• WisPolitics


Saturday, June 09, 2012

 12:37 PM 

2014 Dem field unclear as party looks to next shot at Walker

Mahlon Mitchell has the buzz. Russ Feingold is the one for whom many delegates still yearn.

But fresh off their loss in Tuesday’s recall election, there is no heir apparent for Dem delegates to take up the party’s mantle in 2014 for another shot at Gov. Scott Walker.

This weekend’s convention featured several possible contenders who addressed the crowd, such as Mitchell, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, former U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind and Outagamie County Exec Tom Nelson. State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, who placed third in the Dem primary, was also seen working the crowd.

But Feingold, who retains his rock star status for many of the party faithful, wasn’t at this weekend’s convention, though his organization Progressives United organization had a table set up. He attended last year’s convention in Milwaukee, generating talk about another run for the U.S. Senate or the guv’s office, and held his traditional sloppy Joe’s hospitality suite.

Renee Shavers of Shorewood said she had hoped to catch him at convention this year to feel him out about a comeback, but understands why he wasn’t there considering his busy schedule. She also suspects it was a conscious decision to allow rising stars like Mitchell some room to grow and to make sure the attention would be on others like U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin as she runs for the U.S. Senate. She’s been impressed by one of the possible contenders.

“I love Mahlon,” she said. “He would be a fabulous candidate.”

Mitchell got one of the strongest receptions from the convention during his Friday night speech, and delegates continued to come up to him Saturday morning as he was on his way out the door to thank him for his campaign and sing his praises.

“I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of you,” one woman said as she spoke to Mitchell.

The head of the state’s firefighters union said he hasn’t decided what his future in politics will be, though he acknowledged being bitten by the political bug in this campaign and may run again.

Mitchell said he enjoyed 98 percent of the campaign. The 2 percent he didn’t enjoy wasn’t losing Tuesday. It was not coming through for all the people who volunteered for his campaign and worked to help him only to come up short.

“I’m still going to be in the fight for the middle class,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell got a nod from retiring U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl as the longtime lawmaker gave his farewell address to the convention.

“I hope to see him on the trail with as much enthusiasm,” Kohl said.

Nelson is seen by some Dem insiders as a future statewide candidate. He won a GOP-leaning Assembly seat and rose through the ranks to majority leader after Dems won control of the chamber in the 2008 elections. After an unsuccessful bid for lt. guv in 2010, Nelson won the Outagamie County exec’s office in 2011. Some believe he could help Dems cut into the GOP lean of the Fox Valley if he ran statewide.

Nelson, who would face re-election in 2015 to his county seat, said he hasn’t given any thought to such a run and loves the job he has.

He said any talk of him as a statewide candidate is likely due to the successes in Outagamie County such as providing strong services and having an electorate that appreciates the people that deliver them.

“I think we’ve got a great story to tell,” Nelson said.

Delegate Steve Herr of Kenosha said he would have liked to have seen U.S. Rep. Ron Kind run for guv this year, particularly since he wouldn’t have had to give up his House seat to do so. He also said he’d like Kind to make a run for guv in the future and if Feingold would get in, that would be great. But he doesn’t think the former U.S. senator wants to make another run for public office.

“Beyond that, I’m afraid the field is a little thin,” he said. “We don’t have many well-known names.”

-- By JR Ross

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 12:08 PM 

Wall: Fight for Congress starts in 8th CD

Green Bay business consultant Jamie Wall wrapped up the congressional candidates' addresses to the convention by saying the fight for a better Congress "starts right here in northeast Wisconsin."

Wall, who's challenging U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble in the 8th CD, ripped his opponent for signing onto the House GOP budget plan "wholesale."

He vowed to preserve education, help bolster the middle class and fight for Americans' retirement security.

"What's happened to schools in our state over the last year is going to hurt our kids, and it's going to damage our economy in the long run," Wall said.

He said the election this fall is about "whether that ladder up to the American Dream is going to be there for all of us."

And Wall also joked that since Vince Lombardi coached the Green Bay Packers, the team hasn't won a Super Bowl unless the district has been held by a Dem.

-- By Andy Szal

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 12:06 PM 

Kreitlow: No time to let up

7th CD candidate Pat Kreitlow told delegates it was no time to let up and that if Wisconsin votes its true values this fall, America will come back strong, secure and stable.

