• WisPolitics

Monday, June 06, 2016

 10:06 PM 

Sanders supporters split on backing Clinton if she wins nomination

About half of the Bernie Sanders supporters polled by WisPolitics.com at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention said they would vote for Hillary Clinton if she won the nomination. 

Another quarter said they’d vote for another candidate -- about half of them would write-in Sanders -- while another quarter were undecided. Just one respondent chose Donald Trump, and one would likely sit out the election. 

WisPolitics.com typically conducts straw polls at state conventions, but the Dem Party this year would not sell the independent news service a table to conduct the survey unless it pedged not to include questions about the presidential race in the straw poll. WisPolitics.com refused the demand. 

In its place, WisPolitics.com interviewed more than 60 people over the weekend at convention who identified themselves as Sanders supporters. Of those, 59 people agreed to answer the question: “If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, in the general election would you vote for Clinton, Trump, some other candidate, or sit out the election?” This was similar to a question posed via the WisPolitics.com straw poll to attendees of the state Republican Party convention in May. See results: http://gopconvos.wispolitics.com/2016/05/wispoliticscom-gop-conventioneers-like.html

While most Sanders supporters WisPolitics.com approached agreed to answer the survey, a handful of people refused, with several insisting the question was irrelevant because Sanders would clinch the nomination. 

The results of this non-scientific survey were: Clinton, 27; Trump, 1; some other candidate, 16; sit out the election, 1; undecided, 14. 

Selected comments are included below, organized in sections by answer, from those who either chose Clinton, some other candidate, or were undecided.

 Some would back Clinton to prevent ‘President Trump’

While about half said they’d back Clinton, it was with varying degrees of enthusiasm and largely aimed at keeping Trump out of the White House.

Jim Carpenter, a delegate from the 4th CD who was working the Progressive Democrats of America booth, said he’d vote for Clinton if she won the nomination. 

He described Trump as a “bully” and “narcissist.” 

“That’s a very dangerous person to be commander in chief,” Carpenter said. “Hillary is the lesser of two evils -- by a long shot.”

Eldeen Carpenter, Jim Carpenter’s wife, said if Clinton wins the nomination, it’s important for Dems to pull together to elect Clinton and Russ Feingold.

“It’s critical now,” she said. “Trump is dangerous and destructive.”

Bryan Kennedy, a former AFT-Wisconsin president who now serves as Glendale’s mayor and a delegate for Sanders at the national convention, said he’s campaigned hard for for the Vermont senator but would cast a vote for Clinton if she won the nomination. 

“‘President Trump,’ those two words scare the hell out of me,” said Kennedy, who lost his bid for a seat on the DNC. 

Ted Kraig, from the 4th CD in Milwaukee County, said he’d campaign for and vote for Clinton. 

“Trump makes it an easy choice,” he said.

Pamela Carlson, of Greenfield in the 5th CD, said Sanders is her first choice. But if he doesn’t win, “I’m behind Hillary in every way.”

For Kevin Phillips, a delegate with the 5th CD from Sheboygan County, “It comes down to stopping the Republicans.” 

But he said while Clinton might win the nomination, “Bernie has won the war” by energizing the younger generation. 

Mary Laan, a delegate for the 4th CD in Milwaukee County, said she would vote for Clinton although she doesn’t support Clinton’s “warlike behavior” and position on trade, because “Trump is worse.”

“Trump would be a disaster,” she said, and predicted he would get the U.S. involved in more military conflicts. 

For Sanders, Laan said, “There’s nothing he’s said I don’t agree with; he’s on our side.”

Marsha Vila, a 1st CD delegate from Milwaukee County, said she regretted she didn’t vote for Hubert Humphrey in 1968, the year that saw Richard Nixon elected president.

She said she didn’t want to make a similar mistake this year and would vote for Clinton should she win the nomination.  

“It will lead to Trump if we don’t unite,” Vila said. 

Kevin Kuehl, an 8th CD delegate from Waupaca County, said Clinton’s “heart is in the right place,” and she “would be a very good president.”

But Kuehl described Clinton as a “more traditional politician” whose views shift depending on the situation.

“Bernie would be much more forceful and stand his ground” on issues such as the living wage, higher education and health care, he said. 

His wife, Cathy Kuehl, said she’d also back Clinton. 

“You can’t always get exactly what you want,” she said. “Hillary would be a damn sight better than Donald Trump as president of the United States.”

Mistrust, process gripes cause some to rule out Clinton

Several of those who said they would choose another candidate in the general election expressed anger at the nomination process, distrust of Clinton and a fear she’d delay progressive change. 

James Wine, of the 3rd CD in La Crosse County, said he was upset with the nomination process and brought up several examples he said showed the Clinton campaign disenfranchising Sanders supporters. 

“If she wins with chicanery, let her win it by herself,” Wine said. 

His wife, Marsha Wine, said she can’t vote for Clinton because her positions “change with the wind.”

“Hillary and Bill do whatever is best for them,” she said.

Cora Pynenberg, a delegate from Outagamie County in the 8th CD, said she’d write in Sanders over Clinton. 

“I believe the differences between Bernie and Hillary are more critical than their similarities on war, fracking, education and health care,” she said. 

She said if Clinton became president she would likely serve eight years and push the nation to the right. She predicted a Tea Party-style backlash against the right if people got a taste of Trump, whom she predicted would be voted out in favor of a progressive candidate after four years.

Bryan Reid Bliss, of Madison, said he would write in a candidate and is not willing to compromise “on such an unethical candidate.” 

He said if Clinton were the nominee, Republicans would win the election. 

“If we choose an inferior candidate we will lose the election,” Bliss said.

Clinton has work to do to sway undecideds

James Briskey, an 8th CD delegate from Burnett County, said Sanders brought him into the Democratic Party. Should Sanders not win the nomination, Briskey would consider voting for Clinton if she adopted more progressive positions, such as supporting a $15 minimum wage.

“She’s got to commit to some ideals that have energized the electorate for Bernie,” Briskey said. 

Jesse Clingan, a 5th CD delegate from Washington County, said he’s not counting out a Sanders win should he win the California primary, which is today. But if Clinton wins the nomination, his decision on how he votes would depend on whether Clinton nominates Sanders for vice president or whether Sanders stages a third-party bid. 

Still, he said Clinton has work to do in areas such as social justice and the minimum wage to persuade Sanders supporters to vote for her. 

“I believe she needs to work real hard right after the convention to bring in Bernie Sanders supporters,” Clingan said. 

