It appears the race for Chair of the DPW just got very, very interesting. I’ve been told by a reliable source that tomorrow, at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin County Chairs Association meeting in Plover, Martha Laning will announce she’s running for the Chair’s job. Laning ran in the 9th senate district last year against republican Devin LeMahieu and lost by quite a sizable margin.

What’s interesting about this impending announcement is that Laning made an appearance not quite two weeks ago in Stevens Point, not far from Plover, at what was billed by both her and 3rd congressional district Chair Lisa Hermann as a Democratic Forum, ostensibly held to chart a path forward for democrats across Wisconsin. But here’s where it gets curious.

Laning moderated the event the entire day, which lasted maybe seven hours. Not Lisa Hermann, a long time democrat and CD Chair, not Penny Bernard Schaber, who was in attendance, nor any of the other long time democrats who were in attendance, but Martha Laning, a woman whose engaged involvement with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, as far as I know, consists of a single run for state senate over the last couple of years. And she was up in front of the crowd the entire day. Hmmm.

And what’s even more curious is that all of the announced candidates for Chair of the DPW were encouraged to attend, and most of them did, but they were informed in advance that they would not be allowed to speak to the assembled gathering, nor were they to hand out any literature regarding their respective campaigns. Hmmmmmm.

And most curious of all was that one of the attendees asked Laning, post meeting, if she would consider running for Chair of the DPW and Laning replied…….. wait for it…. no.

But less than two weeks later word leaks out that Laning will announce her run for DPW Chair, in Stevens Point, at the County Chairs Association meeting. It appears she had quite a change of heart in a relatively short period of time, eh?

Something here doesn’t pass the smell test.

31 Responses to Curiouser and Curiouser

  1. John Casper says:

    Steve, nice scoop, great reporting.

  2. CJ McD says:

    There’s a WHOLE lot of shenanigans happening.

    Winnebago County chair is trying to put together a Fox Valley forum for all of the candidates to participate in. There’s a lot of foot dragging going on in the surrounding counties/districts.

    So much for Democrats and democracy. huh?

  3. Annie's mom says:

    Who all is running for this. We need someone with a lot of experience.

  4. Cat Kin says:

    The Democratic chair needs to be a party builder who will reach out to the influential people in Wisconsin who are running private businesses, like Mary Burke, or Dr. Hebert in Eau Claire and try to build–not just protesters– but people who will change the perception that Democrats are simply tax and spend candidates who will cost people more money and aggravation.

    This is a job for am expert marketer, not a backslapping union blue jeans wearer and street shouter. There’s not only a lot of money involved, the future of Wisconsin and the nation are dependent upon us to get back in control of the Wisconsin legislature.

    • Yo Mama says:

      So Cat is basically arguing Dems need to be more conservative and less friendly to unions. Are you suggesting that Martha Laning is that candidate?

    • MaseMan says:

      Cat, how is any of that going to be different than what we currently have seen under Mike Tate? We need someone who will be able to connect with rural, middle, and lower class voters and help tailor a message that reaches out to those people. Wisconsin voters don’t want corporatist Democrats.

      I believe this makes for a grand total of seven DPW chair candidates now. Kind of getting tough to keep track.

    • John Casper says:

      Cat,

      While dwarfed by his greatest achievement, Emancipation, imho the breadth of President Lincoln’s Homestead Act of 1862, offers an example of vision forward for Wisconsin democrats. It “allowed any citizen, including single women and freed slaves, to take possession of virtually any unoccupied 160-acre tract of public land, for a $12 registration and filing fee. Live in it for five years, build a house and farm the land, and it was yours for just an additional $5 “proving” fee. Over time, the Homestead Act helped to settle some 10 percent of the entire land area of the continental United States. Sentator Justin Morrrill’s (R-VT) 1862 land-grant college act awarded each state a bequest of public lands which they could sell to finance state colleges focused on the agricultural and industrial arts. No other country had conceived the notion of educating farmer and mechanic, and the Morrill Act school are still the foundation of the state university systems.

      I would be remiss in not mentioning that the Homestead Act was a major factor in the decimation of Native American tribes, but President Lincoln and Republican/Whigs of his day had a vision of “American exceptionalism,” that extended far beyond the elites. It was rooted in a faith in what the combination of democracy, education, and technology could achieve. Lincoln understood that If the poor and the middle class did well, the elites would do just fine too.

      Yes, unions are a pain-in-the-neck, but without them, all the money just flows to the elites, which is what we are seeing today.

