisconsin values that this governor and this Legislature are trying to thrust upon the state of Wisconsin,” Barrett said. “These are not our Wisconsin values.”

Barrett said he warned people while on the campaign trail last fall against Walker, he warned people that Republicans would take the state so far to the right that they would fall off the face of the Earth and lamented that warning has come true.

He said while the state faces serious fiscal challenges and must cut waste, the budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the middle class while millionaires receive tax breaks. He said the GOP budget is asking everyone in the room to make sacrifices, but not those that are the best off and most wealthy.

He also said Republicans time and again are injecting themselves into local affairs, ignoring their mantra of local control.

“This group of Republicans is drunk with power,” Obey said. “They have sold out the middle class and Wisconsin values for a 12-pack of special interest brew. Now is the time to sober them up.”

-- By JR Ross


 9:17 PM 

Kind says Dems won't be sleeping on Election Day

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind urged convention-goers to support Dems running in recall elections this summer, saying the passion displayed at the Capitol over the last few months needs to be turned into electoral victories.

Kind pointed to a recent recording of GOP Sen. Dan Kapanke saying he hopes Dems are asleep on Election Day.

“That’s Dan Kapanke’s vision of democracy. A bottle of sleeping pills,” Kind quipped while holding up a prescription bottle.

Kind said the people of Wisconsin do not sleep when workers’ rights and voters’ rights are under attack.

“We will not sleep, and we will not sleep on Election Day,” Kind said.

Kind said that despite massive spending by the GOP, he won re-election.

“Even though they gave their best effort, they couldn’t take me out,” Kind said

Kind said his victory showed what a strong organization and the right message can do.

“We can make them spend it all and still beat them going away,” Kind said.

Kind, who's considered a possible candidate for U.S. Senate next year or for guv, spent a good portion of his speech railing against Walker and Ryan.

He said Walker led a “cold, calculated attack” against worker rights.

“We cannot tolerate it,” Kind said. “We must draw the line.”

He said public employees, teachers, emergency responders, health care workers, and municipal workers are not the problem.

“The problem we have right now is with the leadership,” Kind said.

We should be thinking them for their service rather than demonizing

Kind criticized Ryan’s budget plan, saying it will end Medicare, reduce Medicaid, and cut 200,000 people off the Pell Grant program for college student. He said the GOP has been doing this “while worshiping at the idol of tax breaks for the most wealthy, the most powerful.”

Before going after the “weakest and most vulnerable,” Kind said those at the top should be asked to give more.

“That’s the truth of the matter,” Kind said, “but they don’t like to hear it.”

-- By David Wise


 8:51 PM 

Baldwin decries GOP assault on constitution, middle class

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin told the crowd one of her friends asked her during the Capitol protests whether the thousands who turned out were making a difference.

“Yes, you’re damn right we’re making a difference,” said Baldwin, D-Madison.

Baldwin, who’s considering a run for U.S. Senate next year, focused much of her speech on economic issues, taking Republicans to task for their policies that she said benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

She also took time to honor retiring Sen. Herb Kohl, who she may seek to replace, and former Sen. Russ Feingold, who’s also weighing a bid next year.

Knocking Republicans for the voter ID bill they approved this year that will be in place for the 2012 elections, Baldwin encouraged delegates to get their friends registered now, get their supporters out to vote and make sure when it’s all said and done “we need to make sure all of them are counted fairly,” a dig at the Supreme Court returns from Waukesha County.

Baldwin said Wisconsin has proven that it knows how to “shatter stereotypes and break glass ceilings and prove the pundits wrong,” prompting some of her supporters in red T-shirts carrying “Tammy Baldwin 2012” signs to begin chanting “Run Tammy, run, run, run, run.”

Baldwin warned that Republicans were honing a battle plan that they’ve used for years -- to divide and conquer. She said that means pitting public and private sector union employees against each other, to paint teachers as “money grubbers,” to make seniors out to be freeloaders, family farmers as irrelevant and women as property.