Kreitlow, a former state senator, asked delegates if they believed veterans, college students and seniors should no longer be held hostage in budget proposals. He asked if they believed women should be allowed to make decisions with their doctors in private based on science and not politics, and if they believed a clean Wisconsin attracts jobs better than corporate tax breaks.

“We believe those things because those things are Wisconsin values, and that is why I believe this is no time for surrender,” Kreitlow said. “This is no time for white flags.”

Kreitlow said his campaign has already had some success in pressuring GOP Rep. Sean Duffy on issues like a middle class payroll tax cut that, which Kreitlow said the incumbent was against it before he was for it, and was silent about J.P. Morgan’s losses into pressured to supporting an investigation.

He also said seven days after accepting J.P. Morgan PAC money last year he pressured regulators to weaken rules and allow the return of casino-style banking and favors those at the top while the middle class is stuck with paying the bill.

“That is Congressman Duffy in a nutshell,” Kreitlow said.

-- By JR Ross

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 11:47 AM 

Petri opponent says Dems have to fight 'every step of the way'

Princeton Dem Joe Kallas told delegates that he could just as easily be any member of the audience as he looks to challenge longtime U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, this fall.

But he challenged Democrats, saying that while not all of them could run for office, all of them can make a difference.

He said moderate Republicans are a thing of the past, and questioned the limits of corporate greed in that party.

"I am running for office because we all have to do what we can to stop the right-wing philosophies of the Republican Party," Kallas said. "Because at some point it will be too late, and that time is rapidly approaching."

-- By Andy Szal

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 11:44 AM 

Heaster acknowledges uphill fight in the 5th CD

Dave Heaster acknowledged he faces an uphill battle against GOP U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner in the heavily Republican 5th CD.

Still, he said he wasn’t running because he thought it would be easy, but because he knew it would be hard and it had to be done.

“If not me, who’s going to do this? If not now, when are we going to do this?” he asked.

Heaster laid out three vows to fix Washington, D.C., if elected that he hoped others would follow.

That includes reviewing his voters or stances with no fewer than three people of the opposite party to exchange ideas on how each was voting and why, that he will conduct a weekly happy hour that only those who bring someone form the opposite party can attend, and a promise to remain civil while interacting with those of the opposite party.

“The more we get to know people and we get out of the confines of the party battles, we’re going to find we’re a lot more similar than we are different,” Heaster said.

-- By JR Ross

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 11:34 AM 

Silverman says Dems have opportunity to build through compromise

Madison attorney Matt Silverman, the fourth candidate in the 2nd CD Dem primary, said compromise is the future of government despite being a "dirty word" in today's politics.

"The American people are hungry for responsible government, and the Democratic Party must be the party of compromise," Silverman told the convention.

He said Republicans have left Dems the opportunity to build a center-left coalition as the GOP moves to the right, and a Dem Party built on compromise would become "the dominant political party for generations to come."

"That polarization and that paralysis ... is the greatest threat to the (Republican) party today," Silverman said.

-- By Andy Szal

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 11:32 AM 

Roys takes veiled swipes at Pocan in speech to convention

Kelda Helen Roys took veiled swipes at fellow 2nd CD Dem candidate Mark Pocan in her speech to the delegates, saying those who take corporate PAC contributions to fund their campaigns are part of the problem and cannot be part of the solution.

Roys called for public financing of political campaigns and said the system was broken even before the “lawless” Citizens United decision came down from the U.S. Supreme Court. She also knocked those who accept corporate PAC contributions, a charge her campaign has leveled at Pocan in the race or the Dem nomination to replace U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison.

She said Dems need a higher standard in their candidate for the 2nd CD to follow a progressive like Baldwin.

“It’s time to take a stand. It’s time to fight back, and I’m running for Congress because I’m not going to capitulate to those Republicans,” Roys said. “If you give them an inch, they will punch you in the face.”

Roys also knocked fellow Dems who supported some of Gov. Scott Walker’s early bills before he “dropped the bomb” with his collective bargaining bills. She said the guv called the first bills on his agenda jobs legislation, but they were just corporate tax giveaways. Some Dems, she said, went along because they didn’t want to rock the boat early in the honeymoon period, but she knew it was wrong and voted against them.

Weeks later, Walker told the public the state was broke, which she said some Dems unwittingly helped him create by supporting those tax breaks and then allowed the guv to justify slashing education and destroying the safety net.