      Please note the precipitous drop in middle class wealth since 1985 in the linked graph below.
      http://d3b0lhre2rgreb.cloudfront.net/ms-content/uploads/sites/10/2014/10/102014-wealth-web-03.jpg

      Without robust unions, the middle class cannot defend itself from the wealth and power concentration that the elites have.

    • Cat Kin

      The next DPW Chair in Wisconsin needs to be someone who understands that we need to expand the electorate by educating, registering, and mobilizing low income people to vote. 5% of the currently dormant electorate is enough to swing Assembly and State Senate seats that are currently thought to be safe GOP. And we need to do that by staffing field coordinator/organizer positions year round and turn these sedentary, bitch session county parties into an organizing infrastructure that reaches out into low income neighborhoods on a regular basis. That candidate is not Martha Laning, any more than the gubernatorial candidate we needed was Mary Burke.

      And you’re right, the future of the state and the nation depends on us doing this very thing, so we don’t have time to waste trying to appease the contemporary GOP with yet another non-partisan type who wants to make nice with people who have no intention of making nice about anything.

    • EmmaR says:

      Catkin is right in that Democrats aren’t winning any seats much less state-wide races without a business platform. For some reason, too many Democrats and Progressives think this means adopting an ALEC-driven platform and ignores the many businesses here relying on a strong local marketplace to survive and thrive. I also agree that it’s completely uncool to be a Democrat in Wisconsin. There is damned exciting, innovative, and transformative work being done in our manufacturers, on our farms, in our health care networks, among our service providers and some non-profits, in our universities and public schools, and even in some of our government agencies (gasp). And state Democrats do nothing to grab on and be innovative, exciting or even lend visibility to their own constituencies’ work.

  5. D.N. Messer says:

    Laning was a good candidate for State Senate in an extremely difficult district. I got a chance to hear her speak and she really blew me away. I was so disappointed when WMC came in with their lies and millions of dollars to buy the race, so I’m happy to hear she’s still willing to put herself forward.

    I also will say, she wasn’t exactly the party insider type – like you said, she’d been more involved in her community than the party – and I actually think that could be a great thing for the DPW. After all, party insiders are the reason we’re in this mess to begin with!!!!!!!!

    • Jim says:

      With all respect to the author, he is wrong. 2 weeks ago, Laning was saying “no” to those trying to recruit her.

      Tate’s plan is to switch places with Jason Rae. In fact, right now he’s doing everything he can to sabotage Laning’s candidacy. She has the skills to do the job. All of the announced candidates are deeply flawed, for various reasons. That’s why some really smart people have been working really hard to thwart Tate’s plan, and identify a viable alternative. Martha Laning fits the bill.

      The author treats Laning’s lack of a long-term and close connection to DPW as a liability. It’s not! It’s exactly what so many of us are looking for! My litmus test for any candidate is will you send the Tater Tots packing, and build a staff of mature, hardworking professionals. I’m told that Laning will do exactly that.

      • Jim,

        How am I wrong? And what does this have to do with Tate? And Tate is doing everything he can to sabotage a candidacy that isn’t even announced yet?

        If Martha Laning wants to run for DPW Chair then she should say so when she knows that’s what she wants to do, which, it seems likely to me, was well before she moderated the event in Stevens Point two weeks ago. I’m hard pressed to understand how acting like Mike Tate is going to defeat Mike Tate.

        • Jim says:

          You’re wrong in implying that there’s something shady going on. The people who recruited Laning are good people, committed to finding a candidate who can do the job, and who is not like Tate. You’re wrong in implying that lack of a long-term, close connection is a bad thing. It’s a good thing. It has everything to do with Tate. Tate found out that Laning might be in the mix, and immediately went to work on bashing her. And it’s all about Tate because we need a chair who isn’t like Tate in just about any way one can think of. I think you’ve made up your mind as to your preferred candidate, so you’re trashing Laning. I respect your choice to support a previously announced candidate, if that’s the case. I don’t like that you’re doing the same to her as Tate is. If you’ve made your choice, I respect it, so long as you stick to positive testimonials for your candidate. I urge others to hear Martha Laning out before putting stock in scurrilous innuendo.

        • Jim says:

          Steve, do you have any evidence that Laning knew she was going to run weeks before the Steven Point event? My information doesn’t comport with your assertion.

          • Jim,

            Who are the people who recruited Laning? Why was Laning chosen to moderate a day long event regarding the future of the Democratic Party in Wisconsin when there are literally hundreds of more qualified people available? Why was no one else even allowed to co-moderate that day? Why were announced DPW Chair candidates NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO HAND OUT LITERATURE at an event that was supposed to be about the future of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin? And you want me to believe that a businesswoman, used to strategic planning, decides to make an 11th hour run for Chair because folks liked her moderating style that day?

