Wednesday, February 6, 2019

2019 WisDems Party Chair Race

By Jeff Simpson 

The press release came through today that Martha Laning has decided not to run for re-election. 

MADISON -- Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning, who has served in the role since being elected in 2015, has offered the following statement on her decision not to seek re-election in the Party’s June leadership race:
“Four years ago, I ran to become Chair because I knew that Wisconsin Democrats needed a strong party infrastructure, a robust and engaged grassroots network, and a clear vision for what it means to be a Democrat. Like so many people in our state, I was deeply concerned about how the policies of Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans were taking opportunity away from our kids, jeopardizing the future of our communities and turning Wisconsin into a state none of us recognized anymore. I wanted to do my part to help.
“Four years later, I am incredibly proud of the Party we have built. For the first time since 1982, Democrats hold all five constitutional state offices, lead by Governor Tony Evers who will put the people first as he champions our Wisconsin values. We re-elected our Senator Tammy Baldwin so she could continue her work improving the lives of Wisconsinites and protecting those that need it most.
“These victories didn’t happen by accident. We launched an unprecedented year-round, every-year organizing program to empower activists across our state to inspire, engage and turn-out Democratic voters. We bolstered our candidate services team to support down-ballot candidates and helped them run competitive campaigns. We ensured the Party had the financial resources to support our ambitious plans.
“Given these accomplishments and the bright future ahead for Wisconsin Democrats, I believe this is the perfect time for me to transition to my next challenge. I will not stand for reelection as DPW Chair this coming June and welcome the opportunity to support new leadership as they take the helm this summer. I remain committed to the Party and to our Democratic values, and I will continue to lead the Party with the same transparency and vigor as we prepare for the next Chair’s race and leadership transition following June’s election.
“It has been an honor to work with so many caring and passionate activists who give their time  to help make our vision a reality. I am humbled to work with a staff that doesn’t see the work just as a job, but as a calling to build a stronger Wisconsin. Chairing the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has been an incredible opportunity, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work we’ve done together to move Wisconsin forward.”

As is typical of past Chairs, taking credit for the wins and not discussing the losses, patting herself on the back as she walks out the door.   

It is great that we won all Constitutional offices, but with the strong winds blowing a blue wave we were pretty much stopped there. 

As Thomas Paine would say: "We have it in our power to begin the party over again.". 

It is time for new ideas, new people, someone who lives and breathes progressive principles.    It is time to take the fight to the Republicans instead of sitting back and allowing Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald the ability to guide the discourse. 

That being said, let me offer up a few names who I personally would like to see run.

1.  Bob Harlow - Regular readers here know. that I was team Harlow in the WI Governors race, as he was the first one in all the way until he dropped out.    Bob is personable, hard worker, enthusiastic and full of great ideas! 

2.  Robert Hansen - The Former chair of the Milwaukee County Democratic party, (of which that has tended to be one of the few places in the state that has had Democratic success.   Hansen, quit his job to work on the Campaign of Randy Bryce and worked part time with Senator Chris Larsen.   Not sure any one person in Wisconsin, who can bridge the gap between the insiders and progressives, between the members and the people who should be members, than Hansen.   In the aftermath of the election while ex aides and cronies were being recycled at an amazing rate, Hansen was left out.   If anyone can do the work and deserves a chance it is Robert Hansen. 

3.   Tim Burns - an unabashed Progressive but it seems like a big step down to run for Wisconsin Supreme Court to running the WISDEMS.   I like Tim, but think he should focus on bigger things (State Senate maybe?) .

4.   Kathleen Vinehout - Kathleen ran for Governor, giving up her seat and is now out of Government. Vinehout might not be ideal, but I always felt she was a solid Democratic Rep for Wisconsin.   I have had some problems with her positions, but not enough IMO to disqualify her.   One of her strengths is, since she has been in Madison for so long she knows who the vipers and snakes are and will do her best to make sure they are no longer relevant in the Party. 

5.  Angela Lang - Angela ran Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC) and in my mind, BLOC was the MVP of the 2018 election.   Let's let her take her vision of community and organizing abilities Statewide. 

2020 is an important election and we need a real leader as WISDEMs Party Chair.  We can not afford to have another two years of "Welcome to the new boss, same as the old boss.". 

Let the games begin. 


  1. We need someone who is not afraid of real change, not afraid of the progressives in the party, not afraid to boldly go after climate change, not to be afraid to ask for health care for all, not to be afraid to face the imbedded discrimination of minorities and instead learn to really protect them. There is no more time to avoid the ugly truth of these issues and to just keep nudging them along. Jump in and fix it. Be the party of bold ideals and unity. No more jostling for who is more of a big deal. Team time.

  2. We are inviting DPW chair candidates to speak at the March 9 DPW plProgressive Caucus meeting . If you aren't already a PC caucus member, please join and come to the meeting.