Monday, November 12, 2018

Top Ten Election 2018 Thoughts

By Jeff Simpson

It is a new day in Wisconsin with the end in sight finally of the Scott Walker reign.   Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes will be the next Governor/Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin.    Scott Walker will be forced to do something he has not done since getting kicked out of college - find a job not on the taxpayer dime.  Apparently the same fate has been bestowed upon Rebecca Kleefisch but she appears to be a comet, completely disappearing, but showing up every four years. 

The Democratic Party also won the US House but lost seats in the US Senate.   The Blue wave turned into some occasional heavy rain storms but in too many other areas no rain in sight.   It was like being in the winter in Alaska, no sun, no rain and hell mostly froze over. 

However we need to look at Wisconsin, what went right, what went wrong and how do we fix it. 

The first thing we need to do is acknowledge the successes.   Very few seats were uncontested(although still room for improvement) and there were some incredible candidates on the Democratic Ticket, who unfortunately did not win, but it is important that they do not disappear from the fight.

Secondly and best news of the night, Tony Evers/Mandela Barnes are the new leaders of Wisconsin.  Along with Josh Kaul, Sarah Godlewski and Doug LaFollette swept the statewide races (More on this later). 

This means that in 2020, when the Republicans sign secretive agreements to gerrymander even worse, and before Rick Esenberg can testify that the maps are Constitutional (before he even sees them) they will have to be signed off by Tony Evers.   

Gone are the days of Scott Jensen having final say on all maps, and bills.   No matter what else happens, that was a net positive.

Josh Kaul winning is also a net positive for the people of Wisconsin.   Brad Schimel might be the most partisan person ever born.   He is the former Waukesha Attorney General that the GOP changed the law for, so they could move their trials. to his court room.  Schimel is known for giving Republicans a slap on the butt and saying "Go Get Em Tiger" to any major Republican that crosses his path.  That and not being bothered to test rape kits. 

Doug Lafollete also won easily, but I knew that when Nation consulting decided to find a Democrat to primary him, ensuring his victory in this election cycle.

Turnout was huge and Madison and Milwaukee showed up. 

Robyn Vining Won her race for Assembly seat 14 against Agustus Gloop.

Not a terrible night but things could/should have been so much better.  Let's dig a bit deeper. 

1.  I love that we beat Scott Walker as much as the next person, BUT we need to stop declaring total Victory.     No one won last night.  When the nation projects a Blue Wave and we pick up one seat it is not a successful night.

2.  The Democrats are still using the Gerrymandered seats to dismiss the numerous defeats across the board.  Yes, I am not naive enough to think that gerrymandering does not make a difference.  It was unbelievably unethical  how they gerrymandered the state.

It is also impressive.

The GOP nationally, and locally,  realized that power is fleeting and elections are cyclical and decided to change the rules.   They had a multi level plan, but one of their main action steps was understanding the importance of local elections and in turn, being able to rewrite the maps.   You can be so much more successful when you pick your voters, instead of relying on the voters to pick you.

The problem though is this is the fourth straight election where we have had to play by the same rules and lines   The Democrats have a good number of people who make alot of money, and have during every one of the last four elections, and yet they can not seem to figure out how to win an election anywhere.  In Wisconsin that is - seems our brethren in Kansas have figured out some secrets.

3.  The WISDEMS have never been able to stop chasing the money.   Moneyed donors are pheromones to Wisconsin Democrats.  Understanding that you need money to run (unfortunately) but if you chase the money you are running from very thing that you need to win.  The real winners of this election cycle are the consultant class once again.  Their checks are in the bank.  They will be on vacation, enjoying some much needed downtime, while we sit here and watch the lame duck session bring Wisconsin even further down the rabbit hole.

How do we win?  We can break that down also!

1.  Look Deep Inside.  
The first thing to do is form a committee and take a deep deep inside look into what happened.  Nothing off the table, do not worry about feelings hurt and ask and demand raw honesty.  A few years ago, the WISDEMs did form a committee but it was laughable as it was mainly intended to push the blame on everyone but themselves.   On this committee you need some WISDEM party members and some people who refuse to pay dues but are liberal/progressive activists etc. 

Then they need to interview and listen to, every candidate on the D side of the ballot, activists, party members etc...  With such questions as What re your impressions of being a candidate, what were the successes, what were the failures, what would be your advice to future candidates, what would you need to run again, what were the success and failures of the help you received from the WISDEMS, etc...

Then let's start building an infrastructure that uses the advice given.

2.   Get over yourselves.   We still, even after the fiasco of electing the Donald, have too many party party members that think because they pay their $25 that have "stars upon thars".   They truly believe that paying $25 makes their opinion matter more, they are more liberal/progressive/smart/logical/pragmatic etc...   We have to understand that if we rely only on the dues paying members of the party then we will continue to lose every single election. 