            Give me a break. This is no way for anyone to launch a run for DPW Chair and it calls into question the integrity and ethics of everyone involved.

            • And speaking of both evidence and scurrilous innuendo, Jim, where’s your evidence that Tate has been bashing Laning? I’m unaware of Tate making any public statement about any of the announced candidates. You seem to have a lot of inside info Jim. Where do you come by it? Who are you?

              • Jim says:

                Steve, I don’t have a lot of inside info. I’m certainly not an insider. Not from the consultant class-never made a nickel off of politics. I get my info by listening to people I respect, even though I don’t always agree with them. I am a former county party chair. During my tenure, we had the most successful year in county history. Since then, I’ve been active with local elections in my county, with notable success. I’m no longer a party member, because I don’t suffer fools gladly. None of the previously announced DPW candidates excite me enough to rejoin the party. Maybe Martha Laning will. I’ll keep an open mind about her. I’ll decide based on facts, not ginned up indignation from someone who’s already cast his lot with Jeff Smith. Finally, Steve, before I exit this conversation for good, I respect you, though I disagree with the tone and substance of your post.

                • I don’t like how this was done, Jim. Period.

                • John Casper says:

                  Jim, you wrote:

                  “Steve, I don’t have a lot of inside info. I’m certainly not an insider.”

                  1. That doesn’t appear to be the case in your comments from yesterday. “With all respect to the author, he is wrong. 2 weeks ago, Laning was saying “no” to those trying to recruit her.

                  Tate’s plan is to switch places with Jason Rae. In fact, right now he’s doing everything he can to sabotage Laning’s candidacy. She has the skills to do the job. All of the announced candidates are deeply flawed, for various reasons. That’s why some really smart people have been working really hard to thwart Tate’s plan, and identify a viable alternative. Martha Laning fits the bill.

                  The author treats Laning’s lack of a long-term and close connection to DPW as a liability. It’s not! It’s exactly what so many of us are looking for! My litmus test for any candidate is will you send the Tater Tots packing, and build a staff of mature, hardworking professionals. I’m told that Laning will do exactly that.

                  You’re wrong in implying that there’s something shady going on. The people who recruited Laning are good people, committed to finding a candidate who can do the job, and who is not like Tate. You’re wrong in implying that lack of a long-term, close connection is a bad thing. It’s a good thing. It has everything to do with Tate. Tate found out that Laning might be in the mix, and immediately went to work on bashing her. And it’s all about Tate because we need a chair who isn’t like Tate in just about any way one can think of. I think you’ve made up your mind as to your preferred candidate, so you’re trashing Laning. I respect your choice to support a previously announced candidate, if that’s the case. I don’t like that you’re doing the same to her as Tate is. If you’ve made your choice, I respect it, so long as you stick to positive testimonials for your candidate. I urge others to hear Martha Laning out before putting stock in scurrilous innuendo. ”

                  Then today, your enthusiasm for Laning is much less. Please explain the change.

                  Jim wrote: “Not from the consultant class-never made a nickel off of politics. I get my info by listening to people I respect,”

                  2. Thanks, could you name the top five?
                  2.1 At one point you used the word, “comport.” If you don’t want to be identified with the “consultant class,” is that a good word choice?

                  Jim wrote: “even though I don’t always agree with them. I am a former county party chair.”

                  3. Which county?

                  3.1. What years?

                  Jim wrote: “During my tenure, we had the most successful year in county history.”

                  4. Can you link to those records?

                  4.1. To what do you attribute your success?

                  Jim wrote: “Since then, I’ve been active with local elections in my county, with notable success.”

                  5. Who were these candidates you backed, who had “notable success”?

                  Jim wrote: “I’m no longer a party member, because I don’t suffer fools gladly.”

                  6. You don’t mention Tate here, which is interesting. IMHO, the thrust of what you’ve written is that the anti-Tate block at bloggingblue can trust you, because you’re anti-Tate. And you’re assuring us that Ms. Laning is the anti-Tate candidate to back.

                  Is that accurate?

                  Jim wrote: “None of the previously announced DPW candidates excite me enough to rejoin the party.”

                  7. Why aren’t you running?

                  Jim wrote: “Maybe Martha Laning will. I’ll keep an open mind about her. I’ll decide based on facts,

                  8. This is a pristine example of the change you went through from yesterday. Yesterday you were fully on board with Laning, now you’re neutral.

                  Jim wrote: “not ginned up indignation from someone who’s already cast his lot with Jeff Smith.”

