Sunday, June 4, 2017

Post Thoughts And Observations On The 2017 WISDEMS Convention

By Jeff Simpson

I attended my first Wisconsin Democratic Convention this weekend and wanted to share a few thoughts.

1.  The Voting has to get better!

People were lined up way early on Saturday morning to vote for chair.  Congrats to Martha Laning, David Bowen, Meg Andriesch, Mandela Barnes and Khary Penebaker, for being elected to leadership positions in the Wisconsin Democratic Party.  Now lets lead the party into the 21st Century and make sure in two years, party voting looks completely different.

First, let us look at the results.
Laning - 722
Kennedy - 569
Finch - 50
Donovan - 48
Total -1839

Vote total needed to beat Scott Walker last election  - 1, 259, 163

Vote Total needed to win Assembly District 14,723

Ok you get the idea, we need more people involved.   The more people involved, the more people who feel they have a stake in the party and the more people who feel they have a stake in the party, the more people will participate.    The more people who participate, the more elections we win.... See what I did there

So how do we fix it.

1. We need a way for everyone to have a vote.   Designating certain people as delegates and others as not, to decide the future of the party, is not the way to do it,    If you are a member of the party, you should have a vote as to who is the head of the party.   Period.

2.  At the very least, everyone who attends the convention, pays their money to be a member and then pays even more for the convention should have a vote!  No excuses for this.   '

3.  There has to be an APP or a way to vote online, with a code or at your local county party if you can not make the convention etc... While you are at the convention, two boxes at a time for each CD is archaic.   Give people their one ballot as they walk in the room and then let them vote and have numerous boxes all around the room to put yours in.    We would raise bloody hell if this happened at regular elections and rightly so!

**  As a quick aside, to worry about Republicans joining and screwing with the vote, that is an impossibility.  The numbers do not add up!   Secondly, do not tell me its a priavte club and they do not have to follow those rules, and then be mad when so many people walk away and vote third party.  
4.  Another problem was the candidates WORKED THE LINES!  How is that even acceptable?  When we minimize the waiting times to vote, this will be somewhat fixed but it also needs to stop.

5. WISDEMS staffers.  This is a problem that numerous people who talked to me at the convention brought up.  There was a group of people, staffers, who showed great enthusiasm for Martha, during the speeches, and were strategically placed in front of the cameras, and brought a decent amount of votes.

 Now I am not blaming Martha's win on this, but it is something people noticed.  DO they truly think Martha was the best choice, or was Martha being re-elected their best chance to keep getting paychecks?    I would propose that anyone who gets paid by the WISDEMS can not vote in the election, with the one exception of the current chair(while they get paid they also are answerable to the voters, the staffers are not).   I would be more flexible on this if the voting was opened up, but when you limit delegates, then you give them an incredible amount of power.

6.  Please Martha, David, Meg and Mandela - Fix the voting system for next time.

Now the rest of the convention, thoughts and suggestions.

I understand that there has to be party business, I understand that the long time electeds need to have their ego stroked and have to speak, I understand that its cute to have cutesy slogans and themes,

* However, I would have one theme at every convention - Win the next election.     Anyone who plans to be in a race coming up, should have 3-5 minutes to speak.  They do not need to be introduced fancily, or any music played, just a quick introduction.   That allows Democrats from all over the state to meet the people who might/will be running for major offices.

Tammy should have spoken for sure, and anyone running/thinking of running for Governor, anyone running against an entrenched Republican, etc...  3-5 minutes max!  Then people can seek them out for more information as the convention goes on.

*  If we can eliminate the two hour wait to vote, that will open up more time for breakout sessions.   Maybe something like speed dating where you sit 8 people at a table and have different candidates, party members, etc...move around every few minutes to introduce yourself and answer questions.    Make everyone feel they have a voice and are being heard.

*  More interaction is what is needed to keep people involved, and interested.

*  Sorry, I have no suggestions on how to make resolutions and by-laws more exciting.

*  I heard Sachin Cheda and Nation Consulting was there working behind the scenes,...I don't think the people could be more clear that we need to rid ourselves of these toxic high paid consultants.    If they are involved the state loses.

