Friday, February 10, 2017

Zephyr Teachout Teaches A Progressive Lesson

By Jeff Simpson  

One of my favorite candidates, who ran on the national level was Zephyr Teachout, who unfortunately lost her election for Congress.   She was a favorite of the Progressives, and was the first candidate Bernie Sanders endorsed.    She was such a power player, that the Hillary team worked hard to get her/intimidate her, from endorsing Senator Sanders!

Ms. Teachout recently gave a great interview where she discussed her campaign and the recent election.  

What went wrong:

Our district went from Obama winning by six points to Trump winning by over seven points, so it was basically a 13-point swing. We thought it was going to be close. I have reason to believe that my opponent thought it was going to be close. I think the biggest factor was Trump’s win or Clinton’s loss, whichever way you want to put it.

One thing that I hadn’t really thought through was just how unappealing a candidate Mitt Romney was in an area like this. Mitt Romney represents this Brahmin East Coast elite insider, and maybe for some people Romney and Clinton are in the same category—part of an elite political infrastructure that has very little to say to the farmers and small business owners in our district. Swimming against that tide—I met so few people who were not in Democratic committees who had any excitement for Hillary Clinton, and I met a lot of people who despised her.

Who Does She Support for DNC Chair(and a keen observation of the Republican Party(emphasis mine)): 

I am a big supporter of Keith Ellison. He himself has run races and increased turnout every single time, so he knows what it is to run in a serious way, in a way that [former Labor Secretary] Thomas Perez does not. When I was running, when I went to D.C., Keith was one of the few people who just started with questions instead of answers. “What are the dynamics, what are the issues, what do people care about?” The first question from far too many others was, “How much is it going to cost you and what’s the polling?”

One of the things that I found running a rural district is that people didn’t necessarily know what Democrats stood for at all. In a down-ballot race you’re breathing through a straw to communicate with people—you can communicate two or three things at most. But I assume that because of that D next to my name, people know that I also stand for public education, Social Security, investing in infrastructure. What I found was that the D was kind of confused because leaders in our party support privatizing schools, leaders in our party have supported offshoring jobs. I think that people really start with a question mark for the Democratic Party and that really hurts all of our candidates. Nobody has a question about what Keith stands for.

Yes that is a problem everywhere.  

In the Tony Evers race, its very important that we re-elect Superintendent Evers, but he makes it hard on us when he brings pro-voucher people into his campaign.   Just as Ms. Teachout points out, Tony Evers hired Brad Wojciechowski, as his finance director.   Brad's only experience in education, is working for Milwaukee School Board candidate Bruce Thompson, who is described as one of the biggest pro voucher supporters in the city

What do we stand for if the best candidate we have to choose from litters his staff with voucher supporters?   Is there no line in the sand for us to draw?  Or are we as progressives supposed to go to the ballot booth every time and say "Thank you sir may i have another" as we continue to be forced to vote for the candidate who keeps reaching out to the right wing extreme to prove bipartisanship?

At some point we need to get back to having someone who stands for the middle class, public education and doing the right thing for all of Wisconsin.  And doing so unapologetically!  Then we can start energizing the people in WI who have been beat down for years now, and are desperate for a Champion and a Leader.     

I was hoping it was Tony, but until he learns the lessons and picks up the signals that are being sent, we are going to have to do this ourselves!  

SO please despite the missteps, and poor hires, please vote for Tony Evers on February 21(the other choices are that bad) and then lets regroup and start turning our state around!   

We need to get to a point where when we leave our families for hours on end fighting for a candidate to get elected, they are fighting for us also!    We need to know that being a progressive/liberal means you have a core set of beliefs that are set in stone and you will fight for them no matter what!     


  1. So, because Brad at one time worked for someone who was pro-voucher that means Brad is himself pro-voucher? And even assuming Brad is pro-voucher, that means Evers will stop thinking for himself on this topic?

    1. Doesn't anyone stand for anything? Seriously who could work for a school board candidate that you didn't agree with?

      As for tony did you see ms teachouts answer to that? People have to know that some things are automatics. I know tony is not for vouchers but he should distance himself completely from people like this!

    2. Thanks, Joel for your logical observations. Using The Google indicates that Mr. Wojciechowski was associated with Thompson Thompson’s campaign in 2007, ten full years ago. Judging from his photo linked above, he might have still been in high school! Perhaps Jeff was disappointed after backing another dog in that hunt for an open MPS seat that drew interest from more than a dozen candidates. Setting the Thompson rabbit hole aside, the important thing is supporting Tony Evers for State Superintendent in the primary on February 21. Noticed this morning that he was endorsed by the Wisconsin Working Families Party. Is that progressive enough?

  2. “…he should distance himself completely from people like this!” Seriously? Can we please stop with the progressive purity tests on youthful campaign workers already? “People like this” sounds more like Tailgunner Joe than Fighting Bob. Meanwhile, the other two SSOPI candidates in the Feb. 21 primary are thrilled that Betsy DeVos bought herself a nice little cabinet post and are expecting her American Federation for Children to make it rain on which ever one of them moves to the general election on April 4. Bill Maher warned us a year ago but we didn’t listen:

    1. In a word no! As ms teachout sts people have a question to what your stand for and it really hurts. There are some lines that have twent be drawn in the sand and as head of dpi one of those needs to be anti voucher anti afc.

      Yes Mager warned us but so did zephyr who actually ran a race. Why must we keep having these battles? Is there no public ed supporters for tony to hire? Are things that bad in wi?

    2. To boot, from reading Bruce Thompson's good work in Urban Milwaukee, he doesn't seem to be a big fan of vouchers these days.

      Pre-Act 10 opinions on vouchers should largely be discarded. Get behind Evers full-force

  3. I am behind Evers full force but wantbhis campaign to be one that wins not one thAt does what we have been doing for the last 10 years of losing. That's the point.