                  9. Yesterday, your “yardstick” was anyone who would send the “Tater-tots” packing. How does Jeff not meet those criteria?

                  Jim wrote: “Finally, Steve, before I exit this conversation for good,”

                  10. Why are you leaving? Do you anticipate losing internet access?

                  Jim wrote: I respect you, though I disagree with the tone and substance of your post.”

                  11. Since when did “getting in the last word,” become a sign of respect?

                  • EmmaR says:

                    Really? You give him the full troll response because he’s a long-time Democrat hoping for a DPW Chair candidate with a realistic plan? This was not BB’s finest day. Neither it’s bloggers nor commenters displayed much sense nor tolerance.

      • Jim, I’d love to hear you explain how exactly Tate and Rae are planning on switching jobs.

        • Jim says:

          Tate will work at Nation Consulting, where Rae currently works. Tate supports Rae as his replacement at DPW. This is no big secret.

          • I don’t think it’s up to Jason Rae to decide whether Mike Tate gets a job at Nation Consulting.

            Further, I doubt that Nation Consulting is the best Mike Tate can do following his two terms as DPW Chair (not trying to disparage Nation Consulting, just saying) .I’d be willing to bet there are far more lucrative jobs waiting for him.

  6. CM says:

    What about Lori Compas? I thought she ran a very effective grass-roots campaign against Scott Fitzgerald during the recall. Her organizational skills, people skills and passion would make her an excellent candidate for DPW chair.

  7. If Lori Compas wants to run she should, but I’d strongly recommend she do it all out in the open.

  8. MaseMan says:

    re: Lori Compas, I get the feeling she considered running several weeks ago (she said people were asking her about it on her Facebook page), but decided she’d rather focus on the Wisconsin Business Alliance. I do feel she’d be a worthy contender if she decided to throw her hat in the ring.

  9. John Casper says:

    1. IMHO, the biggest hurdle for state Dems is that the GOP has successfully branded us as the party of higher taxes.

    In the short term, (2016 election) imho the best way for Dems to inoculate themselves on state and local taxes is to support legalizing pot and the using the tax revenue it would generate to provide some relief. I would never encourage anyone, who did not already have a serious illness, to use pot, but the prohibition against alcohol didn’t work either.

    Legalization is a rare example of agreement among conservatives and liberals.

    “Ted Cruz’s Cannabis Conversion Reflects The Political Prudence Of Marijuana Federalism”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2015/03/05/by-supporting-marijuana-federalism-republican-candidates-can-be-principled-and-popular/

    1.1 IMHO, the overarching message for state and national Dems is the same, income inequality. The challenge with messaging on income inequality is the discipline to make it about the 1%. Physicians, lawyers, engineers, other high income earners won’t support Dem candidates if they think Dems will raise their taxes. IMHO, Dems have to target billionaires.

    2. Dem turnout will be better in ’16 because of the Presidential election. Steve, however, is absolutely correct that voter registration and GOTV efforts are critical. Again, I think legalizing pot is the single best issue for Dem GOTV efforts.

    3. My over-arching concern with the DPW chair race is that the Clinton/Obama/Corporate wing of the party is manipulating the process. As of April 2015, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (and other smaller newspapers) will be a separate entity (but still owned by Scripps) from WTMJ and other Scripps radio and TV properties. I hope big labor is considering buying the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. While it would not be a money-maker, it might be the best chance to break the stranglehold that the elites have on “news” that they feed Americans.

    “These 6 Corporations Control 90% Of The Media In America”

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-america-2012-6#ixzz3UHVn8EtT

    4. The 98-second video of Reagan saying there is no “freedom,” without collective bargaining is a God-send for Dems and the union brand. IMHO every Dem in Wisconsin should incorporate it into their ’16 campaign.

    “These are the values inspiring those brave workers in Poland, the values that have inspired other dissidents under communist domination, who have been willing to go into the gulag and suffer the torture of imprisonment, because of their dissidence. They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost… They remind us that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. You and I must protect and preserve freedom here, or it will not be passed on to our children and it will disappear everywhere in the world. Today, the workers in Poland are showing a new generation how high is the price of freedom, but also how much, it is worth that price. I want more than anything I’ve ever wanted, to have an administration that will through its actions, at home and in the international arena, let millions of people know, that Miss Liberty, still lifts her lamp beside the golden door.”

    http://bloggingblue.com/2015/03/ronald-reagan-collective-bargaining-freedom-video/#comment-146867

    Make WIGOP run against Reagan.

    5. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (T-PP), aka NAFTA on steroids, is a national issue, but as state which relies on exports, it should be on the state chair’s radar. Would like to see all the candidates denounce it.

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