Eric Marsch, from Milwaukee County in the 4th CD, said he’s undecided and wants to see what happens after the nomination fight is over. 

“I want Hillary to win my vote,” he said, but added that in the general election he’d like to do “whatever will send the strongest message in support of progressive policies.”

If Clinton looks to be the clear winner, he said he may cast a vote for Sanders, but if it was a close election he may cast a ballot for Clinton to deny Trump a victory.

“It’s way too early to say,” Marsch said.

Mack Yagilashek and Darren Spence, both of the 3rd CD in Chippewa County, said Clinton has work to do to get their votes.

Spence said it was possible he’d vote for Clinton, “but I don’t think she’s done a very good job of convincing us to get on her bandwagon.”

Yagilashek said if the election is close, he’d vote for Clinton, but if either Clinton or Trump were polling ahead by a large margin, he’d vote for a third party. 

He agreed with Spence that Clinton hasn’t done a good job of persuading him.

“The convention theme is unite, vote, win, but they haven’t given us a reason to unite,” Yagilashek said.


Saturday, June 04, 2016

 3:49 PM 

Three of four elected to DNC open to changing superdelegate system

Three of the Wisconsin DNC members that will start new terms after next month’s national convention say they will listen to calls to do away with the superdelegate system.

But Martha Love, a former state chair who was re-elected to the DNC Saturday, shook her head when asked if she would pursue a resolution with the national party to abolish superdelegates, saying everyone has a right to an opinion.

Love, who will be a superdelegate at the national convention next month and is a current DNC member, said she is committed to Hillary Clinton, no matter what resolution the state party passed this weekend. 

Love was appointed to the DNC in 1992 and served until 1996. She then was elected to four-year terms in 2012 and today. Her focus, she said, will be on continuing her work fighting human trafficking, a mission of hers for the past eight years.

“I’ve been working around the state with great Democrats and other allies to say, ‘We have to protect our children,’” Love said.

Jason Rae, who was first elected to the DNC at 17, said this term, his fourth, likely will be his last. In addition to studying the superdelegate system, which Bernie Sanders backers complained was stacked against their candidate, Rae said the party should look at the use of caucuses in selecting the party's presidential nominee. Critics of caucuses say they produce lower turnout and are less democratic than primaries. Sanders also typically did better than Clinton in caucus states.

“There are several things we’re going to look at to make the process more fair and transparent,” said Rae, whose agenda for the next four years includes expanding the party.

State Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, said the committee “has to pay attention” to the concerns raised by party activists over the system, considering the number of them who have spoken out about it in recent months.

Eau Claire Ald. Andrew Werthmann, meanwhile, said he supports reforming the superdelgate system but isn't wedded to a particular model.

"I'm sort of open to the ideas, but we have to take that up at the DNC," he said, "especially given where the state of Wisconsin is on this issue."

-- By Staff


 3:09 PM 

Conventions adjourns

The convention adjourns.

The party will be in Madison for next year's convention.

The final tally for delegates, alternates and registered guests was 1,104; 933 of those were delegates, who were eligible to vote in the DNC race.

-- By Staff


 2:59 PM 

Party sent delegates letter touting work with prez campaigns to help push for unity

In an effort to boost the party’s call for unity at the state convention, Wisconsin Dems sent activists a letter ahead of this weekend touting the efforts to work with both presidential campaigns.

Dems and Republicans have faced questions over how unified their party activists will be for this year’s presidential race following contentious primaries. That has included tensions at some Dem state conventions with Bernie Sanders backers balking at the delegate-selection process.

The letter was signed by state Chair Martha Laning and Vice-chair David Bowen along with Heather Colburn from Hillary Clinton's campaign and Peter Rickman from Sanders' camp.

The state party provided WisPolitics.com excerpts of the letters that tout cooperation between the party and both presidential campaigns to ensure the selection of delegates, national committee appointments and party resolutions have been “conducted in an open and transparent way.

“We are proud that these fairly represent not only the results of April’s election, but also of the great diversity we have across this great state,” the letter reads, according to the excerpts.

The letter also pledged continued efforts to “work together to ensure our convention remains an exciting and welcoming event for Democrats from every corner of this great state."

-- By JR Ross


 2:27 PM 

State GOP slams Dem convention message, superdelegate system

State GOP Chair Brad Courtney knocked this weekend's Dem convention, saying the message could be summed up in two words: "disunity and visionless."

"Not only are grassroots activists in revolt and furious at their own Party Insiders for unfairly backing Hillary Clinton, Wisconsin Democrats once again failed to present a real vision to the state -- a sharp contrast to Wisconsin Republicans who, for years, have offered a bold set of common-sense reforms that are taking the state forward," Courtney said in a statement.

Party spokesman Pat Garrett slammed the superdelegate process.

“Grassroots activists are rightfully upset, and Wisconsin Democrats are paying the price because Party bosses in Washington DC put their finger on the scale to unfairly prop up Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” Garrett wrote in an email.

-- By JR Ross


 2:22 PM 

Superdelegates Laning, Rae still waiting for primaries to end before backing candidate

Two of Wisconsin’s three unpledged superdelegates aren’t making any commitments on how they’ll vote in Cleveland next month after the party’s activists approved a resolution urging the state’s 10 to split 6-4 for Bernie Sanders.

Now, six superdelegates are backing Hillary Clinton, while one supports Sanders, who won the state’s April 5 primary with 56.6 percent of the vote.

State Chair Martha Laning, one of the three unpledged superdelegates, has said she'll back the party's eventual presidential nominee. Jason Rae, a member of the DNC who also is unpledged, has said he’ll support the candidate with the most pledged candidates going into the national convention.

While saying she wants to listen to her fellow Dems, Laning struck a similar tone on her superdelegate vote today after the resolution was approved. Laning added she wants to allow the rest of the primary process to play out.

In addition to votes this weekend in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, states such as New Jersey and California vote Tuesday.

“Once that process is over, I will make a decision about putting my support behind whoever the nominee is,” Laning said.

Rae, who was up for re-election Saturday, said he had not seen the resolution because he spent the morning campaigning. He also said he wants to let the rest of the primary process play out before making his decision.

“It’s up to each individual person to make their decision for themselves on who the best candidate is,” Rae said.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, is the third unpledged superdelegate. He announced previously he would not endorse a candidate until after the final state primary.