It is time to welcome all people in.  I understand that you pay your $25 and you want extra privileges, you get to vote for the chair and attend meetings where people talk down to you, and can attend an annual picnic.   Take those privileges and enjoy but when it comes time for election, lets open the doors and welcome everyone.   Here is a suggestion, maybe open the door for a $5 membership fee, it allows you access to so many more people. 

3.  Chill on the direct mailers.   We have to stop running elections like its 1972.  We can reach people in so many more (less expensive)  ways than killing trees and filling recycle bins. 

3.  STOP PAYING CONSULTANTS!  What in the world have they won?  We have to have this conversation after every single election, for some reason.    Its like Groundhogs day every two years in WI.  We run a campaign, exactly like the last campaign and then when we get beat and whine about the maps and tell each other how great we are.

A consultant is by definition, a professional who provides expert advice.  The rules for the last 8 years have been the exact same, and so have the results.  You would think that having four straight chances at something you could eventually start having some success. 

Hire the right campaign coordinator and go from there.   Get someone with skin in the game, instead of a mercenary.  Stop with the conflicts of interest.  I documented numerous times that Mary Burke's campaign was run by someone who owned a lobbying firm.   Nothing to see here.   A partner at Nation Consulting is the DNC Secretary.   We can not keep having so many Blurred Lines and wonder why we fail.

4.  Use Wisconsin Businesses.   How many candidates are spending tens of thousands of dollars on Amazon, Uber, Printers in DC or New York, Firms from DC, New York, San Francisco, etc...    The message of I am going to protect small business in WI, I just have no interest in using them, is one that does not play well.  Yes Republicans do the same thing, make sure and point that out as often as possible.

A perfect example of what not to do would be the Bryce Campaign.   Kudos to them for raising over $7 million dollars.  I remember talking with Marge Krupp and she was excited to raise $100k for her run against Paul Ryan.   However while I praise him for raising so much money a quick look at his campaign finance report and it is hard to see any of that money staying in WI.   When you send tens of thousands of dollars to a "strategy" group based in the heart of the Midwest - New York City, who is used to working with billionaires and your candidate is Joe Sixpack, not sure why anyone thought that was a good idea.

The deadbeat dad meme and multiple arrest record of Randy Bryce was too much to overcome as Bryce lost to Paul Ryan's Chauffeur by 13 points.  The problem was that these overcome able  problems should have been addressed at the beginning of the campaign and not made it look like the campaign was trying to hide something or surprised that the allegations came out.   Making the impact of the ridiculous accusations substantially more than it should have been, 

As someone who used to work for a multi national company, we all know that when ever Wisconsin comes up in a conversation at the GSG, they all have plenty of redneck/hick jokes ready to go.   It is hard to then from thousands of miles away, tell someone who they would never associate with in public, how to win over voters in Janesville, Racine and Elkhorn WI.    Bryce's comms director grew up in DC and New York, and now was in charge of communicating with people in Clinton, Mukwonago and East Troy.   Which leads to Bryan Steil in Congress and I would guess some very nice holiday bonuses at GSG.

5.   Use your resources. 

Mike Crute ran a progressive radio show on a progressive station here in Madison.  After the last election all of the major corporate owned radio stations purged the Progressive shows and then doubled down on far right wing shows.   So Crute bought his own radio station and broadcasts his own line up of Progressive radio1510Am on your dial.     A perfect vehicle to help spread the Progressive message. 

Yet the real resistance in the Dem Party these last few years, have been the Democratic Insiders resisting anything that Progressives no party approve have done.  I know as being part of a Progressive blog(there are not many of us left), we get more pushback and resistance from inside our own party than anything the Republicans throw at us. 

As I have pointed out on more than one occasion, the GOP has their network of radio, tv and blogs and use them all.   At anytime you will heard a perpetual stream of candidates on their shows or giving interviews.  Anytime they want to push something or start a message for the echo chamber there they are.  No questions asked.

If you want to be a Republican, be a Republican.   You are not going to get that from any of the blogs I know or Crute.  However we are all progressive, have similar goals and can help push the right message.   If your feelings get hurt because we criticize something that we disagree with, then you are in the wrong business.  Instead of having the lets work together when we agree attitude, it comes back to The Sneetches.   How dare you question us, we have "stars upon thars" and you need to know your place!

When they do take a break from fighting With progressing outlets, it is usually to complain that they do not have enough money or exposure. 

Crute spent an extended period explaining this recently on his show.  I highly recommend checking it out for an insiders view of what happens within the party.

Listen here! 

It is hard to complain about lack of coverage and people not knowing your candidates when you have built in outlets to reach people and you treat them worse than your opponents because they are mad that you do not agree with them 100% of the time.

6,  Study successes all over the country (there were some). 

In Kansas they beat the Trump candidate easily, and the best advice they gave is "run your campaign" not always chasing and responding to your opponent(which I felt the Evers campaign did a very good job of).

In Texas, Beto O'Rourke unfortunately lost his race, but there are lessons to learn from his enthusiasm and positivity.  He also emphasized no corporate PAC money. 