*  There were some very good people running for these offices.  It is imperative that the people who did not win their races be an integral part of the WISDEMS going forward,   Eric Finch, Bryan Kennedy, Joe Donovan, Adam Brabender, Luke Fuszard and Peter Peckarsky all brought many strengths to the table and we need all of their skills going forward!

The best line of the whole convention was this one from Eric Finch:

I agree whole heartedly, dump the old recall signs and stickers and lets look forward not backwards!

* Finally, we found out something that anyone who read the Walkerdocs, already knew.   That the opposition, the WISGOP is run by a bunch of immature fools with the creativity and wit of a 12 year old math wiz.

The WISGOP put this billboard up (although not sure where because i never saw it):

But thats not all.  They vandalized cars all over the parking lot by putting this(which they did not have permission to use) on windshields:

But Wait there is more:

The WISGOP spent all hours of the night, stalking the WISDEM members and putting this under their door.  Kind of very creepy if you ask me! 

Whoever is running the WISGOP, seems to have a weird obsession with animal cruelty.  I hope that those close to him keep an eye on him before innocent others are endangered!

Seriously, please let us stop losing to these childish lunatics!



  1. You got the digits in the vote total transposed - only 1389 :) Yes, we should definitely get more people involved. You will never get more than a fraction of the voters in the state to a convention, but more is better. The usual is only about 1000 voting delegates - I think Trump motivated some people to get involved. Let's keep that momentum going.

  2. I wouldn't say that the Dems are in disarray as much as they are mired in mediocrity.

    1. I agree, I do not consider them in disarray...just posted that to show how incredibly unimaginative the WISGOP are

    2. Agreed. I dont hate Laning but she really doesnt stand for anything but getting elected and fundraising. We need leadership and we have not gotten that and now wont for yet another beating in the next election.

  3. I also attended first convention as a Dem at the age of 66. Such a waste of energy. No real discussion of issues or potential candidates. Nothing on immigration, foreign policy. Break out sessions to create and discuss what needs to be discussed and learned about. Caucuses had the same speakers lobbying for support, no specifics on anything. Nothing about PEACE, or avoiding WW III.

  4. Regarding a more efficient and modern process to vote, a young and talented friend of mine who attended her first WisDems convention this weekend has done some legal consulting with a company called Voatz that has built a voting app. I believe the Massachusetts Dems used it at their state convention last year. Maybe the DPW should look into it.

  5. Jefff, I respect your opinions but I have to strenuously disagree about Sachin Chheda. I have seen him on numerous occasions advocating and working to advance progressive Democratc principles in his previous rule as Milwaukee Co Dems chair and subsequently. I know that the senior partner at Nation Consulting where he works has taken on some Republicsn clients and business relationships as well as Democratic ones, and Sachin himself had sometimes worked professionally for candidates who were not the absolutely most progressive Democrat (or non-partisan) in the race but he is one of the most intelligent and articulate advocates for Democratic, and yes, often progressive values I have heard in this state. I suspect we will hsve to agree to disagree.

    1. There's a huge difference between "taken on some Republican clients" and getting paid tremendous amounts of money to be a spokesperson for the Koch Big Oil empire.

      That's like justifying Donald Trump with "he sometimes tweets things that makes some people unformfortable".

  6. On the delegate votes...

    It is in the bylaws, there is a formula based on party membership and votes for the Dem on the top of the ticket that allocates delegates for county. This is to keep it somewhat fair for outstate voices.

  7. Great ideas. Is it too much to ask WI to study the way other states handle this process better, then adopt those policies?

  8. I was unable to attend due to personal matters that cropped up at the last minute so even though I was a named delegate I could not vote.
    But I do understand limiting the votes to proration of each county. Im not sure that opening it up is the way to go and I dont know how you would manage that. I think it would just lead to more domination by MKE and MAD which is not what we want right now.

  9. So, The Repubs were out there knocking Kennedy and by default supporting Laning?
    This should tell you something!
    Also, they are NOT WRONG in saying that the Dems have no real agenda for supporting the working middle class. Sanders did and HRC didnt. Who did Laning use her Super vote for? This also should tell you much about why we fail.