County Supervisor Nikiya Harris on State Rep. Elizabeth Coggs

From my email this afternoon:

Another elected official has questioned Rep. Elizabeth Cogg’s suggestion that African American voters in Milwaukee should “Vote for someone that looks like you.”

Milwaukee County Supervisor and State Senatorial Candidate opposing Rep. Coggs, Nikiya Harris emailed this to her friends and supporters:

Dividing People by Race is Wrong

I just finished a press conference criticizing Elizabeth “Beth” Coggs for advising African Americans in the 10th Assembly District to vote for someone who “looks like them.” This kind of race-baiting is shameful. I demanded that Beth apologize to the voters in the 10th district for her remarks.

My opponent is trying to deflect attention for her failed leadership by dividing people by race. But we pay a high price for these kinds of tactics. Milwaukee does not get its fair share of state resources from Madison because our elected leaders are working against each other rather than working together.

That’s why we need a new generation of leadership for Milwaukee. My record is one of bringing people together to solve problems, whether it is to protect voter’s rights, improve public transportation, or defend Family Care from budget cuts. This is the type of leadership I will bring with me to Madison.

Join me in standing up to the racially divisive tactics of failed leaders.

The Republicans redistricting has unfortunately placed a lot of Democrats at odds in a number of districts. And instead of working together to make liberal and progressive voices heard in Madison, we’ve taken to infighting. And the dichotomy in the local party has gotten particularly ugly with several remarks like Rep. Coggs and others that could be construed as racist.

We can do much better and need to move on soon if we are to persevere against the GOP cabal in Madison.

See Zach’s earlier take on the issue!


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13 thoughts on “County Supervisor Nikiya Harris on State Rep. Elizabeth Coggs

  1. Nikiya hit the nail on the head. Using race as a wedge wouldn’t be right if the key players involved were white, and it shouldn’t be okay simply because the key players in this situation are African-American.

  2. “Could be construed?” Golly, that’s generous. Tell me another way to construe those remarks.

    Sandy Pasch could be a quadriplegic Jewish Latina midget and people like Coggs and Lena Taylor would still be selling the black candidate as the minority because minority representation is not, has never, and will never be their interest.

    It seems like there are some competent young leaders emerging in Milwaukee’s African-American community. That would be a pleasant change from the usual band of unproductive, self-absorbed grifters they usually inflict on the Legislature. The hapless and ineffective Coggs dynasty, Leon Young, Gary George, Johnnie Morris and her taxpayer-funded phone calls to Senegalese dictators, Gwen Moore’s screeching tirades, on and on really.

    The least these neighborhoods could do to help themselves is send some competent people to Madison to represent them.

  3. Just think about it. There is no way that I, as a white person who lives in Bayview, can understand the lives and choices of people who live in Beth Coggs’ district. I can’t. We can pretend that we live in a color-blind society, but we don’t. In this life skin color dictates your choice in schools, housing and diet. I am very, very fortunate that I can make nearly any choice I want. Yes, people can work to change the choices that they have, but it’s not that easy. There have been a bunch of income-mobility studies lately that confirm that is, indeed, the case.

    If you take Beth’s comments in the spirit that we need diversity in the legislature, we’d be better served. We NEED diversity everywhere – that’s the only way we’ll ever reach the “equal” society that we hope we have.

    1. You’ll get no argument from me that diversity is a good thing, but voting for a candidate (or candidates) based solely on their skin color – which is what Coggs seemed to be saying people should do – does a tremendous disservice to voters. Voters should vote for the person that has the best ideas on how to improve the lives of those voters, regardless of the color of that person’s skin.

      By Coggs’ logic, I shouldn’t vote for Gwen Moore because she doesn’t look like me, which is absolute rubbish.

  4. I guess I see the issue as more complex. You’re supposed to vote for the person who best represents you/your interest. I was not there, maybe Rep. Coggs was using short-hand for “I live in your neighborhood,” vs someone else running. In Milwaukee, where you live is a pretty good indicator for race, and therefore representation.

    If it makes everyone feel better to stir the pot and beat-up on Rep Coggs, that’s a different issue. It’s lousy that we have to have a discussion about representation and race. Sandy Pasch does not even live in the district where she’s running; and she’s running against someone who’s always lived there.

    Really? Not voting for Gwen Moore because she does not look like you? You really think that’s the punchline for Rep Coggs’ comments? I am fairly confident you know that’s not what she meant.

    1. I was not there, but from what I’ve been told, Coggs’ statement wasn’t ambiguous at all, and I’ve been told it was pretty clear her statement was directed at Sandy Pasch.

      As to this discussion we’re having about representation and race being “lousy,” blame Rep. Coggs for that, because she made the statement.

      This isn’t an isolated incident either; it seems Rep. Coggs statements are part of a larger issue of some African-American elected officials and party insiders portraying certain Caucasian elected officials as “puppetmasters” looking to “pull the strings” of their preferred candidates for office.

      You might want to read this.

  5. ” I was not there, maybe Rep. Coggs was using short-hand for “I live in your neighborhood,” vs someone else running.”

    If that’s the case, that’s what she could have easily said…I have no problem calling Eric Hovde a carpetbagger…and if Rep. Coggs wanted to accuse Rep. Pasch the same, I wouldn’t have much argument.

    Stop making excuses for Rep. Coggs…she meant to say what she said and she deserves the negative attention that she’s getting.

    1. Not making excuses. I am glad she said it, it needed saying. It is the historically Black district, it was drawn that way in the 70s. There was a lawsuit challenging the current legislative districts based on that fact. Why a white candidate who does not live in the district? If diversity is such a good thing, why not cultivate it?

  6. We are also talking about a 74% African American district that was created by a federal judge in 1972 because of the Voting Rights Act.

        1. It may well be 74% African American, but it isn’t the district created in 1972

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