Roys' campaign has knocked Pocan for supporting two of those tax credit bills, which passed the chamber 82-12.
“Wisconsin wasn’t broken. Walker broke us,” she said. “We cannot afford that kind of complacency.”

-- By JR Ross

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 11:07 AM 

Pocan says Congress needs 'experienced, tough, progressive fighters'

State Rep. Mark Pocan told delegates it's not enough to "talk the talk, or even walk the walk" as he vies for the Dem nomination in the 2nd CD.

He said that district, in particular, has a responsibility to elect a progressive who will fight every day in Congress.

"We need people who fought the fight and won, and I have done that, and I have the battle scars to prove it," the Madison Dem told delegates.

Pocan said he's been on the front lines the Legislature in the fight for equality, and touted his work to expand health care coverage as chairman of the Joint Finance Committee.

And he warned that Republicans today are out to dismantle the social safety net decades in the making.

"We need to send our most accomplished and experienced progressives to take on the Tea Party that has taken over the Republican Party," Pocan said.

Pocan also noted that he's owned a union printing shop for more than 20 years and that he's a union member himself, saying Congress "could use a few more people who know what it's like for the middle class."

-- By Andy Szal

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 10:58 AM 

2nd CD candidate Hall rips Congress

2nd CD candidate Dennis Hall ripped Congress for malfeasance, saying it has failed to live up to its obligations.

“Watching Congress is like watching two drunks arguing about a bar tab on the Titanic,” Hall said.

The Cambridge consultant is a Vietnam vet, said he and the other Dems running for the 2nd CD largely agree on the issues. But he said he breaks from the party with his support of term limits and his belief that the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction is a platform to begin figuring out how to solve the nation’s problems.

He said his vocation has not been in politics, but he knows about government and supports compromise “not at any cost, but compromise we can live with” in the spirit of Tip O’Neil and Ted Kennedy.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:41 AM 

Zerban blasts Ryan budget

Kenosha Ald. Rob Zerban charged back against the perception that he hasn't drawn enough distinctions between his candidacy and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, the Janesville Republican with the state's largest campaign warchest.

Speaking before the Dem convention this morning, he said he's run successful small businesses and "lived my version of the American Dream," while Ryan has "lived off your tax dollars" since graduating from college.

He said that Ryan has shown through his budget that he would fight for lower taxes for wealthy Americans at the expense of education, seniors and health care.

"He has written the most destructive budget our country has ever seen," Zerban said.

He urged Dems to rally quickly around the races this fall following the recall races, noting that national Dems have limited resources to allocate among hundreds of House races.

"These are important races and important times," Zerban said.

-- By Andy Szal

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 10:30 AM 

La Follette: Dems ran into tornado of money and blizzard of BS

Secretary of State Doug La Follette said Dems could talk about mistakes that were made in the guv’s race, what they should have done and what they could have done.

But he stressed they did the best they could.

“Now we just have to learn to do a little better,” La Follette said.

La Follette, who came in fourth in the Dem guv primary, said Dems ran into a “tornado of money and blizzard of BS.”

“But we faced it proudly and we did good,” La Follette said. “Next time we’ll do better.”

La Follette laid out for delegates how Republicans have been successful at duping the American public into going along with their agenda of lower taxes and less regulations. He said that included creating conservative think tanks like The Heritage Foundation to push position papers and the creation of a conservative media that included Rush Limbaugh and his clowns, which La Follette later corrected to clones.

Republicans then pulled in ground troops from the likes of the NRA and the Christian Right, allowing them to hijack the country for the past 30 years.

“Unfortunately, the last couple of years they’ve hijacked our Wisconsin,” La Follette said. “Now we need a strategy to do something about that.”

-- By JR Ross

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 10:25 AM 

DNC members elected

The convention has elected four members to serve as the state's representatives to the Democratic National Committee on a voice vote.

They are: Christine Bremer-Muggli, Martha Love, Jason Rae and Rollie Hicks.

-- By Andy Szal

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 10:23 AM 

Just less than 1,000 delegates, alternates and guests

The party's Gary Hawley announced there are 636 delegates, 23 alternates and 288 guests registered by 9:30 a.m. He said the convention should push past the 1,000 mark later this morning.

During last year's convention, the party announced 1,169 delegates, alternates and guests during the morning Credentials Committee report. The party later said the full convention attendance was 2,200 people.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:14 AM 

Kohl says he's not going anywhere




U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl addressed the state Dem convention for the final time as the state's senior senator this morning, telling delegates he's not going anywhere -- particularly this fall.