-- By JR Ross


 1:19 PM 

Dem activists approve resolutions calling for end to superdelegate system, urging Wisconsin's 10 to vote 6-4 for Sanders

Dem activists today called for abolishing superdelegates in future presidential races while urging the 10 from Wisconsin to cast their ballots next month 6-4 in favor of Bernie Sanders.

Still, superdelegate rules are set by the national party, and both resolutions are nonbinding. 

Six of the state’s 10 superdelegates are backing Hillary Clinton, while one is supporting Bernie Sanders. One resolution “strongly urges” the superdelegates to cast their ballots in proportion to the results of Wisconsin's primary, which Sanders won with 56.6 percent. Short of that, the superdelegates are strongly urged to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in the jurisdiction they represent.

The resolution was tweaked slightly to call for superdelegates to continue casting their ballots 6-4 in Sanders' favor unless they were released by their candidates.

The other resolution puts the party on record supporting abolishing the unpledged superdelegate system. That could either come through doing away with them or requiring them to vote in proportion to the popular votes each candidate received in their state.

Both resolutions were part of a package party activists approved that covered everything from redistricting to state party elections.

See the original package of resolutions, some of which were amended.

UPDATE: Here is the exact wording of both resolutions:

WHEREAS, the stated purpose of superdelegates is to maximize the ability of people other than elected officials and party leaders to participate in the nomination process;
WHEREAS, we believe that contrary to this purpose, superdelegates have eroded voters’ faith in their ability to affect the outcome of the Presidential nomination;
THEREFORE, RESOLVED, DPW supports the abolishment of the unpledged superdelegate system (e.g. either by eliminating them, or by requiring them to vote in proportion to the share of the popular vote each candidate received in their state);
FURTHER RESOLVED, DPW instructs its DNC delegation to actively work for this goal.

WHEREAS, the democratic nature of the Democratic Party has been questioned, due to the stated voting intentions of many superdelegates;
THEREFORE, RESOLVED, DPW strongly urges Wisconsin's superdelegates to collectively cast their votes on each ballot at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in proportion to the Wisconsin primary vote until if and when they are released by their candidate;
FURTHER RESOLVED, failing this, DPW strongly urges each superdelegate to vote on each ballot for the candidate who won the popular vote in the jurisdiction they represent until if and when they are released by their candidate.

-- By JR Ross


 11:57 AM 

DNC candidate drops out of race, backs Rae and Hansen

Michael O'Connell, vice chair of the Walworth County Dem Party, dropped out of the DNC race and called for delegates to support incumbent Jason Race and Kristin Hansen, development director for the Wisconsin ACLU.

The speeches are complete, and the vote is scheduled to conclude at 2 p.m.

-- By JR Ross


 10:49 AM 

7th CD candidate slams money in politics

Joel Lewis, one of two Dems running for the 7th CD, said people of all backgrounds are sick of politicians spending half of their time making fundraising calls.

He said that's what has let U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, finish the most recent reporting period with $1.1 million in the bank.

"Who do you think we represent when we have all this money in DC?" he asked. "Who do you think they’re voting for? And that has to change."

Mary Hoeft, who is running for the seat, could not be at the convention. Susan Hansen spoke on behalf of the UW-Barron County professor and former Rice Lake School Board member. Hansen said Hoeft is running so the 7th CD can once again be represented by someone who cares about the middle class.

“This is Dave Obey’s seat after all,” Hansen said.

-- By JR Ross


 10:33 AM 

6th CD Dems lay out plans to beat Grothman

Sarah Lloyd and Michael Slattery, both of whom are vying to challenge U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman in the 6th CD, say the incumbent has to go.

Lloyd, a dairy farmer from the Wisconsin Dells area, said the foundation of her challenge is good food, clean energy and clean water. She said if people come together under that approach, she can beat the Glenbeulah Republican.

"So, within that plan, we need to build a coalition from farmers to eaters," she said. "And the good news is: Everybody eats."

Slattery, also a farmer, said he is running as a businessman. He repeatedly said Grothman has done nothing for the district. Slattery said the way Republicans simply take a stance of opposition without attempting to work with the other side never would work in the business world.

"They would have gotten their pink slips long ago," Slattery said.

-- By Chris Thompson


 10:28 AM 

5th CD candidate says this is year to do the impossible

Khary Penebaker, who has a background in the roofing business, shrugged off the challenge of running in the most Republican district in the state, vowing he will pull off this win against longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.

Penebaker brought some delegates to their feet as he quoted Muhammad Ali, who died last night, saying, "Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

Penebaker noted Donald Trump was beaten badly in the 5th CD in Wisconsin's April presidential primary, suggesting the businessman has work to do in the district. Add in the troubles facing the GOP nominee, and "if there was ever a year take back Republican seats, 2016 is it."

Penebaker, a first-time candidate, bungled one line in his speech. But he got a laugh out of the convention as he sought to recover.

"You know, I am far better than Donald Trump and my opponent, so I can mess up one line every now and then,” he said.

-- By JR Ross


 10:13 AM 

Bucholz makes argument against Kind

Myron Bucholz stated his case for challenging U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, in a 1st CD primary in August.

The Dem challenger hit Kind for supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership. When he mentioned the TPP, he drew scattered boos from the crowd.

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership is of the coporations, for the corporations and by the corporations," Bucholz, of Eau Claire, said. "And it needs to be stopped."  

-- By Chris Thompson


 10:10 AM 

1st CD Dem calls Ryan an M&M

Tom Breu, one of two Dems running for the 1st CD, called House Speaker Paul Ryan the chief enabler of the income disparity plaguing the country.

He also called him the establishment and compared the Janesville Republican to a piece of candy.

“Paul Ryan is smooth and polished, guilded, a candy coated M&M you don't want to melt in your mouth," he said.

Ryan Solen, the second Dem running in the 1st, hit on the phrase "we the people" throughout his speech, calling on activists to fight for core values.

"We won't accept mediocracy, we demand excellence," he said.

-- By JR Ross


 10:09 AM 

LaFollette warns Dems they need to work harder in off-year elections

Secretary of State Doug LaFollette warned Dem activists today they will have to “work their fannies off” in 2018 to ensure Sen. Tammy Baldwin is re-elected because it will be an off year.

LaFollette, who has held his office for most of the past 40 years, noted he was the only Dem to win statewide in 2010 and 2014, both of which were non-presidential years. He said Dems need to work much harder outside of presidential years to turn out supporters.

Wisconsin would look much different, he said, if Gov. Scott Walker, AG Brad Schimel and state Treasurer Matt Adamczyk had to run in presidential years.

“We wouldn’t have Walker if he had to run in presidential years. We wouldn’t have the most conservative attorney general that you could imagine if he had to run in presidential years, and we would not have the absolute lunatic we have as state treasurer if he had to run in presidential years,” said LaFollette, who has clashed with Adamczyk.

-- By JR Ross


 9:40 AM 

Dem delegates approve revised language calling for end to superdelegate system

Dem activists today approved language calling for the end of the superdelegate system that Bernie Sanders backers believe unfairly benefited Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary.

A final vote on the resolution, along with others the party proposed, is slated for later this morning.

The resolution states superdelegates have "eroded voters' faith in their ability to effect the outcome of the Presidential nomination." 

If given final approval, it would put the state party on record supporting abolishing the system either through the elimination of superdelegates altogether or requiring they vote in proportion to the popular vote in their states.

Sanders won Wisconsin with 56.6 percent of the vote, but six of the state's 10 superdelegates are backing Clinton.

Superdelegate rules are set by the national party, and today's resolution would be nonbinding.

-- By JR Ross


 8:46 AM 

Proposed resolution urges superdelegates to vote in line with primary results

The state party would "strongly urge" Wisconsin superdelegates to vote in line with the results of the April 5 presidential primary under a resolution activists will consider today.

Bernie Sanders won the state April 5 with 56.6 percent of the vote. But Hillary Clinton is backed by six of the state's 10 superdelegates, while one is backing Sanders. The other three are uncommitted.

The resolution calls for superdelegates to cast their ballots in proportion to the primary vote, and the party would "strongly urge each superdelegate to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in the jurisdiction they represent."

-- By JR Ross


 8:35 AM 

We're back

The convention has reconvened.

First up is the debate on the platform and resolutions, including one calling for the end of the superdelegate system.

-- By JR Ross


 12:34 AM 

Vinehout plans decision early next year on 2018 guv run, Wachs focused on this fall

State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, who dropped her guv run in 2014 after she was injured in a car crash, said she will make a decision early next year about mounting another bid.

Vinehout, D-Alma, said she's been approached by a number of people asking if she's going to run. She turns the question around, asking if they think she should run, and so far everyone has encouraged her to mount a bid.

"It's like an instant focus group," she said.

Vinehout said voters want someone who knows the issues and thinks through the answers.

"They want someone who is not hyper-partisan or hyper-political," she said.

As Dems look at who may run in 2018, when Gov. Scott Walker would be up for a third term, some have brought up state Rep. Dana Wachs, whose Assembly seat is in Vinehout's Senate district.

But Wachs said he is focused on this fall, when he faces Republican Bill Ingram in his re-election bid.

"I'm really excited about the prospect we should get back Assembly seats," he said.

 -- By JR Ross


Friday, June 03, 2016

 11:55 PM 

GOP chair slams Feingold

State GOP Chair Brad Courtney knocked Russ Feingold, saying the Middleton Dem and Hillary Clinton are "decades-long career politicians championing yesterday's politics."

“Senator Feingold has become a Washington hypocrite, breaking campaign pledges, taking money from lobbyists and using a Political Action Committee as a personal slush fund for his desperate campaign to return to Washington, D.C.," Courtney said.

-- By JR Ross


 10:34 PM 

'Pretty damn fired-up' Perez rallies crowd

Keynote speaker U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez continued the night's theme of pounding on Donald Trump, calling the presumptive GOP nominee a "trainwreck."

Perez talked about the damage he said Trump would do to the country if elected and hit the businessman for not paying taxes and not being truthful with voters.

"Donald Trump was born on third base," he said, "and he wants voters to think he hit a triple."

Perez said he's proud of both Dem presidential candidates and either would be a far better option than Trump.

"Make no mistake about it," Perez said, "2016 is a fight for the very soul of America."

President Obama, he said, has made incredible progress from what he inherited when he took office. For instance, Perez said, in 2009, it was the "worst economic mess of our lifetime," but there have been 75 consecutive months of private-sector job growth.

"All that progress has been despite, and not in partnership with, Republicans," he said.

Still, Perez said, there is more to do.And among those capable of continuing that work are the members of Wisconsin's Dem delegation to the House and Senate, he said, naming several of them as well as candidates Russ Feingold and Tom Nelson.

"Your Democratic delegation to Washington is kick-ass," Perez said to loud cheers from the crowd.

-- By Chris Thompson


 9:54 PM 

Feingold says Johnson has outsourced campaign to Koch brothers, out-of-state special interests

Russ Feingold on Friday accused GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of outsourcing his campaign to out-of-state special interests, particularly the Koch brothers.

In contrast, Feingold said his campaign hasn’t been conducted in corporate board rooms or the RNC in Washington, D.C. Instead, he has gone out to where people live, declaring, “My desire to serve the people of Wisconsin, all of the people of Wisconsin, has never been stronger.”

But some elected officials don’t believe it’s their job to listen to the people of Wisconsin.

“We won’t pay our bills with anger and insults,” Feingold said. "Complaining doesn’t create good-paying jobs. Showing up all the time on Fox News doesn’t clean our drinking water. Sitting behind a desk deciding which religion or ethnic group to blame today won’t move Wisconsin or the United States forward.”

Feingold ticked off a series of Johnson comments, from calling the animated “LEGO” movie propaganda against business to saying some take out student loans because it’s free money. Feingold said while on the campaign trail, he heard from some young people who say they spend their first dates talking about who has the most student loan debt.

“I think our people deserve a better ice breaker,” Feingold said, calling the issue the one he heard the most about while on the campaign trail.

Feingold vowed if elected he would sponsor legislation from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., that would have allowed people with college loan debt to refinance at lower interest rates.

The former senator, who Johnson defeated in 2010, also called for making broadband a utility, saying it has become a necessity for young people to compete. He told activists about getting out the World Book when he was in school to do his homework. That isn’t an option anymore, he said.

Instead, you see kids after school huddled together in their cars in parking lots or outside the library. They’re not up to no good, Feingold said, they’re trying to get wifi.

“This needs to be a utility. That’s what it needs to be,” Feingold said, calling for legislation to break up the monopolies that some have over providing the internet.

Feingold said student loan debt and broadband were two of the things he heard about most while on the campaign trail. What he didn’t hear about, Feigold said, was anyone calling for a wall with between the U.S. and Mexico or one along the country’s northern border.

“Those of us from Wisconsin know that would be very hard to do because we actually have a lake in the way,” Feingold said about the border with Canada.

He also said the businesses he’s spoken with want the nation’s infrastructure rebuilt. He said the state’s roads are crumbling, pointing to one study that put them fourth worst in the country.

“I know. I can feel it,” he said, noting he’s driven 40,000 miles already in the campaign.

Listen to Feingold's speech.

-- By JR Ross


 9:15 PM 

Baldwin rips Trump, Walker

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin tore into presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and then took multiple swings at Gov. Scott Walker.

She acknowledged Dems are nearing the end off a long primary season but realize they have two "worthy progressive candidates." The GOP, she said, took a completely different approach.

"Meanwhile, the Republicans have had 17, count 'em, 17 bad candidates," the Madison Dem said. "And they managed to pick the worst of the bunch."

Baldwin described Trump as one of the most "offensive, hateful and unacceptable presidential candidates we've ever had." And, she said, Republicans now face a moral test in deciding whether they will fall in line behind him.

She hit U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, for their support of Trump. But she reserved her harshest critique for Walker.

She compared Walker to Trump, saying Wisconsinites know about underfunded schools, an environment under attack and the "middle class sold out."

Trump, Baldwin said, isn't much different than Walker.

"We know he's just Scott Walker with a spray tan," she said.

Listen to Baldwin's speech.

-- By Chris Thompson


 8:48 PM 

Kind: A President Trump would leave us for a younger country

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind joked with Dem activists they can take solace in knowing that a Donald Trump presidency would not work well for the U.S. “because he will soon leave us for a younger country.”

Kind, D-La Crosse, also noted for the crowd that all of Trump’s wives were born outside the U.S.

“I guess it is true that there are some occupations that Americans refuse to do,” Kind said, adding he could go on, but he’s “getting close to that line already.”

Kind turned more serious as he warned Dems cannot let someone such as Trump occupy the White House for “even one minute.” He said the Oval Office is no place for hatred, sexism, narcissism, the KKK, white supremacist groups or neo-Nazi organizations.

“The Oval Office, fellow Democrats, is no place for Donald Trump,” Kind said.

Kind, who faces a primary challenge in August, acknowledged the passion on both sides of the Dem presidential primary. But the superdelegate, who's backing Hillary Clinton, urged activists to come together for the fall election, saying there is “very little light” that separates Bernie Sanders and Clinton on the “big issues that united us as Democrats.”

Listen to Kind's speech.

-- By JR Ross


 8:43 PM 

Moore calls on party to wake up

U.S. Rep Gwen Moore went through two fairy tales and a long list of the types of people who are sleepwalking in the Wisconsin to make the point that Dems need to wake up.

In fact, she yelled to the crowd to look at the people next to them and shout, "Neighbor, are you awake?"

The Milwaukee Dem then launched into "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow White" and said the two stories have a few similarities.

"I want you to notice the main characters of these tales are asleep for most of the tale," she said, again urging Dems to wake up and recognize they can't sleep on Donald Trump's candidacy.

Both stories also involved an evil character masquerading as someone good. Moore put state Republicans in that role, saying they trot out harmful policies as gifts.

"We just need Jim Crow voter ID laws to protect the integrity of the vote," she said, mocking Republicans.

And Moore closed her speech with a warning.

"Wisconsin Democrats, ain't no prince coming to wake us up," she said.

-- By Chris Thompson


 8:21 PM 

Raffle offers items from across the state

A raffle taking place at the convention offers wares from around the state donated by county parties and others.

Among some of the prizes are Milwaukee Brewers tickets, a basket of Green Bay Packers gear from Brown County, wine and cheese from Door County, and a box of Neuske's meat and Twig's soda from Shawano County.

Among the items in Sheboygan County's basket is a hat reading, "Drumpf--Make Donald Drumpf Again," a phrase popularized in a "Daily Show" segment about the Trump family's ancestral name.

Tickets are two for $5 or five for $10.

-- By David Wise

 8:15 PM 

Pocan mocks Republicans for not mentioning Trump at their state convention

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan mocked Republican speakers for failing to say “the name that cannot be named” during their state convention last month.

Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, asked party activists a series of questions, he said, so they’d end up mentioning Donald Trump’s name more often in a quick spurt than the entire weekend Republicans spent together.

He asked activists who wants to build a wall, ban Muslims, is one of the most vocal birthers, said he wouldn’t rule out defaulting on the national debt and “emphatically promises he does not have small hands.”

After each question, the crowd called out Trump’s name. Pocan then said Dems aren’t afraid to say the names of their presidential candidates, leading the crowd in alternating between “Hillary” and “Bernie.”

Pocan said 2016 could be a train wreck for Republicans, from the White House down to the state Legislature because of Trump. But he said it would take the Dems’ collective efforts on Trump and Republicans who “tuck their tails” and coalesce around the businessman’s “xenophobic, misogynistic and racist tent.” 

Pocan also mocked House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, for announcing his support for Trump through an op-ed in his hometown paper. Pocan said he “hid” the endorsement in doing so.

“How’s that for Trump pride in this country?” Pocan said.

Listen to Pocan's speech.

-- By JR Ross


 8:02 PM 

Nelson hits Lasee, Gallagher

Outagamie County Exec Tom Nelson came out swinging at his GOP opponents for the 8th CD.

The Dem candidate said one Republican -- state Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere -- spends his time in Racine and rents his northeast Wisconsin home through AirBnB. The other, Mike Gallagher, moved to Wisconsin when he saw a possibility there would an open congressional seat, Nelson said.

"I don't need a roadmap to find my way around this district," he said.

Nelson also talked up his background in Outagamie County, saying he balanced mulitple budgets in a row despite dwindling state resources. And he said he got the work done by reaching across the aisle, something he said he would do if elected.

And, Nelson said, he did the same thing with retiring 8th CD U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood. Nelson said the two have one clear point of common ground.

"Neither of us will be voting for Donald Trump," Nelson said, "under any circumstances."

Listen to Nelson's speech.

-- By Chris Thompson


 7:55 PM 

Shilling knocks Republicans and their walls

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, knocked Republicans and their walls in her speech to the party’s grassroots.

She said all Republicans talk about is walls, especially “yuge” ones, getting in a dig on presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump’s calls for a wall running along the Mexican border. Schilling also knocked Gov. Scott Walker over comments during his failed presidential bid that suggested he was open to considering a wall along the norther border with Canada.