“Their agenda is an assault on all of our rights under the Constitution,” Baldwin said.

She added she was said that Dems didn’t take it to heart that elections have consequences and do all they possibly could to get our people to the polls, saying if they had, it could have prevented the Republicans’ “assault on our democracy.”

“Republicans keep saying we’re broke so let’s cut billions in vital services to people, but not a penny to the Pentagon,” she said.

Listen to the speech.

-- By JR Ross


 8:27 PM 

Moore calls voter ID law racist

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore told convention goers that the state’s newly passed voter ID bill is racist and she has already contacted the Justice Department to look into the matter.

Moore cited statistics showing that 23 percent of elderly do not have a photo ID, about 50 percent of African American and Latinos in the state do not have a driver’s license, while about two-thirds of those aged 18-24 do not have one either.

“This bill is racist,” Moore said emphatically to a standing applause.

“I’ve already contacted the Justice Department of this bill,” she added later.

Moore talked at length about the history of Milwaukee, its role in fighting for eight-hour work days, how it was the first city to have a feminist journal and how it was a major stop on the underground railroad.

She stressed that the city has always stood up for the rights of women and minorities.

She also said the city is the economic engine of the state and stressed that it was built by Democrats.

“This is a place where Republicans do not mess with Democrats,” Moore said to applause.

Listen to Moore's speech.

-- By David Wise


 8:19 PM 

Miller lays out what's wrong with Republicans

Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller said he’s often asked what’s wrong with Republicans in Madison.

He told delegates that’s hard to know. But there are clues when they call the Dem Party’s grassroots slobs on national television and joke at their convention they smell funny.

“It is that they don’t believe in you,” Miller said. “They don’t believe in your rights. They don’t believe in our Wisconsin values. They voted to take away workers’ rights. They voted to take away voting rights. They voted to take away human rights. And as the rubber stamped Governor Walker’s agenda, they are unfairly -- and they’re doing it tonight like they have for the last three months -- they’re balancing the budget on the back of the middle class.”

Miller complained Republicans last night “under the cover of darkness” pulled another bait and switch by taking away more rights for police and firefighters.

“Republicans have forgotten what public service means, and who they are supposed to be working for,” Miller said. “But we Democrats know that if you’re not afraid to do the right thing, good things can happen.”

Miller, who recognized his fellow Senate Dems and lauded them for fleeing the state for Illinois to hold up the vote on the collective bargaining bill, urged the delegates to help in the effort to recall the six GOP senators facing elections this summer and pledged, “We are going to recall them all!”

“Our time is now,” Miller said. “We will make history. The people of Wisconsin understand that Democrats are on their side. We are fighting to protect the rights and values we all hold dear."

-- By JR Ross


 8:17 PM 

Barca chides Walker and GOP lawmakers for ignoring open, honest government

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca thanked delegates for their efforts to pump up the spirits of Dem lawmakers during the battle over the collective bargaining bill. But he said there was one protester that left him chagrined.

Barca said the same guy circled the Capitol every day for two months and hours on end, carrying a sign that made him “chuckle but also bristle.” It read, “Wisconsin, making Chicago look clean and honest for almost four months now.”

“Is that the democracy we want in Wisconsin?” Barca asked, the crowd shouting back its opposition. “No and Governor Walker and Republican legislators, we’re tired of these antics and dirty tricks and now we have a message for you, Governor Walker, you tried to divide us, but we are more united than ever before.”

Barca complained the budget the Joint Finance Committee is still working on is “chockfull” of giveaways” for donors while Republicans “want us to pay the freight.”

In contrast, he praised his fellow Dem lawmakers for a record 62 hours of debate over the collective bargaining bill with a record 600 amendments. He also reminded the delegates that a Dane County judge appointed by former Gov. Tommy Thompson -- who was “not known for appointing activist, liberal judges” -- made it clear “the Legislature is not above the law and neither is Governor Walker.”

Barca said Republicans have given Dems the energy to keep going.