"Over this past year, each and every day has been like a convention," Kohl said of both rounds of recall elections.

"This is not the time to think about elections past," the Milwaukee Dem added. "This is about the future. Wisconsin is a crucial state in the next election in November."

Kohl said the party would be bolstered in the fall by the top of the ticket in the state, including the Obama Campaign and presumptive Senate nominee Tammy Baldwin -- "someone we can all easily believe in."

Kohl also said the state must continue to turn out the best educated and most prepared workers, saying that economic growth comes from investment in the people of the state.

"We cannot and will not balance our budget on the backs of hard working middle class families," Kohl said.

Kohl, who has served in the Senate since 1988, said serving the state in Washington has been "the greatest honor and the responsibility of my lifetime, and I have loved every minute of it."

"Together, we have made a difference for the state that we all love," Kohl said.

Kohl received a lengthy standing ovation from delegates, who chanted "thank you" as he left the stage.

-- By Andy Szal

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 10:13 AM 

Barrett thanks delegates, pushes them to come back stronger

Tom Barrett thanked Dems Saturday morning for the work they put into campaign and challenged them to regroup and come back stronger in the future.

Barrett, who lost Tuesday’s recall election to Gov. Scott Walker, entered to a standing ovation as Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” played. The Milwaukee mayor said the guv’s race did not go as Dems would have liked, but it’s time to look toward the future.

“But we will come back stronger, will come back harder and we will come back better to represent the people of this state,” Barrett said.

Barrett told Dems about a woman who approached him and apologized because she hadn’t done more to help his campaign. The mayor said the woman was obviously attractive, but she told him she couldn’t go out in public to campaign for him because she wasn’t pretty. When he disagreed, she opened her mouth and showed him that al of her teeth were gone.

If society doesn’t care for friends, relatives and neighbors, “Then who are we? Who are we? What is this all about?”

Barrett said at their cores, Dems believe in fairness in society rather than a winner-take-all society. Even though some may be able to amass more wealth, that doesn’t mean they are entitled to a higher status in life. Barrett said God didn’t put people on this earth to amass all of that wealth, but there is a reason all of us are here.

“It’s to make sure we treat others with dignity and respect, and I believe that’s what Democrats stand for,” Barrett said.

Barrett said he’s never seen such a groundswell of support for Dem principles and said he was honored to be the standard bearer to carry that banner. He also said Republicans too often make the mistake of winning and then only serving those who voted for them.

“That is not what leadership is about. Leadership is about serving everyone,” Barrett said to a standing ovation.

-- By JR Ross

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 9:04 AM 

Barrett makes it to convention

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was greeting delegates this morning and is expected to address to the convention later this morning.

Barrett, who lost Tuesday's recall election, was not on the original speaking list.

-- By JR Ross

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Friday, June 08, 2012

 10:20 PM 

Dems say no time for a break

Speaker after speaker at the convention has urged the crowd to take a breather, maybe take some time away and get ready for this fall.

Several delegates, however, say it's no time to take the foot off the gas.

"Like when you're on a bicycle, you keep pumping," said Damon Freeman of Milwaukee.

The guv's collective bargaining changes that sparked a series of Capitol protests last year also drove progressives and Dems to the polls to express their displeasure in last spring's Supreme Court race, last summer's Senate recall elections and this past week's attempted recall of the guv.

Each time, however, Dems came up just short of their ultimate goal, though several speakers this week have urged delegates to focus on their success in retaking control of the state Senate.

And after those setbacks, some have wondered whether some Dems may stay home this fall or have a hard time getting up for the November elections and what impact that could have on Barack Obama's chances of winning Wisconsin again.

Darlene Todd of Stevens Point said the time to take a break is already past. Todd said delegates at the convention are not the types to get dispirited over an election loss, and she said she has no fears they'll be charged up and ready to go come November.

Still, she said core party activists may need to do some work to keep the grassroots engaged after Tuesday's setback.

"We'll have to keep going back for some of them," she said

Lafayette County Chair Mike Gallagher said there's too much on the to-do list to take a break now, from the presidential race to an open U.S. Senate seat and local offices.

"I think we have to keep working," he said.

-- By JR Ross

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 9:50 PM 

Hospitality suites in full swing

Delegates have cleared out of the convention hall and are moving through the three hospitality suites at this year's event.

The Senate and Assembly Dems are co-hosting what appears to be the largest event, with a small band playing cover songs in the front of the room.

The back of the room, in addition to refreshments, features a slide show of photographs of Dem Assembly members during the height of last year's protests over the budget repair bill.

Tammy Baldwin's Senate campaign is hosting a hospitality suite with pitchers of beer and deli appetizers. Convention-goers may purchase a pint glass with Baldwin's campaign logo on it for $12.

The final hospitality suite belongs to former U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen. The Appleton native's room includes his usual ice cream sundae ingredients, as well as campaign signs for Jamie Wall, the Green Bay Dem vying to take Kagen's old 8th CD seat back for Dems this fall.

-- By Andy Szal

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 9:13 PM 

Wasserman Schultz says November election choice between finishing what started and beginning of end for middle class

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told Wisconsin Dems the November election boils down to a fundamental question of whether inauguration day 2013 is the day they finish the changes they started or the day that marks the beginning of the end of the middle class.

“Here’s the good news,” she said. "Our opponents don’t get to decide the answer to that question. We do.”

Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., also made a pledge to the crowd that no one will outwork Dems this fall, saying it is her motto for this year’s elections. She drove home that point by noting she didn’t say no one would outwork “me” but “us,” adding the party needs their help to knock on doors and make phone calls.

If they do they, Wisconsin Dems will help send the president back to the White House for a second term to finish what they started in 2008 “and be sure that American remains now and forever the greatest country on the face of the Earth.”

Wasserman Schultz contrasted that with what she said was Mitt Romney’s approach to the election. She reminded the crowd that after Romney won the primary in her home state of Florida, he told his supporters they must not forget what the election was really about. She said she figured it would be about getting America back to work. Instead, he said it was about beating Obama. She called the comments incredibly disappointing and out of touch.

“This election isn’t about Barack Obama,” she said. “It’s about you and your families. It’s about us. It’s about the worker pounding the pavement looking for a job. It’s about the mom wondering if she’ll be able to afford college for her kids and it’s about the young person wondering if he’ll ever be able to pay back his student loans.”

Listen to the speech.

-- By JR Ross

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 8:53 PM 

Baldwin pledges to fight for a fair economy

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin vowed to fight for a fair economy as a U.S. senator, charging that each of her potential GOP opponents "refuses to do what's right for Wisconsin."

"Our fight for Wisconsin's middle class isn't a political fight," the Madison Dem told delegates. "It isn't a partisan fight. It is a moral fight."

She charged that corporate special interests have too much power in Washington, and that former Gov. Tommy Thompson would fight for "D.C. insiders and lobbyists" while Speaker Jeff Fitgzerald and former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann would back additional tax cuts instead of bolstering the nation's manufacturing.

"And is there any doubt who the hedge fund manager will be fighting for?" Baldwin asked, getting a dig in against Eric Hovde.

She added that all four of her potential Senate rivals supported the House GOP budget authored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Janesville, criticizing that proposal's initiatives for Social Security and Medicare.

"These aren't programs, these are promises, and these are promises we will not let you break," Baldwin said.

She added that regardless of this week's election results, the party's struggles don't compare to Wisconsinites who continue to weather the tough economy.

"Wisconsinites everywhere want a senator who's going to fight or them -- not for Wall Street or the big banks, not for big oil companies, not for the Tea Party," Baldwin said.

Listen to the speech.

-- By Andy Szal

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 8:35 PM 

Moore tells Dems to 'shake it off'



U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore fired up the crowd with the story of a donkey who fell into a well.

The farmer and a friend tried their best to get the donkey out, but could not. The farmer realized the donkey could not survive at the bottom of the well and decided to bury the donkey there to be humane and end its suffering.

But as the farmer and his friend began to shovel dirt into the well, they noticed after each shovel, the donkey would shake off the dirt and take a little step up. That continued with each shovelful of dirt until the donkey was able with one mighty leap to make it out of the well.

“Hey, we’re donkeys. Democrats. This is our story. No one is going to bury us,” Moore said.

She then proceeded to tell the crowd to “shake it off” when the polls say Dems can’t win, when the media is being more favorable to Republicans and when Politifact is a lie, the last one drawing a standing ovation from the crowd.

“Power is with the people, and we’re the party of the people,” Moore said.

