Earlier today I received an email from the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk titled, “Grassroots or Insiders?”
In said email, Falk notes “the insiders of Wisconsin politics are trying to mow us down and make sure that only their voices are heard on Election Day,” going on to write that her campaign “isn’t a campaign of political insiders or elected officials.” Later in the same email, Falk doubles down on her grassroots rhetoric (while also taking a shot at other campaigns), noting, “Our coalition may not be the collection of insiders that have come to define other campaigns…”
However, while Kathleen Falk’s campaign wants to hit all the right “grassroots” notes about how her campaign isn’t full of political insiders, here’s a little reality check. In a February 2, 2012 press release found on Falk’s gubernatorial campaign website, her campaign staff was announced as follows:
Meagan Mahaffey, Campaign Manager. Mahaffey has extensive statewide experience, most recently as Executive Director of United Wisconsin, the grassroots organization that led the collection of the more than one million recall signatures. In addition to other work, Mahaffey has led the statewide grassroots organization Advancing Wisconsin, served as Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and worked on the campaign of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore.
Scot Ross, Communications Director. Ross has served as communications and research director for numerous statewide Wisconsin candidates and campaigns. Most recently, Ross was the Executive Director of the statewide progressive advocacy group One Wisconsin Now. Previously he worked as a communications director for Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind and state Sen. Jon Erpenbach.
Brittani Garner Worringer, Finance Director. Garner Worringer previously worked as finance director for organizations including United Wisconsin and Advancing Wisconsin. She has also served a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin.
Brita Olsen, Scheduling Director. Olsen has worked for various organizations including the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and Advancing Wisconsin. Olsen has also worked for the Wisconsin State Legislature.
Paul Maslin, Polling Director. Maslin, of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) is Wisconsin’s leading Democratic pollster and one of the most respected strategists in the country. He has worked for Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and was Kathleen Falk’s pollster in her 2006 campaign for Attorney General and 2009 re-election campaign for County Executive.
John Kupper and John Del Cecato, Media Consultants. Kupper and Del Cecato are partners at AKPD Message & Media, a national consulting firm that served as President Barack Obama’s lead media firm in the 2008 election. They have a long history of involvement in Wisconsin politics, including serving as Sen. Herb Kohl’s media consultants.
Ben Coffey Clark, New Media Consultant. Clark is a partner at Bully Pulpit Interactive, a firm formed by staffers from Obama’s 2008 campaign that is the largest digital marketer of the Democratic Party and brand. He is a veteran of several political campaigns and first got his start in Iowa working for Gov. Howard Dean in the 2004 primary. Since then, he has played a role in several high profile campaigns including Rahm Emanuel’s recent mayoral campaign.
By my count, that’s six high-level staffers within Falk’s gubernatorial campaign who each have extensive political campaign/general political experience, a fact that flies in the face of the Falk campaign’s latest assertion it’s simply a “grassroots” campaign and not a “collection of insiders.”
Kathleen Falk’s campaign is every bit a campaign of political insiders as the campaigns of Tom Barrett or Scott Walker, and the fact that her campaign was endorsed by the leaders of AFSCME and WEAC before the entire Democratic gubernatorial field was set reeks of the kind of “insider baseball” that’s so common in politics and political campaigns.
What’s more, having spent nearly a decade and a half as Dane County Executive (with this being her third statewide campaign), Kathleen Falk is hardly the grassroots political outsider her latest email tries to paint her as being.
Here’s the entire email: