Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Crazy Season - The Coggs Edition

Some political wonks often refer to the time leading up to major elections as the "crazy season." The bigger the election, it seems, the worse the craziness gets. And with this year're recall elections raising the total number of elections to six, it's done gotten really crazy.

One example is Elizabeth Coggs, who must be really feeling nervous now that she understands that the state senate seat that belonged to her cousin, Spencer Coggs, wasn't simply going to be just handed to her.

Showing the stress from the race, she made a very unfortunate comment:
State Rep. Elizabeth Coggs, the Milwaukee Democrat running in the August primary for state senator, urged a gathering of mostly black voters Saturday to "vote for someone that looks like you."
Coggs only made things worse by snapping at reporters after the event. And still unable to leave bad enough alone, Coggs insisted on making things worse by issuing a press release defending her racist comment with more racism:
It’s funny how a complex examination of redistricting and elections can be trivialized and reduced to an out of context comment about "looks." Much has been made of a comment I made at a recent community meeting, when asked about the division within the Democratic Party. I have shared my concerns with the party and my view/opinion may not be popular with others. I understand the history of the battle for our community's representation, my mother Marcia Coggs was this state's first African-American State Legislator; her victory was not easy and it only came with the support of the community.

Every 10 years during redistricting there has historically been a lot of vigorous debate about representation, except this time, because of the secret and divisive process used by the Republican Party. A civilized debate could have been held in appropriate place such as caucus or on the assembly floor rather than a community meeting or through sound bites in newspapers. And in these particular debates the concerns of underrepresented communities could have been addressed.

In the 1980's there were four African-Americans out of 99 representatives for the state, and currently we have eight. That doubling of representation happened through thoughtful discourse, hard fought elections and even lawsuits requiring that districts be reconfigured to give communities of color the greatest opportunity possible to elect a person who best reflects the interests of the demographics of that district.

The Democratic Party itself recently fought a legal case against the map designed for the state and ultimately won, resulting in forcing the state to reconfigure south side districts. And it is my opinion that in this election cycle we could return to 1980’s level of representation if we do not vote and not to mention that this would be a disservice to our ancestors and the fight and struggle they went through to increase representation for our community.

Moreover, my comments were not aimed at any one person or district, just at reminding our community about the struggle those who came before us to get the representation levels we currently have and how important it is for us never to forget that. Ultimately, the Voters will decide who they choose to represent them, my hope is that no representation is lost for our community and the best people win so that we can work diligently to address the needs of our community.
Now I can see why her own cousin didn't endorse her to replace him.

I'm sure in her mind, Coggs wasn't trying to be racist, but desperation can make you crazy.

That said, congratulations and kudos to Mandela Barnes, Sandy Pasch (who the comment was aimed at) and Nikiya Harris for calling her out on it. This is why they are the leaders that we need to take us to a better future.


  1. We will not improve racial inequalities, or tensions, until we start calling an Ace an Ace. Coggs' repsonse is correct, IMO. Voter ID and redistricting are attempts to marganilze their vote, their voice. Nevermind the policies that have overwhelmingly targeted many of her constituents.

    How is this any differnet than Tea Baggers appealing to their constituents to vote for someone like them: nutso religiosity, white, predjudice, and whores for corporate masters?

    Democrats continue to lose by taking the politically correct high road. It's time to put what is really going on in everyone's face. If that spurs anger, than so be it. It's about damn time.

    Anyway, it should not be forgotten that Darling, Pasch, or any other female representative wouldn't be where they are, if those before them had not said; women, vote for someone like you.

    “There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers." ~ Susan B. Anthony ~


    "Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despised ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.”

    ~ Susan B. Anthony~

  2. Milwaukee still is a city filled with racial tensions, a city that will never deal with the problem until that element of "The Man" is reduced to the point we have a true democracy. The race card can be played, which The Man uses, to lend creditability to the policies they want to govern the city.
    The Coggs family has a storied history, presented almost like they were a "dynasty," the voice of the African-American community.
    Elizabeth had no problem with using her union backing to call out her former opponent, Stephanie Findley, on her promotion of school choice/vouchers, but NOW--after the voting districts have been gerrymandered--is being promoted by a school choice/voucher group called Democrats For Education Reform (DFER): see http://www.dfer.org/branches/wi/
    They want to elect a "Education Reform Caucus." The group is funded people like the Walton (Walmart) family. These people would like nothing better than getting rid of public education altogether.
    I guess the votes will go to those that supposedly AREN'T working for "The Man."
    And the Bradleys will love you for it.

  3. Senator Spencer Coggs and 10 other elected officials have endorsed Elizabeth Coggs.

    1. Actually, Spencer Coggs has endorsed Millie Coby, per the newspaper article.

    2. They are running in different races. I am sure he endorsed both.

  4. People who have the most similar experiences and backgrounds are sometimes the best to represent like-minded, and like-experienced people.

    I suppose, if some candidate said something along the lines of, "vote for someone who is in your class," I would take note.

    Why would I want some upper class person representing me, the lower class?

    Milwaukee is so surprisingly segregated it's sad.