Moore also insisted Tuesday’s results included good signs for Dems come November. She said the exit polls indicated some Dems were not comfortable with the recalls and decided to vote for Gov. Scott Walker instead. She said Republicans “wouldn’t have done it for us.”

“But some of us have more integrity than I do,” Moore said. “I just don’t have that much integrity.”

Listen to the speech.

-- By JR Ross

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 8:22 PM 

Mitchell: 'I'm not finished'



Dem lt. gov. candidate Mahlon Mitchell vowed to delegates that he wasn't finished fighting for the state's working people after losing to incumbent Rebecca Kleefisch on Tuesday.

"We have something to fight for, and I am not finished," Mitchell said, telling delegates that Tuesday's election showed a state that's still deeply divided.

And he said that while he agreed that he came up short this week, the party remains strong.

Mitchell, the head of the Madison firefighters' union, said he remains inspired by the fight for the state's middle class despite never thinking he'd run for office as soon as a year ago.

He also joked about an appearance with the lt. governor on "UpFront with Mike Gousha," telling delegates that Kleefisch thanked him after he helped clean up a coffee spill on the set.

"I said, 'No problem, lieutenant governor,'" Mitchell said. "'This is just another point where the Democrats have to clean up the Republicans' mess again.'"

Listen to the speech.

-- By Andy Szal

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 8:07 PM 

Kagen says now not the time to give up

Former U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen told the crowd now is not the time to give up just because Tuesday didn’t turn out the way Dems would have liked.

After all, he’s not quitting and told the crowd to look at him because “this is what second place looks like.”

Kagen, who lost his re-election bid in 2010, said Dems have the opportunity to ask a question of what kind of people they really are, what kind of state Wisconsin will become and whether this country will become one that doesn’t fully fund education or invest in the future.

“What we really need in Wisconsin from this day forward is more courage and less fear,” Kagen said.

Kagen also told the crowd not to be dispirited by the recall election after working so hard and thinking they need a break.

“Forget about that idea, move up, move up,” Kagen said. “I’m still standing. We’re still standing.”

Kagen also encouraged delegates to go out and stimulate the economy of his hometown, but warned them the Appleton Police are quite proficient at nabbing those who are walking crooked. He added that one would have thought officers would have nabbed the guv and some of his cronies by now, jabbing Walker over the ongoing John Doe investigation in Milwaukee County.

Listen to the speech.

-- By JR Ross

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 7:56 PM 

Miller says Dems should celebrate new Senate majority

Senate Dem Leader Mark Miller said despite the loss in the governor's recall election this week, the party should celebrate moving from a five-seat minority to a new Senate majority in less than a full election cycle.

The Monona Dem brought John Lehman of Racine onto the stage after his apparent win over GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard in the 21st Senate District, and praised the three other Dems running in Senate recall races this week.

"You, together with a tremendous effort from our friends and allies, restored a system of checks and balances that will serve our state well in the months ahead," Miller told delegates. "This is a victory we can celebrate."

Miller slammed Gov. Scott Walker's first year and a half in office, saying his budget reforms were accomplished by "making it harder for ordinary Wisconsinites to achieve the American Dream."

He also defended the recall effort against the governor and lt. governor, saying, "We couldn't have stopped it if we tried."

Miller said that if the recall election were a movie, the underdogs would have come out victorious, but said the fundraising advantage of Republicans "was something that we could not overcome in one month."

Listen to the speech.

-- By Andy Szal

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 7:52 PM 

Barca says national pundits ignoring Dems taking back the Senate

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca says national pundits are ignoring that there were two big prizes on the ballot Tuesday.

He acknowledged beating the guv was the bigger of the two, and Dems fell short on that front.

But he reminded the crowd Dems now have control of the state Senate 17-16 after going into the legislative session last January down 19-14.

Barca said he got into an argument with a reporter who downplayed winning the Senate considering the guv survived. Barca said he made it sound like “we won a school board seat in Antigo. This is the state Senate.”

Barca told the crowd to imagine GOP Sen. Leak Vukmir shortly turning over the gavel for the Senate’s Health Committee to someone like Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, and other power changes such as Sen. Mark Leader taking the majority leader’s mantle from GOP Sen. Scott Fitzgerald.

“That will be a moment,” Barca said, punching his fist above his head.

Barca said those GOP losses were the price they paid for not listening to people and pushing an extreme agenda that does not fit Wisconsin’s heritage.