In Kentucky, Veteran Amy McGrath had a very high profile in this election thanks to her original campaign video. 

Ms. McGrath, was urged by the DCCC to got hard and negative at her opponent and she refused to get slimy.   Congrats on her for that, but there is a difference between going slimy and answering BS attacks.  Good for Ms. McGrath, we will hear from her again.    One thing that I have always found interesting, the reddest states and thee hardest core Republicans who wrap themselves up in the flag and have changed their middle name to "support the troops" are never scared to smear a veteran if it will help them win an election.  It was Paul Ryan's SuperPac that did the smearing of Ms. McGrath

Boy are we quick to anger at Pete Davidson for making a joke about a Veteran but then hold The Donald and Paul Ryan up on pedestal as they attack vet after vet.   Party over People. 

7.  PROMOTE the Hell out of the bottom of the ticket.   

Notice that the four candidates that the Democratic Party outright supported won.   That is not a coincidence.   Check out their generic lit piece and wonder why we only picked up one seat. 

If the down ballot member running is an afterthought to The Democratic Party, why wouldn't they be with you?   Another example, President Obama came to Milwaukee for a GOTV rally and look who was on the stage.

Know who isn't on stage?  Julie Henszy.    Who is Julie Henszy you ask(and shouldn't)?  She ran for Leah Vukmirs old Senate seat outside of Milwaukee and lost to Drunken Dale Kooyenga by around 2000 votes.   A few kind words from Obama, could have gotten more people out to the polls for her and maybe been the last minute adrenaline shot need to push even further across the finish line.  We will never know though because the bottom of the ballot is insignificant to party insiders. 

For example, while Julie Henszy wasn't on stage, our old friend Tonya Bjork was backstage getting pictures with President Obama and her kid.    It is much more important to pat each other on the back, and tell each other how great they are, than it is to win elections.   Until that changes we will continue to be in the minority.

The correct response here would have been to have it go as it did and at the end bring up everyone who is on the ballot that could make it there that morning and introduce them and let them get a team picture with president Obama. We ran some great candidates and a team pic with Obama would have shown the Dems to be a much different party than their opponents.

Drive big turnout in the lower ballot races, and that will trickle up.   Drive big turnout in the top of the ballot and the Democrats win, and no one else does. 

8.  Can we finally admit, that many people are left behind in this economy?  

I have found, since the Hillary campaign really started this, that too many good liberals want to show everyone how "Woke" they are.  It usually starts out with someone saying something that is not politically correct but comes from a good place.   Then instead of having a conversation about it, the WOKE superstars start attacking.   They save their venom for people that are mostly on the same team because they all their friends to know how inclusive they are and want to be at the forefront of flogging the "bad liberal".

Let's look at it another way.  We are all in this together.  If you are an African American female, you head out into our current world with alot of strikes against you. If you are a single white mother who is trying to work and raise kids on your own with the rising costs of healthcare also have strikes against you. Instead of comparing "woes", lets join together and start eliminating those strikes against everyone.

White Privilege is a very real thing, but not everyone who is white has the same amount of privilege in this country.   If you are living in a mostly rural, mostly white area and the factory, your family has worked at for generations,  just closed down, you do not want to be preached at about white privilege.    Sure you can send your son out into the world and be pretty sure he will come back if he gets a speeding ticket, but you also send him out knowing if the car breaks down you do not have the money to fix it.   

The white family, that was working at the closing Beechworth Windows in Ladysmith, and the African American family in Grover Heights Milwaukee and the Latino family in Cambria all have more in common than not.    Let's focus on our commonalities - healthcare, good education for the kids, a roof over your head, a job that pays a fair wage and where you can be safe at, the ability to buy healthy, fresh food, have transportation and can maybe take a vacation every year or so.     These things transcend race and each of the families have too many obstacles, although they may be different, to get their slice of the American Dream pie. 

9.  Grow with the times.   

I admire that so many Democratic candidates worked so hard doing doors upon doors. I question the effectiveness of it though.   I would guess that except for maybe some married women whose husband was gone, Robin Vos has not knocked on a door in years, yet he runs the show.    I think doors are still important but there has to be more.   I do not have the answer but it is out there.

We also need to figure out more ways to reach people in (free) social media platforms.

Stop fighting yard signs.  Yard signs do not vote but they are like mini billboards that you can place all over your district,.   Which beats actually having to spend limited resources buying billboards.  They also help start conversations between neighbors.   The conversation between neighbors is what will change the world.

Use the WISDEMS platform to push all candidates not just the top of the ticket. 

Be ready to learn and listen when you do #1.

10.  Keep fighting and Stay Positive.  Never Give Up. 

Complete election results here!  

Our friend Dom has his take here.  

Vox take on it is here, where they emphasize the long term plans of the Republican Party that put us here.

I appreciate that we had an OK election night in Wisconsin.  I will forever be grateful that Scott Walker lost to a teacher.  It was awesome.   However we have a long way to go to take back our state and it needs to start now. 

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