• WisPolitics


Wednesday, June 01, 2016

 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:
http://wispolitics.com/1006/160525Laning.mp3

See the full list of convention resolutions:
http://wispolitics.com/1006/160526resolutions.pdf

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