“A wall to keep the 'Yoopers' out might be next if Republicans in Madison get their way,” Shilling said, referencing the nickname for residents of upper Michigan.

Shilling said Republicans seem to constantly look for ways to “block people out” and eliminate any hope that hardworking families have for success.

She said she has hopes for a future of hope, optimism and boundless potential, where schools are properly funded “and children are encouraged to dream big.” That dream also includes families earning a living wage, where the state invests in infrastructure and there is access to clean drinking water.

It’s a place, she said, where “walls meant to keep people out are toppled and replaced with bridges that bring people together.”

-- By JR Ross


 7:40 PM 

Barca says Ryan, elected Republicans backing Trump has a moral

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca told Dem activists Friday night there’s a moral in the endorsement of Donald Trump by House Speaker Paul Ryan and other elected Republicans.

“It just goes to show they’ve never met a wealthy special interest they couldn’t support,” Barca said.

Barca, D-Kenosha, ticked off a series of GOP policies approved in recent years, saying what Republicans have done to the state is unimaginable.

He said even Republicans he talks to can’t believe GOP lawmakers changed the state’s John Doe law to shield political crimes from the secret investigations. 

Barca also said the fallout over Gov. Scott Walker’s attempts to change the Wisconsin Idea underscores why Republicans wanted to gut the open records law in the 2015-17 budget. The philosophy, embraced by the UW System, calls for university research to be applied to solve issues facing the state. Walker’s budget called for it to be replaced with a philosophy that included meeting the state’s workforce needs.

Walker originally insisted language in his budget proposal pulling out the Wisconsin Idea was a drafting error. But records a judge ordered released last week showed his administration actively sought the changes, which did not make the final cut in the budget.

“Republicans in power simply cannot be trusted to do the right thing,” Barca said, adding Republicans have “trampled on our heritage and violated our values.”

-- By JR Ross


 7:26 PM 

Laning names Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton

Wisconsin Dem Party Chairwoman Martha Laning took a not-so-subtle shot at Republicans by saying aloud the names of the two Dem presidential candidates.

"I'll take Sen. Bernie Sanders, I'll take Secretary Hillary Clinton," Laning said, "over the entertainer who only cares about himself."

After the Republican state convention last month, Dems were quick to point how rarely presumptive nominee Donald Trump's name came up. Laning's mentioning both candidates drew cheers and laughs from the crowd.

She also got the crowd ready for an evening of speeches by reporting "we are at the best place we've been at for years."

She said one of the first things she did last year after becoming chair was to travel the state, listening to what party members needed her to do. As a result, she said, the party is getting more information on the issues out to members, expanding the party's staff in Madison and across the state, and leveraging the talent of volunteers.

She said it's time for Dems to take back Wisconsin.

"The Republican Party is committed to offering more of the same failed, dangerous ideas," she said.

But Laning said the Dem Party's work now will "ensure that we defeat Scott Walker and take back our state Legislature by 2020."

Listen to Laning's speech.

  -- By Chris Thompson


 5:32 PM 

Wisconsin is 'ready to unite' Feingold is to tell Dems at state convention

U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold will pledge during his speech before the Democratic state convention to "reach across the aisle to get things done" should he win this fall against Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, according excerpts of his prepared remarks released today.

Feingold is to say that despite the state being characterized as divided, Wisconsinites "are ready to unite."

According to the excerpts, Feingold's is to say that during his tour of the state he's found that community, family and economic issues are interconnected and require people to work together to advance.

"[W]hen we ALL work together, students can graduate college without debt, buy their first home, and start a family, or a business," Feingold is to say. "When we work together, our parents and grandparents don’t have to feel so nervous about retirement. They look forward to a time of their lives they can cherish and spend real time with their families."

Without mentioning him by name, the excerpts also contain what appear to be shots against Johnson, who unseated Feingold in 2010.

"Listen, it’s easy to outsource your campaign to out-of-state billionaires, and phone in your appearances," Feingold is to say. "But for me, a campaign is about going where the people are. It’s not only a way to hear what moms and dads and sons and daughters have to say, but it’s also a way to show people respect, and that you value their time and work.

"Yet some public officials don’t think it’s their job to listen to the people of Wisconsin; don’t think it’s their job to do the hard work to bring people together to things done."

Read the full text of the excerpts:


Thursday, June 02, 2016

 5:20 PM 

Dem Party denies WisPolitics.com convention table for straw poll over party rule

In a departure from past practice, the state Dem Party says it won't let WisPolitics.com buy a table at this weekend's convention to conduct a straw poll, because the independent news service refused to abide by a new national party rule banning such questions about the presidential race.

The state party cited delegate selection rules for 2016, saying they prevent such straw polls from taking place at official events. The rule reads, "For the purpose of fairly reflecting the division of preferences, the non-binding advisory presidential preference portion of primaries shall not be considered a step in the delegate selection process and is considered detrimental." The party defines "non-binding advisory presidential preference event" to include beauty contest primaries and straw polls.

The rule goes on to say state parties must "educate the public that a non-binding presidential preference event is meaningless" and they, along with presidential candidates, "should take all steps possible not to participate."

WisDems spokesman Brandon Weathersby said the party wants the convention to be open and welcome to members of the media.

"We do however ask all attendees, media including, to respect the rules of the party and the convention, including the exclusion of Presidential straw polls," he wrote in an email.

WisPolitics.com has regularly since its launch in 2000 conducted straw polls at state party conventions. Parties have not overseen or endorsed the straw polls or had veto power over what questions were asked.

A WisPolitics.com straw poll at last year's state Dem convention in Milwaukee showed Bernie Sanders finishing a strong second to Hillary Clinton, a result national media took as an early sign the Vermont senator -- then often described as a long-shot for the White House -- could appeal to the party's progressive base.

The news service also conducted a straw poll at last month's GOP state convention, where party activists were asked who they wanted to see as Donald Trump's running mate. The poll also included a question about whether Republican activists planned to vote for Trump, Clinton, a third-party candidate or sit out the presidential race this fall. Nearly 20 percent of those participating weren't ready to support Trump.

State GOP spokesman Pat Garrett slammed Dems for the party's decision.

"Wisconsin Democrats have completely thrown transparency out the window this year, and now they are paying the price after Party bosses in Washington DC put their finger on the scale to unfairly prop up Hillary Clinton's campaign," Garrett wrote in an email.