He said 70 percent of those who voted Tuesday did not feel comfortable with the recall of the guv and that Wisconsinites are fair-minded people who likely gave Walker the benefit of the doubt when he promised if given another change that he would do things differently and build a consensus.

“We’re not going to let him forget that promise that he made to the people,” Barca said.

Listen to the speech.

-- By JR Ross

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 7:43 PM 

Tate: 'Some things are worth losing for'

DPW Chairman Mike Tate delivered a fiery address to delegates in his chairman's report, telling the audience that they came to the wrong gathering if they expected the party to wollow in this week's recall election losses.

"We are going to learn the lessons that we can from this election, but we will not despair," Tate said.

"We are not sorry, because some things are worth fighting for, and some things are worth losing for."

Tate said the recall election was never about one candidate or one party, but about the values of the state, calling the last year and a half part of a long struggle that the party will ultimately win.

"They cannot hold back the gates of progress for very long, and we will win this fight," Tate said.

He also predicted that Gov. Walker would see the inside of a jail cell before he sees another term in the East Wing.

"I will follow Scott Walker to the gates of Hell and back to make sure we are fighting for what is right all the time," Tate said.

Listen to the speech.

-- By Andy Szal

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 7:25 PM 

Dems make Schultz honorary Wisconsinite




The convention gave MSNBC host Ed Schultz a standing ovation after Chair Mike Tate recognized him.

Tate said too many in the national media treat Wisconsin as flyover country, but Schultz took time to talk with cops and firefighters to get a true feel for what's been happening here.

Tate then gave Schultz a foam cheesehead and made him an honorary Wisconsinite. Schultz put on the foam cheese wedge to the delight of the crowd, which chanted his name.

Tate told the crowd Schultz could not give a speech because of his contractual obligation to MSNBC. But Schultz took the microphone briefly.

"I don’t think I’ll be breaking any rules by telling you how much I love you. Thank you very much," Schultz said.


-- By JR Ross

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 7:10 PM 

Kind insists recall results not an affirmation of Walker's policies



U.S. Rep. Ron Kind of La Crosse told the crowd his own exit polling suggests Tuesday’s results were not an affirmation of Gov. Scott Walker’s policies.

Rather, he said it was a sign that elections do mean something and that folks didn’t believe it was an appropriate use of the recall “given that no crimes were committed -- that we know of yet.”

Still, the La Crosse Dem told delegates he believes “that this is going to turn around. This is going to come back.”

Like other speakers, Kind acknowledged the results this week was not what Dems had hoped for. But he encouraged them to regroup, recharge, decompress and take a break after almost two straight years or nonstop politicking.

“But don’t take a break for too long,” Kind said.

Kind said Dems need to take a deep breath and talk to each other to decide what direction they want to take the party, how they rebuild to start winning races “not just in Madison and Milwaukee.”

Kind also gave the crowd a pep talk on the November elections, telling delegates they need to be ready to go back to work for the president, Tammy Baldwin, the new majority in the state Senate and those running in top House races.

And Kind took time to pay tribute to Tom Barrett, saying “there is no more decent person in public service or any walk of life with more integrity, courage and honesty than Tom Barrett.”

“If I have to make a choice and march into battle with anyone in my life, I choose Tom Barrett,” Kind said.

Listen to the speech.

-- By JR Ross

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 6:47 PM 

Bernard Schaber: Fox Valley should be the future of the Dem Party

State Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton welcomed the state party to her hometown, calling the Fox Valley a key component of the party's future.

Bernard Schaber said Fox Valley communities are growing and increasingly progressive, noting that after becoming the first Dem in a century to being elected to her seat, he is unopposed this year.

She also encouraged attendees to have a strong convention, saying the party can learn from lessons of the past 16 months, "but not be limited by them."

She also encouraged the party to embrace public investments, likening them to the fuel that drives small businesses to serve as an economic engine for the entire state.

"Let's have one large communal sigh or primal scream, whichever you prefer, and let's move onto a positive future," she said. After the first request got a half-hearted scream, Bernard Schaber got the crowd to try a second time with a communal sigh.

Listen to the speech.

-- By Andy Szal

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 6:45 PM 

Nelson says Dems must stand up for workers

Tom Nelson, the former Assembly majority leader and lt. guv candidate, told Dems his speech would feature a little less red meat and a little more bragging about his home county considering his new role as county exec.

But he still got a dig in on the guv.

