Do Democrats in the legislature need to deepen their bench?

From Playground Politics:

Democrats need to spend more time cultivating future leaders in the legislature and less time turning the place over to retreads like Peter Barca, Fred Kessler, Jim Holperin, and Tim Cullen. Now Joe Wineke may well be on his way back, which would be a huge benefit to the rudderless ship that is the Assembly Democratic caucus but again fills the need for real leadership with old blood instead of new blood. And no, whiners and screamers like Kelda Helen Roys, Gordon Hintz, and Chris Larson are not leadership, any more than Tom Nelson holding sleepovers in the Assembly chamber was leadership.

While I disagree with the Recess Supervisor putting Sen. Chris Larson in the “whiners and screamers” category, I do think his larger point bears discussing.

So do Democrats in Wisconsin’s legislature need to work on deepening their bench?

While I don’t profess to be an expert on the inner workings of the Democratic caucuses in the Assembly/Senate or the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, it would seem to me that there needs to be more of a concerted effort to move away from supporting “safe,” “electable” candidates (i.e. candidates who can essentially self-fund their campaigns) and move towards recruiting the kinds of candidates for elected office who can actually connect with the voters they hope to represent. While I understand money is unfortunately an important part of any credible campaign for elected office, I’m firmly convinced that with the right candidate, money will come – with Democratic State Senate candidate Lori Compas as a perfect example. Throughout her effort to gather signatures to recall Republican State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald – and then as her campaign began – Compas found herself lacking the formal support of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Sure, she was able to raise money largely on her own, but Lori Compas strikes me as exactly the kind of person Democrats need to be supporting as much as possible, rather than holding her at arm’s length.

So again, what do you think? Do Democrats in Wisconsin’s legislature (and in more general terms) need to work on deepening their bench? If so, how do you think they do it?


Related Articles

16 thoughts on “Do Democrats in the legislature need to deepen their bench?

  1. There’s no doubt the Democratic Party lacks a unified message and it hurts the Party. With many new Democrats running in districts across the state, there may be some new faces coming up. But I you bring up a great point: will the DPW/establishment care about less safe politicians?

    1. I think messaging is one part of the equation, but a great message won’t due much with sucky candidates.

  2. The larger problem is the disconnect between the national Democratic party and local politics. Rachel Maddow has been hammering away on this since last spring, yet whenever she wants to discuss with with a larger crowd than just her show, she get’s shut down. The real policy debates that have changed due to the Tea Party in 2010 have occurred at the state level. Michigan’s Emergency Manger law, Indiana collective bargaining, voting rights in any number of states, and the entire 2011 Legislative Calender in Wisconsin are proof.

    I disagree with the fact that the Democratic Caucus is in disarray in the Assembly, but feel that he does have a point when it comes to the way people like Rep. Roys, and Rep. Hintz are percieved. Sure, every caucus needs fire-breathers, and it’s great that we have them on our side. However, I’m not sure I picture Rep. Hintz in Peter Barca’s shoes anytime soon. However, to discredit people like Rep. Roys, who likely has a future in politics in this state, is just being short sighted. I mean honestly, who would have guess Jeff Fitzgerald did only a few short years ago?

    I look at someone like Sen. King and see someone who is making connections with her electorate. Then I look at November and while chatter is only light at this point about who all the challengers to her are, she has a massive target painted on her back by the state Republican Party, and in turn, Reince Prebius and the national machine.

    Dems need voter education. Dems need to make concrete 3 point connections with how a certain policy relates to a voter and hits them in the pocket book. Dems need to talk about peoples “rights” and talk up the constitution, and talk up history, and talk up what everyone deserves.

    1. You bring up some good points Andrew, and while I agree that every caucus needs fire-breathers, the Democratic caucus (at least in the Assembly) needs more folks who are real leaders, rather than folks concerned about publicity. I want more workhorses and less show horses, so to speak.

      1. I completely agree with you, but where we will find them though is a tough question. Just like everyone who said to me Barrett was a bad candidate, and I asked them who other than Russ could have ran and won, and they look befuddled.

        1. We’ll find them in the grassroots. There are no shortage of amazing people who just need the right “push” to get going in elected politics.

  3. Democrats now have several problems. They need more than just local policies but state policies and they actually have to address local and state problems.

    They burned through several retread politicians because that’s about all they got.

    They need to distance themselves, if not totally abandon, the crazy leftists chanting at the Capitol. Certainly don’t pick your new crop of politicians from this bunch. It may work in Madison, but they will get trounced in the rest of the state.

    1. Not everyone who chanted and protested at the Capitol was a “crazy leftist.” I don’t consider myself (or my wife for that matter) to be a “crazy leftist,” and I think you’d find that the vast majority of folks who were at the Capitol protesting were folks you’d consider to be fairly reasonable, rational folks who were simply united in their support of public employees.

      1. It’s about perception. I’m sure you didn’t get a doctor’s note to get off work or shout down children either. The “fairly reasonable, rational folks” endorsed the “crazy leftists” by condoning their behavior. The political leaders of the Democrat Party failed to condemn said behavior. The “fairly reasonable, rational folks” own them be extension. How reasonable and rational can one be by allowing such behavior? Our midwestern values shun poor behavior. So, like I said, the Democrat party must distance if not abandon the crazy leftists.

        1. Again, you’re speaking in broad strokes. There were no shortage of folks who criticized some of the protesters for their most outrageous antics (including yours truly….on TV no less).

          Let’s be real here….there are extremists on both sides of the political spectrum, but there are also a great number of decent, rational folks on the left and the right. Unfortunately. the crackpots seem to get all the publicity.

  4. There are no broad strokes in my comments. You admit there are extremists as well. I’m glad to here you criticized those antics. Quite frankly, it’s the first I’ve heard of someone who did. Again, the Democrat Party needs to distance if not abandon the crazy leftists. The Democratic Party needs to follow your actions. This is sound advice for reasonable and rational people should take. The Tea Party learned this early on and that is why they are so successful. They show up for an hour, leave and take their litter with them. The crackpots and imposters get shunned, called out, condemned and shown the way to the door. This is what reasonable and rational people with those midwestern values do. Until then, Wisconsin citizens will look at this movement/occupy movement with disgust. They will vote against you regardless of ideology or policy.

  5. Help me out, I moved to Wisconsin earlier this year. Who are some candidates to watch this election cycle? I met some really interesting people at the State Convention tonight but I don’t know much about them outside of that.

  6. Spock hilariously claims the Republican tea party has purged the crazies. Au contraire — instead they are electing them. Rebecca Kleefisch rails about the slippery slope we’re on in being able to marry a table or a clock or your dog. Her husband rants here about God, guns and government:

    And don’t get me started on Glenn Grothman. Moderate Republicans are an endangered species. The party is owned lock, stock and barrel by BIG business.
    Sen. Kathleen Vinehout is an example of a leader who can connect with people that I would like to see more of.
    The big problem is traditional media failing to provide in-depth coverage of issues. They’re supposed to be afflicting the comfortable but have failed miserably for a variety of reasons.

    1. Bea, you’re exactly right. The Republican Party we’re witnessing right now is not a party of rational, moderate consensus-builders; it’s a party of right-wing zealots who have taken our state in the wrong direction on a number of issues.

  7. We have the same issue that Lori Compass ran into here in the 20th Senate District with a very good candidate,Tanya Lohr, running against Glenn Grothman and his far right ideas. DPW isn’t supporting the race because it isn’t a sure thing. How do we build a stronger Democratic party in this very red district by being ignored. She has made great strides but party help would help us make a difference; Grothman’s needs to be replaced.

Comments are closed.