In 2006, the state GOP, along with attorney general candidates Paul Bucher and J.B. Van Hollen, asked WisPolitics.com to exclude from its convention straw poll any question about the AG's race. They cited an agreement the candidates reached to discourage straw polls and a convention endorsement vote. WisPolitics.com declined the request.

WisPolitics.com did not provide this year's planned questions to the Dem Party during discussions over a straw poll this weekend.

 -- By JR Ross


Wednesday, June 01, 2016

 1:54 PM 

Party execs see different outcomes in swing-state status

The executive directors of the state's Dem and GOP parties agree Wisconsin is a swing state.

The direction of that swing, though, is a matter of debate between Dem Kory Kozloski and Republican Mike Duffey.

The two party execs agreed on Wisconsin's swing-state status at the start of a WisPolitics.com luncheon yesterday at The Madison Club. Kozloski explained that by saying he expects a lot of national focus on Wisconsin leading up to the general election because of the open seat in the 8th CD and the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Ron Johnson and Dem challenger Russ Feingold.

Kozloski and Duffey then launched into their reasons for expecting voters to back their parties up and down the ballots in fall. Kozloski cited a Public Opinion Strategies poll out this week by GOP pollster Gene Ulm that showed Hillary Clinton ahead of Donald Trump in Wisconsin by 12 percentage points.

"I think certainly Donald Trump's numbers certainly have to be very concerning for him in Wisconsin," Kozloski said, "when you look at his unfavorables that we've seen over the last several months in every poll that has come out."

But Duffey pointed out it's still early for polls, and the Wisconsin primary was only last month. Give it time, he said, for momentum to build toward the general election.

Plus, Duffey said, Clinton has her own problems.

"You can't neglect the fact that Hillary Clinton's unfavorables are incredibly high in the state of Wisconsin," he said. "On April 5, she won one county. So, to suggest that she's got enthusiasm on her side in the state of Wisconsin, I think, is not representative of the entire picture."

Here are their partisan takes on other top races:

Johnson-Feingold Senate race 

Duffey and Kozloski made it clear the Senate race is a top priority.

Kozloski said Johnson, R-Oshkosh, has been down to Feingold in every poll conducted on the race and has trailed Feingold in fundraising in each of the past three quarters. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin's exec also said Trump could be a weight around Johnson's neck in the race.

Johnson, Kozloski said, either has to endorse Trump and risk losing votes or go it alone.

"Sometimes he seems to be saying he's going to support Donald Trump," Kozloski said. "Other times, he seems to be saying, 'Well, I'm not really sure if I'm going in that direction.' He's got to make a pretty clear decision about which way he's going."

Duffey, though, said the first-term senator elected in 2010 is a "citizen legislator" who fits perfectly the role of outsider voters this cycle seem to crave. And if trust is a factor for those voters, he said, Feingold is at a disadvantage after breaking pledges not to take money from outside the state or from lobbyists.

On top of that, the Republican Party of Wisconsin exec said, Feingold will have Clinton at the top of the ticket with all of the secretary of state email and Benghazi scandal attached.

"If I'm the Democrats, I'm concerned about Hillary Clinton," he said, "who's the consummate Washington insider tainting the fact that Russ Feingold has spent 30 years in public service, accomplishing nothing other than getting elected repeatedly."

8th CD race

With an open seat in the 8th CD following U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble's retirement, both execs see opportunity.

Duffey said the Sherwood Republican set the bar high for the district, and he expects the winner of the Republican primary to find the path toward taking the seat. The GOP candidates are Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, and Mike Gallagher, a former Marine who also worked for the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee.

Outagamie County Exec Tom Nelson is on the other side. The former state lawmaker drew praise from Kozloski, who called him the hardest-working candidate he has met.

Kozloski said the race will be among the most-watched by the national Democratic Party.

"He's going to have the resources," he said. "He will outwork any candidate in the race, and I'm very confident in November he will be the next congressman from the 8th Congressional District."

Duffey disagreed.

"And I'm sure Tom Nelson is a nice guy," he said. "But somebody who ushered through the Doyle spending increases and tax increases is not somebody that's going to represent what I believe is what the voters of the 8th district want."


The GOP has dominated the past several cycles in the state Senate and Assembly, but Duffey said his party still will be on "offense" in fall.

Of the Republican candidates on the ballot, Duffey specifically named Green Bay lawyer Eric Wimberger, who is challenging Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, in the 30th SD, and former GOP state Sen. Dan Kapanke, who is taking on Dem Minority Leader Sen. Jennifer Shilling, of La Crosse.

"Despite the historic majorities, I believe there's some vulnerabilities in the Democratic state Senate candidates," Duffey said, "and we've got a great set of challengers in the western and northern part of the state."

On the Dem side, Kozloski made special mention of:

*Winnebago County Exec Mark Harris, who is running to fill the 18th SD seat vacated by the retiring Sen. Rick Gudex, R-Fond du Lac;

*Waupaca Mayor Brian Smith, who is mounting a challenge against Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, in the 14th SD;

*former Dem Rep. Mandy Wright, who lost her Wausau-area seat by 85 votes in 2014 and is running to fill the 85th AD spot left open by retiring Rep. Dave Heaton, R-Wausau;

*and Jeff Wright, of Plain, who is challenging Rep. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, in the 51st AD.

Duffey said GOP candidates can take credit for balancing the state deficit, pushing the unemployment rate below the national average and raising the labor participation rate to the highest in the country.

"I think that there's a good-news story," he said, "for the governor and the Legislature to tell."

But that story also includes the state being 35th in job creation, 50th in entrepreneurship and saddled with 10,000 layoff notices last year, Kozloski said. He said candidates such as Joint Finance Committee member Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, will have to explain that.

"These candidates, people like Tom Tiffany, now have to run on that record and people asking, 'What have you done? What has changed here in Wisconsin over the last six years?'" Kozloski said. "And the answer that people are coming up with is, quite simply, nothing."

Listen to the luncheon discussion.

-- By Chris Thompson

 12:55 PM 

Sanders backers pushing resolution calling for Wisconsin superdelegates to vote in line with primary results

A group of Bernie Sanders supporters is pushing a resolution ahead of this weekend’s Dem state convention that would call for Wisconsin’s 10 superdelegates to cast their votes in line with the results of the state’s April primary the Vermont senator won handily.

Delegates are already slated to consider a resolution that would call for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to support abolishing the superdelegate system.