“Isn’t it a shame that we have to constantly remind Republicans that in Wisconsin, we expect clean and open government,” he said.

-- By JR Ross


 7:37 PM 

Tate vows Dem rout of the GOP

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate ripped Republicans over budget cuts and moves he said will harm the middle class, elderly and the working poor, while vowing to unseat republicans at all levels.

Tate said Walker awoke a sleeping giant when he proposed his budget repair bill that stripped most public unions of most bargaining rights. He said Walker divided the state in similar ways as the infamous anti-communist Sen. Joe McCarthy did.

“Our great party stood up to Joe McCarthy,” Tate said. “We are called to stand up to a figure that divided Wisconsin may ways like Joe McCarthy did.”

He praised the protesters who occupied the Capitol during the budget repair bill fight and the 14 Dem senators who left to Illinois to delay the bill.

But he said the fight has now moved to the districts, where six Republican senators face recall.

“The fight is in these districts and I believe in 39 days the people will speak, the people will be heard and we will tell Scott Walker and Paul Ryan that we have had enough,” Tate said.

He said the party has its sights on Walker.

"Scott Walker must be stopped and it will be the Democratic Party of Wisconsin that stops him," Tate said.

Tate said Walker and the state’s Republicans are “fundamentally changing the face and the values of Wisconsin.”

He said Walker’s budget will lead to crowded classrooms, leave seniors unable to pay for medication, and deny benefits to working men and women. He also ripped Paul Ryan, saying he supports tax cuts for wealthy corporations while proposing to end Medicare.

Tate drew applause when he said Dems would recall Walker, win control of the Senate and Assembly, unseat Reps. Ryan, Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble in 2012 while winning the state for Barack Obama and ensuring a Democrat wins Herb Kohl’s seat.

At one point, the audience broke into a chant of “recall Walker.”

-- By David Wise


 7:21 PM 

Nelson says GOP party of "total control"

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson told delegates and guests that the Republican Party has gone from the party of local control to the party of total control.

He said Gov. Scott Walker’s budget takes away health care for thousands, removes the right for public workers to collectively bargain and harms public education

“This party of total control ... is out of control but with you help, we will remove them from power,” he said to applause.

He said the last election saw some gains for Democrats.

“We won three county executive races putting in place progressives who can push back today against Gov. Walker’s budget,” he said.

Nelson mocked Walker’s oft-repeated statement that his budget cuts have come with tools such as changes to collective bargaining to make up for the cuts.

“Every time I go to open up Governor Walker's toolbox the only thing I find is a screwdriver,” Nelson said to applause.

He stressed the importance of state and local government working together, the need to support working families, invest in good health care, and to recognize the value of public and private sector workers in order to create vibrant communities.

-- By David Wise


 7:14 PM 

Abele lays out why he's a Dem

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele ran in a nonpartisan race. But he left no doubt in his remarks to the delegates what letter belongs behind his name.

Opening with a shot at Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers for increasing state spending on road building in the midst of deep cuts for other programs, Abele then laid out why he is a Democrat.

Beginning each line by saying “I’m a Democrat because,” Abele said he belongs to the party because he believes in fundamental fairness, that society should empower its citizens, that education and health care should be available to everyone, that he’s pro-choice, believes “you should be able to marry anyone you want,” and that the Bill of Rights is a “pretty nifty thing except for the occasional misinterpretation of the Second Amendment.”

“I define myself not by what I’m against, but what I’m for because I’m a Democrat,” Abele said.

-- By JR Ross


 5:58 PM 

Dem Party to assist with Walker recall

Dem Party Chair Mike Tate this evening will throw the party's support behind the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker next year.

Tate stressed to WisPolitics.com the effort will not be driven by the party, instead it will aid United Wisconsin, which has already been prepping to gather the more than half a million signatures needed to trigger a recall election.

Tate said he would prefer the effort to begin in late spring, which would pave the way for the recall election to be on the November ballot along with the presidential and U.S. Senate races. But he said that would not be a party decision.

