Chair Mike Tate pledge to turn the political organizing model on its head by recruiting promising legislative candidates in all corners of the state and investing in their campaigns if they show a willingness to put in the work and raise the needed money to run a credible race.
Tate, delivering the chair's report, went over his 72-county strategy to put operatives in various corners of Wisconsin and to be organized and engaged year-round rather than just in election years. He said holding the state convention in Waukesha County, known as GOP territory, is symbolic of that approach and the commitment to turning out Dem voters no matter where they live. Waukesha County produces the third most Dem votes in statewide races behind Milwaukee and Dane counties.
"We have to start being organized now," Tate said. "We must prepare and ensure that as a party we are knocking on doors, whether there is an election next week or next year, and I am committed to doing that."
Tate also asked activists for patience in finding a candidate to run against Gov. Scott Walker next year.
He said several "very talented and qualified people" are considering running,saying they may be a current elected leader or possibly someone from the private sector with a great Wisconsin story to tell.
The party chair said Walker has won past elections not because of his ideas, which he said are not popular, but by tearing down his opponent. Tate said it does Dems no good to give him "a target to shoot at one day sooner than we have to."
"We are not going to give him that opportunity this time around," Tate said.
Tate received one of his biggest reactions from the crowd when he proclaimed the party believes in the right to bargain collectively for a safe work environment, fair and livable wages, access to health care, and the "guarantee of a retirement with dignity."
"We will never, ever stop fighting for our brothers and sisters in organized labor, and we will not rest as a party until collective bargaining is restored to every worker in the state of Wisconsin," Tate said.
Listen to the speech
-- By JR Ross