Buzz Davis, who is leading the effort, said the group wants to amend that resolution to add the language calling for the state’s superdelegates to split 6-4 in Sanders’ favor. Currently, six superdelegates have pledged their support to Hillary Clinton, one is supporting Sanders and the other three have not committed to a candidate. Sanders won Wisconsin's presidential primary with nearly 56.6 percent of the vote.

The state party said superdelegate rules are set by the Democratic National Committee and any resolution would be nonbinding.

Still, Davis said he hoped the resolution would put pressure on the state’s superdelegates to flip in Sanders’ favor. He noted three of the superdelegates now backing Clinton are elected officials, as is U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, who is one of the three uncommitted delegates. If the superdelegates remain overwhelmingly in favor of Clinton, he warned, some progressives may hold it against those elected officials at the polls.

“They will see the handwriting on the wall,” he said.

For the amended resolution to be considered this weekend in Green Bay, backers must provide the Platform and Resolutions Committee at least 50 copies by Friday afternoon. The committee would then consider whether it would be considered by the full convention, according to the party.

“We look forward to a healthy discussion on Saturday about proposed resolutions and changes to the party platform -- including conversations about how pledged and un-pledged national delegates are selected,” said Dem spokesman Brandon Weathersby. “As Democrats in Wisconsin, we pride ourselves on being open and fair, and giving people across the state a process and venue to share their ideas and address their concerns." 

The proposed resolution reads:

WHEREAS, the Democratic Party is the party of inclusiveness and the people;

WHEREAS, the superdelegates are not beholden to the electorate; and,

WHEREAS, we believe that superdelegates have eroded the faith of the base in their ability to affect the outcome of the Presidential nomination;

THEREFORE, RESOLVED, the DPW supports the abolishment of the superdelegate system for the 2020 election, supports the will of the people, as defined by 4-5-16 Democratic primary vote, and directs WI SuperDelegates to cast their votes proportionally (6 Sanders and 4 Clinton) on each national convention ballot until released by their pledged candidate. 

-- By JR Ross


 8:33 AM 

Laning expects smooth convention this weekend, Dems to unify in opposition to Trump

Dem Party Chair Martha Laning isn't worried about this weekend's state convention looking like the chaos in Nevada earlier this month.

And she isn't fretting about Dems being able to unite once the presidential primary finally ends.

She says the party's transparent delegate selection process and the cooperation of both presidential campaigns will ensure a smooth convention.

Donald Trump will take care of the rest.

As Dems head to Green Bay this weekend, Hillary Clinton is on course to sew up the presidential nomination. But she has struggled to put away Bernie Sanders, who has complained about his treatment by national party officials.

Some of those tensions boiled over at the Nevada convention this month as Sanders backers, upset over the delegate-selection process, drowned out U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., as she tried to address the convention. There were also reports of unruly behavior.

Laning said in a new WisPolitics.com interview that won't be an issue this weekend. While there has been tension in some states over the delegate-selection process, the Wisconsin Dem Party wrapped that up several weeks ago. The party is working with the Sanders and Clinton campaigns on a letter that would go to party members laying out the delegate-selection process and the party's cooperation with both campaigns to select nominees for three national party committees, she said.

"We're reaching out through both of the campaigns right now to work together to have a really successful state convention, and things have been going really smoothly in Wisconsin," Laning said. "We're excited about that, because we know we need to get behind the nominee. And that's what we're going to do."

A party spokesman wrote in a follow-up email the letter was still being finished late last week. But it would include information on the delegate-selection process, the party's work with both campaigns on their recommendations for delegate slots, and their cooperation on appointees to the rules, credentials and platform committees.

"It's basically a letter to ensure we're being as open and transparent about the process here as possible," wrote party spokesman Brandon Weathersby.

There also will be an opportunity for delegates to weigh in on the superdelegate process that has infuriated some Sanders supporters. Six of Wisconsin's 10 superdelegates have backed Clinton even though Sanders won the state handily in the April primary. Only state Rep. David Bowen, the party vice chair from Milwaukee, is backing Sanders; the other three have not endorsed anyone publicly yet.

The party this week sent delegates, alternates and registered guests a series of resolutions slated for debate at the convention. One proclaims the "superdelegates have eroded the faith of the base in its ability to affect the outcome of the Presidential nomination" and calls for the party to back ending the system.

Party activists also have until 3 p.m. June 3 to submit resolutions that could be considered from the convention floor, and Laning said there have been discussions of others that would address the superdelegate process. That includes, for example, urging superdelegate allocations to be based off the results of the state primary.

The resolutions are nonbinding on the superdelegate process, which is laid out in DNC rules.

A superdelegate herself, Laning has said she will pledge her vote to the party's nominee and continued to back that position.

"There is a process on how to express your feelings about these issues. I'm supporting this process," Laning said of the resolutions. "I will as state chair make sure we let people's voices be heard."

Laning also hit Trump, saying while the presumptive GOP nominee may be doing well now in some parts of Wisconsin -- particularly rural areas up north -- Dems will come together to drive home a message this fall that he's not the candidate some think he is.

That includes, for example, telling voters he "ran four businesses into the ground" and then went to the federal government for bankruptcy protection. Dems also will highlight a series of Trump comments that Laning said are offensive.

"That's just not the kind of president that we want," she said. "We want to have people who care about small businessmen. We want people who care about women and don't say such degrading and disgusting things. We want people who are not racist and that care about all of the people in our country."

National polls recently have shown Trump gaining on Clinton and in some cases passing her in what some see as a sign Republicans are starting to come home to the businessman after a contentious primary. The polling also shows signs Dems are still somewhat divided on Clinton, who is expected to win enough pledged delegates and superdelegates to clinch the nomination.

Laning predicted Wisconsin Dems will come together quickly after the primary process wraps up, in part because of their unified opposition to Trump, who she said will play a significant role in the party's turnout operation this fall.

Wisconsin Republicans have been talking up the improvements in their ground game following Gov. Scott Walker's wins in the recall election of 2012 and his re-election in 2014.

Laning said she's happy with the organization Dems are putting together this fall, including regional organizers and various outreach efforts. Message, though, will be a significant factor in how effective the Dem ground game will be. She noted Trump's comments in 2006 and 2007 that a housing market collapse would be an opportunity to "make a lot of money."

"When we get that message out to show exactly what he stands for and the risks that we have when he becomes president, I believe that people all over the state of Wisconsin will see how important it is to get out and vote," she said.

Listen to the full interview:

See the full list of convention resolutions:



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Editor: JR Ross
Reporters: Chris Thompson, David Wise

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