"I know what day the most people will have a chance to weigh in and that's the November election," Tate said.

United Wisconsin Michael Brown said the groups that join the efforts will eventually make the call on when it begins. Organizers could start collecting signatures in November and turn them into the GAB just after the one year anniversary of Walker taking office in January.

Brown said collecting signatures in November and December could be difficullt with the weather and the holidays. But ultimately the decision will be based on when organizers believe it has the best chance to succeed.

"We just want to win," said Brown, whose group has a booth at the Dem convention and already has pledges from almost 190,000 people who want Walker recalled.

Brown stressed the organization is non-partisan and will work with anyone interested in helping, though he acknowledged the Dem Party's support is significant.

"The resources the Democrats bring to us are obviously going to be monumental," he said.

-- By JR Ross


 12:28 PM 

The straw poll

WisPolitics is again conducting a straw poll of delegates, alternates and registered guests at the convention.

Those eligible are allowed to vote only once, and only ballots with one answer clearly marked for each question will be counted.

Here are the questions:

Who should be the party’s next nominee for governor?

Peter Barca
Tom Barrett
Kevin Conroy
Jon Erpenbach
Kathleen Falk
Russ Feingold
Ron Kind
Barb Lawton
Mark Miller

If the primary for U.S. Senate were today, whom would you support?

Tammy Baldwin
Russ Feingold
Steve Kagen
Ron Kind
Tim Sullivan

This poll is in no way endorsed by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

-- By Staff


 11:43 AM 

Weiner cancels convention speech

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., has cancelled his planned speech tonight at the state Democratic convention in the wake of a flap over a picture sent from his Twitter account.

State party officials said they told Weiner he was still welcome to attend and address delegates tonight, and left the decision to speak up to him.

"He decided to spend the weekend with his wife," said state chair Mike Tate.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

 1:57 PM 

Speakers set for Friday and Saturday

Here's a list of those who will speak to the Dem convention on Friday and Saturday.

First up, Friday's list:

Welcome – Sachin Chheda
1st Vice Chair’s Report – Melissa Schroeder
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele
Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson
Chair’s Report – Chairman Mike Tate
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca
Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller
Senator Herb Kohl
Congresswoman Gwen Moore
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin
Congressman Ron Kind
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett
Congressman Dave Obey
Congressman Anthony Weiner
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC Chair

And Saturday's list:

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky
Dr. Steve Kagen
Congressional Candidate Pat Kreitlow
Congressional Candidate Rob Zerban

The lists don't include some of the reports party officials will deliver that's part of the normal convention business.

-- By Staff


 10:34 AM 

Tate: Weiner still speaking at convention

State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said today that U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner remains slated to address this weekend's DPW convention despite the ongoing controversy over a lewd picture sent through his Twitter account.

Weiner, D-N.Y., claims his account was hacked, but has not definitively said that the photo in question was not of him. Tate said the party remains excited to have the outspoken congressman in Milwaukee.

"I'm not going to hold against him the fact that somebody played a prank on him," Tate said in a conference call with reporters.

Tate also said that former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold will be in attendance, but reiterated that he will not address the convention. He also said he doesn't expect any announcements this weekend on bids to succeed departing U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee.

Tate said more than 2,000 have registered for the convention at the Frontier Airlines Center, and that he expects hundreds more to attend, citing an "unprecedented level of enthusiasm and excitement."

"We are seeing people come out of the woodwork to participate," Tate said.

Tate said the party's top priority remains the recall of GOP state senators and responded to reports that La Crosse Republicans were considering recruiting a Dem primary candidate in the 32nd SD to delay a recall election between incumbent GOP Sen. Dan Kapanke and Dem state Rep. Jennifer Shilling.

Tate said that tactic would amount to "delaying the inevitable."

"They know that they're going to lose seats," Tate said. "The $64,000 question is whether they're going to lose the majority."

-- By Andy Szal



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