Nelson bragged about Outagamie County's attributes and thanked them for coming to Appleton, saying they would pump $53,000 into the local economy -- "and that doesn't include the hospitality suites." He then turned his attention to the guv, saying, "I think he’s already taking credit for the jobs it will create."

Nelson said one public employees and a community that supporters them are one of things that makes Outagamie County so great.

"Outagamie County has figured out something some state leaders have not," Nelson said. "To build strong communities and thriving economies, it's not about us vs. them."

Nelson told the crowd he is proud to be a Dem because of what it stands for and in a time of Citizens United, now more than ever we must stand with the single parent working three jobs to put food on the table and stay ahead of the bills.

"That family is counting on us because we’re the only ones left that are willing to do that," Nelson said.

Listen to the speech.

-- By JR Ross

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 5:35 PM 

Get news from the state Democratic convention on your phone

Visit the new WisPolitics Mobile Convention Page on your smartphone for news from the state Dem convention, plus a convention agenda and links to convention locations.

Visit http://dem.wispolitics.com or http://www.wispolitics.com/app.iml?Article=272063 in your phone's web browser to see the page.

You can also add the WisPolitics mobile site to the home screen of your device.

Visit this page for directions on adding WisPolitics to your iPhone, iPod, Android or Windows Phone home screen: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=267770

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 3:25 PM 

Tate: DPW convention an opportunity to move forward

State Dem Chair Mike Tate is looking at his party's convention this weekend as a pivot point.

Normally, both parties use their state conventions in an election year as a springboard toward the fall. But Dems will meet in Appleton this weekend still smarting from falling short of recalling Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and watching Republicans hold three Senate seats.

They do have one bright spot to celebrate: John Lehman's apparent win in the 21st SD that would give them control of the Senate 17-16.

But that majority could be short-lived with a difficult map facing Dems in the fall elections, and some wonder how the Dem base will react to Tuesday’s results come November, including whether it will impact the presidential race.

What’s more, there are long-term questions for the party about who its next standard bearers will be in the 2014 cycle and beyond.

But Tate said in a new WisPolitics.com interview that he believes this is an opportunity to move forward.

“In some ways the Republicans got their victory and maybe let a little hot air out of the balloon if you will,” Tate said. “Democrats and progressives are still hungry for winning and to demonstrate that, we can and will win and that the issues that we fight for are with the majority of the people. I believe that, and I think we’re going to show that in November.”

Some have attributed Walker’s margin on Tuesday, in part, to a GOP ground game that has improved dramatically and some argue has matched or exceeded what Dems were able to put up. Traditionally, that has been an advantage for Dems in elections.

Tate, however, cautioned about reading too much from what he said were the unique circumstances of the recall election, including a significant disparity in resources. He argued if things were even financially, the outcome would have been much different.

He also argued recall fatigue worked against Dems and pointed to exit polling that showed President Obama with a lead on GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

Still, he acknowledged that Republicans have a financial edge in the “post-Citizens United era.”

“We don’t represent the millionaires and billionaires and oil kingpins from Texas that can write six-figure checks. We just don’t,” Tate said.

-- By JR Ross

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 2:43 PM 

Priebus: Wasserman Schultz in 'damage control'

RNC Chair Reince Priebus got in a dig today on DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who will speak tonight at the Dem state convention in Appleton, saying she called her side’s turnout operation in Tuesday's recall election “unprecedented” in Wisconsin only to be rejected by voters overwhelmingly.

He said Wasserman Schultz has been in damage control for the president over his broken promises while in office and will continue to be in damage control mode tonight as she tries to “convince Wisconsin Democrats to support Obama after he literally flew over Wisconsin and hung them out to dry.”

Priebus held a conference call today to tout the Republican GOTV operation in Tuesday’s recall election and promise to build upon it moving toward November to help Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama here.

-- By JR Ross

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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

 1:17 PM 

Baldwin, Wasserman Schultz headline state Dem convention

U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- the state's presumptive U.S. Senate nominee and the DNC chairwoman, respectively -- are set to headline this weekend's state Democratic convention in Appleton.

Baldwin, of Madison, and Wasserman Schultz, of Florida, are set to address the convention during Friday's speaking program, which begins at 6 p.m.

Friday's agenda will close with hospitality suites at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel.

Saturday's agenda includes additional speakers, along with debate over the party's platform, consideration of resolutions, and voting for DNC officers.

-- By Andy Szal

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Editor: JR Ross
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